Although I don’t really do sports, one of my friends’ dads had tickets for a Minor League baseball game, so a few of us went for kicks. We were all mildly grossed out by the amount of ten-year-old boys hanging out near the cheerleaders, but whatever, they’re kids, right? What really creeped us out were the dads who ogled the cheerleaders. We were particularly disturbed by one sitting on the aisle with his son who, when a cheerleader passed him, made an unsolicited comment to her, something like “can I friend you on Facebook?” She just gave the guy a withering look as she walked by and ignored him.
When my friends and I left the game, we had to walk past this guy to exit. I was walking alongside one friend, who the guy touched on the arm and said something like “careful how you walk up the stairs” – totally and completely unnecessary advice. Because we’re both shomeret negiah, meaning that we don’t touch guys, the immediate reaction was just to move away. I physically pulled her towards me, farther from him. We kept walking, but I, The Feminist, couldn’t let him go without saying something. “Yeah, you should probably avoid touching strange women,” I said. (I know, great comeback, right?) He responded as we walked up the stairs, but I didn’t care to pay attention and neither did my friend.
We’re all already over this guy, but I’m still like, what even was that? Why did this guy feel that he had the right to ask that cheerleader for her Facebook information, and then to touch a strange teenage girl on the arm? Well, I don’t think any of us were surprised that his son was one of the boys who was hanging out by the cheerleaders.
But that made me really sad. It’s a cycle of objectification, like father like son. Through modeling, this man is raising his son to think of women as pretty items who shake their pom-poms for men’s benefit. By asking that cheerleader for her Facebook info, he was showing that it’s okay to be interested in a woman solely based on her physical appearance, and that it’s okay to creepily ask such a woman for some sort of relationship. He violated my friend’s space by touching her on the arm without her permission, which sent the message to his son that men are entitled to unlimited access to women’s bodies. And that’s just really not okay.
No, this guy did not ruin our time at the baseball game, and we still had tons of fun. As I said before, we’re completely over him, and he really didn’t have a significant impact on any of our lives. Witnessing his exploits firsthand just made me sad that he existed, that men like him exist at all. For me, incidents like this come to prove that we need feminism now just as much as we’ve ever needed it. It’s not just about the cheerleader’s Facebook privacy and my friend’s right to personal space. It’s about men’s unthinking attitude and consequent behavior towards women, and how that needs to change.