Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pervasive Disrespect

There is something on my mind that I would like to share publicly, but I've written and re-written the Facebook status too many times and can't bring myself to actually share it.  #facebookshy
I guess because I haven't quite figured out yet what it is I'm trying to say. A blog post seems like a much better outlet, because I can do more explaining, and those mean people who share nasty comments are usually too lazy to click a link and read an entire blog post, so they more than likely won't be commenting. But it is still difficult for me to share an opinion publicly, so please be kind.

Something happened to me yesterday, and it is not the first time. I should preface this by saying that I have always, ever since I was a little girl, had an aversion to young men in the 15 to 25 age range. (Seriously, I wouldn't even look at my own male cousins of that age). And this has never really changed, even after I reached and surpassed that age range myself. It has been my experience that this particular age group (of men in particular) are typically arrogant, entitled, ignorant, loud, and rude.
Now, I know that's a generalization. I'm not saying they're all like that, certainly! I've known several teenage/young adult men who were respectful, considerate, and kind, but it's the others I'd like to focus on today.

Yesterday I was out walking on my lunch break, minding my own business. I had been to the Dollarama and was off to find myself some lunch to take back to the office to eat. There were two young men in the parking lot talking and laughing. As I've said, I generally avoid this particular demographic, but I had to pass them, so I was focusing on not making eye-contact or tripping. There was a carload of more young men backing out of a space a few spots over. I stopped walking so as to let them get out of their spot without worrying about moving pedestrians - something that I, as a driver, appreciate. They, however, rather than do that, chose to use this opportunity to say rude things to me. Needless to say, I walked around their vehicle and away, but my lunch hour was ruined.

I don't know about you, but when I'm out by myself, I'm not necessarily smiley. If I think of it, I will smile to strangers I meet, but as a general rule, I carry no expression. I know very well that I have Resting Bitch Face (pardon me), as do most of the population. People have been telling me that for years. But unless you are some weird person who has a perma-grin, or like... Botox... a face's natural position is not a smile. Not to mention that I have been feeling sick for days, and have a lot on my mind lately, so I'm not exactly cheerful. I smile at my clients at work and the people who serve me at stores and restaurants, but when I'm not directly engaging in conversation with someone... my face is neutral. But that's not even the issue here.

What I'd like to know is when it became appropriate to insult strangers? And since when is it ok to publicly comment on someone's clothes, body, or facial expression right beside them, in a degrading tone? Verbal harassment is still harassment, boys.
And I guess that's what it really comes down to. I don't know if it's at home or at school or in the media, but somebody really needs to start ensuring that young people know how to be respectful and considerate of other human beings.
You don't have to like the looks of every person you meet, but you do need to keep that negative opinion to yourself, and remember that they deserve as much respect as you.
You don't have to appreciate what an older person says to you, but you do need to respectfully acknowledge their words and wisdom, and should probably take them into consideration. Like it or not, they have more experience than you and might know a thing or two.
Oh, and it's not just about respecting men/women, or your elders, or any other specific demographic, we should be respecting all people.

Now, like I said, this is not the first time something like this has happened to me, and that's why I'm sharing this. Not because I'm overly sensitive and got offended by something somebody said to me one day. It's because nobody has the right to be rude to a complete stranger minding their own business, and because I respect myself too much not to say something.

Your words have meaning and they should be weighed carefully before being spewed out into the world where they can't be taken back. And sometimes, it's not just the words you say, but how you say them. Just think first...

Oh, and by the way, this news story (in French) tells about a group of young men in my area Saturday night who assaulted someone who had asked them to be more respectful to the young ladies who were with them. Obviously, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. So parents... please teach your children to respect themselves, and everyone else that comes across their path.

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