Tuesday, November 06, 2018

notes on horror films and real-life mysogyny

I don't normally get down with the ride sharing thing--call it the influence "stranger danger" campaigns in the 80's, the dictum never, ever get in the car with someone you don't know, (and sometimes even those you do).  The whole never let them take you to a second location, which is sort of the point of ride sharing.  I also don't really like cabs, but they'll do in a pinch.  I've had some weird, intrusive interactions with cab drivers, but they've never really felt dangerous. I actually prefer a crowded bus or train, even if it's slower.  It feels safer. Even moreso than all the years I drove and feared the shadows of dark parking lots where I was certain the shadows were lurking.

Maybe it's the legacy of too many horror movies at a young age.  Maybe it's just being a woman in a rather dangerous, anti-woman world. A world up until a couple years ago, I would have told you was getting better.  Saner. Sounder.  Now I'm not so sure. Thursday night I took a cab from downtown to a north side movie theatre with a polite, quiet cab driver who didn't seem at all creepy, but the thought flashed in my head that I hoped he wouldn't fillet me Buffalo Bill style to make a skin suit instead of delivering me to my destination. Not likely. but you never know..

After seeing the new Halloween at the theatre, J. ordered a Lyft, which he uses often and, as a dude, I'm sure has had reasonably positive experiences.  I have shared rides with other friends and groups of people, even know a couple of drivers, all good, but hesitate to download the app myself and just rely on cabs for the rare situations I need to.  During that short ride home, the two of us talked about horror, the panel I'd hosted Monday, our shared love of The Shining, about my increasing attentiveness to the domestic abuse narrative therein.  We talked about Martyrs, which neither of away us had seen, but was discussed at the panel as a hard film to get through.  My mention that the only movie I almost stopped watching due to its torture of the women (Wolf Creek). 

 The driver was entirely silent, to the point where I had no idea if he was listening to us, but about a block from dropping us off,  asked suddenly if we had seen the new Halloween, and we all started talking animatedly. We agreed there were several scenes, in typical horror movie fashion, where you were like why would you do that?  Run up the stairs, run into the woods, go towards the killer rather than away?  The scene he mentioned in particular, where the granddaughter springs from the car and runs into the woods, seemed like poor decision-making. The driver laughed and spat out "I was like, what are you doing, you stupid WHORE?"  which was a strange word choice, and I fell silent.It wasn't the word, exactly, but the context.  I say much worse in joking sometimes, as joking admonishment to myself. "you dumb whore!" when I've forgotten my keys.  you're such a whore!" when the cats are super needy for affection. But it was his tone, and the consideration of why that word, when "bitch" may have been less noticeable. It occurred to me maybe that was his go-to terminology for any female.  I suddenly flashed on the image this dude, using that tone of voice when talking to his wife or girlfriend.  Also, his flagrancy in using that word when I'd just been going on an on about treatment of women in horror and how maybe he should mind his audience. Maybe not even the word itself, but the tone, the sneer with which he said it.

 The ride felt kinda hostile in that second and luckily it was over.  Maybe I was wrong, but it seemed a strange coinicdence. I said nothing, mostly because it was a passing thought, and I didn't want that shit to mess up a really nice evening by dwelling on it to resolutely.  I might have forgotten it entirely if my facebook feed were not blazing today with the man who shot up the yoga studio and his comment about "American whores" that needed a reckoning.   And again I thought of the safety and  people we put our lives in the hands of when getting into their cars, and truthfully I was just as horrified of getting into the car of this dude as I would anyone who might refer to women as "whores" on the regular..  Again and again, we hear the precursors for violence--mysogyny, verbal/physical abuse. entitlement, rejection.  What's to say all of that won't boil over today or tomorrow? Why would you get in the car?  Why would you do that? 

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