July 3, 2021- The comely young woman set down her blanket, just six feet from where I sat in my foldable studio chair, and proceeded to writhe and shift herself back and forth, finally finding a relatively comfortable position. As she was wearing a fairly short skirt, I felt it seemly to look straight ahead and not make her obvious discomfort even worse. Her two children were off and running, to other parts of the park, so she had that, too, to handle-and was constantly sitting up and looking past me, until finally spotting the kids. Poor soul was definitely stressed and barely able to relax, so after the family had watched five minutes or so of “Grease”, on the outdoor screen, and mother had wrapped herself in the blanket, they stood up and left. Hopefully, she got the rest that was so obviously in order.
Men, especially of my age group, were raised, mostly by the wider society, to hold the opposite sex in a sort of special status-not quite looking at girls and women we didn’t know very well, in a less than whole human perspective. I can say, truthfully, that this was also true of how we viewed ANY stranger, but was especially so in male-female interactions. It has been a hallmark of my married life, and widowhood, that coming to view every human being in a holistic manner has replaced the old “meat market ethic”. Misogyny, and its derivatives, were quite frankly the bane of my existence-and I don’t miss them at all.
My friends, women and men alike, are people I can hug (pandemic protocol permitting) or at l least fist bump, and with whom I can share just about any insights. This, to me, is the feeling of true liberation. I look forward to the day when ANYONE can feel the same about traveling alone as I do, about being where they like to be and not feeling awkward or at risk, and being seen as complete human beings-from childhood onward.