I am the only woman in a Pitzer class and the teacher left to get coffee and told us to discuss the role historical events play in US culture, specifically violence against Native Americans. This older (late 60s, early 70s?) white man who is auditing the class starts describing in detail the gory, dehumanizing, humiliating acts of torture that were described in our reading for that day, and I cringed quietly. He looked at me and said that everything he was saying was in the reading. I said that I did do the reading, but it was still difficult to hear about because it’s so horrific. He replied, “So you’re going to be the weak one in this class, aren’t you?”
My friend told me about a situation that happened with his roommate: his roommate brings a lot of girls back to the room, and my friend isn’t into doing that. So the other day, his roommate straight up asked him, “are you even into girls?” He questioned his sexuality right to his face, and based on the fact that he isn’t constantly bringing girls back after parties.
I was telling my friend about a situation that was happening to me, where I was receiving sexual harassment messages. After explaining it, he proceeded to say, “well maybe if you didn’t put yourself out there so much, this wouldn’t be happening.” I didn’t say anything because I was really shocked he said that to my face. I really wanted to say that I would appreciate it if he didn’t slut shame me/blame me for what was happening.
My friend told me about an experience she had freshman year. She was walking out of a study room with some other Asians, and a white male walked by and said to them, “oh, Biology study sesh!” People assume that Asians are always studying, and specifically math or science. This is a stereotype, and to say that to their face like that was really surprising.
I went to meet a male peer to discuss a book we had to review for class. His first comment was about the picture of the female author on the back: 'well I wouldn't date her'.
Last year at one of the Sophomore Year Experience events, I was sitting at a table with primarily Asian friends, and one of the instructors from Career Services, no not a student, an adult, said to everyone while directing her comment at us, "and we have all of CAPAS here." Like just because we're Asian doesn't mean we're part of CAPAS...
I was working in the housing office at Pitzer, and someone came in, who had previously talked to someone else about getting their card coded, who must also have been Asian, because she thought I was her. I know who else works here, and that person and I don’t look alike whatsoever. I thought about it for a while afterwards, and it bothered me because there are distinct characteristics that definitely separate me from other people… People constantly say all Asians look alike, and this is super offensive, and not true. It was shocking to have someone think I was someone else just based on my race.
I was working out today at the Rains center at Pomona. Because I had the audacity to be a woman at a gym, this older (late 60s) white man, who was teaching a lifting class, kept swirling near me and looking at me, but not talking. Eventually, he came up to me and commented that he had “never seen anyone lift that way before” and continued to give me unsolicited advice, like “If you were lifting heavier you probably would want to [do it this way].” Even as I switched machines and movements, he would continue to hover. Eventually, after I finished a movement that required balance, he came over and said, “I was worried about your balance, but you actually look like you know what you’re doing.”
This happens all. the. time. Across gyms, cities, race, and age of men. Regardless, it took me until the end of the day to reflect on this and understand why I had been unusually shy and self-conscious for the rest of that day.