Know Your Limits/Know Your Place

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Have you seen this awesome sketch? It’s brilliant!

Now here’s a true story:

One time a boyfriend invited me to hang out with him & a (male) friend of his I’d never met before, at the friend’s place. Friend was a nice person & all, but after a little while boyfriend & friend got into deep conversation between the two of them. Neither of them was interested in me joining the conversation- any initial attempts I made to join in, even just to express interest in the subject, were completely ignored and both had basically turned their backs on me. It was a very thorough exclusion, and it went on for well over an hour- boyfriend and friend talking, me getting to sit there on a couch, in a stranger’s tiny apartment, with nothing to do and no one else to talk to. I still remember that place vividly, because I got to spend most of my evening quietly studying it.

Needless to say, it was hella rude. After we left friend’s place, I really wanted to tell boyfriend how I didn’t appreciate being excluded like that… but this was my early twenties and I was pretty damn meek, so I was struggling to get my nerve up. That’s when boyfriend turned to me, big smile on his face, and said he was “really proud” of me “because you know your place.” I remember those words perfectly. I don’t remember what, if any, reply I had for him, but it didn’t matter what I said or didn’t say- boyfriend just went on and on, glowing, about how I “didn’t do what some girls do” and try to enter the conversation, or maybe force a change of subject so I could be a part of it. He was just so impressed and absolutely tickled that I had kept my mouth shut and not caused a fuss while he and his friend excluded me from conversation. That was ‘knowing my place.’

Here’s where I tell you that I’m only 34- this happened post-2000. And boyfriend was actually a year younger than me, not some old man. Moral of the story: the attitudes this sketch is satirizing are contemporary, not retro. Second moral: ladies, be bitches. Be rude. Stand up for yourselves when you’re being mistreated. It took me way too long to start doing that. Since that sorry incident I’ve actually been told off by a friend-of-a-boyfriend for taking out my phone… after several long minutes of the two of them embroiled in a conversation I was clearly not going to be a part of no matter how I might try. So, off to the side and utterly excluded, I took out my phone to check my email, and immediately I hear a very loud, angry “Oh, you NEED to check your phone right now?!” followed by a public dressing down for my rudeness. That was last year. 2014. A man actually got pissed at me for not sitting quietly and observantly while the men talked. But I can honestly say I’d rather get yelled at and called a bitch for not ‘knowing my place,’ then sit quietly and be praised for it.

rebecca west quote

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