Have you had that experience when someone says something hurtful or offensive to you and you’re so startled by their words that you can’t think of a comeback until later?
It’s so frustrating! You want to put that person in their place, so they don’t say something like that to anyone else, but the tools to do so escape you in the moment.
There’s a solution: blog about it! A blog can be your very own platform to respond when people say stupid things. There’s much more to a blog that this, mind you, but having your say, even if it’s days later, is a satisfying way to get closure.
Here’s my story…
Yesterday, I was working at the conference my organization was sponsoring, listening to an a cappella group that had been hired to provide entertainment and a bit of a pick-me-up as attendees arrived at the conference center and got their coffee. The group, an all-male singing ensemble from a local university, was terrific, full of energy and smiles and overflowing with talent. After a few songs, they asked for a volunteer, and ever game for fun, I raised my hand. I was invited to perch on the knee of one of my singers while the others surrounded me, breaking into a sweet serenade of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Some of them stood, others kneeled, and all of them stared at me intently. Their performance was really quite cute—but the whole time I kept thinking that I could be their mother! They looked so young.
When the song ended, applause filled the auditorium, and I thanked the boys. I walked over to the table where I had left my notebook. An older gentleman with white hair in a maroon sweater and glasses stood next to the table. He nodded at me.
“It’s good to be a cougar, isn’t it?” he sneered.
I was astonished—and offended. But all that came to mind was a lame “Well, my husband wouldn’t like that!” and I left the room.
Honestly! What a rude thing to say! I was offended on two fronts: 1) someone called me a cougar—which, in case you don’t know, is “an older woman seeking a sexual relationship with a younger man”—and the implication of that is disturbing, plus I didn’t very much appreciate being thought of as being old enough to be a cougar (it’s different if I think I’m old–but no one else should!), and 2) to say such a comment to someone you don’t know is highly inappropriate (assuming, of course, that you might say it to someone who do know in jest). Layer on that I was at a professional meeting and that I couldn’t think of a better response at the time, and you can see why I was mad.
So, to that man in the maroon sweater, I say: “Did you really say that to me? You owe me an apology.”
Or maybe even: “Do you have daughters? A wife? Repeat to them what you just said to me and see how they respond.”
Or better yet: “You are sexist and rude. Keep your offensive comments to yourself.”
I could, of course, say all of that. And, I just did.