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Since transitioning, I've become acutely aware of something known as "male privilege." For one thing, taking the subway, or even the bus, doesn't feel as safe as it once did, but that's something to be expected. I'm not by any means condoning harassment, but, let's face it, men can be creeps. I was, however, surprised when during one recent rush hour on the M14 bus, I was forced into the realization that something as mundane as eating a candy bar could be so controversial.
I should probably explain.
I'm fat. I take up space. In no earthly culture could I be viewed as "thin." And so it was that one evening rush hour on the M14, while eating a Butterfinger candy bar that I was reminded by a man (who was of at least my own girth,) that if I would "...only lose a few pounds, maybe I could get myself a nice guy." I won't even bother to go into the myriad replies that filled my incredulous head, all jostling towards my mouth only to get stuck shoulder to shoulder to shoulder in the doorway (chief among them, I'm a lesbian who happens to be married, thank you very much!). In fact, I was sadly unable to say anything brilliantly cutting or clever before he disembarked at 5th Avenue. Had I been quicker on my verbal feet, I might have retorted that women's bodies, indeed all bodies ought not be regarded as grist for the mill of public commentary. How many of us have looked at another woman and commented that she was too thin or too tanned, or that her breasts or ass were too small or too big? I'm not only pointing the finger at everyone else. Admittedly, I've done this too. Obviously, as a lesbian I look at other women. I am afterall a sexual creature, and it's only natural, but the problem arises when we don't only look, but feel compelled to comment, as though we have a right to lay some kind of claim to another's body.
I realize that I've digressed from my original point about male privilege, or, maybe not. The fact of the matter is women are complicit in making the female body public property, and, although men are becoming increasingly regarded in much the same way, it's usually men who are already in the public arena as celebrities. This doesn't make it alright by any means, but that's fodder for another rant; this one's about women's bodies, and our right to own our own. After all, a fat woman standing on a rush hour bus should be able to enjoy a candy bar, without it being an act of feminist rebellion.
This piece was first published at The View From Here.