Many people have told me that I act like a man. I respond with, “I’m not really sure why…but thanks for thinking that that’s a compliment.” I am a fairly confident woman who is nothing like the men I know. For example, a few years ago I was eating in a restaurant and felt something hard in my mouthful of spaghetti. I spit it out thinking it was a bone and to my surprise, it was an oven screw. My father and my boyfriend were outraged. Their faces turned red. Their features were contorted as they screamed at the waiter and demanded a refund. The waiter was polite and apologetic and made sure I was ok but that did not deter them from banging on the table and shaking their fists. Honestly, I just felt bad for the waiter. It wasn’t his fault. Plus, no one got hurt. I didn’t understand why everyone’s first reaction had to be so aggressive. I told the waiter calmly, “I’m just so thankful I didn’t choke.” I wondered if I would’ve reacted the same way if I were a white man instead of a white woman.
If I were a white man I would expect and receive an endless amount of respect because I would be taught that that was my right. From an early age, my white mom would defend me no matter what choices I made. If I fought a classmate in school, she would blame the other kid. If I received bad grades, she would blame the teachers. Instead of listening to others and seeing their point of view, I would treasure my point of view as the only point of view. I would be conditioned to assert my dominance and showcase my masculinity wherever I go. Because of all of that, my reaction to finding the screw would be epically different. First of all, I would have chomped down hard on that screw nearly breaking all of my teeth. I definitely would have swallowed it because I would be too impatient to chew my food. The screw would be lodged in my throat and the waiter would have to perform the Heimlich maneuver to save my precious white man life. Too angry to be grateful to the waiter, I would demand our meal be free and threaten to sue their sorry asses! Not only would I give them one star on Yelp but I would write a lengthy review about the food preparation that nearly took my life! After weeks of waiting, I would be furious that the restaurant didn’t send me an apology fruit basket. The situation would weigh so heavily on me that I would seek justice! Through rallies in the community I would battle for a complete shutdown of the restaurant. I would go to the local news and speak emotionally about how I am a caring citizen who shops locally and gives generously to well-known cancer fighting charities. I would retell the story of choking as if I was a marine at war, just trying to eat pasta for my country. The world would pity me. After months of back and forth between the restaurant’s lawyer and mine, I would become a partner in the restaurant chain and receive a huge financial settlement for my pain and suffering. People would respect my new suits and properties. I would appear to be a self-made success story! I would stop working but continue the facade of a hard-working millionaire for the rest of my life. After three wives and a gambling addiction I would die choking on Chef Boyardee spaghetti in a broken-down motel.