Saxon and I went to the gym today. We go at least five days a week. We use the gym at the college that’s only a couple of blocks from our house. We’re lucky that they let community members use the facilities because it’s a really nice place with great equipment. One of the first things I noticed about this gym is that there are rape posters hung everywhere—telling women to be careful, always use the buddy system, etc.
The only drawback to the gym is that we’re surrounded by young white guys, especially when using the weight machines. And I wouldn’t really call that a problem because nothing has ever happened. Until today…
Saxon and I were riding the exercise bikes on the second floor. I heard some shouting behind us and I turned around and witnessed a wrestling match between a muscular white man and a much smaller young woman. He had her pinned to the floor, his arm around her neck in a headlock and she’s kicking and bucking, but can’t get him off her. They are laughing, cussing, etc.
There are three young men and three young women around them, watching silently. There is usually a management person seated at the desk. Today, there was nobody.
I could tell that this wrestling match was the type of thing that the young man would call horseplay, but the young woman didn’t look like she was enjoying it at all.
Finally, he let her up. The woman takes one last swipe at him, ripping his shirt over his head.
I told Saxon, “Let’s go downstairs. I want to complain to management about this. It could easily have escalated into something really bad.”
We walked downstairs and I asked the woman at the desk to get me management. She did. A woman, around my age, came out of the back office and I told her about the wrestling match upstairs. I told her that I think there should always be a person on duty at the desk so that kind of stuff doesn’t get out of control.
She thanked me and said she would take care of it. She walked upstairs and Saxon and I continued with our workout. Thirty minutes later, we headed out the door to the parking lot and we heard a man’s voice behind us yell, “Excuse me! Why’d you tell on me?”
We turned around. It was the young white man. I guess he was angry because he got scolded for wrestling. He said again, “Why’d you get me in trouble? Why didn’t you just come up and talk to me if you had a problem with me?”
I responded, “Because it’s not my job to make you stop wrestling. I’m not management and I’m also not your mother.”
Now he was in my space. “You should’ve just told me if you have problem.”
I took a step in to him and said, “Really? This is what you want? Right here and now, you want to get in my face? You want to wrestle me, too?”
I have to say this whole thing to me was an act of aggression on his part. He obviously waited inside the gym for us to leave and followed us outside in order to accost us. What he didn’t figure on was my standing up to him.
He kept talking. I honestly don’t remember what all he said. I was too angry.
Remember that part in Jurassic Park where that little dinosaur was attacking that weird guy and his neck fanned out like some kind of prehistoric cobra thing?
Yeah, that was me.
I got nose-to-nose with him and said, “I am so tired of your white boy privilege, thinking you can push around every woman you meet. Well, this is one woman you can’t push around. Now go ahead and try something.” At which point, I pulled my can of pepper spray out of my pocket and held it in front of his face.
He backed away, still talking, still angry. He got into his truck and sped away. I went back inside the gym, asked for the manager, and filled out a complaint on the guy.
Folks, this is what white male privilege looks like. This young man thinks he’s entitled to holding a woman down in the gym and nobody will say anything. He thinks he can bully and scare two older women if they dare to complain.
Like I told the management, “I want you to remember this. And I want there to be a paper trail in case this man does something else.”
This blog is also dated and time-stamped and can serve as my contemporaneous notes if anything does happen.
I also found his Facebook profile and have his photos on my desktop.
This boy just fucked with the wrong old lady.