As promised, there’s more. I have more to say about the change that my new knee is having on me, but not tonight. Tonight I want to mention the unexpected change that my lovely new Smith & Nephew Oxinium Technology joint has had on an unexpected sub group of the population.
Like most New Yorkers, I spend a fair amount of time walking — to the bus, to the subway, the grocery store, the drugstore, the post office, the library … We do a lot of walking in this city. And when we aren’t getting where we’re going on our own two feet, we ride buses and trains. All this roaming around puts us in contact with lots of other New Yorkers. And some of those New Yorkers are smarmy men who believe that women exist only to be the recipients of their crude comments, gestures and touches.
I have written here a few times before now about street harassment and the men who bring it into my life. What I would never have imagined was that the installation of my new knee would mean that I would suddenly become much more visible to this particular strata of society. I hadn’t realized that I was being harassed any less than in the time before my knee was damaged … or if I did notice, I probably assumed it was because I am older, or because I have finally begun to develop the “Face of Belligerence” my sister and mother long ago perfected. Wrong and wrong again. In the last few months, as I’ve cast off my cane and started getting around town more easily, I’ve had more and still more comments, lip-smacks, and hisses. Oh happy day.
I am a little fond of describing myself as being the walking triple whammy of invisibility: black, fat, and disabled. The ease with which people can not see me on the street is pretty amazing. I’m a tall, large woman with big hair. Not seeing me takes work. But the triple threat that is me makes it possible for any number of people to see right through me. It’s impressive, even as it’s annoying. (If I could have a dollar for every time someone walks into me and rears back in absolute surprise saying, “Oh! I didn’t see you!” this impressive annoyance would also be lucrative.) While it isn’t true that I am in any way happy with my invisibility, I am fully aware of it.
Then here I come with this new knee. Here I come without my cane. Here I come losing one third of my invisibility. Here I am: New and improved! Now 33.33% more visible! Now with added attraction to seedy men! And this all unexpected and unplanned-for.
This is a change no one warned me about in the Pre-Op class I took last year. “More street harassment” was definitely not something I wrote on the pre-surgical forms in my list of things I was looking forward to after recovery. I guess it’s just a bonus.
Read more slices at Two Writing Teachers!