Welcome to Portlandia

on July 24, 2017

I’m currently in Portland for an awesome conference. Everything about the conference will be for a different post but this one is about something that happened today.

While I’ve only been here for a few days, I noticed there is quite a large homeless population here. The homeless population also seems to skew young and male. I don’t claim to understand all the nuances behind homelessness but I do feel like a large part of it is mental illness and drug abuse.

After a great day with my coworkers and then spending a bit of time working alone, I decided to leave the coffee shop I was at and just wander. I wanted to play Pokémon Go and collect extra XP points and try to collect more of the creatures I was missing to be able to evolve what I have.

Wallitah GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I was enjoying my walk. The sun was bright. The weather was not to hot and the breeze was lovely. There was a park with the sound of children playing. And as I walked by I thought how much my children would have had fun at a place like this. And then it happened.

A young, obviously agitated, homeless man asked me for money. I walked by ignoring his request. I don’t actually carry cash and I was really into catching a Hitmonlee. When he didn’t get a response from me, he decided to take it up a notch. Out came the words. The ones that really stuck out were, “Fat Whore.” Yes me. The almost 40 year person with 3 kids in sensible shoes is a whore. Even if I wasn’t dressed “mom casual,” this guy is throwing harsh judgement on me based on my clothes. And it’s not that part that annoyed me most. It was the fat part. Why is it ok for a male (or any other person really) to comment on how much space I decide to take up in this world? Obviously he did it to get a reaction. I didn’t give him one, so his tirade went on more about my hair, my glasses, my backpack, etc.

Quartz GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Part of me wanted to deck the guy and tell him off. My rational side kicked in, though, and said, “Uh yeah putting yourself in danger over this is just not worth it.” (If you recall, just a few months back in Portland, 2 young men were murdered for intervening in a situation with a hostile homeless person yelling at women.) This happened 4 hours ago and it’s still bugging me. Why is my self worth attached to my physical appearance? Would this homeless man have ranted like this if I was a tall, skinny, 25 year old? Would he have done this to a man? I won’t know the answers to the questions but dammit I am still pissed that I let the ramblings of a mentally ill homeless person get into my head.

This piece by the very talented actress Heather Matarazzo is pretty spot on. I may not be thin or pretty but my talents are in other places. And you know what, screw being fuckable. That is a lot to keep up with and I have better things in my life to focus on- like raising badass daughters and not handing this nonsense down to them.

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