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24 February 2015 @ 04:13 pm
[RL] Team Angry Cat  
Last year, I went to a con in Chicago. On Saturday morning, I took the elevator from my room (fourth floor) to the con suite (second floor). Also on that elevator: a dude taking it to the first floor. As soon as I pressed the button, he said chidingly, "Two floors! Should've walked it." And then he literally, actually tutted at me. "Tut tut tut" went the arbiter of everyone else's body and abilities. Just so I'd know for sure that I'd been bad and been judged for it.

Now. There were a couple of conversations we could have had at this point. I could have told elevator dude the truth: that I have lupus (please please don't make the House joke; you have no idea how many times I've heard the House joke, and I promise you that sometimes it is in fact lupus), so I keep an eye on my energy and pain levels and try to save some of whatever ability I have for later. That I'm especially careful to do that when I'm at an event or traveling, because I don't want to be in my room exhausted or in pain when a thing I really wanted to do is happening two floors away, and I really don't want to be in pain and out of energy while traveling in modern American airports (apparent motto: "If you can't stand for four hours and run two miles full-tilt while carrying two weeks' supplies, lol no go fuck yourself"). So I'm careful. I don't push it. In the mornings, I might take the elevator, which the hotel did, after all, install for people to use.

I could also have told elevator dude to go fuck himself, which is the other honest conversation we could have had at that point. It is seriously none of his business whether I use the stairs, or the elevator, or rappel down the outside of the building, or maybe just dissolve into primordial ooze and drip down the walls.

But, you know, confrontation is another energy burner. I wanted to save my energy for having fun with my friends, the people I came to see. So I said something non-committal. Elevator dude wasn't done, though. "You should always find the stairs, first thing when you check into a hotel," this dude who was maybe ten years older than me and in no way my father said. "Did you know you're not allowed to use the elevator during a fire? Whenever you check into a hotel, you should think: what if there's a fire?"

Indeed, elevator dude. What if? What if, in my second decade of staying alone in hotels, you had not come along to tell me how to do it? I might have done it wrong, and then I would surely have burned to death in a fiery inferno, just as I have at least once a year throughout my adulthood, despite my mother giving me pretty much exactly those instructions back when I was seven and actually needed them.

Fortunately, at that point, we arrived at the second floor. I headed to the con suite and settled in. Some minutes later, I mentioned the mansplainer in the elevator and his profound concern for my well-being in case of fire. I didn't complain about the "should've walked" comment, largely because I didn't expect any support for it; I know an apparently able-bodied (and fat!) woman taking the elevator is cause for judgment in this world. (In some places, going by the general response, it's borderline actionable.) And most people at that particular table didn't know the details of my medical status, since in general, when given the choice between talking with my friends about lupus or talking with them about people banging, or being unicorn space eagles, or both, I tend to choose the pointy space birds and their sexytimes.

"Why would anyone say that to you?" one of the women at the table asked, in that mystified dudes-why-are-you? tone. "How does that even come up?"

So I explained about how we got on the topic of elevators. As soon as I said, "He said I should've taken the stairs," ten women around the table looked up and angry cat hissed in unison. It was like they'd rehearsed it for weeks after months of watching angry cats and studying their motivations. Truly a beautiful moment.

From this experience I learned some things:
  1. Support matters. Those women and their instinctive and audible anger didn't just make me feel better; they actually changed the way I remember the event. They became what was important about it rather than elevator dude. His judgment has become small and insignificant to me, and in fact I smile when I think about him, because he's inextricably linked to that moment ten people became Team Angry Cat for me.

  2. A lot of times, I don't reach for support because I don't expect it. I don't talk about the random elevator dude type aggravations of life, because I assume there's a good chance most people will side with the elevator dudes of the world. It's worth it to find the places where that isn't true. And it's worth it to reach for support when I can.

  3. I need to look for more chances to be on other people's Team Angry Cat. I don't need to know about that person's life or judge their worthiness; if they've experienced harassment or microaggressions, I'm gonna try to support them.

  4. I'd pay significant money for a YouTube series that was just ten women angry cat hissing at ability enforcers and mansplainers and dudes shouting "smile, baby!" at random ladies and so on.
Oh, yeah, and to the ten members of that particular Team Angry Cat: thank you. You're the best, and I will hiss for you anytime.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
Mara: Boys are dumbmarag on February 25th, 2015 12:21 am (UTC)
I'd pay significant money for a YouTube series that was just ten women angry cat hissing at ability enforcers and mansplainers and dudes shouting "smile, baby!" at random ladies and so on.

Holy moley, I would absolutely pay for this. It would be a thing of beauty.

I absolutely agree that we should all attempt to be on Team Angry Cat for other people because it makes such a huge difference to get that support.
Also into cats: CheerSkyjamethiel_bane on February 25th, 2015 12:51 am (UTC)

.. hissing is actually the best response. I quite often get so angry that I am just left stammering and going "but, but. I just--what? Wha? Why? I..." and then I give up and go away because apparently my ability to communicate completely fails in the face of asshattery.

In future I shall hiss. That's fantastic.

(I would also pay so much money for a video of women going Team Angry Cat at harassment. It would be glorious)
A pink plastic crypt that fits in your palm: Cats [We're watching you!]fiveforsilver on February 25th, 2015 01:17 am (UTC)
Wow, I was having a shitty evening, mostly due to things I have no way to influence and just have to wait out, and this made me smile and laugh and actually feel better. I was not expecting that. Go Team Angry Cat.
Proactively Untwist Octagonal Hippopotamus Pants: hockey - perrydramaturgca on February 25th, 2015 02:23 am (UTC)
I angry cat hiss a surprising amount for a person who is not, in fact, an angry cat. (As far as you know)
gabolangegabolange on February 25th, 2015 02:45 am (UTC)
I would totally pay for that YouTube series.

On so many issues, but especially the elevator, because...yes, I look and act and often am an able-bodied adult who should take the stairs, except of course for the days when holy shit, that is not an option, and I am not explaining my complicated and weird medical history to a random mansplainy elevator dude or anyone. Angry hiss indeed.

AynAtonal: screamaynatonal on February 25th, 2015 04:46 am (UTC)
Yes! Team Angry Cat for the win!
...AND THE HOCKEY MEDIA IS THE SARLACC!shihadchick on February 25th, 2015 07:19 am (UTC)
Team Angry Cat forever.

that_whichthat_which on February 25th, 2015 08:55 am (UTC)
Obviously it's not the best part of this story (which is clearly the awesomeness of team angry cat). The second best part of this story, though, is that the reason random mansplaney elevator guy was able to share all that insight with you is that he was, in fact, _taking the elevator_
horsetravellerhorsetraveller on February 25th, 2015 03:36 pm (UTC)
I was just thinking the same thing!
zafaniazafania on February 25th, 2015 02:03 pm (UTC)
unfortunately some men are just patronising wankers, and they deserve to have this fact mansplained to them. But don't feel singled out because you're a bit porky, trust me, if you are reasonably thin and attractive they will also explain to you that you will get fat if they happen to be next to you in the que when you buy a creamcake or chocolate bar. The only ones I;ve ever let off without a talking too have been the ones obviously over eighty becuase I don't want to be responsible for someonesheart attack.

my beloved, who has it pointed out to him by me that he's a patronising arse on a weekly basis, is also convinced someone is eventually going to smack me because I'm verbally unkind to people who park in disabled bays without a badge, I do this because they're arseholes and should know as much
All I wanted was a pony....: Read my ears moron by demilo19wanted_a_pony on February 25th, 2015 03:42 pm (UTC)
YESSS!! *\o/* .... because cats do disgusted!angry so well!! Friends-at-arms FTW!

I hope that elevator dude wasn't connected to the con, or was on the fringes of fandom at the worst! One of the things that almost-instantly got me addicted to festivals & cons & fandom/geekery/subcultures-in-general in my corner of the world was that the chances of being verbally accosted were much lower than in mundania-at-large. There were some pompous folks who went around fandom (& still do) spouting their opinions & judgments but they were unlikely to be about my job or fitness or appearance.

I didn't complain about the "should've walked" comment, largely because I didn't expect any support for it; I know an apparently able-bodied (and fat!) woman taking the elevator is cause for judgment in this world. (In some places, going by the general response, it's borderline actionable.)

Even among friends & family I have rarely spoken of hurtful incidents like these that happened to me. As you said, partly I want to avoid thinking about them when I have much more pleasant things & people to do. Partly I don't want to relive the feelings of anger, hurt, shame, humiliation, sometimes betrayal, sense of isolation, & terrible vulnerability. Partly I believe that to speak of the incidents will just emphasize to friends or acquaintences (who inexplicably overlook my disgustingness for unknown reasons) that I am disgusting, & hazardous to their social acceptability. (Yeah, self-esteem issues, let me show you them. :-\ )

BUT, reading this does give me heart! I agree with your four points wholeheartedly & I want to start a "Team Angry Cat" movement in my RL fandoms. :-)
[And now I will pop over to Dreamwidth to read the comments there too]

Edited at 2015-02-25 04:13 pm (UTC)
a particularly troubled Romulan: uhura: smileillariy on February 25th, 2015 08:10 pm (UTC)
So much yes to this post. Go, Team Angry Cat! (^-人-^)
Killa: kitty what the shitkillabeez on February 25th, 2015 10:31 pm (UTC)
And now I think that there should be Team Angry Cat t-shirts, and one could wear them to signify in a group of people who may or may not know each other well (say, at a con) that one is a person open for supportive listening if needed.

ETA: Team Angry Cat stickers! To put on your badge holder. :) Also edited to use even more appropriate icon.

Edited at 2015-02-25 10:32 pm (UTC)
devohoneybee: methos what?devohoneybee on February 26th, 2015 11:49 pm (UTC)

*nods, goes off to practice her hiss*
Killakillabeez on February 27th, 2015 01:50 am (UTC)

The stickers? You're right, I should. But I have a long list of things to accomplish by Monday night. :P

Maybe for VVC. Still loving this idea.
Rhi: Zoegryphonrhi on February 27th, 2015 08:22 pm (UTC)
Oh man. I would wear a button of this to any con I attended and, knowing me, to every coffee shop too.

(For some reason I'm now hearing Arlo Guthrie talk about 'walk in, sing eight bars, and walk out.' Except it'd be 'walk up, hiss at the bastard, link arms with the victim, and *wait*.')
One Whose Honesty is Stronger Than Her Fear: really wouldn'tamilyn on February 27th, 2015 12:25 am (UTC)
Your Cruise Director: catcruisedirector on July 21st, 2015 07:48 pm (UTC)
I missed this when you first posted it, but Killa pointed me here and I just wanted to hiss on your behalf!
Amberamberdreams on July 21st, 2015 08:01 pm (UTC)
killabeez just mentioned your angry cat story so (being an angry and curious cat myself) I had to investigate and what an awesome story! Now your Ten Angry Cat Ladies have made me smile too! Thank you.

Oh and one of my SPN friends from Belgium also has lupus. She looks fit as a fiddle - she's in her twenties, slim and pretty but none of that helps the fact that she too has to be careful, can't do too much, and also struggles if she even gets too much sun exposure.
it only burns when I breathe: ca2: steve - righteous by next-to-normalspikedluv on July 23rd, 2015 06:10 pm (UTC)
Also here from killabeez and I want to 'like' the heck out of this post. Team Angry Cat FTW!