I went back to the coffee shop today because it is my coffee shop and because I am a frugal person in possession of free coffee cards. The men were once again holding forth on the Weinstein revelations–“bla bla, if the women took money, they shouldn’t be complaining now; bla, bla, why didn’t they stand up for themselves at the time?” I had forgotten my headphones so, though sitting apart from them, couldn’t help hearing hearing their male entitlement mishegos. The female barristas were held hostage since they couldn’t yell at customers without jeopardizing their jobs; the mothers were shaking their heads as their toddlers played; the millennials were hunched over their devices trying to ignore the misogyny broadcast. The men rambled on loudly–“you gotta understand, women can’t have it both ways”– ironically luxuriating on the cockacratic continuum whose existence they were denying. Reader, I blew up. “You fucking guys, why don’t you just give it a rest? The rest of us don’t want to hear your sexist bullshit, did that ever occur to you?” and so on, and so forth. At one point one of them said, “Your generation of women don’t listen well enough. That’s why you can’t make relationships work. We’re used to women who know how to be wives.” At which point this spinster in a fur hat really blew up. “THE GOOD OLD DAYS WHEN WOMAN COULDN’T HAVE OUR OWN BANK ACCOUNTS? OR BETTER YET, WHEN WE COULDN’T VOTE? FOR FUCK’S SAKE WE’RE DAMNED IF WE DO AND DAMNED IF WE DON’T. IF WE SAY SOMETHING, WE’RE BLACK-BALLED BITCHES. IF WE DON’T, WE’RE BLAMED LATER FOR NOT STANDING UP FOR OURSELVES.”
“Jeez, you’re so upset,” said Mikey, a 78-year-old life-long resident of Williamsburg whom I often refer to as one of the local Muppet critics. “You’re such a firecracker; I love it.” I sighed and looked around at the other men–40somethings and 50somethings who may have known better but were far more hard-faced and dead-eyed. I kissed Mikey on the cheek and strode off, feeling vaguely shamefaced that I’d bothered to get mad, not because they didn’t deserve it but because it was such a profound waste of energy and now fetching coffee was going to be A Thing. Too angry to drive but too angry to stay, I stalked around the block. When I came back to my car parked in front of the coffee shop, a woman ran out and touched my shoulder. “Hey,” she said. “I am so glad you said something. After you left, I yelled at them and a few other women did, too. We’re all triggered by the Weinstein stuff–the women because we’ve all been in similar situations, the men because they’re freaking out the world may someday not be their safe space at the expense of others.” “Yeah,” I said, “They’re realizing the world is not entirely their oyster.” “They can’t handle our divine feminine power!” she said and I grinned. We hugged, exchanged business cards and Instagram accounts, and went on our merry ways. Old girls network rising.