Sunday, October 9, 2016

Peculiar Children, Stranger Things, Disgusting Perverts

Unwinding in my cozy recliner, I sometimes think about the character Eleven in “Stranger Things,” whose friend Mike showed her his family’s recliner, saying, “This is where my dad sleeps.” Eleven falling back as Mike pulled the lever was a type of trust building activity. She'd been through so much that just dipping back in that chair gave her a fright.

I love Eleven. I really wish I had her powers. That would make my life so much easier.

I'm so uptight right now that I don’t think I would let anyone pull the lever on my recliner. That’s what walking home at 11 PM in Uskudar, carrying a rock for protection, will do to you. All I want to do is relax and put my feet up. I don’t actually want to bludgeon anybody with a rock. But if someone sexually harasses me and follows me home, I will protect myself by any means necessary.

It would be so much easier if, like Eleven, I could just break bad guys' arms with the powers of my mind.

This evening my friend Jillian and I took the metrobus to Zorlu Mall on the European side to have dinner at Eatily and see the film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Dinner and Chianti were satisfying. The movie was creepy and demented and spectacular. My favorite character was the fashion forward Horace, who projected his dreams like movies for the other peculiar children to watch. That’s another power I wish I had. Leaving the mall, we were in good spirits. We saw a little girl going in circles inside a revolving door and surmised that she must have been one of Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children.

On the metrobus going back, my friend was groped. This is not uncommon in Istanbul. I shouted “Ayıp! Ayıp!” which is Turkish for “shame.” No one intervened. The groper pulled an innocent face and showed us that he was just taking a thumb tack out of his pocket. Right. Alongside posters condemning terrorism that are plastered all over public transportation, commuters can also stare at videos of adorable puppies and kittens. I believe the puppies and kittens are meant to discourage violence, but really, what is being done to discourage all the perverts from being perverts? Nothing.

When we got off the metrobus and started walking home, a man followed us. We screamed at him in Turkish and English. We crossed the road and when we came to some construction blocking our way and realized we’d have to cross again, that’s when my friend picked up rocks and handed me one of them. We finally made it home, shaken by the experience. Our texts letting each other know we’d arrived home safely were much more than just a courtesy. 

Now I can't sleep. Why is it still acceptable in some cultures for men to view women as property or prey? I’ll be watching the second presidential debate in the wake of Donald Trump’s latest lewd comments about women. He’s dismissed his own comments as “locker-room banter.” Americans who are just as deplorable as he is will accept this obscene bragging as water under the bridge. They’ll try to ignore the fact that this man sees women as either sex toys or objects of ridicule.

I’ll be comfortable physically in my own space while I watch the debate, but uncomfortable emotionally as I’m reminded again and again how abuse of women is such a big problem. All I can do is pretend that I’m living in a science fiction TV series and that my powers make me invincible. Oh, and vote. That's one super power I do have. 

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