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The truth about Tall Socks [May. 24th, 2012|10:13 pm]
I have noticed while on my bike that if my legs are revealed in any way, I am more likely to be hollered at. I also experienced that I am more likely to be treated like a woman who likely knows nothing; instantly devalued based on my tall socks. Cue yesterday morning. I rode my bike to school, as I have become accustomed to when it is not balmy-to-the-point-of-death, rainy, or my sustained injury is not acting up. Having run out of my usual bike attire (bike shorts with leggings either under or over, tank top, and hoodie), I decided to wear a pair of shorts and my tall socks. I was honked at on numerous occasions, yelled at; some goober with gold teeth even air kissed at me. It was one of those sleezy air kisses; the kinds that haunt a person's dreams. Even at school, the university, the central nervous system of equality, I had to experience the perils of being devalued based on my appearance and gender. Cue the skeezy groundskeeper named Ken whom I decided to ask directions to the campus bike shop. Assuming I'd "get lost" if he told me the directions (his words), he proceeded to take me on a "short cut" through the campus gym. It was embarrassing when the trolls at the counter greeted me with discontent stares because I had my bike with me. They immediately instructed me to take my bike outside. Ken assured them that I was only there because I was "lost and needed air in my tires". I should have just turned around. Instead, the trolls agreed to let me and my imposing bike through the gates of USF's smelly gym. Ken took me on a tour de confusion through the area where they rent balls (it does not take a genius to understand that a ball pump does not equal a tire pump, or maybe it does and they're all idiots?) He finally got back on track, as it were, and lead me to the campus bike shop. They were closed. I should have turned around, but alas! Ken had a key. We searched the shop looking for an air pump and found one dangling from the ceiling. Instead of telling me how to use the bike pump, he forceably grabbed my hand and demonstrated how the air pump works. I was so creeped out at that point that I had not even paid attention to what he was saying. I also knew how to use this kind of air pump, but again, creeped out beyond comprehension. He kept saying things like "make sure it's rock hard" and called me "babe", "baby", and "buba" the entire time.

This is why I just like to do things on my own. Just tell me the fucking directions, let me get lost, who cares; I'll find my way eventually. Maybe it's the Aries in me, maybe I am just too headstrong about this, but this really stuck in my craw. Between that incident and the hollers, it really got me to thinking. Is this what it is like to be a female bicycle commuter in my city? Sure, we can all scoff and say it's just Tampa, but really, that does not solve the issue at hand. Solace came while biking home and crossing the Nebraska Avenue bridge. There I ran into my old pal Katie, a local like-minded individual who values the female mind and form in ways that others may only dream of comprehending. I told her of my dilemmas and added that maybe it was the tall socks... We both agreed that wearing tall socks should not be an invite to the insult of my intelligence, nor should it be an invite to drive-by sexual harassment, but still, it got me to thinking more on the topic of my tall socks.

I wear them. I wear them often. Why? Well, sometimes I tell people it's because I don't like my legs, which isn't entirely true. I like the patterns and bold colors that tall socks have to offer; my legs are there for my enjoyment, but I find them more appealing when adorned with color and unique patterns. When riding a bike, it is common to graze the dirty/oily chain with the lower leg, and with tall socks, the dirty/oily chain goop only stains my socks. I also wear them to work, which has, in recent months, caused a slough of commentary from some of the men at my job. "Socks! Hey socks! HAHA, nice socks!" is what I hear from one man in particular. It has come to the point where he simply exclaims "Socks!" and either barks or doesn't bark. I have yet to understand the barking.

I spoke with my friend about this issue I was having at work. We share a friendship both inside and outside of work, and I value her opinion in one of the highest regards. What she had to say really shocked me, however. "Well," she explained, "you are the only person here who wears those tall socks." I don't see how that justifies anything, and when I pointed that out to her, she agreed and retracted her previous comment. It still makes me wonder, what inclines a person to even fathom making those kinds of comments? In a "professional" environment? I get it, guys are into the school-girl thing, which was pointed out to me by another male coworker. That hardly weighs any merit though. Who cares? The school-girl thing, how archaic. Sometimes I think "maybe I shouldn't wear the socks.." and then I say "fuck that" and put them on. They look nice, and whoever has something negative or debasing to say about them can go to hell.

Tangents aside, Katie and I discussed methods of influencing the female bicycling community in this city. I am speaking beyond the marathon-weekend-warriors who seclude themselves to Flatwoods and the lovely ladies who frequent the market with their basket-adorned beach cruisers; I am referring to those of us who choose to use a bicycle as a means to legitimate transportation. Commuting, if you will. Do we have to cover up, a westernized veiling, as it were, to avoid harassment and judgment? Tolerance seems to be the interim answer, but I feel that there is more to it, and that time (lots of time) will put an end to this.