Tag Archives: fear

Everyday Sexism

Today while getting my tetanus booster shot (PS, you need this every 10 years, so a lot of ya’ll are probably due soon) and flu shot (ok, I’m late, I know), the nurse who assisted me commented that she “couldn’t even get boys” to take two shots in one day.

There are so many problems with that statement, even though I know she didn’t mean any harm. Though meant to be a praise to me, her words insinuate that women are less likely to be proactive and practical with their healthcare (generally, statistically false) due to a greater degree of fear or inability to handle pain than what might plague men.

This is problematic because it’s the kind of subtle sexist mindset that a lot of us still have permeating our words and actions. Similar to how the words we use to describe women we admire (beautiful and kind are much more common than assertive and powerful) differ from those we use to describe men (smart, strong, charismatic, powerful and maybe handsome), there is an expectation of us based on our projected gender that probably has little to do with who we actually are.

Is a man ‘supposed’ to be unafraid of shots? Is he ‘supposed’ to be stronger, more willing to take pain, more in control of his own health?

Apparently, according to this nurse, my courage in the face of two one-second shots was impressive, and even more so because I am a woman. I know for a fact that men and women can both be terrified of shots. They can also be pretty chill about them. It’s not a sex thing, it’s not a gender thing, and it’s not even a personality thing.

Ultimately, this nurse was just trying to make conversation and take away any nerves I might have. We all say kind of stupid things sometimes. Even so, it reminded me of how pervasive sexism is in our culture still and how even the smallest acts can perpetuate it. I don’t want my nephews or my future son to grow up in a world where they’re shamed for hating shots, spiders, thunderstorms, heights, whatever. And I don’t want my girls to be told that their courageous acts are measured on a scale of 1 to Manhood.

So look for these little things. Stop yourself from saying them. Correct yourself. Don’t laugh at the jokes. They aren’t really funny anyway.

I Understand Why Deer Freeze in Headlights

Most of the time, people use the expression ‘deer in the headlights’ to indicate someone being completely dumbfounded, confused, stuck. But have you ever stopped and thought about why deer get caught in that state? Why don’t the deer leap away from the oncoming vehicle? I think sometimes we even laugh about it. What kind of creature is dumb enough to be so easily incapacitated to a point of being unable to save their own life?

Well, tonight I was walking along the road near my house (don’t worry, there was a sidewalk, and I was never in any danger) and I began to understand what it must be like to be a deer frozen in front of an oncoming car. In the utter darkness, your eyes adjust, and you can see your surroundings just fine. I could tell where the sidewalk was, where my feet were, whether or not there were bushes or fences beside me. But as soon as a car approached, the headlights would flood my sight. For a full ten seconds, I could not see anything but bright yellow spots surrounded by complete blackness. No matter where I looked–even straight down at my feet–all I could see was black or bright. Talk about tunnel vision. I had to trust that I remembered where the sidewalk was and that I wasn’t going to fall off if I kept taking steps forward.

It was pretty disorienting, and I could see how easily this unique blindness could feel like the whole world had suddenly fallen away. If you can’t see anything outside of the bright light, how do you know there’s anywhere to jump? Surrounded by nothingness, it seems like you have no choice but to stay where you are, stay overwhelmed by the last thing that you know for sure exists–that light.

I think we’re all deer in the headlights sometimes. We get so overwhelmed by something that we literally can’t even see anything outside of it. Someone might tell us to leap out of the way. We might have an inkling that the sidewalk is still beneath our feet. But sometimes those little hints aren’t enough to convince us to move. Sometimes we find the beauty in the light and can’t let it go, even if we know it might kill us.