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I look down at the table.

If I stare hard enough perhaps I can summon food? Anything to get people to talk less.

I look down like I'm going away; sorry can't talk, shutting down, uploading brain to some far away place, away from your shit.

You are not really looking for a response even though you look right at me, you don't want approval or detraction. You're being neutral right? You're just relaying the reality of "us guys," certainly you are not reinforcing constructed gender roles. That's crazy talk, this is just reality son, the reality of "us.". And, of course I am one of you, my identity is yours to assume, my body squirms at your appropriation, your ignorant theft.

I want to say something, I want to scream, or at least calmly explain that saying things like: "us guys don't need a lot of options, we just choose what we want, right?" plays on many gender biases and prescriptive assumptions of normalized gender behavior and emotions. I want to deconstruct ideas of male logical supremacy, to shatter the structure that places and defines "masculine decisive" logic over "feminine erratic" emotions, to call that implicit gender binary all together problematic and potentially harmful, to question the very notion that gender determines such things as how one orders food, to call you out, to call out so many things.

All this races through my head while my body continues to squirm uncomfortably in my seat. I want to scream these things to reclaim my body from you; some things I'm fine being excluded from. Or perhaps I should follow your advice, be one of "us guys" and spout chauvinistic and gender essentialist inanities, or do just as well and co-conspire, tacitly accept, to nod or half laugh makes me just as culpable does it not?

But then the server arrives, freeing me from choosing that uncomfortable prospect of responding and doing the easy, keeping my head low, smiling and nodding. The interruption gives me an out, a third way apart from the nod of tacit approval and the potential disaster of calling you out, a way to not respond, not to confront, try and forget about it, let your words dissolve without fanfare. It may hurt, letting you off the hook, letting you get away with a piece of me, but I'm not strong enough to wage that war right now. I just want to set it all aside and not be constantly reminded...

"Let's start with the ladies."


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