You barely glanced up when I walked through the door. You were totally engrossed in whoever it was you were texting. Which didn’t make a damn bit of difference to me. I was here to wash some clothes, not to strike up what I’m sure would have been a sparkling dialogue with a sweaty man in a blue polo.
I took two washers down the row from yours, throwing my jeans into one, my lighter colored tee shirts into another. You did look up at me, for a moment, but quickly wrote me off as uninteresting and returned to your phone. I also found you unworthy of casual conversation, so I continued with my laundry sorting. A little Hispanic grandma type came into our world, temporarily, to empty her washer and I jumped at the opportunity to use it. I emptied the remaining contents of my laundry basket onto a folding table and started at the tedious task of fastening the hooks on my bras before tossing them into the newly acquired washer. That got your attention.
Maybe it’s excessively hopeful and naïve for me to feel this way, but there’s nothing overtly sexual about a bra. Everyone knows that every woman wears underwear (or, at least, has the capacity to wear underwear) and most swimsuits reveal WAY more skin than even the raciest of my lingerie. Given this fact, I have always maintained the belief that if, as I’m sitting here sorting my laundry, someone happened to catch a glimpse of my undergarments, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. After all, we’re all grown-ups here. However, sweaty man in a blue polo, I don’t understand why you thought it appropriate to stare, slack-jawed, at the small pile of underwear that I was sorting.
I watched you out of the corner of my eye, trying not to let myself become too bothered by you explicit gawking. I lifted each bra into my hands, untwisted the bands and the straps, fastened the hooks, and threw it into the washer. A sheer purple demi-cup here, a black pushup bedazzled with rhinestones there, a cute Tiffany-Blue number covered in matching lace, all possessing the telltale black tag and pink curvy script of a Victoria’s Secret design. Your eyes never left whatever small, lacy thing I was currently holding and the fact that I could now hear your mouth breathing made me all the more uncomfortable.
“Laundry day, huh?” You said, loudly. I pretended not to hear you. You came towards me and sat on the washer next to mine. “Those are nice.” You continued with a casual tone, referring to the blue thong I had just thrown in to follow the matching bra. I looked at you, for a second, nodding in acknowledgement. You pressed a little more, “You single?” I bit off a curt, but quiet, “Yes” and tried to position my body between your prying eyes and my pile of bras and panties. “So that’s just what you wear? Every day?” Now, red in the face from both embarrassment and anger, I finally looked you square in the face, forced an agreeable expression and said, “I’m sorry, do I know you?” You assured me that we had not met and that you were just being friendly.
Suddenly, I was extremely interesting to you. Your eyes went from my hips, to my rack, back to my hips, and slowly up the length of my body. You didn’t say anything else, but I already knew what was in your mind. It was written all over your stupid face. Somewhere down the line, you had probably seen a porn video that looked a lot like this; starting with some adult film bombshell flashing her panties in a Laundromat and ending with said bombshell bent over a folding table telling the camera that she was a dirty girl. You were looking at me, the blonde in sweatpants and a tank top that had been too boring for you to even glance up at a few moments before, and you were now seeing a sex object, a dirty girl with her slutty little underwear; all because you had peeked into my laundry basket.
You made me feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, diminished, and, frankly, frightened. You never bothered to ask my name, how my day was going and you didn’t volunteer any of this information about yourself. You chose, instead, to judge my character and my worth to you on the sexiness of my clothes, because clearly that tells you everything worth knowing about me. You never stopped staring and, thankfully, your load of laundry was finished and you had to leave. You did stop and give me your number, which, as you know, I wasted no time angrily refusing (seriously, has handing a girl a paper with your number on it and saying, “We can watch a movie at my place” ever worked for you?) I watched you leave the Laundromat and was absolutely infuriated by the whole experience.
I’ve got news for you, sweaty man in a blue polo: I don’t shop at the stores I do and wear the pretty things I do for you or anyone else other than myself. Just because my bras are bedazzled and my panties are small and lacy, does not mean that I am some dirty girl stereotype for you to harass and ogle. I want to look good and feel beautiful in my clothes and in my skin, because it gives me confidence and empowers me, as a woman. Sometimes, when I’m selecting something sexy to wear for the evening, it is to please a lover. But not to please him by being a tool for his pleasure, but to share some of that beauty, sexuality, and confidence with the person who has, in turn, made me feel beautiful, desired, and confident.
So, next time, instead of peeking at a woman’s panties and hoping that, by making suggestive comments, that the owner of said panties will melt into a soulless, sex object puddle at your feet, try treating a woman like she’s an actual person.