Sexism and anti-science in the red depths of North Florida

I got a new t-shirt in the mail the other day. I had bought one with the 500 Women Scientists logo so I could support their work. And the first chance I had to wear it was two days ago, so on it went.

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Me with my new “500 Women Scientists” shirt. The rest of the image is a flower (you can just see the tops of the purple petals), complete with green stem.

And then I had to go to Walmart. For those of you without a Walmart in your neighborhood, let me say that you are probably better off for that. Here in my tiny town of Crawfordville, Walmart is sometimes the only game in town (say, if you need a new water heater at 2 a.m. — which has literally happened to us). Or, in my case, they were the only pharmacy in town that hadn’t yet pissed me off because I hadn’t taken my business there yet, so I switched my business to theirs a couple of years ago. And sometimes it just saves you a 30-minute drive into the local mini-metropolis of Tallahassee, Florida, where there are more options.

The above paragraph explains why I go to Walmart twenty years after my husband and I denounced the company as The Evil Empire, and just a few years after my husband stopped calling it “Hellmart.” I find that as I get older, the world appears less in black and white, and more in multiple shades of gray.

But in general, Walmart does not attract the most open-minded clientele (is this a stereotype? Perhaps), so I really should not have been surprised at the reaction my new shirt engendered in one particular gentleman.

I was coming into the store as he was walking out with his family/party, and our eyes locked somehow. You know that old expression (I assume it’s not just American) about someone having daggers coming out of their eyes? Well, forget that — this guy had bullets coming out of his, if not grenades. Holy cats! In my head, I was like, “Dude! What’s your problem?” Then I remembered what I was wearing.

Did my “500 Women Scientists” shirt threaten his virility in some fashion? Did he think I was going to launch into a discussion of climate change (which some people now deem to be a “political” subject)? I doubt he saw the button on my shirt (in case 500 Women Scientists was not enough liberal protest, I was also wearing a button that says “I Voted for Hillary”), which I imagine was small enough and far enough away from him that he couldn’t have seen it. Or maybe, just maybe, he was angry before he saw my shirt and was just having a bad day. But that doesn’t seem likely.

I’ve decided it’s not enough for me to just write a blog. I have been sitting on that “I Voted for Hillary” button (along with a few similar buttons) for several months without having the courage to wear it until just recently, which is to say, right after I started this blog. I need to have the courage of my convictions, which I haven’t always done in my 50 years on this planet, but I’m trying to get better at it. I mean, it’s not like I will be shot for my beliefs (more than likely). You never know, in this day and age in America, when someone can go into a church — a place of worship, mind you — and shoot and kill nine people. (“But don’t you dare make a move on my guns!” Sorry, that’s another rant for another blog.)

Anyway, speaking of ranting, I guess I’m done for now. If you want to leave a comment, please do so below.

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