Thursday, April 19, 2012
I am walking along a shaded street in Berkley California, on a very lush summer day, lost in my own thoughts in 1968. A barefoot fellow runs up to me with a pair of shoes in his hands. "These are my last material possessions and I want you to have them." He had edited out that he was still wearing clothing and I respectfully declined his impromptu offer. I sat on a bench, sharing it with a French foreign exchange student and compared notes on the churning cultures in our respective countries. We continued to talk as we walked along and she mentioned her interest in the women's liberation movement, which, at that time, I knew very little about and I was curious as to specifics rather than generalities. She suggested I come with her to a meeting and I accepted and we walked over to a fairly crowded auditorium. I was the only male in the room. I had a sort of self congratulatory mindset in noticing this. The speaker began her discourse when her eyes met mine. I smiled, and she could have cut me down or make my head explode with her glare. I was momentarily stunned. "There is a male in this room and this meeting is for women only!" Everyone turned their gaze at me and the room seemed to become a small, claustrophobic and paranoiac fishbowl. "You..have to leave!" As I left my French comrade who had slunk into her seat, and walked to the exit, everyone broke out in spontaneous applause.