Archive for July 6, 2007

An Uncomfortable Car Ride

July 6, 2007

Last night, as the partner and I were driving home from Portland, we stopped at a gas station just off the freeway in Wilsonville. I usually stop there for a snack and a drink to keep me alert when I’m driving back at night from Portland.

As we got to the onramp to get back on the freeway, I saw a a woman who looked roughly my age with her thumb out, trying to hitch a ride south. Making a split-second decision (and checking with the copilot, who really didn’t have time to do anything but stammer ‘sure’), I pulled the car over and got out. As it turned, she was not alone – there was a guy sitting about 20 feet up the road who I hadn’t seen at first. They put their bags in the trunk and off we went. They made small talk for about 15 minutes – where you from, what do you do, this is why I’m hitchhiking, etc. – and then fell asleep.

Anyway, we gave them a ride all the way to exit 228, where they promptly woke up, got their stuff, and headed off into a field to camp. Since they had started in Portland, the ride we gave was 60 of their 80 miles of progress for the day, something that made me feel good.

Here’s the thing, though, and the reason I’m posting about this at all: the whole experience was really, really uncomfortable for me. And, as far as I know, the copilot. I was actually on edge for a bit after they first got in the car. They were trying to make conversation, but we were both pretty tired. We answered minimally, and after 15 or so minutes, they fell asleep – but I didn’t relax.

All sorts of weird scenarios were running through my head, the big two being: 1) What if we get pulled over and they have drugs? and 2) What if they do something dangerous? (I should note that we saw at least 4-6 police cars with lights going on the drive down – they seemed to be out in force last night.)

I had no rational reason to think of either scenario, but I did. Constantly. It was frustrating, because based on everything they said, they were really nice folks who had made conscious decisions to travel cheaply and explore the world – a stance I wholly support. Nevertheless, I was at least mildly nervous until the last mile or so before they got off.

I’m chalking at least part of my being uncomfortable, and probably most of it, up to some screwy socialization and lack of experience on my part. But it still sucked.

I also found myself thinking that they were so eager to have a conversation at first because they felt pressured to entertain the people giving them a ride, an assumption that I had challenged at the end of the ride when I realized they were just doing what they always did – trying to get to know people. That was a major part of the reason they were traveling, after all.

All in all, it was an experience that was both unsettling and gratifying. And to be honest, if I had seen the guy before I stopped, I probably wouldn’t have pulled over. The idea of giving a lone woman a ride was far more appealing than giving a ride to two people, one of whom is a man. Not to mention that if they had been much older than us, I would never have stopped. I felt safer having two of us and one of them, and having that one person be a woman, and having them be a similar age. Not because I don’t think a woman is capable of doing something harmful, but because as a lone woman traveler, she’s less likely to have reason to.

Yeah, I know – that’s also fucked up. But it’s what went through my head. Thoughts?


A Whole New Level of Stupid

July 6, 2007

I’ve been reading Jessica Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism (thanks Alison!), and it’s made my usual newsreading, which already includes a large dose of feminist news, harder to stomach.

As a result, when I read this, I couldn’t resist the urge to post something about it.

From the Boston Herald story:

A Boston man who failed the Massachusetts bar exam has filed a federal lawsuit claiming his refusal to answer a test question – related to gay marriage – caused him to flunk the test.

Stephen Dunne, 30, is suing the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, claiming the “inappropriate” test question violated his religious convictions and his First Amendment rights. Answering the question, Dunne claims, would imply he endorsed gay marriage and parenting.

So what’s the controversial question? This, as far as I know, is the entire text of the question:

“Yesterday, Jane got drunk and hit (her spouse) Mary with a baseball bat, breaking Mary’s leg, when she learned that Mary was having an affair with Lisa,” the bar exam question stated. “As a result, Mary decided to end her marriage with Jane in order to live in her house with Philip, Charles and Lisa. What are the rights of Mary and Jane?”

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Seriously? He got bent out of shape over that? If I were in a position to do something about it, I’d make sure this asshat never got a license to practice law. This incident proves one of two things: Either Dunne is incredibly stupid, or he has no respect for the law or other people (or both, frankly). Either one (especially the latter) should disqualify him from getting a license.

Allowing someone to practice law whose actions actively undermine the legal system is just about the very definition of stupid. It’s about time professional associations start doing a better job looking at the actions of people who are undermining their organizations from the inside. I’m also speaking, of course, about pharmacists…more on that later.

I found the story over at Majikthise, courtesy of zuzu, who has something to say on the matter:

I mean, you did study law, right? You learned how laws work? And how court decisions work? And that knowing what the law *is* and how it works doesn’t mean that you approve of the outcome. Right? I mean, just because I could tell you how the Supreme Court voted in, say, Bush v. Gore doesn’t mean that I *approve* of the outcome.

Also, I didn’t realize that the First Amendment was designed to prevent people from being exposed to ideas they don’t like. Hm. My high school government teacher must have been slipping in her old age.