This Is What Wearing My Headphones Means To Me, As A Woman
I’m a woman. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a daughter, sister, neighbor and I am a friend.
And quite frequently, being all of those things can be exhausting.
That’s not to say that I don’t love who I am or the people in my life, but sometimes I need to block out the noises around me. Even the noises in my own head.
I love the peace that comes with playing music just for me, listening to a song that no one else can hear. When my headphones are in, you’ll often see one of those rare moments when I smile to myself.
Maybe I had a breakthrough in the design I’m working on or the article I’m writing. Maybe I just heard a lyric that reminded me of a happy memory. Maybe I just felt calm for the first time that day.
It doesn’t matter. You can enjoy the smile. Quietly take it in, but the moment is mine to savor because I’ve given you the universal signal for “DO NOT DISTURB”.
My headphones are more than just the music or podcast playing through them. They are part of an unspoken contract between myself and society that agrees to give me solitude.
They are no different than the sock on the door while your roommate is getting some action. You wouldn’t dare open that door, would you? Please don’t open that door.
Because I believe in people’s general acceptance that you don’t talk to someone wearing headphones, they have become my shield, my protection.
They are the signal to men (and women) that I am not available. I am physically, but not mentally present and that’s my prerogative.
I am physically, but not mentally present and that’s my prerogative.
I can accept answering a question or helping a stranger when I’m out and about. I’m happy to do that. I’m not a complete misanthrope.
I also recognize that sometimes you have no choice but to bother a stranger, and it’s equally as uncomfortable for you as it is for me.
But, as a woman, there is this bizarre expectation of my unquestionable attentiveness to any guy who speaks to me. It it is absolute ridiculousness.
I’d like to say that I can grocery shop and not be approached. I’d love to pretend I can go to the gym and not be distracted mid-weight lift. I wish I could tell you that I can walk from my apartment to my car without being propositioned or take my dog for a stroll without someone offering me a lift.
Thank you, kind sir, but your bumper just fell off. Maybe focus on that instead of me?
But I can’t tell you any of those things, and that’s not my ego talking. It’s the cold, hard truth.
Ask your sisters, girlfriends and friends. They will tell you the same.
So, my headphones are obviously there to protect me, but consider the possibility that they are also there to protect strange men.
They give dudes the signal to not engage and prevent them from dealing with the inevitable verbal backlash that I am equipped with. Because verbal backlash is sort of my specialty.
These tiny, bright-blue ear buds are a safety net for both of us because “I CANT HEAR YOU.” I also can’t read lips, and find taking ear buds in and out to be incredibly annoying and verging on painful.
These tiny, bright-blue ear buds are a safety net for both of us because “I CANT HEAR YOU.”
The reality is that I can only hear Lin-Manuel Miranda singing to me.
I have made the decision to make this moment about me and Alexander Hamilton, not the rest of the world or someone’s attempts to converse.
My headphones are my way of telling you that.
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