A Matter of Tolerance

This weekend was a fairly sociable one for me, usually I’m a miserable bitch who abhors any kind of social interaction, but I went out twice with two separate groups of people so it was definitely a change for me. But I’m not really blogging about my weekend.

The people who know me are probably well aware that I’m not terribly conventional when it comes to “fashion” (amongst other things). I don’t really care what the shops think I should wear, if I like something, and it’s cheap, I’ll buy it. I refuse to spend any large sums of money on clothes/shoes, in fact the most expensive thing in my wardrobe is actually in the boot of my car, and it’s my riding boots (about 70 quid). This means that I tend to buy charity shop stuff and modify it, and any “decent” clothes I fork out for will get worn to death.

I have a favourite colour and it’s quite obvious. Therefore most of the clothes I own (which aren’t t-shirts I’ve bought at gigs) are purple. I just like it, and I don’t think I can carry browns and greens as well as other people can. Plus I have literally no idea what goes with what, so if I stick to one colour scheme at least I can be fairly sure I’m not clashing.

I also actually don’t give a shit what people think about my fashion sense (to a degree, which I’ll get onto in a moment) so if I decide I’m going to go out wearing my New Rocks, a ballgown and a dressage hat, then you can expect to see me wearing my New Rocks, a ballgown and a dressage hat. Equally, I only “dress up” when I feel like it, so most of the time I will be slumming it in jeans and a gig t-shirt.

But why should you care what clothes I decide to wear when going out in public? No really, why the hell should anyone care about what someone’s wearing? Unless it’s actually offensive in its content (and I am very careful not to wear my Rob Zombie t-shirt when I’m around children or the elderly) then what right does anyone have to take issue with someone else’s attire? Sure, if you find someone’s clothing choice funny or whatever, then you and your mates can have a laugh about it, but do you really need to let that person know?

Well apparently the fashion police has its headquarters here in Portsmouth and everyone is an officer of the law. I regularly face abuse when walking around the city, mostly verbal, sometimes physical, and it always bemuses me.

On Friday, I went to the RadSoc (radiographers’ society) Christmas meal at Gunwharf Quays, a shopping and “entertainment” centre in the city. I parked in the underground car park and walked the 100 yards or so up the stairs and across the courtyard to get to the bar we met at.¬†Walking across the car park a girl loudly exclaimed to her friend “is that a tranny?” making fairly sure I could hear her. I kept walking. On the escalator, some lads behind me were laughing loudly and one of them dared another to “go get it‘s phone number”. Walking across the courtyard some drunk arsehole made a beeline for me and stood directly in my path, getting quite close to my face, and asked if I was “looking for business” whilst his mates threw an empty cigarette packet at my head and attempted (but failed) to hit me with an empty beer can.

I just want to point out that none of this is new behaviour. I have experienced it before and I’m certain I will again. What made me feel compelled to comment was my experience on Saturday night. I had always assumed that this was just normal behaviour from the general public, but I was up in Manchester meeting with some of the guys I shared the house with in Nepal, and we went out in Canal Street. I have never been in to Manchester before and I have heard all sorts of stories about how rough it is and what a dangerous city it can be, so I was slightly apprehensive prior to my arrival, but it turned out to be fantastic. No one felt compelled to verbally or physically assault me, the atmosphere was friendly and fun-filled, and I didn’t fear for my safety once. It occurred to me that this should be the norm; people shouldn’t feel scared to walk around merely because of what they are wearing.

I genuinely worry that people who are less flippant than me are being abused in this way whilst walking around Portsmouth, and that they might not brush off these insults and projectiles quite so readily, but I have literally no idea what I can do about it other than leave ASAP.

It also pisses me off that the only place I feel safe is amongst drag queens. Those bitches look much better in heels than I do.

2 Comments on A Matter of Tolerance

  1. Jenny Bone
    December, 8th 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Another very, very good reason why I don’t go to Portsmouth, unless I’m dragged there kicking and screaming, as they say!! Oh, sod it, lets all move to Manchester!

  2. Cherry Black
    December, 8th 2011 at 3:55 pm

    It’s not unique to Portsmouth at all (I had a pint glass emptied over my head the first time I went out in Fareham!) but I think the biggest issue is centred around the size of the place. It’s a city by name, but it’s very small, and there’s not enough room for “subcultures” to grow and thrive. The two main groups here are students (who are generally hated by the locals) and football fans (who are generally feared by the students) and it can make things incredibly uncomfortable at times. It’s a very mainstream city and that is by no means a bad thing; it suits the majority very well, but I just don’t feel terribly safe here at times.

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