I was on a bus on my way to another city to see one of my favorite bands (Animal Collective.) I sit alone and set my backpack on the seat next to me and listen to music. Many seats are available, but a boy around my age (teenager,) asks to sit next to me, requiring me to remove both my backpack and earbuds in the process. I put my earbuds back in, as it’s a long bus ride and I’ve no desire to carry on a conversation. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I thought it was fairly universal that wearing earbuds and staring out the window on a 6 am bus ride is read as being pretty antisocial.
And so, this boy starts to talk to me. Why am I going to this city? Where am I from? What university do I go to? Fairly normal conversation, being that we are both students.
We come to the subject of Lord of the Rings (his doing.) Attempting to maintain undeserved politeness, I decide to continue speaking about this subject that interests him, admitting that I have not read the books, because I couldn’t get through the Hobbit.
He then proceeds to go on about how “it’s not for everyone” and he’s “always been a bookworm” and how much he loves reading!!!!!!!! Immediately, he took my opinion of his favorite books to mean that I am not well-read, when in reality I am, and simply do not care for Tolkein’s writing style or the fantasy genre as a whole. But of course he does not probe far enough to know that. He just assumes I don’t read!!!! Among some of the classic literature I have read outside of school is Camus, Faulkner, Ibsen, Bulgakov, Proust, Dostoevsky….
I have experienced several similar instances involving knowledge of film and music as well. For example, asking me about increasingly obscure bands or films until I don’t one. (“Have you heard of Death Grips?”) It seems the same men who want “real”, “artsy” girls cannot fathom that we may be more culturally literate than they are, or even equal in standing.