Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sometimes a ring is just a ring...

I like jewelry. I'm particularly fond of rings. Earrings, toe rings, finger rings, thumb rings, etc.

I had the interesting and extremely uncomfortable experience today of having a complete stranger, a man old enough to be my father, misinterpret my wearing of my husband's class ring on my thumb. Apparently in some circles, a thumb ring is a signal that one is open to elicit activities. I wish someone had warned me ahead of time. I left the situation feeling violated and quite naive, because while I assumed the best and thought the man was being kind, it became apparent to me after an extended conversation that there was an expectation I was not fulfilling. It wasn't even on my radar until he made it explicit.

I'm left in a bit of a conundrum. I wear a lot of jewelry. I almost never leave the house without earrings, a necklace, at least two rings and maybe 4 or 5, etc. I've never had an experience like I had today related to symbolism in subcultures of which I am largely unaware. Do I stop wearing what I now understand to be suggestive jewelry, at least among some obscure subset of my culture, even if it holds powerful symbolism to me personally that has nothing to do with the expectations of predatory men?



Clint B said...

I just wandered across your post while googling some blogs. I've been wearing thumb rings for about 6 years now, not because of some hidden meaning but because I like them. I understand that many people will misinterpret my reasons. I don't worry about that, and forcing myself to quit worrying about what others think is one of the reasons why I wear them.

So I think you shouldn't worry about how others will misinterpret you based upon what you choose to wear. There are at least as many people who will think it's cool that you choose to wear a thumb ring as there are people who think it has a hidden meaning. You can't please everybody, so you might as well please yourself.

Having said that, as a woman you need to have a plan in place in case a male decides to be more aggressive than this guy was. You need that regardless of whether you choose to wear continue wearing a thumb ring. There's plenty of nuts out there, so you should be prepared in case such a situation turns for the worse. Thank goodness that wasn't the case this time!


Maria said...

Thanks, Clint. I think I have come to the same conclusion- that I can't worry constantly about how people might misinterpret me, especially around such a small thing as a ring and which finger I wear it on. Who knows, some day I might run into someone who interprets my green eyes as a cue that I want them to spit on my shoe. You just can't ever know what some folks are going to do.

I was a bit uncomfortable in this situation today. He was a local shop owner with whom I have had several conversations, and he has always been very kind to me. I never got the wiggy feeling until today, and luckily when it finally hit, I was on my way out the door and no longer trapped in a confined space.


Clint B said...

Glad you were able to get out, and also glad that you are standing up for your individuality.

Take care, Clint

Laura said...

Hmm. I guess that makes two of us that are naive, never heard of that before... I think you should keep wearing your ring. :)

Maria said...

Thanks, Laura. I wear thumb rings *all* the time. I have 3 or 4 of them. I just won't wear it in his shop again. Actually... perhaps I'll just not go back to that shop. Which is too bad. Because it's a very cool shop.

George MacDonald

"Home is ever so far away in the palm of your hand, and how to get there it is of no use to tell you. But you will get there; you must get there; you have to get there. Everybody who is not at home, has to go home."

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