Quick warning for those offended by the swears – I got a little angry writing this one. There are a few nasty words from “nasty woman”.
Talking to one of the lovely humans in my life this week I realised why this bothered me more than other similar experiences I have had. I have previously lived in a very busy city, where people are constantly swilling around each other. If a scenario like the one described below had happened, I would have been swallowed up by other people and moved on in a minute. I would have grumbled and been confronted, but it would have been gone. Now I live in a more sparsely populated place and the open space, coupled with the long time that they could continue engaging with me until I could physically leave in my car. Just an observation, now enjoy the read and let me know if this resonates with you.
Two weeks ago, when walking back to my car, I passed a group of young guys skating out in a public space. I had every right to be there. They had every right to be there. All was well in the world.
As I walked past these boys it started.
“Aaron, you can’t even handle that booty!”
“Fuck girl, how do you keep that thing so tight?!”
Yes that last one was actually said. Commence communal eye roll.
As I had walked near to them, I had felt their gaze on me. I knew something was coming. It could have gone a few different ways, as the women reading this will be all too familiar with.
Those words could have easily been words to bring me down.
I wasn’t wearing make up. My hair wasn’t all that flash that day. Had it been a different group, with a different vibe, they could have had me feel unsafe in an entirely different way. Shit, they may not have finished watching their buddy doing his sick ollie or whatever until after I had walked past, leaving my ass the only thing for them to notice and comment on.
In that moment, I went from being a 27 year old woman in a loving relationship with my husband, surrounded by friends, family and pets that love and care for me to feeling like I was nothing.
I felt my skin crawl, knowing that there was no “off button” for those words until I got in my car, locked my doors and drove away. I couldn’t remove their gaze. I couldn’t do anything.
Yes, of course I thought about flipping them off. I thought about yelling a solid “fuuck yooouuu”. None of it would have had the desired effect. All that would have gotten me is
1) “why are you so uptight?! Stupid bitch can’t take a compliment”
2) some form of attempt to physically touch me
3) insert further escalation of the situation here…
Why can I say those options with complete and utter conviction? Because they have ALL happened to me on separate occasions in the past.
On one occasion a man told me I was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. I was 16 and standing outside a super market. He was maybe in his mid-50s and smelt of alcohol. I rolled my eyes, crossed my arms and mumbled “thanks”. He put his arm around me and started asking me something else but I pulled away from him and walk off, eyes down, feeling my skin crawl.
On another occasion I turned around from picking up my bag at a club to find a group of men surrounding me. I was 22 and they looked to be in their 30s. One stood physically over me and said “don’t think I can let someone as cute as you get past me”. I went cold, steeled myself, looked him dead in the eye and said “I’d like to see you try to stop me”. He laughed and looked at his mates and said something like “bitch” (I honestly can’t remember) and stepped away. I went to the bathrooms and cried.
I could go on and on and fucking on.
Listen, I get it, we have all seen movies where the guy says “I just had to stop you to tell you. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen”. Great. Good for that dude. Good for that FICTIONAL character in a MOVIE where the plot is PREDETERMINED and the woman’s response is SCRIPTED.
Women do not work like that.
So here are my tips for those men out there who think it’s a good idea to call out to women in the street, or attempt to physically control how they can navigate the space they are in.
- If you are about to open your mouth to yell at someone you do not know, in a public space, and you are about to single out something about that person’s physical appearance just take one moment, close your mouth, turn back to your friend, and continue as you did before.
- Don’t do it.
- Fucking don’t do it!
Well done, you have nailed it!
Your day will not be ruined because you didn’t shout at someone that they looked good.
But if you do, hers most likely will be. Maybe that’s giving you too much credit. But it will likely piss her off at the very least, and at most make her feel entirely unsafe in her world, even for a moment.
Surely, surely, that is not the emotion you are looking to insight when you yell at women… surely?! If it is, well… fuuck yoooouuuu!