I know there are so many other things to talk about other than these small things that happen on the street…. Buuuut I’m talking about it anyway.
So, yesterday was my birthday. (Woot, woot.)
And I came up to Boston for fun. It’s kinda like my second home (Home B, I dunno). And it’s fun to be back to my old stomping grounds. While here, I decided to get an ice cream sundae from good ol’ J.P. Licks (which is even more delicious than I remember it).
I went in. It was pretty late and not crowded at all. (There was no one else in line, in fact.) So, since it wasn’t crowded at all, and it was my birthday, we were trying flavors up like a storm. The ice cream woman was soooo very nice. And she made me this perfect delicious birthday sundae.
I really wanted to leave a tip after all this work she put in, but I had no cash on me at all. But, I knew there was a Bank of America ATM on the corner, so I ran and grabbed some cash and came back and left a tip.
And when I left, eating my ice cream, this man outside says, “Mmmmm, Look at those curves, girl! So, that’s how you get those great curves? By eating that ice cream?”
I roll my eyes and angrily quickly walk away.
Also, just to set the scene for you – I am wearing a very long, very flowy skirt. It goes out really wide, and has ruffles and stuff. Like, you can’t tell at all in this – are my calves, thighs, butt, small/big? Even weirdly-shapen? Who knows? You can’t tell anything in this giant flowy skirt. Also, I’m in a big sweatshirt as well. Do I have boobs? Who can tell?
I just came from this floating experience (where you’re naked for the actual thing, so who cares what you wear in there). So, I’m thinking that I’m not dressing up to be cute for anything. I’m just out, just before midnight, ending my birthday with a sundae and I just put on these giant clothes.
(It wouldn’t be his place to yell about my body shape even if you could see it – but it’s especially weird when you can’t even see it.) Also, it’s really not appropriate to make comments about what I’m eating. It’s especially not appropriate on my birthday. I know *he* doesn’t know it’s my birthday sundae. But here’s an idea, how about maybe he just doesn’t comment at all ever on a stranger’s food choice because it doesn’t affect him?
Anyway, I’m annoyed, but it’s a small encounter. Who really cares, I guess?
Then, as I’ve gotten farther away, he’s now coming back in my direction, walking fast, coming up behind me. And you can tell that I kinda of tense up. I hold my purse and phone closer to me. And I turn my head so I can see what he’s doing.
Then he gets mad at me for acting that way. “Oh, come on! Don’t be afraid of me girl.”
This is one of my biggest pet peeves in the universe – when men treat you in a way that’s potentially a little threatening, and at the very least annoying, and then they get mad at you if you tense up or start to go in a bit of protective mode – like you’re some “SJW feminzazi” who’s a jerk for not trusting men or not trusting certain types of men. And it’s like, “Nope. I’m not tensing up around you because you’re a man or because of any physical aspect of you. I’m tensing up around you because of how you’re treating me… If a strange woman on the street was yelling at me, I wouldn’t be comfortable about that either.”
Anyway, so he’s annoyed that I’m mildly scared of him. Then, he gets closer to me and just repeats his original thing. “Damn girl, so it’s ice cream that gives you them beautiful curves?”
Why?! Why are you repeating yourself? WHY? Did you think that was some amazing pick-up line and I just didn’t get it the first time? Are you just having fun being a jerk? Then I turn and I start yelling – I mean yelling – on the streets of Boston after midnight.
“IT’S REALLY INAPPROPRIATE FOR YOU TO BE COMMENTING ON MY BODY SHAPE OR WHAT I’M EATING. THIS ISN’T NICE AND IT’S NOT APPROPRIATE AND YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING IT.”
And his eyes get really wide like, “Oh crap, I have ignited a crazy person,” as he walks away.
And I do realize that in this instance, I was lucky. He could’ve easily pulled out a knife or worse and I could be hurt engaging with people on the street. But I am SO DONE taking this stuff.
I used to be soooo nonchalant about being yelled at on the street. Like, “Welp, that’s just part of being a woman!” “Who cares? It’s not like it actually does anything.”
But it does! It’s this behavior that leads to other behavior. (I recently was introduced to a campaign that talks about that.) And I. am. done. with. it.
I used to wonder why so many women were so angry so often, and now I am one in that group. I was so “good,” for so long. And I reached my threshold once I was assaulted. I have no patience anymore.
Being “good,” trying to appease, trying to deescalate obviously didn’t work. So, I don’t care if I escalate. STOP YELLING AT WOMEN ON THE STREET.
I think that’s it – that’s all I have to say for my angry birthday rant.
[Edited to add (the whole rest of this post is an addendum I thought was potentially work posting):
Sometimes when women talk about how they hate how they’re approached, etc., some men will come back with, “but I’ll never meet a woman if I can’t ever talk to a woman!”
And, yeah, that’s probably technically true. If you could literally *never* talk to a woman, I guess you could never meet one. But I don’t think anyone is ever trying to say you’re banned from talking to all women always and forever.
Obviously I can only talk for me, not for other women), but I’m generally pretty open to people talking to me, or at least just trying to open up a conversation – as long as they’re respectful.
I think the very casual observer may get confused sometimes, since I meet so many people randomly on the street or in different places, and I seem to love it… why do I get so mad at these aggressive men? And it’s because they’re being aggressive, and kind of threatening, and definitely super annoying.
There is a 99.99999% chance I do not want to interact with you if you’re super invading my personal space and acting WAY too familiar/intimate-seeming with me – a stranger – on a dark street….
I’m way more likely to strike up a conversation with someone who’s just friendly – full-stop. Keep a respectable distance. Don’t open with “Nice tits!”
I can’t remember a time I have ever gotten in the face of a man who has respectfully come up to – not uncomfortably from behind, breathing on my neck and whispering in my ear, not encroaching way too close to my personal space (especially when I don’t know them at all) – but who comes up to me just like normal and keeps a normal distance and says something like, “excuse me. I’m sorry to bother you. I just wanted to tell you, you look very beautiful.”
And then if I engage, and they ask if they can take me out, and I still say no (even if they’ve been perfectly nice) for any number of reasons, and they then politely leave me alone with a nice “okay, have a nice day” or whatever, and then walk away from me – I’m pretty certain I’ve never gotten mad about that.
When I’m telling stories like this and saying don’t harass women – I mean that. Don’t harass them. Don’t yell at them. Don’t judge what they’re doing or eating. Don’t act like we’re in a zoo, and you’re there to gawk at us as we go along our normal lives. That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about. I’m not personally saying you’re never allowed to engage me as an equal human being.
…And I hope that distinction make sense…. ]