Thursday was an average day: take the dog for a walk, pick up some groceries, do a bit of laundry, stop in to grab a coffee on the way home. It then got interestingly average - A man approached, who evidently spent the last several minutes lurking nearby with nervous anticipation, waiting for my S/O to step outside the local coffee shop to uninvitedly invade my space.
*I’ll note that it was one week before Halloween, and that I was wearing an orange sweater, denim shorts and ankle boots - because it’s stupidly relevant.
The encounter played out as follows:
Total stranger sidles up next to me at an uncomfortable distance, forcing himself to have a sense of relaxed body language.
STRANGER: I thought you were dressed up for Halloween or something... it looks like an outfit.
ME: (eyebrow raised, caught off guard, unenthused) Sorry?
STRANGER: (refusing to take a hint and give up) I guess you would have to be like a pumpkin... (judgingly stares at my sweater, legs)
ME: (analyzing his bloated face, I reply apathetically) I guess so.
STRANGER: (third attempt, desperately rambling) So, how old are you? I'm trying to figure it out I know you're not this old but you look 12.
ME: (Right, pedophile. I try deciphering - compliment or insult?) I'm 26.
STRANGER: (dramatically aghast) OH WOW! I would never have thought that old, well that's amazing, that's a great thing, to look so... young...(leering)
All I could think was, Well you look like you're 56 trying to look 36 with botched botox and revolting lip injections, but I don't need to go out of my way to let you know, dickhead.
But instead, as most girls do as they’re subjected to this kind of harassment, I shuffled to the side, redirected my attention and continued to shoot him some very clear talk to me ONE more time... energy, bracing myself for him to escalate so I could loudly call him out. Finally, in what felt like twenty minutes later, my coffee arrived, and I walked out in a huff.
This was definitely not the first time this has happened to me - not even the first time that week. I started to wonder at what point the instinct triggers in this kind of man’s head where he feels a sense of obligation to impede on a complete stranger’s space - and let me be clear, for when I say stranger, I mean that the chosen stranger is almost always a woman. I know of no women who have ever done this to a man - it’s inappropriate, it’s unwarranted, it’s offensive, it feels primitive and savage and crude and - for lack of a better term - it leaves you feeling totally gross.
Let me explain what this type of interaction makes a woman go through: it’s offensive because of the context - not only am I being drawn in, forced to deal with you because I feel obligated to confront you as politely as I can muster to tell you to get the fuck out of my face, but you are inadvertently insulting me, simply so you can guarantee any sort of reaction --- because in your mind, that’s the game.
It should be noted that I didn’t even want to write this article, much less the examples, because I really don’t want to give credence to these idiots by perpetuating their vibration, as it’s really a waste of where I’d like to expend my energy. But the more I thought about it, the more I recognized that what’s not a waste of energy is calling it like it is, informing these types of guys that, We see you. You are not a mystery, you are not invited, you are not coy. And to further inform fellow subjected women that, this happens to everyone, and you have no obligation to deal with it. You SHOULD feel free to call them out and flip the spotlight on them, or stonewall them out and let them know in very clear body language that they have been heard, acknowledged, and you are making a conscious choice to remove yourself from the situation (Not that this type of psychology should even be necessary when you’re merely trying to order a coffee, pick up your groceries, or fill the car up with fucking gas).
However, I am not the type of person to simply remove myself from a situation without some seriously vocal repercussions. There is a common misconception that because I am small, I will refuse to stand up for myself and am therefore an easy target. I’m pocket sized, which by definition places me directly in the center of harm’s way for picking up or picking on.
(Can I pause for a moment to let you know that I have actually physically been picked up by a complete stranger in a bar? And a separate time at a University gathering? Sit with that for a minute and tell me you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable with rage with this amount of boundary-crossing.)
The men in question are always surprised at the feisty shitstorm I rain down on every single one of them - despite my inner fear alarm reminding me that things could go sideways by speaking out.
I have stopped in the middle of the road to yell back at men who whistle and yell expletives from their cars.
I have had a man shove me into my own car, forcing me down onto him, having preyed on me weeks before, due to my stature.
I have had a man pull his beat-up murder van onto the sidewalk beside me in an attempt to take me with him, following me until I threw myself onto the hood of a neighbor’s moving car (the police later questioned me if he could have mistaken me for a prostitute - I’ll let you know I was in baggy sweats at 7AM, and the officer in question was a woman).
I have also been stalked as an eight year old walking home from school by the local ice cream man, who wound up spending most of his life in prison after they found a child around my age in his truck.
Perhaps it is because I have been accosted so many times, for so many years and at so many varying degrees, I feel that I have a very real and very honest platform to stand on, proclaiming my stories to the masses, and further, to let these fuckwits know ahead of time that they will get verbally destroyed if they even throw some side-eye.
What I refuse to give them is fear. I will always speak out, I will always yell loudest. The fear is what breeds this barbaric excitement in the first place, so it mustn’t even be given the chance to breathe at the start. How can I, or anyone else, feel empowered if we allow them to feel welcome to further continue their creep-streak onto other unsuspecting victims?
Awareness breeds power; the more you can recognize the signs and symptoms of this type of behavior, the easier it becomes to comfortably shut it down, in whatever way you see fit, retaining that lioness power and remaining a public Goddess like you should be, dammit. No one is allowed into your bubble without your approval or invitation.
There is a book called The Game, which is essentially the sociopathic douchebag’s playbook to being the ultimate piece of shit. Inside its pages, men are called to action on ways to approach women so that even if you’re saying something offensive, and she retaliates, the bottom line is at least you're getting her to interact with you. The psychology behind it is disgusting, and the more research you do, the more examples you can recall almost instantly of how many times you’ve been subject to its handiwork. He delves into the highs of betraying a woman’s trust, all the while promoting his homoerotic fashion sense in a term he coined “peacocking” - again, to gain attention and stand out from the normal non-threatening men and lure in a victim. Feel free to Google him and find terms attached to his name including “soul crushing” or “despicable”, which seem far too generous.
Here are some more cliff notes for your leisure:
The author (self proclaimed “professional womanizer”) bases his stories off of sexual conquests as a game to get women to do anything and everything you could ever want (like molding a Romanian girlfriend up to his standards by convincing her to get a boob job, give him blow jobs (which she had never previously done), taking a job as a stripper, until he ultimately broke up with her because she couldn’t fit his mold), and said the only downside of being a pick-up artist was “getting caught” by your other girlfriends.
How to profit from women’s insecurities by using any sort of reaction from a girl as a positive - hey, at least she’s reacting to you! - and further force her into conversation. The importance of ignoring her or openly treating her terribly.
Insulting a woman to lower her perceived social value.
Cockblocking male competition while “escalating” with verbal cues and subtle “kinesthetic” touching in an attempt to get a woman in the mood.
“Negging” women: dropping subtle insults into a conversation to lower a girl’s social value in relation to yours, by offending them in “reverse complement” style. Essentially, they are urged to discreetly undermine a woman’s esteem by giving her a backhanded compliment hoping that she’ll stick around to seek your approval. EX: “You know, your body language is all closed off. It makes you look like one of those newborns I saw on the discovery channel when they came out of the womb - all curled up.”
Example number two: I get dressed in some shorts, a tee shirt and boots that are about knee-length. Do not mistake me, I do not look like a dominatrix. I look chic like Taylor fucking Hill in all her Victoria’s Secret Angel glory. I arrive at another coffee shop (clearly this is the 50 year old’s hang out for seeking young women) and place my order. My man and our dog were a few feet away, I was standing near the counter awaiting coffees. A stranger stands opposite the counter of me, I can feel his eyes burning into my skin as he tries to contain his erection and I try to contain my impulse of throwing hot beverages.
STRANGER: (eyebrows raised, leaning in on one arm like he’s the fucking Most Interesting Man in The World) Those are some mighty high boots for such a hot day.
ME: (deliberately directing my attention with daggers) What was that?
STRANGER: (testing his skills, speaking louder) I said, those are some mighty high boots for such a hot day (pause) It's hot outside.
ME: (feigning politeness) It's not hot.
STRANGER: (cue Donald Trump nod) It's pretty hot for boots like that... (openly looks me up and down, spends extra seconds scanning my crotch)
I said nothing, instead I stared at him with a firm glare and gradually made the few steps sideways to hand my boyfriend his coffee. Instantly, Rico Suave shifted nervously, attempting to mentally retract his entire interaction.
Here’s one of my biggest issues with behaviors like these: why did this fuckhead feel so comfortable in trying to catch me out and put me on the spot so that I feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, but when he recognizes I’m with another man, he suddenly becomes aware of how inappropriate he has been? How come there isn’t an embedded "Bad Idea, Bro" trigger already ingrained in his psyche? Furthermore, why the hell am I assumed to just put up with your creepiness?
Something else I’d like to address is how and why me dressing for myself every morning (simply because I live, breathe and love fashion and have been part of its industry for 12+ years) suddenly becomes an invitation for a man with these ethics of indecency to:
Comment at all on my appearance or apparel with any sort of ow you doin'? undertone
Openly slam any part of my outfit or appearance
Stare at me like he wants to fuck me as he slices my throat open like Lady Gaga in American Horror Story
Feel the opportunity requires him to HAVE to say something, because obviously if I’m wearing something bright, short, high-waisted, or anything that demonstrates I feel confident, my only reasoning behind getting dressed in the morning is to receive unsolicited shame or commentary from men with verbal dysentery 20-30 years my senior.
I feel it's important that I also make a side note here. I really, truly, honestly appreciate when I receive genuine compliments - from anyone. If someone wants to mention how much they love my jacket, and it comes from a place of sincerity, I am so grateful for those moments and for that person to feel comfortable enough saying something and will gladly open the floor for conversation. But make no mistake, there is a very clear line in body language, tonality, and direct verbiage that deviates between a legitimate compliment and an insulting “pick up line” geared only to rip apart my already-presumed-fragile esteem level.
I have to question them internally as my compassion gears flare off throughout those initial moments, wondering what he could be going through, searching for a deeper reason or a logical answer. I only took Psychology 101, so I really can’t determine what goes through the mind of a man with no morals.
My inner dialogue asks: Is he nervous? Is this something hard for him to do because he’s twice shy in approaching women? --- No, that would be on the other side of the line, in genuine compliment territory. Okay, so he must be assuming this is a really great way to get a woman’s phone number. Maybe he wants to belittle me because he feels insecure in life. Or there’s the possibility that he really thinks that by offending me, I’m inevitably going to strip down and suck his dick.
Because that’s exactly what his cocksure attitude is displaying: that sense of I own you.
Well guess what, asshole? I am not a sex object. I am not something to be conquered. You don’t own me. You don’t even know me. I am not your baby. I am not “love”, I am not “sweetheart”, I am not “cute one” --- yes, that was used recently while I was at work, in tandem with the phrase, "Easy is my middle name." Right. How about you calm down, put your backpack back on and get out of my face?
I have genuinely spent hours going through it all in my head, having conversations with girlfriends, trying to explain myself, my reasoning and my logic to the men in my life - which I feel like they don’t fully comprehend until they’re present for a front-row experience. The point is, this shit happens, and it happens a lot.
I would like to propose that we, as women, and as men respecting women, to raise our conscious vibration up to a level where we can stop making this a daily occurrence. I recognize that there are many problems and wrongs happening in the world, but this is one that can be solved one prick at a time, and all it takes is a little redirecting of attention. I don’t even want to get into the ManSplaining bullshit. With this new wave of Feminism and increase in women’s appreciation, the time is perfect to recognize that nobody would appreciate this type of behavior - whether it happened to their sister, their daughter, their friend, their wife, let alone themselves.
So I’m putting a call-out to my fellow females to please share your own experiences and empower one another to stand up for yourselves and withdraw from the game.
Do you have any stories of your own? PLEASE use this forum to share!