I’m kind of over the power of the female sex. Hold on a second, don’t get me wrong, I love being a woman and I embrace my femininity in whatever way you want to interpret that statement. What’s got me in a tizzy is that some men believe they have an innate right to women. As if our sheer existence is an open invitation to their off-put and unwelcome advances in the form of stares, catcalls, and creepy whispers. They expect that in the face of such advances, we should throw open our arms and legs and welcome them in with glee. This “Me Tarzan, You Jane” mentality creates a particular condition in a man. It blinds him from seeing my uninterested and subdued facial expression and deafens him to my weary and insipid voice. As the condition persists, aka the guy can’t take a hint, I’m compelled to administer the anecdote, unapologetic rejection. Outcomes and side effects include: the harassment stops (yay!), it persists (“Just give me a chance!”), or he retaliates (“Bitch!”). Let’s cut to the example.
Recently, I was walking to a friend’s house when I heard a man call out, “Paula! Paula!” Since there were only two of us on the street, his bellowing was clearly directed at me. Being that my name is actually Pamela and that he sounded a tad too enthusiastic, I chose to ignore him. I slowed down to avoid catching up with him (Hint #1), but alas, his one-track mind didn’t pick up on this cue, he also slowed down. It turned out to be a man who bags groceries at my local store, who my unwise, overly polite mid-western self, had once spoken to and given my name (my actual name, not Paula). He immediately launched into a shower of compliments that I barely acknowledged so as to not lead him on (Hint #2). He asked if we could see each other some time, I replied flatly, “No” (Hint #3…actually not even a hint at this point, Direct Statement #1). I finally arrived at my friend’s house and turned off the road. He called out one last hopeful time, “I think about you often Paula,” grinning, waiting for the positive reinforcement he felt he was owed. “I think about you never,” I replied, and walked away.
Despite the rumors, we aren’t made of sugar and spice and everything nice, nor do we aim to be. I would love to treat people with my default friendly approach but it never seems to end there. When that’s the case, I reserve the right to turn someone down, as politely or crassly as I think is appropriate without being labeled a bitch, rude or having to hear “can’t blame a guy for trying." Actually yes, yes I can blame a guy for trying, when trying turns into pestering and harassing, blame can be assigned. So I would just like to ask for a reality check for those men out there who think women owe them something, or that we should celebrate the attention they pay us. When you approach me, don’t expect that I’ll be receptive, when you honk at me, expect a finger not a wave, when you tell me on the street to “smile,” expect nothing less than a grimace and an eye-roll. I don’t owe you anything.
|Art by Barry Deutsch|
Images viewed by author on http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/what-is-rape-culture