I went out two hours ago to get groceries for the week. It’s Sunday and a cloudy night, but I did feel a little bit disturbed at how quiet 3rd Street felt, but I decided to shake it off.
On the way home, two big bags in hand, I crossed the street. I was two doors away from home. There was a guy across the street who at first I thought yelled something to his front farther up the street. When I passed him, (too late) I realized that he was yelling at me.
I gave him a polite stranger-on-the-street smile and proceeded to walk home.
Him: Beautiful smile.
I kept walking. He kept in step, though, and kept trying to sweet-talk me.
I was coming up on my house now, so I was getting nervous, starting to go through my “Self-Defense For Women” tips from a class in college. Most of them were physical things, though, but my hands were full. I took a chance and got out my keys, signaling that this was my place and therefore the end of the conversation.
He asked something about why I wasn’t being so friendly.
Me: I was attacked a few years ago. (This is true - I was physically threatened at my place of work. It was caught on tape, and the man was fired the next day.)
Him: … Physically?
Me: Yes. So you can understand why I’m nervous when someone approaches me at night that I don’t know.
Him: … Damn.
Thinking that this was the end of the conversation and that he had learned about his behavior, I opened the gate and proceeded to towards the building. But he kept talking at me, trying to sweet-talk at me through the fence.
Him: Wait. Come back. I want to talk to you.
Me: (not turning back) No.
I opened the door to the building, my fight-or-flight senses starting to tighten my muscles in case I needed to physically defend myself. But by the time I got on the other side of the door and looked back, he had walked up the street to rejoin his friend.
I got into my apartment and threw down my bags on the kitchen counter, both proud of myself for standing up for myself (much more so than I would have in the past (ignoring and moving on), but also kicking myself, wishing that I had done more to be more assertive about my dissent.
It pisses me off that this is still happening in this day and age. I’ve been experiencing this in one form or another since I was sixteen (with a few of them being scary incidents), and I’m done with it. I’ve considered running a social experiment in reverse, where I act as the aggressor and record it for some PSA or something, but I’m not sure how effective that would be. (Ironically, I was thinking of that very PSA idea earlier today.) I don’t feel alone in this phenomenon, but it pisses me off that it’s still going on. My hope is that I’ll take a more assertive stand in the future. It does NOT have to be culturally acceptable for men to do any form of this. Goddamn it, I’m STILL having trouble putting to words how I feel about all of this stuff.
When I wrote my PSA about it on Facebook, a friend reminded me of HollaBack, where I submitted this written experience. I submit the story to the Internet at large with the intent of remembering to bust out my iPhone the next time some douchebag tries to pull this crap on me again.