Can I vent here for a minute?
Last July I was walking home from the grocery store in London when I took a shortcut and found myself cornered by a group of young guys. They managed to get me against one of the walls of the highway tunnel (note to self: never take the shortcut) and decided it would be fun to grope me.
I just stood there and waited for them to finish. I didn’t say or do anything. There were three of them.
Now, getting your ass grabbed by a bunch of young kids isn’t the end of the world. And while now I find myself a little more wary walking down the street, it hasn’t scarred me for life.
What continues to bother me is that I did nothing. These guys probably wouldn’t have hurt me and over the past year I’ve composed some pretty awesome remarks to get them off. Too little too late.
But still, that was the first time guys have physically bothered me in the street and it wasn’t the last.
Last night the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup. It was an incredible night in Auckland and I’m so, so lucky I was here to experience it. Still, as always happens when lots of drunk people are running around, the men got rowdy. It started when I walked down Queen Street around 7pm. Some guy was walking towards me and I could just tell by looking at him that I should inch away, but it was so crowded and crazy I couldn’t really move. As predicted, I slowly watched the whole scene unfold – this guy moving closer to my side, shouting “Hey baby…” and giving me a serious ass grope. To my immense pride, I swung around and shouted “BACK OFF!” They guy just stared at me, mouth agape, a little confused, and scurried away.
A few hours later, after the win, I was walking home again. Same exact thing happened, except this time the guy was creepier and let’s just say it was a “lower front” grab as opposed to the ass. I did the same thing, shouting “back off” into this guy’s face. What I really wanted to say was, “Have some respect! Did I say you could touch me? Ima call the cops on your ass.” But I didn’t. I’ve nailed down my I’m-too-terrified-to-think response of “back off” paired with my Scary Face, but I still wish I could say more. Make these guys understand that this is NOT okay behavior. My look and tone didn’t scare the second guy. He actually looked proud as he called me a “fucking bitch” as I ran away.
I’m proud of myself for standing up to these guys last night in the way I didn’t have the lady balls to do in London. But this fear that’s growing in me is really starting to piss me off.
I’m not an especially pretty girl. I’m not particularly fashionable or skantily clad. (Not that ANY of these are excuses for assault, I’m just saying that I’m not a “special case.”) So I don’t understand why men (sorry, I’m going to make sweeping generalizations here) feel like it’s okay to just touch us in the streets. I can handle cat calls, but my body is my own. It’s not yours, it’s not that drunk guy in front of the Burger King’s and it sure as hell doesn’t belong to every man who feels he has a special power.
Why the fuck am I now afraid of walking down a perfectly safe street? When did I become the kind of girl who moves over to the other side of the road just because a guy happens to be on it? And why is it okay that I’ll never have control over this situation, no matter how scary I can make my face?
The thing that makes this all infinitely worse, is that all the women reading this will most definitely have similar experiences. I supposed I’ve joined the club. Woo hoo.