This is not okay

True story.  In the early evening; still really light out, I was walking near my apartment a couple nights ago when some creep waggled his penis at me. It was kind of awful and also so absurd. Why would anyone want to do that? I wasn’t very scared for my safety- he seemed content to just stare at me walking by, from about two feet away, while displaying his penis. 

Here’s how you know I’m a bleeding heart liberal. Amid my shock and disgust and anger, part of me also feels bad for the guy.  My evening kind of sucked, but I have to think his life sucks more. What leads someone to the point where they spend their free time standing in the shadows waiting for girls to walk by?  How pathetic and sad. 

And how ridiculous and unfair that now, because I’m a woman, I realize that that area near my home is not really safe for me by myself. I’m cautious, I don’t walk alone late at night. I err on the side of too many taxis. I keep my cell phone with me. I avoid getting too drunk if I don’t have a friend with me.  And yet, none of that is enough, because nothing I could do would be enough. Being careful is good, and surely prevents lots of terrible things from happening, but it’s not enough.  Sometimes you think you’re making the right choices and it doesn’t help.  The first time a guy exposed himself like that I was walking with a female friend, near twilight, and I didn’t think anything creepy would happen that time either.

I’m pissed off on behalf of myself and all my friends who, despite our best efforts, are mirroring the usual stats on sexual assault and violence. Nearly all of us have a story, many of us more than one.  And I fully recognize that what happened the other night was on the very tame end of the spectrum, and I don’t want to equate it with more serious crimes.  I don’t want to diminish it, either– this was a violation, and while I don’t feel deepy scarred, it’s an incident I haven’t quite gotten over as quickly as I would have expected.

I was one of those naive college freshman who thought I could protect myself from anything creepy ever happening to me. I took Self-Defense for Women and walked around with confidence, and caution. Bad things happen anyway. I don’t have a snappy ending for this post, right now I’m just feeling sad.


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