Sorry, men. #notallmen but it’s not like y’all wear labels.

There’s this guy on my Saturday volunteering shift that gives me the creeps, let’s call him Dave, because that’s his name and I don’t care. He makes some comment about my appearance every week, the kind of thing that sounds trivial in the retelling, but all adds up to me feeling uncomfortable and like an aesthetic object instead of someone who’s just there to take care of the dogs.

He’s older and a histrionic sort. He has a reputation for being annoying and every time I’ve brought this up to someone I’m told that that’s just Dave.

I feel... like my hands are tied. I feel this social pressure to be my most cheerful self and not make waves. I don’t feel like I’m encouraging him, I typically mutter something, scowl, and walk off in another direction. I’m usually very direct and assertive and in “best behavior” situations I tend to overcorrect for that. Now I’m starting to dread going to the shelter for that shift. When I think of responding, “Dave, I need you to stop commenting on my appearance,” my heart starts to race. I don’t want to start shit, I guess. People will think I’m making a big deal out of nothing, I’m almost positive.

Now I feel like I’m hypersensitive to strange men in public. I see them looking at me and I want to wear nothing but huge caftans and muumuus to deter their gaze. At Lowes a vendor, who I did not approach for help, insisted on “helping” me even though he didn’t even know what the thing was that I was looking for (D rings) and he just kept restarting the conversation with me even though I politely told him “no, thank you, I’ll just keep looking.” I wanted to scream at him to leave me alone and stop talking to me. That’s not normal for me.

Ugh. Maybe I’m the histrionic one? Anyway, I just wanted to get that out. It’s such a minor thing, but it’s taking up a disproportionate amount of my mental energy. I’m sure some of you know why I’m talking about, right? I need to shake this feeling because half the world is made up of men. I need to be able to go back to being able to largely ignore them.