I had a really bad week last month, street harassment-wise. It happened again today and it prompted me to make this post.
Today, I was at a gas station and had just finished pumping my gas when a guy at the pump across from me called out, "Hey, Angel!"
I ignored him. I thought, Maybe he didn't say that. And my hope that he hadn't said that was bolstered when another guy walked up to him from across the lot. Looks like they know each other, I thought. Maybe he said, "Hey, Joe!"
I kinda figured this wasn't true because Hey Angel Guy stared me down the whole time his buddy was walking up. (STOP looking at me.) But hey, a girl can hope, right?
After I closed my door, Hey Angel Guy said, "HEY, ANGEL, what, you not talking today?"
I said nothing and drove away. Even as I write this I'm thinking, Well, jeez. That's not even that bad. What was I even upset about?
But the thought I had—-"Maybe he said, Hey, Joe!"—-made me realize that whenever I feel uncomfortable because of men trying to "holler" at me, my first reaction is ALWAYS to make excuses for their behavior.
Which leads into my weird harassment thing that happened last month.
#1: Scene setting: I'm sitting on my front porch drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. (Because that's what the fuck I do.) This guy walks up and wants me to sign his petition. I want to know (IN HIS OWN WORDS) what the fuck this petition is about, so I engage him in a political discussion. I'm somewhat combative because he's already pissed me off. When he walked up, he asked, 1) "Are you 18?" (I am smoking and drinking, what the fuck do you think?) and 2) "Is there anyone older here?" I AM TWENTY-SIX. At what age does a person's (a woman's?) opinion begin to matter?
Anyway, I get into a verbal altercation with this guy because he's saying some stupid shit about Obama and "Obamacare" but in the end, I decide to sign his petition because I agree with closing corporate tax loopholes (and I Googled his cause). I sign the petition.
The next day I get a text from him about this party he's having and I TOTALLY NEED TO GO TO IT, no, for real, I MUST GO. And I'm like.... Seriously? I wrote my phone number on your stupid thing because everyone else put theirs on there and are you texting them, dick? So I blocked his number. But (mitigatingly) I thought, well, I was kinda drunk and maybe he thinks my inquiring about what his petition stands for is my way of flirting.
#2: First, has anyone ever noticed that when you are a woman buying beer alone, it seems to invite all kinds of comments from any guy who can see that you are a woman buying beer all by herself? (Or do I just drink too much?)
Me at 7-11, buying a six pack. Guy in line next to me: "Hey gorgeous, where you goin'?"
Me: [Ignores Guy. Side note: why do assholes act like you're being rude when you don't want to talk to them and you make it obvious?]
Guy: "You gunna drink all that yourself?"
He follows me out the door and keeps trying to persuade me to give him a beer and to invite him home with me. My conclusion: I've found another tank-top that I shouldn't wear to 7-11. (This is a bad conclusion, I know.)
#3: This is the one I felt the most guilty about. Coincidentally, ironically, it is the one that scared me the most.
I'm buying cigarettes and an energy drink. A guy in front of me in line keeps staring back at me. Oh, goody. Here we go.
He waits for me outside and says, "Hi, my name is [whatever], what's your name? You're so beautiful," and sticks out his hand for me to shake.
I throw my receipt into the trash and say, "Do you need something?"
"Can I holler at you?"
"No," I start walking to my car and he follows me.
"I wanna get with you."
"Are you single?"
I slam my door and start rolling up my window but he rests his arms on my door (so I can't roll up my window unless I trap his arm), leans into my car and says, "Tell me your name."
I freak the fuck out. I look at him and shout, "Get the FUCK OFF MY CAR."
He jumps back and retreats to his truck.
To me, this behavior was so bizarre that I immediately thought, "OMG, why did I cuss at that guy?" I thought that he had to have some form of mental illness. (I can say this because I have several, myself.)
I continued to beat myself up about it until I had more than one outside source validating the way I felt.
So I'm wondering, How can I STOP making excuses for people (men, in my case) who act like this? I hate thinking that I have some kind of internalized rape culture mentality that is causing me to try and mitigate this behavior, but is that what it is?
Or is this just normal people stuff that I am accentuating for my own personal gain of feeling bad about the world?