On Being a Woman in the World


This, changes things.

I was walking home from a gig by myself, at not particularly late on a Sunday night. Walking up St-Laurent, someone walking the other way stopped to talk at me. Someone asking for change is more passive. I stopped to listen. They wanted to go get a drink somewhere. I declined, and continued to walk, they continued to talk. Decline, decline, decline, leave me alone.

Still following me, a couple blocks from where I live, people walking on the sidewalk towards us, I said, “Do I need to make a fuss in front of these people for you to leave me alone?”.

Several steps further along, with a group of people milling across the street, I yelled at him to fuck off. Apparently that makes me a bitch. But, really, I feel extremely lucky that name-calling is all he did, and that he walked back away in the opposite direction – because what if he hit me for having the audacity to yell, and to not do what he wanted. You know?

I did get the rest of the way home, uneventfully. Although the saga continues.

Skip forward a couple of days, and I was at dork-Xmas party at a bar. There are many dorks. Who are generally polite. There was also a bouncer who was less polite. A half dozen sentences of small talk, and they had the audacity to squeeze at my belly/waist in a how-ripe-is-this-fruit kind of manner. Bad Touch. That, was a little easier to deal with – filthy look with an “I’m going over there, now”, because, y’know, what could he do about it?

Although when I left the bar, he was standing outside at the front door; and I had a what-if-he-follows-me-home freak out, which doesn’t seem rational.

Skip forward a couple of days, and I was going to be meeting someone at a metro station. I got to the foyer at street level, and there were a bunch of guys milling around. Rather than standing around inside, in case one of them started to bother me, I waited outside, which doesn’t seem rational.

Skip forward a couple of days, and you get to today. I have a ticket to go to concert tonight. And I now have an expectation that by being a woman who isn’t walking around with a guy, that I will be considered fair game, and that unless I am defensive, another man will feel that it’s appropriate to touch or squeeze at me.

I’m not sure what I can do to change that. I am, at a fundamental level, someone who is polite, and nice, and pleasant, and open; and I don’t know how I can become someone who is closed. I do not like being a person who is overcautious to irrationality.

I really do not like being a person who is being evaluated almost entirely on how I look – Neither man who touched me uninvited had any information to suggest that I am the crazy-freaky-interesting person that I am.

4 thoughts on “On Being a Woman in the World

  1. Do you know lots of women who welcome being pawed at after a few sentences? Because most of the women I know will convert from “interested” to “uninterested” remarkably quickly at that point.

  2. Life is not as acute as you imagine. I knew a man (in his twenties) who would drive down the streets of the local capital, shouting “You wanna f*ck?” I found it gross, and gave up having anything to do with him. However, regardless of how you find this, there were women who said yes. He only continued his grossness because there was enough reward.

    Your writing is not as clear as it might be. You say, “… I yelled at him to fuck off. Apparently that makes me a bitch.” Rereading this piece, I recognize that he got surely and called you a bitch. Well, that’s unpleasant. Yes. But I suspect that sometimes his behavior is rewarded.

    Interesting to observe that you say, “They wanted to go get a drink somewhere” rather than ‘he wanted’. Could this also have been a woman that accosted you? What’s wrong with gender?

    You then say, “… I was at dork-Xmas party at a bar. There are many dorks.” Is that how you felt before you went to it? So why did you go? You start off this part of your thought already negative.

    While I appreciate what you’re saying: I don’t go to bars because I don’t want to be confronted by an obnoxious drunk, and I’m quite capable of taking care of myself.

    Only a few years ago, I read an article by a woman who said that women are afraid. That came home to me when I met a new neighbor who had an apartment on the third floor of a three-story building. I never said much to her. We’d pass while walking our dogs, and when we came and went from our apartments. One day she walked her dog with me, and we talked a bit. Some days later, she invited me up for a smoke and some wine. She was nice enough but she expressed a lot of suspicion about men. She’d never been raped or abused by anyone, yet she was so relieved at having an apartment that wasn’t on the ground floor — among other things. And there was a man or two that she was wary of. I began to reflect on the impression women have left on me over the years, and I think it’s true that women are afraid or anxious.

    You would have some choices, among others: learn self-defense; avoid the kind of bars you’re going to; travel in pairs or groups (which is what most women do). If you insist on being ‘free to do whatever you want to do, wherever, whenever’, then you’ll have to accept that you’ll be confronted by people you don’t like. And perhaps you could invent a better response because your anger isn’t succeeding if even your imagination is freaking-you-out.

    I occasionally visit your site because we corresponded some years ago about your plugin. I saw a video of yours and read your blog, and thought you were creative. I have acquaintances in Europe that I sometimes talk with using Skye. I suggested to you, and you disappeared. No more Christina. What did you think would happen? That I’d slither through the Internet right to New Zealand to accost you? If I was a woman would you have talked?

    I have a good opinion of you. Sometimes you express creativity. You “Latest Music” list is stuff I enjoy, too. And most of your posts are well-written. But this one? Hmmm.

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