A man approached me tonight.
I’m writing this because I haven’t always identified with those “Protect Yourself Against Attackers” warning articles or those “Harassment Is Everywhere” awareness pieces.
“Excuse me ma’am, I’m sorry to bother you.“
This is a pretty impractical hole of optimism/blindness in my usually rampant
realism pessimism. And while I do think that women have received the short end of the stick in many areas for an all too great majority of time, I’m usually not one to cry at every moment IT IS THE FAULT OF THE PATRIARCHY or LOOK HOW MUCH WOMEN HAVE TO PUT UP WITH EVERY MOMENT OF THEIR LIVES. I try to be balanced. I prefer individual stories to brush-stroke histories.
“I’m sorry, but last night I was beat up and robbed. All my stuff was taken.“
He was polite, and well-spoken.
“I’m wondering if you have anything to spare tonight?”
It was the small, involuntary backwards step I took that put things into perspective. “I’m sorry, I don’t have anything on me.” (I really didn’t. I hate lying.)
“No problem, ma’am. I’m sorry to have bothered you. You have a nice night.”
We walked away from each other and I looked back at him and wondered how he would get on, because I am (somehow) optimistic in that I want to believe truth in others. But also I remembered all the rapid neuron-firing that had filled the space of that small step. –he appears unassuming–I am in a public place–it’s not dark yet–is he telling the truth–he doesn’t look very beat up–he is still much larger than me–what does he really want– All in the space of a half-second. And I realized I had been (unconsciously, instinctively) nervous, because I Know What Can Happen To Females In Situations Like This.
It’s not an esoteric problem that I don’t face. These worries aren’t fringe extremism.
I’m writing this to say, finally, Me too.