Sunny day at the park
I wrote my 92 pages university thesis in 5 days and I still managed to procrastinate during that time. I allowed myself one half hour break to breathe some fresh air so naturally I would go to the park and inhale as much tobacco as is humanly possible to cram in your lungs in 30 minutes.
I remember sitting under a tree in an isolated part of the local park listening to a Florence and the Machine album.A dad-aged guy passes with his bike,comes back, adjusts his electric blue nylon shorts and proceeds to take out his baby maker and point it at me.Imagine a 50 year old hairy eastern European guy trying to shoot you with his dick.While now I can think of multiple punch lines involving a open carry permit and if he passed the psychological evaluation required to carry it, in that moment I was terrified.I could either run to the left towards an empty area or to the right where you could hear children playing.I was literally stuck between a rock and a hard place
My shock was less related to seeing a penis, I have seen them before ,both willingly and unwillingly. I was paralyzed because my brain was trying to process the line of thinking that led him to pull down his pants and show me exactly what he thought of me. I was unable to move trying to figure out if he was living in an alternate universe where that gesture could make anyone aroused or anything else other then horrified. My second thought was that my dad had lived in that neighborhood for more that 40 years and he knew everyone in his age range. That it was likely that they went fishing together and that he had met me as a 6 year old with a bowl cut and that I had played with his children.He looked like the kind of man you stop on the street if you’re running away for someone and need help.
While all my instincts were telling me run towards people you crazy bitch, I am not the kind of person that would subject kids to seeing a man running after a woman with his pants down. He was approaching and seemed quite willing to chase me.So I gathered my faith in humanity and my cynicism and ran towards people thinking that even he wouldn’t subject children to that or that at least he would be afraid of the public. He chased me for a few meters stopping in some bushes near the playground. I got home, said nothing to my family, called a friend for a few minutes to remind myself that I don’t hate all of humanity and continued on my thesis.
I live in another country but for years after, even now when I went to visit, every time we had an unannounced visitor my heart would stop a little thinking that I might have to say hello and entertain the man who chased me with his pants down in my home.That my mum would ask me to make him coffee because I make the best coffee even if I hate the taste of it, that my parents would leave me alone in the kitchen with him for even just a moment,that he would get to meet my 18 year old cousin and he would see her the way he saw me in the park.
It wasn’t by far the worst kind of sexual harassment I ever experienced, I have had men rub against me in crowded buses, called every sexist name in the book and even had a guy stick his hand down my underwear when I was 16 and dressed as the grim reaper after my high school’s Halloween party.I have been groped, touched, prodded, rubbed against and propositioned and if I asked my friends they have had similar if not worse experiences.
I would love to end this on a positive note or at least with the hope that women everywhere could wake up one day and not have to emotionally prepare for this every time they walk through their door.That me going out on a date won’t involve calling at least 3 friends and having a tracker app on my phone.That experiences like this won’t be representative of white and middle class privilege because at least I wasn’t physically assaulted.Most women everyday experiences would make this seem like a funny anecdote you tell at parties and that is scary.