The other day I was walking down the street of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. There is construction so the sidewalk is a narrow strip with a fence on one side and buildings on the other for about one long block. You can’t even bike down it. People literally have to get out of each other’s way at each passing. I was pushing my bike and a man in his 20s (I’m choosing intentionally to not describe his race nor how his clothing denoted his social status) said, “Ya gotta pay the toll to pass”. There was no one around. It was the first time I’d felt scared of a man in a while. I’m fortunate to not have as yet experience sexual violence trauma in my life, and for whatever reason, I don’t get catcalled very often. I have no idea why this is the case. So this felt novel. But I HAVE certainly experienced these situations before, if less than many women, and I responded exactly as the author — being flirty, but firm. Making jokes, appeasing his ego, but being clear I was not interested in interacting with him. I had just come from a shitty online date so I was already in the mode of a massaging male ego while getting nothing in return and keeping myself emotionally safe, so maybe I was just “in the zone”. If I’d just come off a long bike ride or from church or wherever maybe I’d have been responding differently. He did let me pass but he continued to shout offers at me, which I continued to reply to as the writer did, with humour (and for me some flirtation, with strong boundaries).
WHY DID I ACT THIS WAY?
SO HE WOULD FEEL GOOD ABOUT HIMSELF and A) NOT ATTACK ME but also, horribly B) BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT AS A WOMAN TO BE ‘NICE’
And here’s the thing: these three things often go together, and that’s rape culture. Be nice so he feels good so he doesn’t hurt you.
Anyway, I appreciate reading this article, a lot.