The 1000th Cut
A woman is sitting alone at a café reading a book…
It’s a sunny day. I leave home with a book and watercolor set. It’s not unlike how other days start when I had to be out. I had an hour to kill between two meetings, so I decide to read the book at a café. There’s a fellow sitting at the table adjacent to mine. He compliments my hair. I thank him. And then he proceeds to interrupt me every paragraph into reading. I affirm:
“I just want to read.”
He doesn’t seem to believe me. He keeps interrupting me with questions. “Have you watched Game of Thrones?” “Do you like dogs?” “Do you think I’m weird for talking to this dog outloud?” Finally, I leave after reading a sad 5 pages in the past hour. He gets upset. Insists I stay and pulls up a chair next to him. I walk faster, annoyed, resetting my mental counter:
Zero days since last harassment.
Apparently, it’s unbelievable anyone would want to read alone in public, let alone, go outside by themselves.
On which side is the okay to harass the person? The theoretical answer is neither. The actual answer is the sad truth.
I couldn’t help to think:
If a man were sitting alone at a café reading a book,
would the same thing have happened?
It wasn’t what I was planning to create today. But I’ve had enough. Enough to want to put this piece together. It’s not a masterpiece. It wasn’t meant to be. I just need you, my friends, to read through it all and know this happens to people you know on a regular basis. Shedding some light on reality.
Hall of Shame
- “Hey babe, do you want to hit up a hotel? I’ve never done an oriental girl before.”
- (Wolf Whistling) “Do you want to get in my cabby? Free Ride.”
- “Aw man, we really need a designer, but I also want to ask you out on a date so bad.”
You’d think it’s made up, but these are the top 3 actual worst things said. I sincerely hope no one has to experience it. I almost want you to think I made it up than wish you a fate of being able to completely empathize by having to experience it first hand.
Where does it stop?
I’ve received very logical advice –
- I should stop dyeing my hair.
- I should stop wearing a dress.
- I should stop going out alone.
- I should stop showing any shred of interest in anything. /sarcasm
Where does it stop? The clincher is that #1 Hall of Shame?
I was out getting groceries in a hoodie and sweatpants.
No. I don’t need to draw less attention to myself. The people who do this need to start treating us not as numbers or objects, but as human beings.
Be empathetic when your sister, wife, girlfriend, or friend comes to you needing a venting session. Remember it’s not flattering, it’s harmful. Each isolated incident can be rationalized away. “It’s not that bad.” No, it is that bad. It’s bad with the 1000th cut – The one day she dropped her guard and relaxed, it happens again and stings with a bitter pain.
Death by 1000 paper cuts.
She wonders why she even goes out alone or has any good will toward strangers who interact with her. Minding everything as a hazard gets tiring. It takes time away from the things she wants to do – Her dreams, her ambitions, her days when she just wants to go outside in the sunlight and read a book.