A couple of weeks ago, I went to the bakery in the food court of the mall so that I could get something to eat before I went to work. From the second I walked out of the house, I had my earphones in playing music at a stupidly loud level. Its the universal sign for, "I would rather not acknowledge your existence and I am perfectly happy with you pretending that you don't notice me either."
I got my food and sat at my own little table. Music still blaring, zoned off into my own little world. I was already done with my salad and working on my sandwich when the chair in front of me pulled out. I was alarmed and looked up, expecting to see one of the work buddies that I have. Nope. Instead, I saw some strange guy sit himself down without any sort of invitation and proceed to start talking. Which I couldn't hear because I was listening to some loud ass music.
Me: Hi... Thinking: WTF do you want bro? Let me eat my food in peace.
Him: Hi! I saw you walking by earlier and I called out to you but I guess you didn't hear me...
Me: No, I'm listening to music... Thinking: I wouldn't have turned around any ways since I'm not a fucking dog...
Him: Oh. Well, I was bored at home so I came to the mall.
Him: What are you doing here?
Me: Work. Thinking: Do not ask me where because I will lie out the ass. I don't like lying but you're a complete stranger. GTFO.
Him: Where at?
Me: A shoe store. Thinking: Just be as vague as possible. That's not lying, right?
Him: A jewelry store?
Me: Yeah. Thinking: Okay, fuck it. It won't kill anyone. It'll probably keep him from turning me into a skin dress...
Him: That's cool. Arizona is so hot here. Do you like it?
Him: It's too hot for me. I'm from Jamaica. Are you from here?
Me: No, I moved out here to be with my boyfriend. Thinking: Aha! Now he'll politely thank me for my time and leave! Success!
Him: (seemingly startled) That's cool. I came out here for school. I'm staying with my aunt right now.
Me: Oh. Thinking: This motherfu-
Him: What do you study?
Me: ...How old do you think I am...? Thinking: Please don't be a pedophile. I don't have the time to murder you and still be on time for work.
Me: Close enough. Thinking: Thank God! At least he guessed over and not under because bro is close to 30...
Him: How old do you think I am?
Me: 20-something. Thinking: F u c k. Shouldn't have initiated conversation. That was stupid. Shame on me.
Him: I study nursing.
Him: I changed my major twice.
Me: Oh. Well, it was nice chatting but I have to go to work or I might be late. Bye!
Him: Oh, okay. It was lovely chatting with you. You're very-
Then I ran to a kiosk where I know everyone and he helped me keep a look out to make sure that the guy wasn't anywhere to see which way I would walk. After a couple minutes, when I felt safer, I headed into work.
I bet you're thinking this is all just a funny story of a guy who couldn't take a hint. Nope!
You're probably wondering why I didn't just say, "I would rather not talk to you but thank you for your time" or "I'm sorry, I'm taken, I don't wish to engage in this conversation further" or even "Ey, fuck off bro, I'm busy".
When a woman says "No thank you, I'm not interested", a good portion of the time, they are made out to be the bad guy. They'll be belittled that they should be thankful for the interest, or they'll be told that they're being given a favor, or maybe even called a whore or a slut or ugly.
When I was 12, I was followed home by a car of screaming teenage boys who told me everything they wanted to do to me, for half a mile because the bus refused to drive up the road to drop me off. When my mom complained to the school, the school said that maybe I shouldn't have worn shorts that day. My mom had to leave work an hour early every single day so that she could pick me up when the bus dropped me off because that same car of kids kept following the bus.
About a year or two ago, some guys started screaming at me from their car. I screamed right back that they could fuck off because I refused to be treated like a dog. They followed me while I was walking home until I went into a McDonald's and stayed there until the car drove off.
A few months ago, some guy asked me to send him nudes and when I reminded him that I have a boyfriend and I am not interested, he started sending me abuse online. Name calling, telling me that he was doing me a favor, etc.
Last week, somebody called into my store and asked about the Now Hiring ad on the mall website. They asked to speak to the manager, to which I said, "I am the manager. How may I help you?" The entire conversation, he kept calling me "baby", "sweetie", "honey", and "dear". I felt sick by the time I was off the phone.
Two nights ago, I had a nightmare that one of my friends tried to touch me and when I defended myself (which did result in breaking his hand), I was the one everyone turned their backs on. I felt guilty in the dream, despite knowing full well that I was completely in the right.
How bad is it, that women are basically told that they are not allowed to defend themselves or say "no" because they should be thankful anyone is interested in them? How bad is it, that when women do say "no", they are accused of lying for attention? How bad is it, when women are incapable of saying "no", they are allegedly at fault because they should have been more responsible?
Now, I'm not saying Jamaican Guy was actually a bad person or even had any intentions beyond a conversation. I'm also not saying that only women are victims. What I am saying is that society is so fucked up that I felt the need to engage in a conversation I didn't want to be a part of and then make sure I wasn't followed, just because some guy kept talking to me. I am a women, this is my point of view, and I truly don't believe all men are sexist. But the ones that are (and the women and non-binary folks that are sexist as well), are yelling so damn loudly that the people who just want equality aren't being heard.
Raise ya damn voices.