My personal experience is that the world has been kinder to me being a woman, than it has to me being a Black woman (see my post on this if you have any questions). Yet and still, there are certain precautions I naturally take without even thinking about it when I am out and about solo in its streets, due, primarily, to my gender.
For example, let’s say I am leaving an event late at night and there are a group of guys coming my way. Immediately, I whip out my phone to call someone. Even if there’s no answer, I PRETEND to hold a whole long conversation while simultaneously crossing the street so that said group of guys feel less inclined to engage me. Now, you may say, “Well, Nicole, these brothas may not even be thinking about you and just want to enjoy their night out with their boys.” However, I for one have had way too many experiences where that is quite the opposite, so I will stick to my fake-calling cell phone plan, thank you very much.
I remember being as young as 14 years old when I had my first experience with unwanted attention from a young man. We worked together at a fast food restaurant where he would constantly hit on me. I knew that I wasn’t interested and kept telling him so, but my incessant rejections fell on def ears, until eventually, he put his hand on my person. I left work that day, walked all the way home, and refused to go back until my employer reprimanded him. Can I just say that I’m pretty proud of my younger self for standing up for her 14-year-old rights? Mama taught her well.
In my adulthood I’ve had exes “pop up” repeatedly, long after the relationship ended and I’ve even had to threaten getting the police involved. I’ve done my share of blocking and changing my number and switching my email to dodge these excessive, unwanted gestures. Unfortunately, I think as a woman you can minimize these behaviors, not realizing that you are more than likely going through this crap simply because, you are a woman. Now, we all know there are crazy women out there harassing men (I recently re-watched “A Thin Love Between Love & Hate” and was reminded of all such females) however, for us, the additional threat of harassment is enhanced by the clear physical advantage that men have over women. Even if a woman works out and is active, the natural God-given strength of a man easily overpowers her (in most cases). How can I possibly expect to win in hand-to-hand combat with an angry, possessive, demented human being bogged down by testosterone?
More recently, I had the unpleasant experience of my “no” being ignored once again. Over and over I told this person I was NOT interested in a variety of ways. In response, I felt badgered, harassed, stalked, and actually started getting a physical headache from his obsessive pursuit of me. I walked away from that encounter thinking, “If I ever see that guy again it will be too soon”. Like a Stephen King horror movie, I literally saw him again two days later. And guess what? The same thing happened. SMH. Though it took me several encounters with him to finally take steps to protect myself, thankfully, it seems, those steps worked. Still, I had a whole other situation emerge with a totally different person just days later and it got me wondering if there was some societal expectation that men had from women that they are allowed to touch a woman’s body without her permission??? Or, if she actually enjoys this excessive attention, even though she keeps saying, “IM NOT INTERESTED!”
How many romantic movies are out there where the guy starts pursuing the woman, she isn’t interested, yet he keeps at it until he “wears her down”? Our beloved Steve Urkel pretty much does this to his next door neighbor, Laura Winslow for “x” amount of years until he actually succeeds in his quest! Interestingly enough, we call this cute and heart-warming, not crazy and creepy.
Is it because these men are supposed to be “the nerd” or “lesser than” that we give them a pass? Or are we women just conditioned by society that, “creepy is ok”?
If you haven’t already, check out “Good On Paper” on Netflix. It definitely expresses the typical way that a man will “hang around” long enough to win over the woman until she goes against her initial gut instinct to flee the scene. I know I’ve had those experiences too. I don’t think I will for the life of me understand why a man would want a woman who doesn’t want him back though??? Or any person would want another person for that matter? I want to ask these people, “Do you value yourself so little that you don’t think you could get someone to want you? Or, are you really so delusional that you think she is playing hard to get when she is obviously not interested?”
Whatever the reason, I am sure our choice in cinema is hammering home this false narrative circulating the minds of people who are in need of a serious Mental Health Professional.
I guess we can be at least thankful that there is help out there to get for these folks, in addition to laws that were passed to protect us from them. Long gone are the days when a King could abuse his authority by taking another man’s wife and sleeping with her (possibly without her consent) then try to cover it up with a murder (yes I’m talking to you King David). Yet, sadly we are clearly still in the days where women have to combat that same mindset of a man ignoring a woman’s will (because Bathsheba never could have even voiced her “no” even if she would have wanted to, due to her own potential threat of death) and that is where the disappointment in me lies.
Alas faithful reader (because if you’ve made it this far through this post, kudos to you!), here are my final thoughts. To all those who find themselves in one of any of the scenarios I previously touched on: Men, do better. Women, speak up. And even after you are done speaking, get the restraining order.