I had never wanted to shave my head before, but after spending the night receiving unwanted attention from my friend’s father, I wish I had. I wasn’t wearing anything provocative or flashing playful smiles or innocently flirting to entice this drunken pervert. No, this wasn’t a case of being a stranger outside her native land being hit on by a local because this man knew I was the wife of one of his son’s friends. All I did was change my hair from blonde to red, and he took every opportunity to tell me how much better I looked with my new color. Even his wife being at the party didn’t deter him from seeking any chance to get near me, sit next to me, pet my hair like I was a plaything.
In English, this situation would be stressful enough. When it’s in Portuguese, a language I have only a tiny grasp on, I didn’t know a kind way of telling him to “fuck off” without causing a scene. Here is how my night went: He followed me around, antagonizing me about how my ability to speak Portuguese was lacking. He told my husband that I reminded him of an American woman he used to sleep with, except I was much prettier, and then asked if we were actually married or it was only for papers. The icing on the cake? He asked if I had ever met my mother-in-law before.
How do you politely defuse a situation where the party’s host is drunk and being completely inappropriate? How do you and your husband not cause a scene when a family friend is acting out? I nearly lost it when I was sitting down talking to two people, and he yanked from my chair to dance after I had told him three times I did not want to. He wouldn’t leave me alone even after his son and my husband repeatedly told him to knock it off. It only provoked him more.
I would love to say that this was an isolated incident and that this only happened with this man because he is older and he doesn’t know better, but it is not. I wanted to punch my screen in when I typed out “he doesn’t know better” because he does know better, and a lot of men think they can act this way because they have never been corrected. Men were once boys, boys who would torment and pick on girls, and people just laughed, saying that “boys will be boys.” Well, guess what? Those boys grow up to be men. Men who don’t respect women and men who will never change if we don’t do something about it.
How is it that I am feeling guilty now typing this out and even second-guessing posting it? Why do I feel like I must explain to you that I was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a sweater? None of this should be coming across my mind. I was the one being harassed, and I was raised to stand up for myself, to value myself above being simply an object of desire for men. But it doesn’t matter. Those feelings are still there.
Maybe if they didn’t teach girls to worry about what they wear to school and instead taught boys to behave and keep their hands to themselves, these thoughts wouldn’t be going through my mind. How about we stop laughing at young boys when they are being mean and tell them to behave? Perhaps if they get a negative reaction, it’ll stop encouraging them to act the way they do. Or maybe we should start teaching girls to fight because that might teach the boys that there are consequences to their actions.
I’m not saying make everyone become sensitive little flowers, but it doesn’t mean that I should be worried about having children and having a daughter go through things I have. If you had a checklist for bad things that can happen to a woman, I think I could check all of them off minus murder. Unwanted dick pics followed by slut-shaming if you dare to reject them? Check. How about getting drugged? Check. Sexual Assault at work? Check. Raped? Check.
There’s nothing quite as fun as carrying your staggering semiconscious friend out of a club while the creep who drugged her tails you still trying to convince her to go home with him. Wouldn’t want to waste that Rohypnol, right? While out at Halloween one year, we had a friend go missing. We found three police officers who basically told us to fuck off before they resumed flirting with the pretty girl they were talking to. I will not write out what happened to her again because I already did in the story, MISSING. The only thing I changed was our names and what we were wearing that night.
I’m not sure when it will change for women not to feel like it’s our fault for unwanted advances, and I’m not sure when men will finally learn how to treat women with respect. I’m not saying that all men are horrible because they aren’t, but I’ve had enough bad things happen to me, and almost EVERY SINGLE one of my friends cringe when people say that these accusations are blown out of proportion.