After posting “A Very Different World” last week (about the short French film that focused on a total role reversal and challenged viewers’ preconceptions on sexual predators and abuse) I began a discussion with my mother around the subject of ‘boundary breaking’. I am no prude. I’ve always been known as flirtatious. However, I – as many women do – have boundaries. I have personal lines that should not be crossed especially when it comes to the opposite sex.
I posted a comment on my blog detailing an incident that happened to me at the beginning of the year. I told another blogger how that on my way to meet a friend for an evening drink, I fell into a difficult situation. During the winter months in Britain, it tends to get dark around four in the afternoon. I left home at six so it was pitch black. At the end of my road is a little corner shop which slightly lights that part of the street. Outside the shop stood two men. They seemed young but I could not tell their age immediately. I was not dressed provocatively. I was covered up in a very warm coat. I was not expecting them to behave the way they did. Both men were wearing hooded tops. Their faces could barely be seen. They were both standing blocking the path. I felt wary as I approached them. Striding past, a strong and overwhelming gust of marijuana flew past me. Both men were smoking in plain view. Within seconds, they began making kissing noises at me with one even muttering something (I only caught him saying “darling”). I looked up but continued walking. Worryingly, I missed my bus and had to continue walking to the next bus stop which happened to be a bit of a distance away.
I began to feel nervous.
I practically sprinted to the next bus stop. Was it wrong to feel so anxious?
As I approached the dimly lit bus stop I looked back. I was happy to see no one was behind me. I was now by the side of a busy, main road. Cars were rushing by. Surely I would be safe. However, after a couple of minutes, one of the men appeared. Horrified, I stepped out of the dark bus shelter and closer to the busy road; it was the only way to be seen. The man stared at me as he passed by. I tried not to catch his gaze. Relieved that he had walked by, I started to relax. That was until he decided to turn back. With darkness as his cover, he approached me.
“What’s your name?” He asked abruptly.
I answered. I couldn’t be rude in fear of what he might do. There were many bushes around. He could have easily dragged me into one if I dared to insult him. So I was polite.
“Give me your number,” he ordered in a monotone voice. How he thought this was seductive or appealing I’ll never know.
“No!” I answered jokingly, trying not to show my fear.
“You have got a tight little ass haven’t you,” he said, biting his lip and staring at my behind.
That was it. The words that made me worried but what could I do?
“Let me take you out.”
“You can’t. I’m married.”
That is not the first time a man has responded that way when I have replied that I am not single. It is completely disgusting.
Just then, my bus came. Relief can not even begin to describe my feelings. I can honestly say, I have never been so pleased to see a bus in my life.
If that can happen at six in the afternoon then imagine if it was ten at night. I can’t believe that people feel they can say whatever they want to whoever they want! Have some boundaries! What gives someone the right to speak so inappropriately to me, to make me feel like a piece of meat? When does flirtation cross into assault?
My mother told me about a time when she visited New York back in the seventies. She went and stayed with my father’s brother and wife. On a day trip out, whilst walking alone through the Bronx, a man passed by and casually assaulted her, he then walked off again as though he had done nothing. Horrified, my mother ignored it with the fear that speaking out to her brother-law would be met with ridicule. Alone in a big city, it was inconceivable to find help and admit such a derogatory incident.
I just cannot comprehend something like that.
I have flirted with men in nightclubs before, I cannot deny that I have not been physically flirtatious but we all know the unspoken lines. I would not grab a man by his crotch yet why have I had a man attempt to put his hand up my skirt before? Did I invite that? Was I dancing too provocatively? Some people might agree to that. Isn’t that the excuse of rapists, that she was deliberately trying to turn me on or she shouldn’t have been wearing such seductive clothing.
Why is it becoming more and more acceptable to behave this way?