In light of the #yesallwomen…

I wanted to make a list of habits I've developed or red flags that set off personal alarms because of situations I've been in with, or because of, men. So here we go:

When driving, if there is a car pacing next to me for a length of time, I avoid looking to see who it is because of a time when I was driving home. The guy in the SUV next to me had his rear view mirror angled so that I could see him masturbating (and doing a very poor job of it).

If I go on trips involving a team I'm on, I either room with guys I can trust, or I room alone (assuming there are no women to room with). Because a teammate made sure I got no sleep one night.

I have trouble accepting compliments on how I look, because a friend thought I was dressing up for him, and tried to force himself on me. And, when I went to a gala after I got out of an abusive relationship, my bf at the time leered at me and said, "I can't wait for you to get home so I can molest you."

When I go to concerts alone, or in strange places, I sneak my spiked wrist bracelet in with me. I wrap it around my fist so I can interest people to move away from me. Because someone at a concert thought my being near him was reason to put his hands in places they shouldn't be.

On a trip to my favourite swim spot on the river, I made the mistake of taking a teammate who I wasn't comfortable in being around (I chalked it up to cultural differences). He tried to force himself on me. When I told him no and decided we were going home, he went and told the inner circle of the team that I had sex with him.

I learned BJJ because an ex used leg locks and choke holds to "keep me in line". Learning it led to the one above, along with learning that someone I respected wasn't worth the respect.

I locked myself up both emotionally and sexually, because I was told by an ex that I was too emotional and I needed to get control of it (I'm still trying to unlock all of that).

I'm fearful of overly affectionate drunks both because of the demon I call my grandfather, and because I'm fearful of having to hurt someone because they won't listen to the word no).

I have bolted away from what might have been first dates, because the guy was just trying to be nice, or paid for something I didn't expect, because I was getting the wrong signals. I'm pretty sure they were both just nice guys, but it set off alarms from "nice guys" who were expecting repayment.

A guy who decided I had wronged him, put my unlisted home number up in a gas station bathroom, with the note "for great anal sex call *my name misspelled*". I got so many phone calls between the hours of midnight and 4AM that I almost had to quit my corporate job because I wasn't getting any sleep. I called the cops, they took my statement, and I never heard from the detective on my case. I ultimately had to change my number and move. This is why I don't answer calls from numbers I don't know.

In college, a guy called me – wrong number. Apparently, he had a female friend who would let him talk to her while masturbating. He did it to me quite a few times. I hung up on him, a lot. The only way it stopped, was when it turned out a friend of his fiancee was on the hockey team with me. He told her. I started making sure my dorm number was unlisted. As an RA, it was only available if you were a student in my building.

I won't get into the catcalls I've gotten, walking down the road. I also make sure that, if I'm on the bus or the train, I'm sitting or standing with my back against a wall and my bag between me and other people. I also walk with headphones on, normally – not necessarily listening to anything. I used to walk with my keys in my fist, now I only do that in places I'm not familiar with, or when I'm alone. I'm always looking at my surroundings and sizing up everything and everyone.

None of this is fair to the really nice people who don't deserve this. But it is because of a few – because I don't know who they are and they are good at hiding. I differentiate between the "nice guys" and the Nice Guys. I love the Nice Guys because I'm like their sister, and they protect me like their sister. And I have their back like a little sister and will beat the crap out of anyone who messes with them. I just wish there were more of them, so everyone can have a little sister.

Edits:

The other day, while I was waiting on the train. A stranger walked up to me and asked if I could use his phone. I stood there frozen, not willing to let my phone go because I had been witness to how phones get stolen, and conflicted on that. I was very hesitant on calling the number because I felt sorry for the excuse he gave me (and his phone really was dead), and afterwards I kicked myself because he now had my phone number. How messed up is it, that those thoughts go through my head in trying to be nice and help someone out.

17 comments

  1. God dammit. I’m sorry you have gone through/continue to go through this shit. There’s no fucking excuse for it. NONE. I will never understand how people can treat others with such a lack of empathy. What is it about humanity, or society in general, that makes this OK?

    Everything that makes me so angry these days stems from this kind of crap. It’s such a basic concept that so many people seem to completely miss: Treat others as you would wish to be treated. WHY IS THAT SO FUCKING DIFFICULT!?

    *hugs* Hopefully some of the bullshit will subside soon.

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    1. My story is not unique. I am more than sure that Lydia has her share of stories to tell. For me, yeah, some of these were defining moments, others…a footnote. They meant nothing to me in a grand scheme of things until yesterday. I’ve really been doing a lot of reflecting on my reactions to the small things, my perceptions of my interactions, everything. That shooting, is the culmination of things, not just poor parenting. At the gym, his father was on the news, claiming he didn’t know who he was shooting. I’m of the opinion that he knew exactly who he was shooting. One of them was his roommate! The girls shot outside of their sorority, were targets. He may not have known the victims by name, but they met his criteria. And that is something women face every day (scroll through the ladder theory threads on the PMx2 boards – which makes me wonder what all of those guys are thinking right now). We can joke about it, be light-hearted about it. But someone just used it as an excuse. That is terrifying to me. :/

      Some of the stuff I went through, basic ignorance that was never corrected. If I had the mind then that I have now, I would have pointed it out. I have more stories about the teammate stuff, but it’s not for public consumption. That will hurt more people who don’t deserve it than it will help. And some of it is because I accept my part in it.

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      1. She’s told me some things, but almost certainly has kept much to herself as well. I won’t pry. If she needs to share, I’ll listen. I’m not picking at those scabs. I’d rather do my best to be a better person/friend/husband if at all possible.

        I consider myself fortunate to have been born to a family that considers women to be people rather than things. I’ve never experienced gender bias within my family. I’d write it off as being the child of a single mother, but it’s more than that. Even the members of my family (at least my mother’s family) with which I have the most trouble still treat women as equals, if not superiors in several cases. It has always struck me as incomprehensible that anyone would think differently. It makes no damned sense. And yeah, the ladder theory crap drives me nuts. I find it revolting, and one of many reasons why I’ve distanced myself from what little “community” remains there.

        It’s difficult for me to weigh in on bias and discrimination as a CIS, heterosexual, college-educated, married white male. I rank pretty high on the privilege scale, even if it doesn’t often feel that way. But I did grow up a nerdy outcast, so I’ve experienced some small degree of discrimination. It doesn’t even begin to compare with what so many people experience on a daily basis, but at least it allows me a simple sense of EMPATHY. It drives me nuts to see how lacking this simple concept seems to be in our society, PARTICULARLY from self-proclaimed christians that seem to utterly misunderstand the message of Christ (ie: compassion). Hypocrisy and bigotry is rampant. Some things are changing for the better (bring on the gay marriage!), but the root problem remains the same. As long as people are not actively discouraged from treating other human beings as faceless entities, this will never stop.

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      2. The link you posted about listening is a good start. Once you figure out an example that might happen to you, it makes it much easier to empathize – that’s why, when I explain things, I try to use examples that are relevant instead of ones that will never happen to the person I’m talking to. And I do think the nerdy outcast is a good parallel, about the only difference might be you didn’t exactly get the same catcalls. 😉

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      3. Heh. I know that what I’ve experienced doesn’t even begin to compare. It allows me the ability to empathize and want to help make things better. It doesn’t take much courage for me to speak out against gender/racial/etc. discrimination, but what little I have experienced at least helps me to better recognize how inexcusable and awful it is for other people to experience even worse treatment. And hopefully me speaking out for others who can’t out of fear of retaliation might provide some of the help that is needed.

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  2. Man…that masturbation one is so freaking skeezy…

    However, don’t let that stop you from looking to see who is pacing you. Something my dad pointed out to me (he’s a retired state cop) is that it COULD be someone with a gun, and if that’s the case, you want to get a good look at who it is and get the fuck out of their line of fire. ESPECIALLY at stop lights in dangerous areas.

    I’ve been pretty fortunate that I haven’t had even a fraction of the experiences you’ve had. I have had random bits touched in close quarters at concerts, but as of yet it hasn’t been intentional. However, in a dorm room, a guy I was sort of friends with slid past me while I was standing behind a friend, watching them play a game on the computer. As the dude slid past me, he paused, grabbed my hips, thrust up against me, and then moved on. I was freaked out for WEEKS, and none of my guy friends even responded appropriately after I told them. I just got “Well maybe you should talk to him about it.” ONE guy did say “That dude is a rapist in the making” but never actually did anything about it. I was really hurt and betrayed.

    I also got minorly-stalked by a dude at a county fair when I was 18 or 19. He insisted I was someone he knew, even after my mother (who was with me) said “No, she doesn’t know you.” We told my dad who found a uniformed county cop at the fairgrounds, flashed his “retired” badge for the state police and alerted him to the creeper wandering around, creeping on teenage girls.

    This is why I took a self-defense class in undergrad. This is why I took Tae Kwon Do in grad school, and this is why I am VERY glad that my wrestling coach on Thursday nights teaches us the real holds, as well as the “work” holds for pro-wrestling. I know how to snap a person’s limbs at all the joints thanks to him.

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    1. I know that I need to look, but I do my best to not hang out there. If I can, I will speed up or slow down so I’m not right next to them.

      As to concerts, I’m pretty flexible, I don’t freak out of a hand inadvertently goes somewhere. Because if you’ve had it done once, you know that an accident is much different than “accidentally on purpose”. I always apologize if my hand goes somewhere it isn’t supposed to because someone was trying to squeeze through (but it’s also why I keep my hands at shoulder height when I do it).

      I hope someone broke that guy’s hand when he did it the next time. Least, that’s my hope. It’s horrible that we have to be taught these things, just because guys think they’re entitled to something.

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  3. while our experiences are not the same, they are too similar.
    and sadly, too common.

    go on a date? bring a weapon and have someone know where i am every step of the way.
    sit in public? back against the wall or where you’re able to see all the comings and goings.
    eye contact? no way.
    license plates of cars that follow? you know it.

    i lived with my rapist for years.
    i have been groped
    i’ve been dosed
    i’ve been ‘fuck you whore’d more often than i can ever recount because i turned someone down.
    i’ve been grabbed
    i’ve been ‘negged’, denigrated, insulted

    and even good guy friends have crossed lines, thinking it OK since we’re buds. granted, they get over their shit real fuckin quick when i put them in their place, but there is always something between us after that…a missing piece of trust. and it can never come back.
    ‘i was drunk, i didn’t mean it’? not an excuse and actually…slightly worse.

    we shouldn’t have to deal with this.
    we shouldn’t be raising our sons to think this is ok.

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    1. Yep. As I said to J above, I think I’m going to change my reaction and start saying it’s wrong, from here on out. My only hope is that I can keep things clean if I ever have to provide a learning moment when my nieces are present.

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    2. Drunks never lie. They say what is actually in their heads – and this is a truth that was even emphasized by a friend’s father, who shared that bit of advice with his daughters. They were very lucky to have a father who was a feminist in many ways, despite being a career military man. He raised his daughters to stand up for themselves and fight when necessary. I am sure part of this was because he was raised with several sisters by a single, widowed, mother.

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      1. They definitely don’t have a filter, that’s for sure. I don’t mind people thinking things, but sometimes those things need to stay in their heads and NOT come out their mouths.

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  4. I have a thousand of these, too. And got in two arguments in the last three days with guys who took the position of either “good on the guys for trying” or “if guys do that, it’s women’s fault because of the ‘trashy’ ones it works on.”

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    1. I was really hoping you’d mention something. You’ve been to a bunch of different countries than I have, and I’m curious as to what the mentality is where you live (and Saudi Arabia if you’ve been there).

      As to the arguments of the guys, well, if those assholes didn’t make the good guys questionable, we wouldn’t have to wonder every time.

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      1. Where I live is a mix of maybe 150 nationalities, so it might be (on average) representative of any place in the world, while being unique in its own way. I’ve never been anywhere near Saudi.

        I’ll write about it in an upcoming filtered entry, but last week, a guy was hitting on me, and I felt guilty for being rude to him – guffawing when he asked if I wanted to dance, replying to his offers to buy me drinks with ‘no way, not a chance,’ and keeping my back turned to him while he tried to talk to me. He wouldn’t take the hint, and instead of popping him in the jaw or telling security to get rid of him, I wound up running out of the restaurant yelling ‘LEAVE ME ALONE LEAVE ME ALONE WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU I SAID NO LEAVE ME ALONE GO AWAY!’

        Unfortunately, at the beginning of the evening, I exchanged numbers with a woman who was friends with him, and grudgingly let him take it down, too. So over the last week, he has messaged me and called me, and when I ignored every single attempt to contact me, called me from a different number. The content of his messages is ‘can we meet’ and ‘can we be good friend?’

        Because ‘I SAID NO LEAVE ME ALONE WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU’ is ambiguous, and maybe I really do want to be friends for life.

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      2. And like anywhere, it isn’t just jerks creeping on me and violating my space; the slightest hint of politeness from me seems to be interpreted as an invitation. Or, you know, just be persistent, because I probably don’t know what I want.

        Here’s a conversation from this morning. A few days ago, I took my car to a photoshoot for amateur photographers, and ended up posing for some shots. Whatever, I was there anyway. This morning, one of the guys who was shooting sent me a whatsapp. I’d never met him before the shoot, don’t know if he is actually friends with my friend, and wouldn’t recognize him again if I saw him.

        [13:46, 7/2/2014] Krish: Wen are you available for next shoot

        [13:02, 7/2/2014] Susan Smitten: I don’t know, I’m pretty busy and not into modeling. I don’t mind as an occasional favor to Nitin, but it isn’t really my thing!

        [14:02, 7/2/2014] Krish‬: I know
        [14:03, 7/2/2014] Krish‬: Tats nice of you..I will manage it..let me know this friday or saturday you are free..you are already a model for our team.

        [13:08, 7/2/2014] Susan Smitten: Thanks. Unfortunately, I won’t be in Dubai this weekend.

        [14:12, 7/2/2014] Krish: Wen wil be back in dubai.

        [13:16, 7/2/2014] Susan Smitten: The 9th?

        [14:15, 7/2/2014] Krish: Ok if you are ok let me knw on 11th .btw wre do you live.if your place is gud we can shoot at your place

        [13:19, 7/2/2014] Susan Smitten: Well, like I said, I am not really into modeling!

        [14:17, 7/2/2014] Krish‬: Ok no problem

        …so he was nice enough. While he was inviting himself over to my house so I could model for him. Sure, as a single woman living alone, I’d love to invite a stranger into my house, for modeling purposes.

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