I was shopping in Wal-Mart the other day, minding my own business. I noticed a man staring at me and watching me as I shopped. A self-defense manual I read states clearly that women in particular are wise to be aware of and know who is watching them. So, I looked back at him, without comment, made a mental note of this person and went about my business shopping. This encounter was at the front of the store, near the entrance.
I made my way to the back of the store. A short time later, I see the same man turn the corner and walk down the aisle I was in. He approached me and said, “How are you doing, baby?” I looked him in the eye and said, “Are you following me? You’d better not be following me.” He got really rattled at that and said, “Oh no, no…” and walked away quickly. As he left I said, “Maybe I need to call security!”
I never saw that guy’s face again.
Most of you who shop at Wal-Mart know they are pretty huge. It’s not like a tiny little family market where you are likely to keep running into the same person. I don’t know if he had been watching me to see what aisle I turned down, but his appearance once again was deliberate to me. All I know is I felt trouble when I saw him again, especially after experiencing those initial uncomfortable stares.
Like so many other women who post here, I am tired of being forced to deal with these intrusive, immature, entitled males who think they have the right to follow a total stranger, who is a woman because they feel like it. Too often, we are forced to confront second-rate masculine energy, a far cry from a truly empowered male energy that considers carefully his actions toward women and how he may come across. Daily, we are dealing with men who only think about themselves and their base desires, not whether they are making their female “target” feel unsafe. I have a lot of anger at how men have contributed to my feelings of a lack of safety in public. I’m always watching my back-I carry mace and whistle at all times.
One last thing: I’m tired of being expected to follow some sort of conservative dress code as a way of avoiding unwanted attention from men. It plain does not work. And it’s making me and other women responsible for how men behave. I have experienced catcalling by men in public wearing full winter gear: gloves, hat, coat, boots-no skin showing whatsoever except for my face. So don’t tell me to watch what signals I’m sending. If women’s dress could change men’s behavior, no woman wearing a burqa would ever be raped or assaulted-but we all know that they are, no matter what they do. Its time men started asking themselves what signals they are sending. I’ve had it with being held responsible for the undisciplined behavior of men. I will not take responsibility for their reactions to me.
The vast majority of men can walk around without a shirt on without fear of female violence acted out towards them. But if I have the audacity to wear a low-cut shirt or a tube-top, I’m the bad girl who deserves to be raped and harassed? This is crap. Men are responsible for their nasty, threatening, hateful behavior towards women, not me and my outfit that I have every right to wear.
I have one question for harassing men: What is it about women’s breasts and bodies that make you incapable of acting like a decent human being?
Location: Denver, CO