This isn’t a street harassment story, but rather a story of harassment in a bar. Still, I think it is relevant to the message of this blog, so I’m writing it.
The other night, I was out for drinks with a girlfriend. We were in a nice little jazz bar having a glass of wine. We were talking, laughing and enjoying ourselves when a man approached and started some fun, flirtatious banter with us. He invited us to sit with him and his friend, and we agreed.
My friend started talking to his friend, and they seemed to hit it off. I struck up a conversation with the guy, Shawn. He seemed nice for about five minutes, although he was a little more touchy than I was comfortable with.
He asked me how old I thought he was.
“30.” I replied. He looked surprised. “35?” I asked.
“That wasn’t very nice,” he said.
“Well,” I said, smiling. “I suppose I’m not a nice girl.”
“Watch it,” he said. “I could choke you without even trying.”
I was shocked. My history involves an abusive relationship in which choking was a regular part of our fights. In that relationship, I feared for my life. I still feel grateful for having survived. I felt myself shake with rage and sadness, feeling violated at being threatened and at the same time angry that this jerk could remind me of my painful past when I was out with a friend trying to socialize, relax and enjoy myself like a normal person.
I got up and walked away from the table, stopping briefly to tell my friend that I didn’t want to sit with him anymore. She moved over and let me sit next to her.
Shawn leaned over and asked my friend, as if I wasn’t there, why on earth I would be offended by his ‘joke.’ I told him off, saying that it is in no way funny to threaten someone. My friend backed me up, giving him a lecture on how to have respect for women. I told him, firmly, that I am a person and deserve to be treated like a person, with respect and dignity.
He got up and proceeded to lean in and maul me with his face and hands. My fighting instincts kicked in and I stood up, pushing him away. “Get the fuck away from me!” I screamed. “Don’t fucking touch me!”
“What the fuck,” he slurred. “I was trying to apologize.”
“Oh, that’s how you apologize? By invading someone’s space? That’s acceptable behavior to you?” I was shouting at this point, and I really didn’t care.
“She never says fuck,” my friend said. “See? You obviously don’t have a clue.”
“Well, whatever, it was a joke,” he said, coming in again to touch me.
This time, I pushed him against the bar. I’m tougher than I look, you see.
“Keep your fucking hands off of me!” I screamed. He shook his head and went back to his table. My friend and I found another table where we finished our wine and paid our tab.
I was furious for the rest of the evening. I am so sick of misogyny. I am so sick of entitled assholes thinking they can speak to me any way they want and that I should endure their threats and the humiliation of being manhandled for their entertainment. Is it too much to expect common courtesy in bars and pubs?
Location: Vancouver, BC