I’m just a girl (men, please read)
The goal of this post is to give men a glimpse of what it’s like to be a girl/woman. This post is not about violence against woman, it’s about the subtle ways that woman experience things differently then men. Please note that I am aware that being a woman born in Canada is a blessing, I am blessed and thankful.
Before we start, you can relax, this isn’t a man bashing post, I love men! I thought you may be interested in reading what your mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives experience on a daily or weekly basis.
It’s about the things we do, like locking our car doors as soon as we get into our cars, even though we know that our doors will automatically lock as soon as we put our cars in drive, but hey that’s a good 20 seconds of vulnerability, so better safe than sorry.
It’s also about the feelings of fear, annoyance, anger, frustration, sadness and intimidation that we have to put up with, which is honestly such bullshit. So on behalf of a lot of woman, not all, I thought I would write this post so that you’re aware of what we experience. That’s it, that’s my motive and goal.
To keep things simple when I say « we/us », I’ll be referring to women and « you » will refer to men.
You may be wondering, ok Liette, what are these things? Give us an example; fine, let’s get started:
We are keenly more aware of our surroundings than you are. Now, right off the bat, I suspect some of you are probably thinking, really? My wife or girlfriend is not that aware of her surroundings. You may also be thinking, not only is she not aware of her surroundings, she’s really not very street smart. Let me assure you, she is far more aware of her surroundings than you have ever needed to be.
A man can walk through a parking lot without thinking of anything. He gets out of his car and walks to whatever building he is going to, no big deal. A woman walking through that same parking lot will notice the lighting, she’ll try to park as close to the door as possible. A woman will scope out the lot before leaving her car, checking her rear view and side mirrors. She’ll carry her keys clutched between her fingers, just in case she needs to defend herself. And every woman at some point in her life has started walking through a parking lot, and at some point, has decided to run to the front door, to just get it over with.
This parking lot checklist is all done subconsciously and quickly, it’s so common that it’s now a habit that we just do.
Need another example? I would bet that 99.9% of woman out there have been walking down the street and have crossed the street to avoid, a man, a group of men, a dark alley, a lit alley, or anything shady that may get them a staring role on an episode of Dateline.
It doesn’t matter how strong, confident or independent we are, we deal with moments of uneasiness and flat out fear more often than we should have to.
One of my personal aha moments, that men and woman navigate through life differently, came one evening when I was walking back to my apartment from Whole Foods, which was approximately a five minute walk, if that. It wasn’t that late, but it was already getting dark. I knew that there was one small section on my route where there was a gap without a street light; so for a full 30 seconds of my trek, I would have to walk through a darker section, which I always dreaded.
As I was walking along, I could hear someone walking behind me, I turned to see a man. Even though I was walking briskly, I could hear that he was walking faster than I was. The gap between us was getting shorter by the second. He was gaining on me, I was trying to stay cool, but there was a moment where I starting to panic a little; should I start running? There was only one side of the road with a sidewalk so crossing the street wasn’t an option, fuck!!!
I knew the darker section was coming up, I was looking around hoping I would see someone outside, but there was no one. I was now in full on panic mode; with every step this man was getting closer to me. Keep in mind this is a 4 to 5 min walk and all these thoughts had already gone through my head and I wasn’t even home yet.
I decide to stop walking and turn to face him, this would force him to pass me or to jump me; if he was going to jump me, at least I would see him coming and would have a chance to defend myself. Friggers, why wasn’t I walking with my keys clenched in my fingers??
What happened next? I stopped walking and looked at him dead in the eyes and startled the shit out of him. It was instantly clear that he didn’t have a clue what he had just put me through. He had no clue what was happening. All he knew was that a woman with a look of utter fear on her face was now standing in front of him. What was happening? He was just walking minding his own business. BAM! That’s my point, he had the luxury of walk mindlessly home from Whole Foods, but I didn’t have that luxury.
Nope, I had to asses my surroundings, figure out a plan just in case this man was intent on harming me; here’s a play by play of my internal dialogue; hey Liette, there is a guy behind you, is he shady? Nah he’s just walking home…oh shit, he’s getting pretty close, too close for comfort. Ok don’t freak out, it’s fine, but just in case it’s not fine, what are we going to do? We need to prepare to fight or flee, man we really aren’t fast flee-ers, our best option may be to stand our ground…ok let’s try that.
So what did he do next? He quickly walked past me awkwardly, and at that moment my fear turned to anger. I wanted to tell him that he should never, ever walk behind a woman in the dark, let alone walk faster than she is and try to pass her. I wanted to tell him that he scared me, but I didn’t, I just let him walk pass me and hurried home. This is what woman have to deal with.
You maybe thinking, surely this must be an isolated incident Liette? Nope, just the other day, I wanted a muffin and milk from Tim Horton’s, the drive through line was long so I decided to go in.
I was standing in line, there were three men ahead of me and five men behind me, no biggie. The line was moving along fast enough. I turned to look at the door as another man walk in, everyone in the line turned to look as well; all but the man standing directly behind me.
I noticed he was looking at me, I didn’t make eye contact, I figured he was just looking at me and would look away. But he didn’t, I could feel him staring at me, I glanced behind for a second time and he was still staring at me. He didn’t look down or smile when I looked at him, he just kept staring.
I looked away and decided to focus on what was happening in front of me. I placed my order and was now to the side waiting for my order. Which meant that he was now beside me instead of behind me and he was still just staring at me.
I’m a 52 year old woman who has traveled the world, yet there I was feeling awkward and uncomfortable in my neighborhood Tim Hortons.
This man was 100% creepy and this total stranger scumbag was ruining my morning vibe. Some of you maybe thinking, relax he was just admiring you, you should be flattered. No, no, I certainly wasn’t flattered. I felt objectified and creeped out.
As I left with my muffin and milk in hand, I wondered if I polled my male friends and asked them if they have every been anywhere and been creeped out by a woman or man staring at them?
So that’s just what I did, I asked three male friends that question, and all three answered my question with a question; why would they be staring at me? To which I replied, just to be creepy. All three replied that they had never had that experience.
I then asked three girlfriends the same question and all three answered yes of course, too many times to count. Was I surprised by my informal poll? Sadly not one bit.
I decided to ask my Instagram followers to share any stories or scenarios with me for this post and I got lots!
One lady shared that she had recently planned a solo trip to Halifax; because she was traveling alone she made sure to select a hotel in a safe neighborhood, safety first.
As she was enjoying her day, she happened upon an outdoor concert. As she stood enjoying the music, she felt someone staring at her, she brushed it off as a mild case of paranoia, but quickly realized she wasn’t being paranoid. There was a man staring at her and was now making his way through the crowd to get closer to her.
Let me pause here to say that we, as woman, know when a man is being flirty or looking at us to see if we maybe interested in them and when someone is staring at us in pervy way, there is a huge difference.
My friend in Halifax felt so uncomfortable that she left her spot in the crowd to get further away from this guy. But she couldn’t get far enough that he couldn’t see her. This continued until she decided to just leave and make her way back to her hotel, glancing behind her, more than once to make certain she wasn’t being followed.
She left a concert, that she was enjoying, because some loser decided to single her out and invade her space; in the moment it’s creepy, but afterwards, when you think about it, it’s infuriating!
This was just one of the many stories I received. One friend, who had just started a new job, had a male coworker follow her home then, drive past her house slowly, several times.
Stories of being in a crowd and having a stranger rub up against them, when there was clearly enough space to get by without having to touch them. Or having to deal with a drunk man at a bar asking; what’s your problem, because she wasn’t smiling and wasn’t interested in talking to him. And don’t get me started on all the unsolicited creepy messages we get on social media.
These are all subtle and not so subtle forms of agression that happen to us all the time. Which make us feel fairly powerless. I mean what are we going to do? Shout out, this man is looking at me!!! No, we can’t do that, first of all, it sounds harmless when you say it out loud. Oh poor you, someone is looking at you.
And the creepy, pervy men, and sometimes woman, know this and probably get off on the fact that they can instill uncomfortableness and sometimes fear in us; it’s 100% a power trip.
So how can you, our male friends and partners help? There is not much you can do, but maybe if you were more aware of your surroundings you can say something, if you see something?
If you see a woman who looks uncomfortable or uneasy, feel free to say; « hey are you ok? Is that man being a creep? You can stand here with me for a bit until he moves on ». And then you could look at the creep so that he knows, that you know, that he is there, being a creepo. If you could do that for us, I bet that he would slither away pretty quickly.
As mentioned in my Tim Horton’s scenario, I am in my 50’s and this crap is still happening to me; this happens even more frequently to young woman. So ladies it’s also up to us to look out for each other. If you are feeling creeped out, or if you notice another woman being targeted, let’s be there for each other, we have strength in numbers. These guys are insecure losers who seem to always target a woman alone.
That’s it, that’s what I wanted to share, thank you for reading all the way to the end. Men, feel free to ask the females in your life to share one of their stories with you, sadly my stories are not unique.
Please like, share or sign up! This post was a little more serious than my normal funny posts, but c’est la vie.
muah! Oh and that’s not a creepy muah it’s a friendly, none pervy muah!