Yesterday was super strange.
I went to an appointment, and decided to walk home. I love walking, and Sherbrooke looks really cool this time of year.
As I was walking, a man sort of swerved in front of me, and rather deliberately kept step with me. He was wearing sweatpants and an old wind breaker, and his hands were purple with cold. Looking at hands like that just makes me sad; it wasn’t that cold out, but he obviously had no house to go into to warm up.
Anyway, he sort of jerked in his step and swiveled around really quickly. I had to stop to not bump into him, and swore because he startled me. He looked so angry, and demanded to know why I was upset. I said, “Well, you scared me!” and in retrospect, that was a poor word choice. I wasn’t really scared, but I was startled. He started just screaming, “I scared you?” over and over again, and stood there with his fists balled up while I walked away. I didn’t look back because I didn’t want him to follow me.
I know that when I walk alone, I tend to get a certain look on my face. If your face is open and you’re walking down the street, you tend to get strange people asking for your phone number or for coffee dates, or more direct requests that I need not mention. I’ve been told that I look scary or angry when I’m walking alone, and I’ll be first to say that it’s a defense mechanism. Some people call being whistled at a compliment, but I think it’s sexual harassment and I treat it that way. I think that I have the right to walk down the street without being accosted, thank you very much, and that other people should keep themselves in check.
And as a side note, I don’t think I’m so devastatingly beautiful as to deserve the attention I get by merely walking down the street, but even if I were, I’d still have the right to a little privacy and respect. If you speak to most women about this kind of thing happening, they’ll have a few horror stories to recount. And because this seems to be a fairly universal occurrence, it’s fairly easy to infer that sexual harassment has nothing to do with the person minding their own business and everything to do with the person doing the accosting. That, in my mind, is even more insulting; if annoying people is how you get your kicks, then don’t involve people who aren’t getting anything out of it. Go to an annoying seminar or something, and ask tedious questions. Subscribe to annoying magazines and then talk to your friends about the articles. Troll annoying forums on the internet. Keep me out of it.
So, as this man was screaming “I scared you?” over and over, I felt heartened. I don’t scare easy, and he certainly didn’t scare me.