Ok. As many of you know, I try my best to be kind to all (or at least equally snarky to all groups of people). I’ve worked very hard to show people I am *not* a man hating queer feminist; I’m just a queer feminist.
However, what happened on Saturday really just made me want to kick into high gear on a rant on space. Because lately, I’ve been having trouble with men understanding what the hell space is, and not being invasive.
Granted, most of the other things were small; two or three guys grabbing my arms to help me off the stage at the derby after party (I *did* need the help, but hadn’t asked them for it), a guy coming up and putting his arm around my shoulder to talk to me without asking (a stranger, might I add), a couple of guys trying to get in between my and my derby wife as we were talking, a guy following me as I walked a woman to a cab, the guys who come up to me while dancing and grab me or put their hands around my waist and try to dance with me…without even introducing themselves. Little things, but they certainly build up.
But Saturday night was just bad. F was celebrating her friend’s birthday at a bar, and she gave me a call asking me to come over to meet her friend, and to give her a ride. Lovely. I met her friend; super sweet woman. Chatted with some people, and then decided to head out. I had to pee, so I grabbed F a glass of water, and deposited her and the water by a pile of bones that said “Drill, Baby, Drill.” (Welcome to the oddness of Colorado). I came back from the bathroom, and there was a guy standing next to her, talking to her…kind of. It looked like he was, but she was also intoxicated, so she wasn’t really making eye contact. I came over as she finished her water, and he walked around her, and touched me. Petted me, really.
Now, I was wearing a really cool fuzzy coat, yes. However, the polite thing to do for people of any gender in this case would be to say “that’s a really cool coat – can I feel it?” instead of just petting it. But no. He stroked me. And then did it again. ”Hi, my name is Jimmy” he said, offering me his hand. I shook it and introduced myself. And then he said “shake it again.” I did. People are usually very surprised at the firmness of my hand shake.
I didn’t really like this guy, but I was also not in the mood to deal with creepy men (and he was either quite drunk, or on some sort of drugs – I’m going to go with drugs actually). And then F grabbed my hand and said “Please get me away from him.” I went into protector mode. I don’t know what he’d said or done when I was in the bathroom, but when someone I care about wants away from a creeper (of any gender), I do the patented “hand grab-pull the fuck out of here” more. I got to the door. He was following us, still talking. F politely told him to have a good night, and good bye, and we crossed the street towards my car.
As we crossed, she was talking about how we was really making her nervous. She was talking a little loudly, and I didn’t want to get in a shouting match with him, so I told her to hold on, and we’d talk about it in the car. I clicked open my doors, and she got it. It takes me a little longer, so I was still easing down and sliding in, making some joke about gym clothes when she said “fuck, he is crossing the street.”
Having been attacked. Having been stalked. Having been assaulted….my reflexes kicked into panic mode, and I slammed my door shut as I hit the “lock” button. This may seem extreme…but as the locks clicked, he reached the car and pulled on my door handle. Yes. ON MY DOOR HANDLE. Thank god my reflexes are still trained to be scared of creepy people. In my shut and lock mode, I’d dropped my keys, so I was grabbing around of them as he yelled at us, made faces and banged on the windows, trying my rear door handle too. Thank god I found the keys – I was about to call 911 if I couldn’t. I turned on the car. He didn’t move. I apologized to F “if I hit him and he dies, please tell the cops it was self-defense.” As I started backing the car up and pulling out of the space on to the street, he FINALLY backed off and crossed back over while we drove off.
F was a little shaken up by it. Obviously. Wouldn’t you be? Here’s the thing though…while I was certainly upset…I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve gotten used to being followed to my car. I’ve gotten use to having to hide on the floor of my car in my college parking lot because a truck full of drunken military guys followed us back to campus and were trolling the parking lot. I’ve gotten used to having my cell open with 9-1-1 dialed and ready to be called as I walk back to my car from bars and clubs. I’ve gotten used to always having “rescue signals” with my female friends when we go out dancing, for when guys start getting grabby (I am a fan of the ear pull). I’ve gotten used to it taking 45 minutes for the cops to show up with a guy banging on my apartment door trying to break in. I’ve gotten used to being touched by random guys. I’ve gotten used to being followed around. I’ve gotten used to holding in my anger for fear of pissing off some dick who will then take it out on me, or on the next woman he sees. I’ve gotten used to my 6′ tall domina friend throwing men into tables because they surrounded me and wouldn’t let me through.
Why the FUCK have I gotten used to these things? Why is it, in today’s day and age, still so “run of the mill” for men to be in my space? I set limits. I ask people to back off. But why are they even getting into my space in the first place? Words can be annoying, yes. No, I don’t want your drink, thanks for asking. Yes, thank you for complimenting my dancing, but I’d prefer not to go dance with you. But those are words. They give me options. Men (or anyone, for that matter) cutting into my personal space, touching me, threatening me, scaring me, stalking me, following me, intimidating me (or anyone, for that matter) is NOT ok. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, it’s not the way to flirt. It IS, however, incredibly invasive, and unacceptable. I don’t accept alcohol as an excuse. Or drugs. Or testosterone. Take responsibility for your actions.
I don’t know what the answer is. I see no immediate solution. All I know is that I’m sick of it. And I am going to say something about it. It doesn’t mean I hate men. It does mean that if you have male privldge, I ask you to think about how you use it, and how you might be being invasive of other people’s space, even if you don’t mean to. And if your friends are doing it, tell them to stop. The power for change comes from within. This isn’t a women’s problem, it’s a people’s problem.
So fucking stop.
-Essin’ Em29 comments