Monday, July 23, 2007

Can't I get a bacon burger without being sexually harassed?

On my way home from work on Saturday night I stopped by Hungry Jack's to get a takeaway bacon deluxe burger. Mmm. While I was in the line I was approached by some guy, probably 23-25, probably drunk but still able to carry on a conversation, holding his own takeaway bag and asking me what I was 'doing later'. I told him I was going home. He suggested I might want to come out with him and his friends instead. I declined, then placed my order. To my dismay he was still waiting for me when I stepped away with my burger, and continued following me and insisting I hang out with him after I left the store.

Halfway down the block his cries degenerated to, 'Waaaait! Don't leave me like this! Hey- hey what's your name? Oh come ooooonnn....' And then I think he got cold and went back to his friends.

Now. I have a feeling this guy probably meant me no harm, as weird as it seems to say that now. It looked like he was just having a guy's night out in the city with his friends, and as they stopped by Hungry Jack's he felt the need to chat up the girl in the next line. It kinda reminded me of my guy friends when they get pissed and sometimes start chatting up random girls. This guy actually seemed nice - just a normal, albeit drunk guy with his friends, probably didn't expect me to take him up on his offer, probably thought he was complimenting me, and just wanted to chat. He probably laughed to his friends later about the 'bitch' who ignored him. But he wasn't menacing, he didn't threaten me, besides the fact he followed me out of the store techinically I was pretty safe for the interim of our exchange.

So why was I terrified?

I was alone being accosted by a stranger who 1. Could physically overpower me 2. Expressed a sexual interest in me 3. Outnumbered me. 4. Followed me after I left a well-lit public area. That could have ended worse.

It didn't. But I am trained to analyse every interaction in EVERY walk of my life - not just meeting strange men at Hungry Jack's - with the possibility that I might be attacked. I've had that drummed into my head since I was a kid. Don't go there alone, don't go there after dark, don't wear this, don't act like that. YOU MIGHT GET RAPED AND THEN WHAT, LITTLE GIRL?

Question 1: Do guys do the same thing? I mean, apart from obvious things, like don't wander around the city alone after dark which probably applies to men as well (??). Do guys AUTOMATICALLY analyse situation in terms of whether they'll be attacked or not?

Question 2: If you're a guy I was just wondering, when you and your friends approach girls during nights like this, especially girls who are alone/outnumbered by you, do you ever feel that you might be threatening them? As in, you probably don't have the slightest intention of harming her in any way, but do you ever go back and think 'oh shit, we might have really scared her', that maybe your actions could be threatening in the circumstances? (i.e she is outnumbered, you are bigger than her, you're in an isolated/unsafe area, you are drunk and she isn't, you have just expressed a sexual interest in her, etc.) And would it offend you if you realised this?

Because maybe you've never thought about it that way?

And that burger was GOOD.

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