Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pushing It

A tip to those begging money: don't scare me.

Woe is yard work.  Especially, work that involves anything sticky, pricky, sharp or dangerous.  This is the sort of work that I'm already in a bad mood to do before I even begin.  And this is where I was when I saw him.

He was passing on the sidewalk, at first talking with someone.  They split directions at the corner and he continued.  On the sidewalk, he changed his trajectory like a billiards ball hit obliquely by the queue ball to walk across my yard on an intercept path.  When this happens, "on edge" is what you'd use to describe me.  I braced myself.

The man stood too close for comfort.  With alcohol enhanced breath, he was in my space and it was doing a number on my nervous system.  Electric fear pulsed through my body, which was caught in a power struggle with some reptilian part of my brain in the fight, flight or freeze response.

He asked for money.

He asked for a cigarette.

He asked if there was anyone in the house that smoked.

He asked to talk to them.

I just wanted him away from me, away from my home so I could breathe again.  I was telling him whatever seemed the most sure way to get rid of him, except... I couldn't bring myself to lie.

I refused him money.  I told him I don't smoke.  I told him that my "husband" smokes; and when he asked to talk to him, I told the man that he wasn't home.  He was persistent.  He wanted something; it seemed like anything would have done.  Suddenly, he decided he should leave in case my husband got home and witnessed him with me.

What?  What he was doing was unacceptable in the eyes of another man, but not for me alone?  Is this some weird, man-owns-"wife" paradigm?

This is arguably the crux of why women walking alone get harassed and women walking with men, on the whole, do not (get harassed by other men).  It seems that men find other men a challenge, some thing not to mess with, particularly when ascribing them ownership of the women they're with; whereas women alone are "fair game".

This mindset apparently has nothing to do with the concept that a woman might want or not want something and that that is important.  Crucial, in fact.  This is the mindset where women are things primarily, to be considered in relation to men, not independently.

Men (and sometimes women) seek and, all too often, push to receive.  Pushing: you are more likely to get what you want.  You are also more likely to get what you want from un- or less than willing parties who are often left feeling angry or scared or violated.  If this doesn't matter to you, there's a problem.


  1. Men that I worked with in Violence Intervention Programs, frequently reported being upset with other men checking out their partners, not because of anything the partners might be feeling, but because they themselves were being disrespected.

  2. This post made me think of three things:
    1) The smell of alcohol on a stranger's breath would be enough to justifiably creep me out.
    2) Don't be afraid to lie to stay safe.
    3) Women being less likely to be hassled while in the company of men might contribute to men not getting it. I also wish this weren't so and I wonder if there's anything I can do about it.

    1. Regarding your #3, what I'm going to try to do is concentrate on letting men who do things like this know that it makes me unhappy. In fact, maybe I need another post about this. I had a friend at one point who said he conducted an experiment where he would check out women's bodies very obviously in public and noticed their reaction. Most smiled at him. But because he's not too dumb, he knew they weren't happy and either talked to them or surmised that they were smiling as a way to be peaceable and keep him basically away from them. Like, how many times have you said something like "hey don't treat me like that" or just frowned and then been the recipient of the guy arguing with you or calling you unfriendly or unfeminine or defending himself? So, that's what I'm going to try to do. I'm not going to smile or acquiesce when someone treats me like that. It's going to take some practice.