A sampler platter of man stories: Patriarchy hurts!

I could have made a much longer list, but these are the ones that are funny:

  • A well-behaved foot fetishist in a London department store: wearing a parka, visibly excited, lots of space on the couches next to him. We continue trying on shoes and averting our eyes. He knows how long to stay: 15 minutes.
  • Standing at a muni stop at about 2 pm on a sunny day: two very young Russian men (18? Patchy stubble.) approach with cell phone video cameras trained on me. They act as casual as possible, given that they are filming me. One asks if I would like to take Russian language lessons, that very afternoon. I say no. (Do they not realize that this is a well-known genre of pornography?)
  • Walking down the street two blocks from my mom’s house, a man is masturbating next to a dumpster. It’s about 10 in the morning. He’s pretty into it, and my appearance seems to help things progress. I decide to turn around. He’s in no position to follow.
  • Camping at Navajo National Monument, alone (I thought this would be peaceful and nice!): A man follows me down a trail and asks me for my phone number. I decline to give it to him and turn around. He says, “It’s OK, I’ll just follow you.” I stop and look him in the eye and say “You are making me really uncomfortable right now. You need to stay here while I walk away.” I walk back up with strangers, asking them to please act as if they know me because I’m being followed. Before I go to sleep I introduce myself to everyone in the neighboring tents. I tie my tent flaps closed from the inside. If you look at the map, you’ll understand why I didn’t drive away.
  • At a motel in Santa Fe, a man watches me enter my hotel room and then climbs up the stairs after me. Then he starts banging on the door and offering to drink beer with me. It’s his best idea ever! The desk staff know him well. He is lured away when they phone his room.
  • I’m visiting my cousins in Carson. We’re all in high school so we are already bored with casino cafes. The only other entertainment option is dressing up like Robert Palmer girls and going to Raley’s, the grocery store. Two guys at slot machines say, “They must be models. They’re probably from New York.”

Luckily there are thousands of quiet stories countering these funny/scary ones. Those stories tell of kind and considerate men minding their own business and even making the women in their lives feel safe and loved. Almost none of those stories are about strangers. Those stories are about men I know personally and consider friends and family.

What would it take to make a woman you don’t know feel safe and loved in public? (bonus points if you can manage it without a gun)

Are men even allowed that opportunity?

4 comments to A sampler platter of man stories: Patriarchy hurts!

  • Hannah Lee

    Wow, you have a lot of creepy experiences! I usually run into the creepsters on the bus during my daily commute to Denver. I once had a stalker from Iraq named Ahmed and a lab partner who asked me daily to “take a seat” in his chair because “it bounces.” Cheers!

  • lk

    Well, I’m older than you are. Let’s talk in 15 years.

  • I’m glad the dude on the trail did what you said. That saved your butt. I have had equally creepy experiences – starting with my first kiss. But – I did the same thing. I wonder if our refusals had any effect?

  • lk

    He did keep following me, but I went really fast and then glommed onto some strangers. I know our refusals have effects for us, in the moment. I hope that our refusals also have effects for the men we refuse. Perhaps they have never been refused before? Perhaps in refusing differently or more forcefully we make a positive impact on their future aggressions? I hesitate to use the word education, but…refusal can be educational. Creepy first kiss…I doubt that’s as uncommon as I would hope.

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