I’m not a person who likes to go out much, but the few times I have this semester, it’s been less than impressive. The first time I went out somewhere with friends once I came to college, I went to Cruze.
This is a place I wasn’t particularly apprehensive about going to because of the fact that it predominantly caters to the LGBTQ community. My friends and I got all dressed up and watched a drag show before dancing the night away.
Or, that’s how it was supposed to go. Instead, I was followed around by someone I had just recently met on campus who wasn’t leaving me alone.
“C’mon. Dance with me,” he said, grabbing my hand and attempting to salsa-spin me to what definitely wasn’t salsa music.
“Have a sip of my drink?” he offered, knowing I was underage.
My friends and I had to form a tight circle in order to keep him out, and we had to keep moving around the club because he would try to follow us. He kept trying to grab my hand all night. Even after I left, he messaged me on Facebook asking me where I went. When I tried to complain to one of my older friends, she rolled her eyes and said, “Oh, just try to ignore him. He’ll move on. He always does this.”
I understood that, but why did the promise of him leaving after enough avoidance excuse the fact that he’s just going to find another girl to make uncomfortable?
Why hadn’t I said anything to him? I’ve thought about it, and I think it’s because I was taught to ignore things like this because “It’ll go away eventually,” “You don’t want to make a bad impression of yourself” and “Networking is so important nowadays.”
I made the mental note and moved on. I was living in a new city; I didn’t have time to let one creep bog me down.
A month or so later, I was stopped on the street while I was walking alone to dinner with my uncle.
“Hello! My name is Brian and you are very pretty. I’m sorry to bother you, but if you’d be interested, would you like to go out sometime?”
Now, while I’m not a fan of being approached on the street, at least he didn’t make me feel threatened. I thanked him and turned him down, but I didn’t feel as creeped out as I had before. At least he was polite about approaching me.
That didn’t last long. Within the next few months, I would be whistled at, called at and followed down the street on my way to the University Center.
These experiences just kind of sat there in a pool of things that made me upset, but I didn’t know what to do with it emotionally. I just kind of brushed it off because it was what I was always told to do – that “boys would be boys” and that I couldn’t fix it.
A few weeks ago, I was working at my new job when a rather old customer came to my register and said, “My, you do look good in red.” I had hardly registered it until he kept going.
“I mean, I’m not flirting with you or anything. You never know these days. You compliment a woman and the next thing you know, they slap you in the face!” He paid for his items and went on his way, but what he said had reminded me of all the experiences I had with people like that earlier.
It dawned on me that women were beginning to take a stand, and men were expected to adapt. Some adjust by being more polite, some adjust by ignoring our protests and what I’ve realized is that a lot of men adjust by invalidating the concerns and responses of women who don’t want to be hit on by calling us crazy.
We are not crazy because they think we are inferior or emotional. We are crazy because we have collectively decided that we don’t want to deal with their crap anymore, and they don’t know how to feel about it.
I’ve actually taken time to think about this one instead of just ignoring it, and I decided that I would rather be crazy before I would be compliant.
Honestly, despite what I’ve been told before, I feel like the consciousness of my own presence as a woman who will not be silent is, if anything, going to help me in my career.
If you’re a woman looking to get a foot in a field that’s competitive, you can’t afford to be silent. You can’t afford to be passive. You need to make your presence known.
Gone are the days where we let “boys be boys.” Boys will be responsible for their actions like everyone else, and we will not let the dismissal of our actions act as figurative duct tape over our mouths.
There’s a way around this. We don’t have to act angry. We don’t have to yell, but we will if we have to. I think a lot of people forget as they grow older that people can be rational sometimes, and all of this could be avoided if you understood the struggles of women and tried actively in your seat of privilege to do what you could to reverse said things.
The struggles women face are not something that can be solved by women alone. It involves the aid of those with the privilege they lack to use to their advantage for the equality of women.