sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I have dinner at this Chinese kiosk in a shopping plaza so frequently that they know to get the hot sauce and chopsticks when they see me coming. It happens to be right near my doctor's office, and for mall food it's really good (they make a mean homestyle tofu), plus the place has a big screen TV that always plays the news, so it's where I unwind and hang out for a bit before my appointment. It's usually pretty busy there, with a mix of shoppers, commuters, and dudes from a nearby homeless shelter, and eating my takeout while raging at the news has become part of my weekly routine. Occasionally, some of the more inebriated homeless dudes will cause a ruckus, but I've never felt it was in any way a less than totally safe space.

Until tonight.



As I was eating my tofu, pondering the incongruity of a story about a rich parasite getting pregnant followed by a story of 14 people dying in a factory fire in China, a man approached me. To give you an idea of the layout of the place, have a hastily scrawled drawing:

Photobucket

So basically there's no line of sight from the two kiosks to where I was sitting watching TV. For some reason, no one else was around—like I said, it's typically pretty busy—in fact I was pleased to have gotten the seat closest to the TV.

"Sorry to bother you while you're eating," he said, "But I saw you earlier and I think you're very attractive. Can I have your number?"

I don't know what made my creeper sense go off. It might have been the environment—no one else around, and this guy between me and any possible exit. As so many women do in these situations, I find myself second-guessing my reaction. Was it because it was a shitty night to be jogging and yet he was wearing those snap-off track pants favoured by chavs and subway masturbators? Would I have reacted differently if I'd found him hot?

Normally, a "sorry, no," would have sufficed. But I'd had a rough day at work and was feeling rattled and the usual brain-to-mouth filters just weren't working. So instead I asked him why on earth he found it appropriate to hit on women who were sitting alone in an isolated location.

He laughed. "Are you serious? Do you actually go around in fear all the time that strangers are going to rape or murder you?"

"Er," I said, "One in four women are raped in their lifetimes, so it's kinda reasonable to be nervous when strange men corner you and start hitting on you."

"In this city? Toronto is, like, the safest city!"

It went on like this. I was probably not at my most articulate, being tired and somewhat freaked out, which was fine because he wasn't a bright enough person to take a hint and fuck off. At one point I asked him how he'd feel if he were alone in a washroom and a guy twice his size said to him what he'd just said to me. (He of course said he'd be flattered. I highly doubt it.) He just kept arguing, long after it was quite apparent that a) he wasn't going to get my number, and b) he thought I was some kind of crazy paranoid rabid feminazi.

"What's wrong with you?" he kept saying.

"I just want to eat my dinner in peace," I replied.

He assured me that he hits on tons of women all the time and none of them have ever reacted like this, so he was sure the problem was with me. I suggested that possibly they were afraid, that most women have the concept of Schrödinger's Rapist somewhere in the back of their heads, and hey, it must be nice to be able to be blissfully unaware of the potential threat that you pose, but not all of us possess that kind of privilege.

He finally went away, but I'm pretty sure the guy expended about 15 minutes arguing with a woman who was in no way going to have sex with him and was only trying to eat dinner after a long day at work because he was that offended that someone might find his advances fucking creepy.

Of course, the second-guessing set in immediately. I looked behind me; there was an older lady who had crept in to eat her dinner (the guy didn't, I notice, stop to hit on her) and who had been sitting there silently for much of the conversation. I glanced at her, then back at the TV, then back at her.

"You're very wise," she said. "You just never know."

I said, to her, though I was mostly reassuring myself: "Better to risk offending him than risk endangering myself, right?"

"Right," she said.

Now, it is not my job to educate random dudes about male privilege, and I probably didn't educate this dude at all (apologies, ladies, if I accidentally created another MRA), but a few things to take from this if you're a fellow of the heterosexual persuasion:

Lesson #1: Guys, if you are going to hit on complete strangers, make sure that there's at least someone else around and you're not blocking your target's escape route.

Lesson #2: "Here's my number, call me maybe" is significantly less threatening than, "can I have your number?" I mean, it won't get you a date with me because I don't call people even when I do want to have sex with them, but with most women, at least it puts the ball in their court and gives them an escape from the conversation.

Lesson #3: If a lady is obviously uninterested, like she reacts to your advances with fear or annoyance rather than ripping her bodice and crying, "Come take me now, you pinnacle of manliness!" (or some less melodramatic variation) give up. Continuing to argue with her reaction is not actually going to make her want to have sex with you. Quite the opposite.

So, that happened. I was actually pretty shaken up by the whole thing so reassuring words wouldn't be unwelcome.
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