Just this past weekend I was at a bar in Boston waiting for friends to meet up with me. I’m notoriously early for pretty much everything, so I knew I could expect to hang at the bar by myself for a good 15-20 minutes. I pulled up a stool, ordered a beer and some food, and did what anyone who is waiting for people naturally does: buried my nose in my iPhone.
After about 5 minutes or so, a large man in his mid to late 30’s stumbled over to me and tried to sit on me. I kid you not. I asked him, “excuse me, can I help you?” And he went on to try to buy me a beer. I had a full beer next to me so I declined (to be clear, I would have declined even if that hadn’t been the case). The bartender eyed me and could tell I was getting quite uncomfortable as this man was draping himself on me, nearly knocking my chair over. He asked me if I was good, so I turned to the man and said “I don’t know, am I good? Are things going to be okay here?”
He continued to try to put his hands on me, and at one point ended up putting his head in my lap. This is when I pushed him off and the bartenders had him back off. (Which even then, took a while to make really happen).
If you know me, you know I don’t typically take shit from anyone. Looking back, I’m almost a little surprised at how I handled the situation – but you never really know until you’re in it what you will do. For me, I made the choice to not be aggressive as this guy was a good 6-8 inches taller than me and had a good 100 pounds on me. I was alone, so if things escalated I don’t know what would have happened.
The thing that bothered me the most however is that the guy who was being this way towards me had an entire table of friends sitting directly behind us and they did nothing to stop his behavior. I was sitting right next to two men who also did nothing, even though I feel like it had to have been incredibly clear that I was extremely uncomfortable.
Did I mention it was only around 6PM when this happened?
Was there something I could have done to end the situation sooner? Maybe. But I refuse to let myself feel guilty over this.
I wasn’t going to write about this (mainly because I didn’t want to upset my mother), but after reading some pretty poignant #YesAllWomen Tweets, I’m opening up.
As a woman, there are certain things I just shouldn’t do or else it will put me at risk. From going inside a bar alone before my friends get there to having cab drivers straight up ask me about my love life (seriously, this happens to me all the time), I am put into some incredibly awkward and potentially dangerous situations just because of my gender.
I don’t think this conversation is supposed to make us scared or be hateful or suspicious of men. To me, it lets women know that you are not alone. It gave them a space to share something that they probably never shared before. It uncovered a problem that people have just accepted as a part of life; even though it doesn’t have to be this way.
Feminism isn’t a dirty word. It’s necessary for progress, and it certainly isn’t a label reserved for females. I hope this conversation continues and that both women and men look into what is being said – and I hope they listen.