To the (possibly drugged out) man at the library today,
Let me start by saying that I try to be a compassionate person; I try to empathize with others, as I believe one of the things that our society lacks today is exactly that; compassion and kindness, a willingness to be there for others, be it family members or strangers.
I had just joined the public library and was happily flipping through a book on gardening in Northern BC, when you startlingly came at me in the aisle, attempting to press your body against mine. I quickly looked around and no one else was within earshot. Maybe you knew, maybe you didn’t, but you had immediately forced me into ‘flight’ mode. I was (both your fault and to a degree mine) instantaneously the one with less power in that situation.
I’m sad that I allowed your physical dominance to intimidate me. I’m frustrated with myself for giving up my power so quickly and easily.
You called me ‘beautiful’ and ‘sexy’ as I walked away from you, and you seemed upset that I didnt accept those ‘compliments’ with a smile.
You cat called at me from the upper balcony alongside your friends as I checked out my books, head down, eyes down. You seemed angry that I was leaving.
I left as quickly as I could because you had soured what was meant to be a pleasant afternoon.
You followed me out of the building, so I hid in a crowd until you left.
Instead of being intimidated, instead of feeling like I was the one who had to take responsibility and remove myself from the situation – I wish that I had called on some inner strength (that I hope I actually have) and told you that I had not asked you to talk to me like that.
I did not ask to have you follow me. I do not owe you a ‘thank you’ for for your empty, shallow ‘compliments’. I am not an object for you and your friends to admire and discuss openly as you see fit.
This isn’t only your world. It’s mine too. And I deserve to be able to walk in it freely, confidently, knowing that I am not going to be objectified and intimidated (at a public library, of all places).
As a woman, I can say that sometimes walking out the front door feels like arming yourself for battle. I have to gear up in order to take what may come my way.
Of course this isn’t everyday, but some. And hopefully fewer as time goes by.
The only way I can see it getting better is if people like you stop treating others this way, and if people like myself stop scuttling away into the shadows and stand up for ourselves.
Next time, Mr Man at the Library, I will not scurry off. I will not lower my eyes and politley smile. I will (hopefully) take a deep breath, channel my inner lioness and roar.