I am a woman, synonymous with unsafe, uncertain, property, ownership, worth, available, disrespect, discomfort. So you thought.
One day, my job had asked me to sit in the lobby of our library to assist our students if they had any questions about registration, as it’s only a week away.
As a Work Study student, I study at work [duh]. I had completed a project, 2 practice quizzes and 2 tests, all in under an hour.
I danced. And if you know me at all, you understand that my impromptu dancing isn’t uncommon at all.
A man approached me after seeing my [2 seconds] of breakout dancing. He mirrored my dance moves and approached me. I assumed he was a student and asked if he needed help [again… I was sitting at a student help table], which he declined and in the same breath proceeded to tell me all about himself. Where he went to school. How he had two majors in engineering. Where he was moving next month: an uppity location near a museum. He slid in compliments at every available point, compliments that made my skin crawl. I don’t even want to call this interaction a conversation because it was entirely one sided. I answered his questions shortly and politely, clearly not interested in continuing the conversation further, yet he continued. I began to look around him, as I was stuck cornered at this desk, my back to the wall, hoping for someone to come up and interrupt him.
And then he asked me for directions. He was looking for a campus building. He asked me to come with him to his car, and when I declined, he asked me if he could take me out for coffee, right then, right now.
I do not care how nice you are. I do not care that you spent the last 20 minutes talking to me, even when it was blatantly visible that I was uncomfortable and looking for a way out of the unwanted conversation. I do not care that you were nice to me. Your niceness does not mean that I am obligated to give you my number. Your niceness does not mean that I am obligated to go out with you. Your niceness does not obligate me to do anything. You are obligated, as a decent human being, to accept that I had politely declined your offer for coffee and walk away.
Except, you didn’t.
He stood there and badgered me as to why I wouldn’t go out with him. So when NO wasn’t enough, I politely told him: I am seeing someone and very happy, no thank you.
To which he responded: how do you know I’m not the one for you? I’m a nice guy. You’re beautiful, let me take you out. I promise I won’t propose to you. I’m probably better for you than the guy you’re with… and he continued and insisted until a student came up and asked for assistance, forcing him to leave and that was when he finally excused himself with a wink.
I was uncomfortable. I did not walk home alone as I felt that I was being watched… uneasy enough to feel unsafe to walk by myself back to my dorm, on campus, in broad daylight, in sight of the library.
A situation like today is unbelievably common for women. Ask the women around you how often they find themselves subject to unwanted advances. Go ahead and ask your mother how many times she can recall being catcalled walking home, or walking to her car. It’s unfortunate that this uncertainty and unsafeness is so common for us all. And we need to start talking about it, but more importantly, we have to do something about it. It begins with understanding, communication and respect. Under no circumstances is anyone obligated to anything from another person. Just because you are nice, it does not mean that you deserve my number. And something that thoroughly disgusted me around the whole interaction was the fact that my no wasn’t enough. It was only until I mentioned that there was another man in my life [spoiler: there wasn’t], but this fictional man commanded more respect than my physical being. Are you kidding me?
Aside from the fact that I was shown no respect for my unfavorable response, a nice guy does not badger women. A nice guy does not belittle a woman into a prize to be won or a piece of meat to be stolen. A nice guy does not knowingly or unknowingly make a woman crawl in her own skin. A nice guy doesn’t need to explicitly remind people that he is nice. A nice guy is a decent person who doesn’t view woman solely as an object of sexual being or desire. A nice guy sees a woman as a person, as a human being worthy of respect. That’s a nice guy.
No means no.
Not a “no thank you.”
And since you made it to the bottom of this post, I’m guessing you either like me or like the cause so check our No Means No Worldwide. “Violence Prevention, Intervention and Recovery.” Let’s change the world.