There’s no sauce on my face and I’m not on my period.

men-staring-women

Walking down the long building that leads to the train station on campus, I noticed a young man ahead turn and look back at me. His glance made me uncomfortable. As soon as he turned his head back I got this sinking feeling because somehow I knew what was going to happen next, and I didn’t want to be looked at. I tried to keep my face neutral and my head raised confidently, when in reality my whole body went rigid. The man said something to his friend, who then glanced back at me, eyebrow raised. Then they turned to each and laughed.

It’s funny how victimizing an action like this can feel. As a girl, you learn how to expect when you’re going to be looked at, and it is not a good feeling.

You looked, I thought:

Do I have spaghetti sauce on my face? -No, I washed up and looked in the bathroom mirror since lunch. No! I didn’t even have spaghetti for lunch, I had chicken. Frick, I bet it’s my period. Is my fly unzipped? <subtle check> Nope, I’m good. Goddamn it- if it is my period, I didn’t even remember to put any pads or tampons in my bag. Again. I must be the worst girl ever…No. Honestly, it must be because I’m wearing a crop top- maybe they think I’m hot. Maybe they’re laughing because the first guy said look at that white chick trying to be a slut. I don’t usually wear crop tops, this was just for fun on the last day of fall. This one does expose a lot of my midriff. The air on my tummy feels cold for the first time as I continue walking.

I kept my chin rigid, headphones in, and kept walking:

How do I check if it’s my period and I’m now bleeding through my pants? There’s nowhere to stop between here and the train station and my home and I’m going to have to get on the train. It is around the right time for it? Tbh I don’t even remember when I had my last period. There’s a washroom in the building I’m walking through but the men are still walking ahead of me and I can’t stop now because that would mean they win.

It’s this sinking pit of dread you feel when you know your body is about to be subjected to a gaze you don’t want.

How do I know they weren’t just talking about something else? That it wasn’t just coincidence? Because everything about the way they looked at me bluntly, rudely, an overtly, and the way my body felt in response says otherwise. When I was eleven years old, I went to a huge indoor waterpark with my family.

I was waiting alone in one of the lines when two 20-something-year-old men pointed to their friend and said “he wants to rape you.”

I don’t remember whether I was wearing a bikini or a one piece suit and I don’t know why I think that should matter. I slid down the slide as fast as I could, and then I went on a couple more with my dad, shocked into silence.

Twenty minutes later I told my mum and she almost killed those two men.

I didn’t have sauce on my face, or my zipper undone, and I didn’t even have a surprise visit from my period. I was simply a young woman walking home from her university class. So why are you staring at me? I wish demand a world where I don’t have to think this way every time rude men look at me. It’s a moment every girl and woman knows. Unfortunately, this sickly gaze is a glimpse into what is still happening every single minute, hour, and day- rape, sexual abuse, harassment, slut-shaming, assault, and domestic violence.



Image: Farooq, Rabia. Men staring at woman. Digital image. Wow! Reads. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “There’s no sauce on my face and I’m not on my period.

  1. Thank you for shedding light on the thoughts that go through your head when this happens. I am sorry you have to go through this and I hope other men will read this and think twice before acting in this way. I think there are men who do this who would be appalled by the two guys who said that to you at the water park, however I like that you connect the two ideas to show that they belong on the same continuum of hurtfulness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Gordon. I hope everyone, men and women, keeps opening up about how these interactions affect them.

      I say everyone but really I only mean the people who are going to agree with your sentiments because I can’t take the misogyny anymore!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not a good thing to experience. I think I would have beaten the crap out of the guys you encountered when you were 11. And what you’ve been through now… makes me angry. Makes me sad, makes me feel helpless and numb. I don’t want my daughter to experience something like this. And yet I know she will. I remember a couple of years ago I walked our dogs and had our little baby girl in the pram. I was wearing a T-shirt saying “Rock & Roll Tennis” and I was so out of shape because of the pregnancy and having a little baby. There were these tradesmen on the building site and one of them whistled and then said “Hey, I rock & roll you, wanna play with some new balls???”
    To a woman walking her baby in the pram…
    Guys like this are the reason why my kids to self defense. They are the reason why my daughter does not only Taekwondo but also Krav Maga (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krav_Maga). Guys like this are the reason we watch clips like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJCzFe46PRg.
    Because one day she will encounter a jerk like this and you know what: I so want her to be ready to kick his bloody ass so hard that he will never ever want to only think about looking at a woman in such a way ever again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, I cannot believe your story- thats ridiculous! Comments like that are so unneccessary yet have the power to ruin a woman’s day.

      I hope your daughter never has to experience that. There are a lot of guys out there and hopefully she’ll run into the good ones. I’m kind of shocked (in a good way) by your take on the situation as a parent. To be honest, I’ve never really considered physical attack a response to these situations but frankly it makes sense. Harassment is bad enough and makes me really pissed off. I wish I did/could do more than just keep a straight face and walk it off. If the harassment elevated I don’t know what I’d do. Good on your daughter for learning all those self defense and combat techniques- I think being confident in the power of your body is hugely important.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tony. I’m very glad to hear there are others who are looking for the same free world- and I know there are lots of us out there! I hope I can contribute my part towards its inception.

      Cheers

      Like

  3. As I read your posting, relating to each and every part, visions of the way women are portrayed in music videos, movies, and so on flashed through my mind. Where do men learn that this is okay behaviour? Are they confused about what women want? It would be interesting to hear the male perspective. As we’ve seen recently, this behaviour is not confined to college campuses but a problem in all social circles (even politics).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s also concerning to me the extent to which girls are taught that the world is dangerous, and that our bodies are what provoke this danger. I can’t begin to explain the way this is reflected in my lifestyle and activity choices, and I’m sure this is even more so for women of varying demographics, cultures, and environments.

      I am not sure why general insults are deemed holistically rude , while rude sexual comments made to women are excused, or somehow moderated by the way a woman is dressed.

      I agree about how such issues have infiltrated all social circles. However, I’m not surprised. Changing times force conservatively-held concepts to the forefront as Trump basically says the unsaid. It’s terrifying to see how sexism and gendered violence are still valued by so many so unapologetically. You raise an excellent idea- it would be really interesting to hear a male perspective on all of this…perhaps I have some interviews to do.

      Thanks for your input!

      Liked by 1 person

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