Read that again. Once more: You. Don’t. Owe. Anyone. Anything. You don’t owe them sex. You don’t owe them a conversation. You don’t owe them an education. You don’t owe them pretty.
I had a horrible experience on Friday. (I want to caveat this with: I’m not enthralled I’ve got two posts so close to each other that outline the terrible behaviour of a couple of men, but here we are.) Friday, minding my business in a bar when a guy decides I owe him my attention. A classic entitled white boy, from England. At first it was cordial. We were friendly. Then he kept trying to push for me and my friends to go back to his flat. ‘No thank you, we’re happy here. Another time.’ He kept announcing loudly how shit the bar was and we should leave. Personally, we were enjoying it and didn’t want to go back to a random flat, thank you. I shall call him Cretin.
Cretin was persistent. After a few more times, and a few more wines on my part, I said to him ‘Mate, you’re alright, but you are starting to piss me off’ – dear reader, at this point I did not think he was alright but felt I had to soften the latter with a form of compliment. He said ‘okay fine’ and huffed off. Clearly perturbed. I turned to a friend and said, ‘you can spot the entitled ones who haven’t been told ‘no’ enough.’ Laughed and continued with my evening.
Later, I was stood at the bar, talking with the barman. Enter Cretin. Drunk and gross by now. (Drunk-er and gross-er). I’m polite, which I don’t need to be, but I am. Manners and all. Despite his clear lack of them. He launches in to kiss me. By grabbing my face. I pull firmly away. Disgusted. I say to him ‘are you aware of the concept of consent?’ Oh wow. He did NOT like this.
‘You fucking bitch. You fat fucking whore. How fucking dare you. I try to kiss you’ (like I should be grateful) ‘ And you call me a fucking RAPIST. This is my town,’ (we’re in a Portuguese town – he is English) ‘You need to fuck off to where you came from. You fat fucking whore, how fucking dare you.’
This is a clipped version of said rant. He went on for a while. The barman stepped in and asked him to step away.
‘Get the fuck out of my fucking face you fucking slut.’ May I say he came over to me. During the rant I had remained silent, at this point I said ‘why don’t you move away from me?’
The vile rant continued for a little longer. In the end he moved away, but seethed with anger for the rest of the night. Glaring at me across the room over his drink. I had clearly hit a nerve. This utter cretin believed I owed him something. He did not observe me as a human being with choices, namely for him to leave me the fuck alone. He saw. He wanted. He expected. Firstly, that my friends and I would jump at the chance to go back to his flat, secondly that being forced into a kiss is a compliment. Now, did he actually think I was a fat fucking whore, or was he just trying to be a nasty little cretin? – maybe he did think so and that was why he wanted to kiss me. Who knows? Your kink is your kink, man. Entitled, posh, white boys, who spit when they talk are not my kink. Leave me alone. Please and thank you.
Once upon a time an insult like that would have destroyed me. Now, I realise it’s just his projection of shame from being rejected. A major overreaction to an emotion he cannot handle, because he has not been told or accepted ‘no’ enough during his life.
I’m an active member of reddit. I’ve seen many times on that site posted under subreddits, or in the comments, guys speaking to women like this. A female hits a nerve and they go off, spitting vitriolic attacks. However, I have never been on the receiving end. I can see what sharing your opinion can do, and actively avoid it. Out of fear.
To face such a changeling in person and have him rain down on me with words and spittle because I didn’t give him what he felt was owed. Horrifying.
I am so tired of sexism. I’m tired of watering down my opinions and assertiveness so as to not to offend fragile men, best case. Worst case, watering myself down in order to not endanger my life.
I have been in similar-ish situations before. In that I’ve experienced men expecting something because: they have bought me dinner/I dressed in a certain way/they gave me a lift (yes, this is true). It’s really not that uncommon. However, Friday was the first time I took a stand and made clear boundaries; there was no giggly flirting, no ‘thank you sir but no thank you,’ no ‘oh okay one kiss’ (whilst hating it).
I do not see harassment as a compliment anymore.
Don’t, for a second, think it’s a fucking compliment and I should be grateful for the attention. This is toxic and has to stop. It makes my blood boil. I am not fucking interested in your attention; I have made this abundantly clear. It is offensive you think continuing in such a manner is anything other than abhorrent.
Women don’t owe men anything. We are not here as objects of desire. We have bodies, and voices, and they are for our use and our use only. Unless we decide to share. We can do whatever we wish with our bodies. We are the boss, CEO and entire board of directors of ourselves. Men do not have a seat on that board.
This is nothing new. Nothing I am saying is ground-breaking, or life changing. I’m adding to an already large group of voices fighting for women and against misogyny and the patriarchy. My voice is as valid as anyone else’s. I will not apologise for adding to the raucous we are making, because it needs to be made. There is always room at the table for women to voice their anger, and tell their stories.
Remember: You Don’t Owe Anyone Anything.