I was never one to stand up for myself. I’m usually shy, reserved, and a loner.
I didn’t think that would make me considered as easy prey.
I’ve put my foot in the door when it comes back to getting into the dating world. I’ve seen a few good guys, like needles in a haystack, that actually treat me like a human being and not a sex object. But then there’s the losers — the guys that think that as long as they throw you a couple of compliments and the promise of a good time that they’ve now officially got an in — and they own you.
I shudder when I think back to all the things I’ve tolerated over the past few months. The strangers that I’ve been on dates with that turn around and end up being complete jerks. But this isn’t about how copious amounts of testosterone and sexism can make someone who’s only difference from me is physical anatomy turn into a self-centered prick who thinks I’m an object to be conquered- no — this is about how someone who tolerated being spit on, lied to, and called ridiculous things like “slut” and “whore” finally said “enough is enough.”
This about the time I realized being a woman shouldn’t mean being considered someone who is prey.
That night, I was at work. I was doing my job, I was keeping busy restocking and cleaning. That night, he saw me alone.
He came up behind me then, close enough to speak in my ear with soft tones. Trying to keep quiet so only I could hear.
“What do you have for me?”
I shrugged, thinking he was talking about the array of the under-stocked juice and soda I was staring at.
“I’m good! I don’t need help with this. I just have to restock a few things.”
“No, what do you have for me?”
I started to feel uncomfortable then, I glanced behind me. Close, so close. I laughed nervously, asking him what he meant.
“Give me a kiss.”
I laughed again. A joke, this must be a joke. He was older, he had a wife, potentially children.
“Give me…a kiss.”
I stammered. Took too long to respond. I should’ve been more angry but I couldn’t register what he was saying.
“N-n-n-o! What? No.”
“Come on girl, don’t be bad. I’m a good man. Give me a kiss.”
I was at work. I was working. I was doing my job. I was alone. I was prey.
I was a good girl being harassed by a bad man and I felt cornered, confused, and betrayed.
I thought back to times where men like him had hurt me, betrayed me, called me horrible names and used me. I thought of all the times I felt like prey and let it happen because I thought I deserved it. I didn’t deserve this.
I’m not your prey.
I turned to face him, and looked him in the eye.
He abruptly walked away then, and I felt my heart in my throat.
I’m not your prey.
I gathered my courage, and I told my supervisor what happened. Two days later he was confronted, and he denied everything. He explained that he was a good man and that he would never say such things and that I was obviously confused.
But women are so often considered prey, that they took my word over his. Then more people came forward with their complaints, accusations, and stories. He was cornered.
How sad is it that most prey or shall I say women turn into victims and don’t get the satisfaction of making their way back to the top where they can feel safe and secure? How awful is it that it is easier for us to accept our role as the sex that is to be claimed, hunted, and controlled rather than to stand up for ourselves? How frustrating is it that in today’s society, some men still believe that they have power and authority over women- that they can treat us differently just because we are physically different?
I don’t ask for much when I date someone. But maybe I should. I didn’t realize how hard it was to be respected as a woman until I got out of the comfort and familiarity of a long term relationship with a good man, and discovered how many bad men there were.
There’s a fine line between someone who respects you as a human being and someone who considers you prey. I’m making a promise to myself to finally notice the difference, and stand up for myself instead of sitting back and letting things happen that I don’t deserve. I used to think awareness wasn’t the problem, as I’ve seen so many articles about sexual harassment and abuse against women that I assumed that I would know it when I saw it. Shamefully, I didn’t always.
I know someone is going to read this and think that my story “isn’t that bad.” He didn’t touch me, I wasn’t hurt. But that’s the problem.
A woman shouldn’t have to be raped or beaten for people to pay attention to the problem that’s going on here, and the problem isn’t just men — it’s women too.
We shrug it off when we’re cat-called, and called cutesy little names like “baby” and “sexy” by strangers.
When something happens to a woman, whether it’s rape or even verbal abuse, the woman is blamed. Sometimes, by other women.
I was wearing my work uniform that day. A t-shirt, jeans, and hat. I was just doing my job. I didn’t ask for anything. I should’ve asked for respect.
All of us, as women, should. We’re not prey, we’re not sex objects, we’re people, and I’ll be damned if I spend another day thinking of myself as anything less.
Now the question is, what will you do?