“Hmm, that’s not sexual harassment, baby. When I decide to get sexual, trust me, you’ll know it.”
Author: Lora Leigh
I don’t like to queue. Even on a good day I’ll drive right past the servo with the cheap fuel and the line of cars to the horizon and go back the following day when it’s 10 cents more expensive and the forecourt is clear. It’s not that I’m particularly impatient. I just don’t like being that close to people. I had to stop at my servo today for fags. The queue at the checkout snaked into an aisle because it was cheap fuel day. Then someone stood behind me. I felt them before I saw them because they were too bloody close to me. I shuffled forward, he shuffled forward. I couldn’t keep shuffling forward without pressing myself into the back of the lass in front of me and whilst in that stationary, sweat coming out of my ears, panic rising position, I found myself in a frotting situation. I could tell he had performed this manoeuvre before as it was accompanied by a leaning toward me to the right and down in order to pick something from the shelf parallel to me. Could it have been an accident on his part? Is he carrying a brief case? That’s the first thing I thought. We do, you know. Even when suffering the most acute discomfort/fear, women will question their own perception before protecting themselves.
In a micro-second I was taken back to the time a man masturbated in a bus shelter we were sharing and then thanked me for being such a pretty picture; the time a guy grabbed my breast at a party and I went along with it, de-escalated it, because everyone else thought it was funny; the time my husband pushed me down a flight of stairs and then took me to hospital with a suspected broken knee and a story already in place; the time a work colleague grabbed my head and kissed me hard without my consent and I let it go because no one else in the office took it seriously and he apologised afterwards.
In a micro-second I was taken back to the training that informs me to always question myself before questioning anyone else. Don’t raise your voice. Don’t make a scene. Be nice always. Defer to authority. Don’t over-react. Don’t wear so much make-up. Don’t wear short dresses. Boys will be boys. Don’t be bossy. If you don’t have anything nice to say…don’t say anything at all.
And…don’t trust yourself.
Now, let me be clear. No one actually said ‘Don’t trust yourself’ to me. But those words are the subtext every time a girl is told that she must adjust her appearance, attitude, opinions or life style in order to be acceptable, safe and attractive. It is the thing parents of girls never realise they are doing. Desperate to protect them they begin to view them at a very early age in the same way they know the world will view them. And rather than teach them to be fully realised, compassionate, powerful individuals who won’t stand for any shit they naturally, and understandably, teach them to shut the fuck up and not draw attention to themselves. Oh, yes people, I have compassion for the parents too.
And the boys? Well, boys are taught not to take any shit and for fucks sake: ‘Don’t Be A Girl About It!’
It was only this year that a 4 year old girl in the US, hit so hard by a boy in her class she required stitches, was told by the attending (male) nurse: “He probably likes you.”
So back to my queue. Could it have been an accident? Is he carrying a brief case? I brought the heel of my shoe down hard on his instep. I was doing it blind so it wasn’t graceful and my foot slipped to his toes, so I repositioned and came down hard on his toes again. And do you know what I thought? – I’m going to be arrested for assault on this poor man who is just waiting in line.
What did happen? – He quietly called me a cunt and took several steps backward. He didn’t draw attention to himself. He acquiesced to authority. He didn’t make a scene. He wasn’t bossy. And in that moment…he didn’t trust himself.
I still don’t like to queue.