You were at an event for the weekend so I imagine you didn’t experience the social media groundswell of the #yesallwomen hashtag. I was walking home from my disney princess movie-watching party on Saturday, checking my phone, and seeing a ton of stuff about it. Not all men are shitbird predators, but yes, all women experience this garbage, is the point of it. I was reading and getting pissed off about the gender essentialism inherent in it, because why is it that the only time my enlightened friends get all gender essentialist is when they’re fighting sexism? Isn’t that the opposite of helpful? I think that calling out toxic masculinity paradigms is truer and more useful than saying patriarchy kills.
So I’m walking along, trying to decide whether to tweet something that will piss off many of my friends. I’m wondering if complaining about the #yesallwomen hashtag would be derailing something important. There’s a guy walking in the other direction and we make eye contact as he passes me. My finger is on the tweet button. The guy is behind me now and says, “hey sweetheart.” I keep myself from jumping or turning to look or doing anything different. Some guy just murdered a bunch of women in California for saying no to him and every feminist in the country is crying out in a paroxysm of anger, and this guy keeps saying, “sweetheart.” He’s said it three times now and it doesn’t sound like he’s getting further away so I know he’s following me. I want to turn around and scream, “GET AWAY FROM ME MOTHERFUCKER” but I don’t because what if he pushes me or hits me or stabs me? I want to call 911 because that would show him, but the cops aren’t going to do shit except berate me for walking alone at night wearing a corset even though I’m also wearing a hoodie and cowboy boots and I look more angry than sexy.
I tweet “Guy following me down the block yelling sweetheart” because by the time I finish typing that with my thumb he has started yelling. With my other hand I pull out a cigarette. I notice that my hand is shaking when I light it. The guy has stopped saying “SWEETHEART” over and over in his flat monotone, which was scarier than if he had sounded cajoling or even angry, because it makes him seem like a shark.
I didn’t run, but I did pause outside of a restaurant with people hanging out by the door to turn around and look. The guy wasn’t there. I thought about saying something to the people standing there but it seemed silly to be so scared, so I just kept on going.