It isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last time.
That’s what I tell myself whenever I encounter men in my department. They come in, flirt with you and pretend they’re going to buy things from you, but then they don’t. They just want your attention, and they get it because they know it’s your job and you cannot be mean back. They insult you. Harass you. Make sexual comments about you to your face. They leave. Knowing they wasted your time, and enjoyed every moment they emotionally destroyed you. That is an assumption of course. I don’t know what they really think. The fact that it is continual though really builds the case for them though. A few times I have been afraid to go out to my car, because they would be the type to wait for me there.
It’s terrifying. What’s worse is I’m not the only person out there who deals with this on a daily basis. I know because other women do too. I work with them. I can’t imagine how bad it must be in a large scale mall in big cities. I feel for those brave women as I recall a few cases of rape outside one of the bigger malls near me. They had all recognized their rapist as someone they had helped at their store. They weren’t even victims of the same man. To have them so close together was strange and scary. I had been terrified to go up there to shop for months until the perps were caught. I still don’t go to the mall alone.
The problem is people seem to write it off. Sure they agree it’s awful that we have to go through this as women. We have no control over our gender, and have to endure the blatant abuse of men who come in because they need to stroke their ego and do it by giving you a hard time. But what do they do to help women like myself? Well they kindly tell me to “stop exaggerating and get over it” or “just keep quiet and let it go” or even “grin and bear it, you’re pretty, take it as a compliment.” These responses are usually from men, but a fair amount of them from women too. Women who claim to hate the problem, but do little to stop it. They have fallen victim just as much as I have, but I’d dare to say even worse, because they laid down and did nothing.
Often, people tell me I am not a victim because I’m a women. That this isn’t a gender issue. Then, what is it? An individual issue? Do I come across as nice and sweet and pretty and therefore weak? I don’t know. But every part of me wishes retailers had a day where their employees could do whatever they wanted in response to the abuse some customers put them through. I have quite a few male customers I would give a piece of my mind to. I’d show them how it feels to come home, rest in bed and wish they weren’t the gender they were born, or worse, wish they were dead.
What I can’t understand is how people can live without the kind of fear me and so many other women endure. How do they do that? How do they just “get over” being the repetitive target of an abusive person? How do they just “walk off” depression and self loathing caused by someone who looks at you as an expendable object? How does someone get over their desire to be someone else somewhere else, if not because of their gender, because they are pretty?
I have often wished those things. Some day I wish I was prettier and skinnier. Other days the opposite. Other days I wish I was a man. Other days I just wish I were dead because I don’t even want to deal with the inequality and sexism from both sides of the argument. I don’t want anyone to hurt. I don’t want to hurt anymore. Especially not because of something I cannot change. The struggle is very real….and very conflicting.
I have always wondered why women were so often victim to these sexist issues. I realize it isn’t just women anymore, because men have also become victims. Women have made them into antagonists because of the continual mistreatment of women from some men. I say “some” men because not every man is disrespectful to me, but there are quite a few, and to have a daily occurrence of blatant disrespect coming from a man, because I am pretty and a woman that they are attracted to is a little more than any person can bear. I can’t imagine any human willingly enduring someone’s unwanted sexual advances or even blatant abuse.
Quite honestly, I don’t want to hear about how you would “shower me up” while your buying your girlfriend a gift from my counter. I don’t want to tell another lie about my sexual orientation to try to get him to leave me alone, just to have him say to me “you and your gf should come over and party sometime.” Yes, gestures included. I’m also so over being at the beach and having some punk kid say “you a sexy bitch” and the proceed to dry hump my bumper to keep me from pulling out of my parking space as I attempted to escape his continual requests for my number. True story. All true stories. These aren’t even the half of them.
Might I also add to that last story with the “bumper humping beach bum” a few clarifying details: I was fully and modestly clothed in flair jeans and a hoody. So none of this “you must have been asking for it because of your skimpy swimming suit” crap, like one of my male friends once told me. He had assumed wrong. I was carpooling three minors in my car from a beach side women’s Bible Study. No swimming involved either. I almost feel sad I feel a need to include these details, because it shouldn’t matter what I was wearing or doing in the first place, but I wouldn’t want any confusion.
It’s just disgusting. It’s revolting. How do people like that have any business reproducing? Part of me wishes date sterilization drugs were a thing. Just a drop in a drink and done. I digress….angrily.
When I was little I was taught that God made women to be the essence of beauty. To be treasured and admired for their beauty. I see now how perverse it has all become. The effect on me is I see this beauty as a curse. Results of sin. What I see even more is how much women themselves have contributed to it. We became conflicted. We have taken our desire and understanding of beauty and made it equal to the sexualization of the female form. Some of us sold ourselves in some ways, by being too flattered and enjoying the false worship that became feminine objectification. Others didn’t sell out, but became a black market of anti-male manipulating and male objectifying propaganda. Men bought in because we were lovely, and easily objectified, or were cast out by the femme fatal who became man bashers….into the arms of the willingly sexually revolutionized woman.
What we got was and is a hot mess of hating and obsession. Both fueled the fire. Both became victims. Now both suffer.
As for me, I’m considering investing in a can of mace for when I walk to my car at night. It’s a small step of protection I can take off the clock. I only wish I didn’t have to consider violence just to feel secure in my femininity.