It happened again last night. I was walking home and I saw two men and a woman walking toward me. I guessed they were all friends but then I heard the woman say, “Get away from me!” and “Don’t touch me!” as she shoved the bigger guy away from her.
The big guy was trying to hug her or grab her. This is a red flag for me. So I stopped and assessed the situation. If I had to guess, I’d have said the big guy and the woman were dating but very drunk. But I couldn’t be certain and as she repeated her pleas for him to get away so I felt I had to step in.
I raised my voice and asked, “Miss. Are you OK?” The couple ignored me, lost in their minor struggle. But the other guy with them spoke up. “Don’t worry. She’s fine.”
Not super reassuring.
I ignored him and approached the woman carefully. She didn’t seem in immediate danger but was still trying to get this much bigger person off her.
That’s when the smaller friend started to get irritated. “I told you, she’s fine!” he said. I turned to him and said that I wasn’t going to take his word for it. I needed to hear it from the woman, obviously. I turned back. “Are you OK? Do you need help?”
The smaller guy got mad and stepped toward me. “What’s your problem?! We’re friends. She’s fine!” At this point I worried I might get punched.
I took my eyes off the woman for a second and looked straight at this guy I really didn’t want to fight. “This isn’t your call. I need to hear from her that she’s OK. Wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for your girlfriend or sister?”
That’s when he told me to fuck off. So… not exactly the intellectual discourse I was hoping to spark.
But by that point I had gotten the woman’s attention and she told me she was fine. The bigger guy, drunk as he was, seemed to realize that maybe he should get off the woman. I waited another few seconds to see everything was settling down, then realized I couldn’t do much else and went on my way.
Why did that interaction have to happen? Why does that interaction keep happening? A while ago I got in between a man and his girlfriend who he was pushing against a wall. I asked her if she was OK. The man told me she was fine and that it was none of my business. I told him he made it my business by pushing a woman half his size. I asked her again if she was OK and she said she was. I let her know that she could walk away right now with me to a safer place but she declined. So I told her that she deserved better and I walked away.
Why can’t men keep their hands to themselves? Why do we men insist on speaking for these women? And why don’t they understand that it IS my business. It should be EVERYONE’S business when someone is being bullied, pushed around or having their wishes ignored.
I know there is a lot of psychology behind women being abused and I’m not blaming women. But I beg the women reading this to never put up with a man who hurts, controls or abuses you. I know it’s not that easy but I wish it were. You deserve better. And men: What the hell is wrong with us?! This is all our fault. Why would you ever think it’s OK to push a woman around? And if your friend is pushing a woman around late at night and a stranger stops to check on her, don’t speak for her, don’t try and intimidate the guy just trying to help a woman in danger.
I got home, angry at the two men and angry at men in general. And, almost as if by fate, I came across this video making its way around the internet. It’s Patrick Stewart voicing the same points I was feeling, in a much more eloquent and Professor X-ish way. Give it a watch. And please, if you see someone in trouble, stop. It’s the walking by in silence that allows this behavior to continue.