I was minding my own business. It was midnight, and I was sitting on a swing, by myself, at the park at the end of my street. I just wanted to get out of the house for some fresh air, and to clear my head by conversing with the stars in the open sky. I just wanted to be left alone. Then you appeared.
You caught me off guard, I didn’t see you approach me. I just looked up, and there you were, on the sidewalk in front of me. You asked me if I had a lighter. I politely told you that I did not, but you took that as an invitation to come closer anyway. Of all the swings in that park, you chose my swing set. Of all 5 available swings, you chose the one right next to me.
I stiffened my posture and dug my feet in to the ground beneath me to stop my swing, mid stride. I pulled out my knife, making absolutely no attempt to be subtle about it. I know you saw me open the blade. Yet, you took my stiff composure and that shiny blade as an invitation to try and start a conversation with me.
You said I looked familiar. I ignored your bait and avoided eye contact. You asked me how old I was. When I didn’t answer, you started trying to guess. When I didn’t validate any of your guesses as correct, you tried to ask me where I lived. Apparently, you enjoyed talking to yourself, because when I did not respond, you kept going. You stated that you had seen me around, and that you had seen me on that swing set a few nights that week, indicating that you had been watching me. You knew my routine. You knew what time I would be at that park. You were waiting for me. At that point, I politely excused myself from the conversation, and walked away from you, leaving that swing set, previously deemed as my safe haven, behind.
What I want to know, is who the hell you think you are. I know you are full aware of the world we live in, and of the fears and threats that women face every single day by merely existing in the presence of men like you. I know you knew better than to approach a woman in the dark. I know you saw all of the ways that you made me uncomfortable, but you just made yourself at home in my presence, as if you were entitled to that space. As if I owed you polite conversation in the dark. As if I owed you my trust, my space, or my time.
Men like you are the reason why women are told not to go out in public alone. Men like you are the reason why women hold their keys between their knuckles as they walk up the sidewalk to their home. Men like you are the reason why we will walk several blocks out of our way, just to ensure that you aren’t following us, and don’t see where we live.
You approached me, uninvited. You invaded my space. You disregarded my discomfort and refused to leave me alone. You were the one who stayed until I was so uncomfortable, that I had to get up and leave, even though I was there first. You were the inconsiderate asshole. And yet, I am the one who society would have blamed if I never made it home.
Because God forbid a woman go out in public to admire the stars