It’s 7 o’clock in Pennsylvania and I’m walking through my city to meet up with some friends for dinner. Dark is long past due to it being winter and I know that I’m at risk. A young man walking at night is just asking for it. A few minutes into my walk, and I’m startled by a loud honk. This is followed by a woman passenger pressed up against the glass making a lewd gesture with her fist and mouth. Appalled for just a moment, I end up shrugging. Girls will be girls, right? Following this, I am passing a section of stooped homes. As usual, I avoid eye contact with the two old women perched on their porch.
“Hey handsome, smile! Just a little smile, eh? Life ain’t so bad!”
That’s confusing. Do I smile and say thank you for the original compliment? I know that this woman is just using a polite cover in order to feel powerful, so do I act adversely? I’m caught up in my thoughts so I don’t say anything at all. I hear one of the women mutter something about the men of my generation not knowing how to take a compliment. I chalk up their behavior to being older and bored. With time, I reach a very busy intersection. As traffic passes, the lane to the left of me is stopped waiting for the light to change. Only at the intersection for a few moments, a car full of grown ladies rolls down their window in order to talk to me.
“Hey baby, you need a ride? Good looking man such as yourself shouldn’t be walking alone at night. That’s dangerous for a guy like you, you know.”
Dangerous for a guy like me? I can feel my chest tighten and my stomach churn with the usual anxiety I feel during these situations. I smile meekly, serving as an attempt to convince myself that I was overreacting. After all, the fight or flight reaction was unnecessary. These are just some women having a good time. I am able to cross the intersection, and the car follows my direction.
“Let me see your dick!”
“I love those jeans, babe. I’d love you without them, too!”
“Hey, where are you headed dressed like that? Damn, boy!”
I’m wearing a jacket, flannel, and jeans. What the hell? Is it because these jeans sag a little bit? That’s definitely it. I knew I should have worn a better belt today! Every time I wear these jeans this happens!
“Whatever, stuck up asshole!”
“You aren’t even hot.”
Why are these women getting so offended? I just want to go to dinner. The car pulls into a alley we’re passing and quite literally blocks me from passing. I’m nervous, and before a door can open I cross the street.
“Hey baby, we weren’t going to hurt you!”
Even if they weren’t, I just wanted to get away. The restaurant is right around the corner, and I make it safely, if not shaken. Upon arrival, my friends berate me for walking after dark without the protection of a women. After hearing the story of my harassment, they assure me that not all women are like that. Once the usual speech is given, we go about our dinner as normal.