One of the most affirming situations I’ve been in recently has been my mom seeing and confirming how intense the amount of men and the situations they hit on me in are.
One stand out interaction was in Lowes. I was wearing old dirty, torn clothes. My hair was up and greasy and I had no make up on. I had a notebook and was working out what sizes of wood I needed to build my kitchen. When a man heard me speak. He lingered around us for a while with his friend till he started up a conversation about my accent. The “in” for all men here. He asked about my project. And then offered me the use of his work space in exchange for a date with me. My mom played offended and asked if she was invited. He said yes, if it meant he could have a date with her daughter. She was shocked at his thirst. He was older than me and definitely not my type. And I was not out looking for dates in Lowes. I said no but thanks for the offer. There was an attempt to convince me, like a woman doesn’t know her own mind. And eventually we carried on with our trip around Lowes.
This was one of MANY MANY interactions over the 4 months that left my mom feeling ignored and overlooked and me feeling as harassed and unable to go out in public quietly and safely as ever. I had told her before about what it’s like here for me. Especially when I was living in Vegas. If i stepped out the house I had to accept that at least 5 men would hit on me, cat call me or ask for my number after a short interaction, every time. I understand that happening in Vegas. But I wasn’t prepared for it happening everywhere. And I definitely wasn’t prepared for it happening in front of my mother. At first she was a bit jealous. But over time she began to understand my situation and now fully sees the reality of being me out in the world. She said she has NEVER in her life dealt with anything like what I do on a daily basis. She didn’t know it was like that. And now she does, she fully supports me when I need to talk about the problems I face just from men wanting me.
I can have a wonderful conversation with a stranger about mental health and the wilderness and it gets ended with, “I’d really like to see you again, you’re a beautiful woman, you’re so sexy, I like you”. I can’t go out and do anything without having to interact. I might want to go to the coffee shop, or hot springs, or on a hike, or go to the store, just to do the thing I want to do. But I can’t. I am always open to approach. And I never know when it coming. No situation is too inappropriate, no lack of make up, messy clothes, or even my fucking mother present, will stop strangers from approaching me and telling me they want me. I can’t even start about this happening online. That’s a whole other bag of shit for another day. But to have someone else see my reality has helped me a lot.
I still have no idea what it’s like to be another woman around my age and looks in this country as I don’t have enough (barely any) female friends here. I see well put together or hot women and wonder if they deal with this shit day in, day out too. There has got to be other women suffering and others even worse than me. But I haven’t started polling strangers…yet. I know as I’m alone a lot I get more stranger interaction and attention than if I was with a group or a friend. But being alone isn’t a automatic invitation for company. I do LOVE talking to strangers in public. But I do not like having to reject people all day. I will happily talk to any man who is pleasant and polite. We might talk for hours, about personal things. But this is NOT an automatic transfer into going on a date, sleeping with him or even just meeting up again. Random moments with strangers can be amazing. And I hate them getting tarnished every time by a man taking it the wrong way or even just interacting in the first place because they are sexually attracted to me. I can’t date or fuck every single person who talks to me or sees me across the street on a daily basis. And I don’t want to. I don’t want to have to take on and negotiate the desires of every person who wants me. Why can’t they just keep it to themselves? Take the good moment and move on. See me in the street and not say something. Drive past and think “phwarrr”, but don’t lean out the window and tell me. No man is gonna be the exception to the rule. No man is not going to disappoint me when they turn a nice connection and conversation into something sexual or wanting. Even if they are a 10. Being alive and in public isn’t a automatic sign that I’m here to be hit on or that being single means I’m available.
15 years ago I made a piece of art about owning the compliments that construction workers threw out from 4 floors up on some scaffolding, or out of a white van or on the building site at my university. I would write what they said and pin the paper to my studio wall. I didn’t understand the girls who were offended. I thought it was more empowering to own what they said than be offended by it. 15 years later, it’s gotten VERY old.
I’m not gonna start lying about my marital status or who I am when I talk to people. But after another affirming conversation with my mom I have decided it’s time to stop being polite and start saying NO. And that is a whole other bag of shit, how men react to a no. They try to negotiate with you, get offended or turn on you. So a polite exchange of numbers is a easier exchange and end than having a stranger haggle with you and coercing you over access to your time and body. But if I don’t start telling them I’m just not interested and the conversation was enough, they will never learn. Cause obviously no one has told them it doesn’t work.
I don’t have an answer to all of this right now. But I’m sick of holding it inside in case people think I’m too full of myself for saying I get hit on too much. Well to those people…spend a few months with me, and you will see, it’s not me thinking I’m ace that has got me to this point. It’s the relentless day in, day out evidence, 20 years of being sexually approachable, and being a open, friendly, different person that has brought me to a point of maddening frustration of this situation that has now been confirmed by a third party and affirmed my need to speak out.