Yesterday I received another painful reminder that it genuinely sucks sometimes to be a young female, and as much as I may try to convince myself that I’m a strong, intelligent, kind-of-intimidating woman, men still usually win.
Here’s what happened: I parked in a strip-mall-type parking lot on my way to work to pick up my daily cappuccino from Coffee Bean. As I walked into the lot, I was keenly aware of being eyed by the security guard (male, naturally). Unnerved, I looked at him, and he kept on staring, which is about as creepy a move as is humanly possible. I hurried into the store, grabbed my coffee, then walked back out. I needed to run across the street to pick up some items at CVS for my boss, so I headed to the crosswalk.
Then I heard a loud, threatening shout from behind me: “Hey! Where do you think you’re going?” Rattled, I turned around and stuttered, “Wha- what?” I found myself a little too close to Mr. Security Guard, who had come running after me. The large man got up in my face and again demanded to know where I was heading. I explained I needed to run a quick errand across the street. He glared at me and began pointing his finger into my chest. “You can’t do that. You leave the lot, you gotta move your car.” I tried to explain. “I’ll only be gone for a minute, and I was just in the Coffee Bean—“ “If you leave, you’re going to get a ticket. Or get towed.” I was flabbergasted as I inched away from the advancing man, looking around at the other pedestrians, many of whom were also leaving the lot to run additional errands (because everyone does this), and most of whom were men. I then proceeded to reason with the guard, trying to explain myself, but he wasn’t interested in talking. When he walked around me to physically block the sidewalk so that I couldn’t move past him, I burst into tears and headed back to my car, defeated.
I then spent another 10 minutes driving up and down the busy street looking to park at a meter, finally nabbing a free one almost a block away from the CVS.
When I relayed this event to my boyfriend, he immediately fell into a state of rage. I’m pretty convinced that if he ever spots the guard there over the weekend (though there’s NEVER a guard there on the weekend), he’ll rip the man’s throat out for upsetting me. And no, I’m not using flowery language – my boyfriend would actually drive his hand into someone’s throat if they bothered me too much and I let him.
What became apparent as I retold the story of my woes to my boyfriend, however, was that this would never, ever happen to him, a 6’2” muscular Navy man, nor ever has. He will never know what it’s like to be harassed or pushed around in this manner that has become pretty common for me.
Truthfully, yesterday’s run-in wasn’t all that shocking or unusual. I have become used to men getting power erections by bossing me around, demeaning me, or making me feel unsafe. And the fact that I’m able to dismiss this one incident so easily is proof that this kind of behavior is too commonplace. Which is NOT OKAY.
I have no idea how to improve these circumstances, however, since despite all efforts to the contrary men continue to dominate the world we live in; but those of us who happen to not be male should not have to suffer because of it.
It may not be much, but the next time I see that security guard staring at me, I’m giving him the middle finger.