… speechless when this woman that I had only met once or twice before took one look at me and said, “This is a nice neighborhood. I would hate for a man to get the wrong idea based on your outfit and follow you back here with ill intentions.”
I have mentioned this story several times here on Medium. When I was younger I used to walk around my childhood suburban neighborhood for exercise. This meant no make up, baggy sweats, hair in a messy bun or ponytail. I would do this during the day for about an hour or two while listening to music. Eventually I had to stop listening to the music because I had to be hypervigilant about the cars that would pull up alongside me and follow me on my walk. Grown men would peel off the road, get out of their cars, and approach me. I was aghast at how many of them treated me like I was obligated to chitchat when they, a stranger, had lept out of their cars and come into my personal space on the sidewalk. They just couldn’t understand why I was suddenly afraid instead of flattered. I also had to stop walking on certain streets due to the level of cat-calls from groups of young men who would sit on their porches or be playing ball in their driveways or courts. They too felt as though I were obligated to chat. I just wanted to be left alone and to go about my business like anyone else. When I made the error of ignoring them I was regularly called an uppity bitch and threatened. The daily dose of micro aggressions and out right aggressions became overwhelming. Eventually I stopped taking these walks because they caused more anxiety than pleasure.
So you tell me, which one of us was the problem? All of the men who would approach me without provocation and or react poorly when I voiced that I wanted to be left alone or when I ignored them or when I repeatedly said no to their advances? Or the young lady (Me) minding her own business walking down the street? All I wanted to do was go about my business without being accosted or threatened.