Consider this conversation I had on Nicollet Mall the other day:
*guy comes up to me*
Guy: Hi, miss, I'm doing this survey- you are so cute!
Me: *indistinct noises*
Guy: It consists of four words- wow, you have pretty eyes!
Guy: Would you be interested in taking part in it.
Me: I actually have a meeting to go to...
Guy: What? Why? Ah, would you ever consider going out with a guy like me? *says something about not being scary*
Me: I actually have a boyfriend.
Guy: What?! He's so lucky! Well, high five! You better marry him!
Me: *high fives him and walks away to revel in awkwardness at Panara*
At first I couldn't decide if I had become some part of a social experiment or if I actually got hit on. Or both. I wasn't pleased with my reaction and after I made a status about the situation on Facebook and my friend Emma linked me to this article, I understood why. Give the piece a read - it's brilliant.
No more. I have been hit on four times in the last week, possibly five if the guy who kept shifting around, dropping stuff, and pushing/throwing his water bottle towards me while I was sitting outside reading, as if he were trying to get my attention, then said, "Have a good day, ma'am" and mumbled something else when I left because he was making me uncomfortable counts (because I have no idea what he mumbled as I'd told him to have a good day too and had begun to walk away). It's becoming a daily thing.
I feel like a pretty awkward individual most of the time anyway when it comes to human interaction, so deterring those who hit on me isn't easy especially as I'm not quick-thinking in these situations. But I have to do something. I don't know if it's simply being downtown, if I'm doing something different, or if society is changing and this sort of behavior is making a resurgence (thanks for that, Robin Thicke). But I'd just appreciate it if I could walk in downtown Minneapolis and have a better grasp of how to deal with unsolicited romantic attention. It's unwarranted and more than complimentary. It's uncomfortable. And yet I deal with it by saying I have a boyfriend and feel vaguely embarrassingly flattered and mostly annoyed. And I don't know how to respond when people I complain to say it's because I'm attractive or recommend that I work it. I don't want to work it. I want to be able to walk down a street and not be treated differently because of my gender.
I came across this post on Tumblr and thought it was fitting and thought I'd end this post with it.
I know compared to all of the other issues that women face, especially queer women and women of color, my complaints are rather petty. But if I have problems, then what other women face is far, far worse. I live in a safe area in a relatively safe town with a privileged background and a lot of blessings. So many other women don't have that. It's not to delegitimize my problems, but to put them into perspective. It's a real problem and has nothing to do with appearance or attire - I have been hit on in a nice dress, I have been hit on in my Target work clothes, I have been hit on walking home in the pouring rain with mascara smeared all of my face and looking like a drowned rat. I'm used to it. But I'm not okay with it. And never again I will I lie to get out of an awkward situation. I will tell the truth and respect my own opinion. I at least owe myself that much.