Walking home the other night I was conscious someone was following me. You know when you know. But then you think, it’s fine, it’s light, it’s 7pm and it wasn’t in a creepy way – someone was literally just walking behind me. I had my earphones in but I just sensed it and saw a flutter of movement in my peripheral vision.
Sure enough, a minute or two later I heard heavier, faster footsteps catch up to me as I stopped to cross a road. I turned to check for cars and saw a guy, mid-twenties waving and saying I looked nice. I instinctively avoided eye contact and tapped my earphones, to remind him I’m choosing not to listen to anyone right now and did not want to engage in conversation.
He waved more frantically, carried on talking at me and then stepped in front of me, so I stopped and in the space of around 4 seconds, went through my options. We’ve all been there and we know we can basically do 1 of 4 things:
- Ignore them and walk away
- Say hello and be friendly
- Get angry
- Politely say you are not interested
But you make a mental note that you’ve tried all of them before and none of them have worked.
The time you ignored him and walked away and got called a bitch and questioned why you think you’re better than him.
The time you said hello and made small talk only to have him keep talking and following you to the point where you didn’t want to actually arrive at your car so had to go into a book shop to get rid of him.
The time you lost it and let him have it both barrels and got called a slag and that he would never even want to fuck you anyway.
So you decide the best option from the bad bunch is politely saying thanks but no thanks. I turned, smiled in an apologetic way and said, ‘Sorry, but I’m not single.’ (You ask yourself why you are apologising for your life choices to a complete stranger, but that’s a whole other blog post.)
And what did I get back? A mocking and sarcastic, ‘Well done to you! That’s a real achievement!’ said with a huff as he slowed down and I sped up and we parted ways.
What the hell?! What was that? I felt embarrassed; like I had totally misread the situation.
Then I just thought; fuck him. I’m 33, I’ve been around the block and I know exactly what he was doing. He wasn’t being offensive, he wasn’t scaring me but he was approaching me to start a conversation that I didn’t want to have. His reaction was to make me feel small when I called him out and it’s not okay.
I still don’t know what you should do in these situations, but instead of trying to figure that out, or suggesting we come together as sisters and agree a national response; I have a radical idea.
Maybe guys should just stop approaching girls in the street with an introductory line commenting on their body/face/tattoos/clothes. Or at the very least, be polite when they are declined.
Yep, pretty sure that would solve it.