There is a new trend on Broadway (in Astoria) of men talking to me late at night as I'm walking home.
2am Friday, a 5'4" Egyptian guy asked me the following questions in this order:
Are you Russian?
Where are you from?
What's your name?
Are you drunk?
How old are you? (When I asked him why he wanted to know he followed it with : "Just to be safe")
Finding myself not threatened by his stature, the fact that he was smiling, my Midwestern tendency to respond when addressed and I don't know... a confidence that I would walk in the opposite direction once I got to the intersection by my house I answered his questions and asked them of him. When I got to my place, I pointed down the opposite block and said, "I live that way."
"I'll just walk with you." He replied.
"No, I'll walk by myself."
"No, I'll just walk you."
"No you won't. I'll walk this way." I replied, and headed up the block in yet another direction that was not my towards my place. I ducked around the corner, waited to see if he had followed me, then headed home.
Today, I was returning the 3 blocks from my friend's apartment to my place. Two somewhat meaty guys were 8 steps ahead of me when one of them karate kicked a box of recycling. As my pace was faster, I quickly caught up to these guys.
"Hey, how are you?"
"I'm good, thanks." I said curtly, passing them.
"Well, thanks for answering me at least. Most people don't respond. Why is that?"
"Well, I'm walking by myself." I offered with an accompanying look over my shoulder; subtext "Dumbass".
"What, do we look like thugs?"
"You never know!"
"Yeah, things are changing, the first well dressed thugs!" he said, somewhat threateningly.
Now I've been told that in the case of the Egyptian, the thought process could have been, "What if?" What if he met this leggy, non-Russian, walked her home and she invited him up. What if it actually worked?
How about the beefy, box kicking guys. What was their aim? There's no way it was "What if it actually worked?"
In both of these cases, these men approached me to assert their dominance (especially tonight) and I am disgusted and angry that I feel threatened so close to my home. In pursuit of excitement, arousal or just a good story, these men leave me on the lookout for rape, stabbing, or at minimum objectification.
I know it gets way worse. I know these were mostly forgettable blips on my weekly radar, but the rapid succession of the events makes me think. Why can a man still so easily threaten a woman? What kind of man would treat a woman this way? Are people going to think me a reactionary wimp for writing this post?
"You have to be safe." my mom would say.
"You never know." my friends would say.
"Fuck these assholes." my heart tells me. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more.
That'll work right? Only respond with movie quotes?