Men are trash. Something I have always wanted to know is at what point in a boy’s life does he learn to be such an asshole? And I don’t say this out of humor or specific pain, I say this genuinely. Too many times I see men harass women because they seem to fail to understand the definition of the word no. Not only do I witness this, but I’ve been experiencing it as well. I was first exposed to the nasty reality of men when I got my first job at the age of 15. The bold comments about my ass and uncomfortable stares had me confused…was I supposed to take this as a compliment? It took a few months to realize that the unwanted attention and “accidental” touching was sexual harassment. Yet, I felt stuck. I didn’t know how to advocate for myself in the workplace, especially with it being my first job. From customers to co-workers, I was constantly being bothered. I couldn’t go a single shift without a man making me uncomfortable by his actions or words. What baffled me the most is the fact that these grown ass men were really chatting up a 15 year old, as if I hadn’t any morals.
Soon, these encounters began to take place outside of the workplace. One summer, I interned at an online news company. Everyday, I had to wait to be picked up by my dad, and I would typically wait outside. One particular day, my dad decided to take his sweet time to come pick me up. I was minding my own business sitting alone until a grown man began walking in my direction. He was wearing a button up shirt, dress pants, and had a Bluetooth earpiece. For some reason, I assumed that this man worked for the company I was interning for and recognized me as one of the interns. Out of respect and from my culture, I stood up to shake his hand. I knew I fucked up when a thick West African accent rolled out of his mouth, “You are just soooooo beautiful, I had to come and say hi.” I had thought to myself what the hell did I just get myself into!? For the following 20 minutes, which seemed to be eternity, I had to endure an old man trying to get my information and exclaim how beautiful he thought I was. At one point, he genuinely tried to convince me to leave with him. I had never met this man before in my life. Yet, he wanted to know everything about me and insisted that I go home with him! I was scared for my life as bullets of sweat began to trickle down my face. What was this guy’s deal? Am I really going to get kidnapped in broad daylight? And where the hell is my dad!? Finally, the man had somewhere to be and decided to head into the building, but not without trying to hug me goodbye.
These experiences aren’t subject to just me. Many of the young women in my life are forced to tolerate these uncomfortable situations as well. Being proposed to at work by a strange man, being asked to bed by a complete stranger, having your personal space invaded, and being called a bitch for not giving the desired response, are just a few examples of the obscenities of men.
What I don’t understand is what gives men the audacity to treat women the way that they do. Most women can’t go to work or school without being harassed in many different forms. Is it the music? Movies? Celebrities? What is it that inspires men to simply do and say what they want to women?