My friend shared this video yesterday, and last night I told my boyfriend about it. The Boy is lovely and occasionally not aware of his privilege and said something along the lines of “I think the best defense for that sort of thing is to start laughing hysterically.” I didn’t put on my teacher-voice, but I told him that actually, that’s a bad plan, because it has the potential to incite some serious violence. That nonchalance and a casual shrugging off of this sort of thing may result in “well fuck you, you’re not that attractive anyway” but that’s a way better response than getting attacked.
I stopped by the library to pick up some holds (new Stephen King, and a Sarah Monette book, because I really loved her short stories.) After I dropped off The Ocean at the End of the Lane (new titles get read first because no renewals! also returned first, because no renewals.) I headed to the self-service holds shelf (they used to have them behind the circ desk, but now they’re on a shelf just to the side of the desk, so you can grab them yourself and go to self checkout if you don’t need to pay fines or renew your card or anything). I passed a guy going the opposite direction, doing up his pants. The bathrooms are downstairs, so assuming that’s why his pants were not done, he walked out of the bathroom door, 6 feet or so to the stairs, and up a 2-part flight of steps with his pants unbuttoned, fly down, and belt undone. When I came around the desk and saw this I looked at his face. He was staring me down until I was passed him. I put the hold shelves between us, just in case.
PSA: Being anywhere in public with your pants undone is inappropriate. Staring strangers down while you do them up in public is crossing the line into threatening.
Now, I was in a place I consider safe, and there were a number of other people nearby (mostly men, and a woman behind the circ desk, plus two women at the info desk nearby in the next room). I could have said something to the man who was staring me down, or asked to see whichever manager was on duty and available right then, or simply said in a loud voice “that makes me uncomfortable, please stop.” These are all things that might have made a difference in the man’s future behavior. They may have made a negative difference, though, and I would have to walk from the library doors to my car alone, feeling unsafe even in broad daylight. It’s sad that I have to choose between my personal safety and the potential of someone else’s personal safety. This is something minorities and women of every stripe have to do every day.
palate cleanser: baby penguin giggles at tickles.