Thursday, February 14, 2008

Look out for this guy!

I got a horrifying email from a sorority sister today.
“Not to scare you,” she writes, but a man in a red truck started parking down the street from our sorority house. He picked a spot in front of a small house where two girls live, and he pulls up every night around 8:30.
One night, the girls looked up and saw the guy standing in their window. When this creeper saw that they had a guy inside, he ran away and put a large object in his truck.
The girls called the police. They said the man is from Butler and has been driving into town to watch them. Cops told them to call next time they see him.
(Question: Wouldn’t it be better to just send a cop car in that vicinity around 8 pm to prevent an attack? Apparantly not. Just wondering.)
Last night, one of the girls drove home to find his truck parked out front. Again.
This chick is a bad-ass. She blocked the guy in and called the cops, demanding that they come take him away.
A different cop showed up this time.
He let the guy go. After all, the guy didn’t do anything, the cop said.
“He just got in a fight with his wife and needed to think,” he said.
In the words of my sorority sister: “Conveniently outside of two cute girls’ house? Weird.”
People roll their eyes when I say that women are treated as lessser humans compared to men. But think for a minute. This police officer had testimony from two people:
A) A man who drove from Butler and parked in front of the house of some random college girls, and
B) Two young women with police reports and eye-witnesses proving the suspect was a potential threat.
And this cop chose A. In a world where women are attacked and sexually assaulted and abused, where men make up an overwhelming proportion of perpetrators of violent crime, especially gendered violence – this cop chose A.
One more day of fear for a potential victim. One more day of privilege for a potential perpetrator.
You have to ask why.
Happy Valentine’s Day.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Spittin' game

Z.A.P. played a killer show last night at the Blue Fugue. It ended late, and as I headed to my car, I heard a group of guys behind me.
I was alone. I got a bit worried and crossed the street. Then, I heard it.
"Yo, dudes, check out this chick!"
"Hey, momma, whatch'u doin?"
"Girl, get over here, lemme holla atch'ya"
Imagine dealing with this every single time you go out. As a woman, I live in a world where walking alone at night means potential danger on every corner. When I walk to my car after a fun night out, I can't just relax and enjoy. I have to brace myself for assholes like these who could, potentially, mean harm to me.
The group followed me until I ditched them. But not before they got in one last pick-up line, my personal favorite:
"Watch out, girl."
When people tell me to watch out, it's because something bad is about to happen. It's because, somehow, my safety or well-being is threatened.
Therefore, I find "watch out" to be a very appropriate pick up line.

Dear "playa" spittin' your "game",
What you are saying to me (and what you may want to do to me) is inappropriate and potentially violent. So yes, thank you, I will watch out. Now, please, leave me alone.

Monday, February 4, 2008

You don't know me

I haven’t posted in a while because there’s been nothing to post. It was kind of wonderful.
Then, this weekend happened, and I paid for my months of freedom with a night from hell.
I went to a party Saturday night. I was bending down at one point to put my coat away behind a table, when there was a burst of pain and I felt myself sprawled out on the floor. Some guy at the party kicked me in the back so hard that I’d launched forward and landed on my chest.
At first, I thought I was being attacked. I got up, shocked and frightened, looking for the person who’d kicked me over. I think I knew who it was, but mostly I just saw a crowd of faces swirling around me asking ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?’
I was not OK. I was hurt and scared. I went into a bedroom to calm down for a minute.
Once I’d stopped crying, I went back to the party. I guess I’d missed a LOT of drinking, because suddenly everyone was either throwing up or laughing at the people throwing up. I tried to help, putting clothes on the friend passed out naked on tile, wrapping my hair tie around the friend puking into her bangs.
At this point, I had a brilliant idea. I went into the kitchen to find a chip-clip to hold my friend’s hair back so she could puke in peace.
This is the part of the night I can’t believe I escaped.
I was scrambling through the kitchen drawers without finding anything I could improvise as a hair accessory when two guys walked up. They blocked the entrance and started to talk.
“Hey, I know you,” says the first. “I was your Summer Welcome leader!”
He introduces himself as John Anderson and says he remembers me from when he helped me “get acquainted” to college.
Two things:
A) My summer welcome leader was a girl. I think her name was Kristi. Her name was not John.
B) I know (of) this guy. He was an MSA president at one point. And he was not my Summer Welcome leader.
I ignore the guy and try to snake my way out of the kitchen.
He grabs my arm and stops me.
“No,” he says. “I remember you. I remember your beautiful hair.”
Reader, let me put this in context for you. He did not say this sweetly with a smile. He said this sternly, blocking my exit from the room. He said this as he kept me trapped in the kitchen. He said this threateningly.
All I could think to do was apologize. That must have been wrong, because he got mad.
“No, I remember you! I remember you’re hair! Aren’t you listening? I remember your beautiful hair! I go though all this work to be a huge part of your first college experience, and you can’t even remember me?” he yells. He looks at his friend, exasperated.
“Nah, dude,” says his friend, knowingly. “I know her. She’s a Chi O.”
Now, I am a Chi Omega. But I still don’t know this guy. And he offers no explanation. So I ask…
“Oh, do I know you?”
“You should,” he says. “I know you. You’re a Chi O. I’m a (fill in some frat here). I know you. I knoooow you.”
He says this like he’s trying to tell me something. He says it while lifting his eyebrows like he’s suggesting something we both know. He says this like he’s seen me naked. He hasn’t.
I am scared out of my mind. I can’t get out. They won’t let me leave. They keep getting mad when I say I don’t know them. But I don’t! I don’t know them! And my friend is sick and she needs help and I need help and no one is looking and I’m trapped in the kitchen with knives and other potential weapons with two strangers who want to “know” me.
So I giggle. I bat my eyelashes. I feel filthy and awful, but I run my hand down John Anderson’s chest and promise to be right back. He lets me out of the kitchen.
These guys expected me to be grateful for the way they treated me. They wanted me to be flattered that they were paying attention to me. They wanted me to thank them for the compliments about my hair.
But I am not stupid. I am a woman, I have a vagina – and I am NOT STUPID. Those were not compliments, boys. Those were strategic attacks. You were getting something out of me, or trying to. You wanted me to be so flattered that I fell to my knees and stayed there. You wanted to put me on a pedestal so I would go down on it. You used force and coercion and anger and unspoken threats to keep me from getting away from you.
You assaulted me. Fuck you.
After I drove home that night, I broke down. I spend my life fighting the social norms and mindsets that let nights like this happen – and they still happen. They happen to me and to other women. And sometimes, violence happens. Rape happens. I don’t know what I escaped that night, but I was one of the lucky ones.
How fucked up is that.