Sometimes it’s hard to measure my own progress. But the other day, it was easy.
I met up with a guy who I’ve only met twice before. I originally met him through the lion. We were both in relationships at the time, but both of those relationships are over. We were both able to talk about our exes a bit, and I found out through him that the lion has been engaged since September 2017. That stirred up some uneasiness within me, but that’s another story. I was very nervous before we met and still felt somewhat on alert during the day while we were hanging out, but it was a lot of fun. For the situation I was in, I felt more relaxed and excited than I have in a few years. I wasn’t scared. Progress!
And then, destruction.
A person I worked with many years ago suddenly decided to message me from across the planet: “Hey, so I’m curious to try anal sex with a guy.” Buddy, what you do in your life is your choice; and frankly, I don’t care. Don’t tell me these things. I know this person doesn’t have a lot of friends and is socially awkward. I wanted him to leave me alone, but I also knew that if I didn’t respond, it’d just become a one-sided conversation and I’d be annoyed by the notifications. I composed a filtered response. “What you do in your sex life is your business, not mine. If you find someone who consents to doing whatever you want to do, go for it. It’s your life; you don’t need my opinion or validation on any of this.” I hoped he would understand that I wanted him to stop.
Surprise, surprise; it didn’t work and the “conversation” got worse. He kept messaging me. I was busy and didn’t want to be a part of this so I tried to ignore it.
Then, “Can I send a pic.”
He sent four. “My semi,” my notifications told me he said. I’d chosen not to focus on this online conversation, but rather the things I was doing in-person, so I thought for a split second, he sent me photos of his car? Then I went back to what I was doing. I made a point of not looking at the conversation.
“I just want a nice girl. Stroke her hair. You’re a nice girl. Pretty.”
The text crept off my screen and hovered heavily and intrusively around me, invading my personal space. I felt sick and violated. I’d lost my patience. I’m having a good day, damn it.
I found a comfortable moment to respond. I typed and retyped. How much do I write? How much do I say? What words do I use? How do I express what I want to? Do I use caps to look like I’m yelling? Do I not? Finally, I sent my completed response.
“This is sexual harassment and I have no patience for it. You stop right now. Do you understand?”
I allowed him to respond if he so chose.
I couldn’t and wouldn’t tell him it was okay, because it wasn’t. “I accept your apology.”
“Just lonely. Sorry. Just suffer from depression and anxiety, I’m sorry. Lonely, sorry. I don’t mean to bother you. How do you like being at home? My friend lives in Tokyo.”
I ignored this, enjoyed the rest of my day, and responded the following morning while on a long train ride. I had time to think and compose to my satisfaction. How could I help him understand why this behaviour is a problem? I chose to explain to the best of my ability. I did this because I want it to stop. I wan’t to be part of the solution. I want to help prevent this from happening in the future. Unfortunately, by this point, I’d seen the photos he’d sent the day before. They were most definitely not photos of a car.
“I’m sorry you are lonely and having a rough time. However, this behaviour is not acceptable. DO NOT EVER send uninvited photos or provocative messages to a woman again. It will very likely destroy whatever type of relationship you had with her. Many women are afraid of, do not like or trust men because of this type of behaviour. No man is entitled to a woman’s body or love. Any and all types of sexual interaction – messages, photos, touching, etc. – MUST BE CONSENSUAL. All people involved must actively want the same thing and it must be explicit. Do not forget this. It is very important. No type of relationship (romantic or not) can exist without respect. This type of interaction does not include respect. Do not do this again.” It was far from perfect, but I responded and I (at least tried to) explain why it’s wrong. I felt proud of myself. Could I have done this two years ago? Nope. Progress!
Of course I told Kei what happened, and she backed me up. “Who the fuck is this asshole? I’ma kill him. Get rid of him. He doesn’t know his boundaries.”
I got in touch with a male friend who also knows the person who sent me the messages. This friend sounded more upset than I was. He swore, apologized to me about what happened, and deleted the person’s contact right away.
I felt validated and protected. Yes, these are the friends to keep. I know that not all men are inappropriate. I know that not all men are disrespectful.
These two days allowed me to see my own progress quite clearly, which was pretty exiting. And yet, the messages and photos I received also make me feel sad, angry, and disappointed. Are there men out there who haven’t figured out that this is not okay, after all that the media has picked up on in the past few years? I mean, obviously there are, but… I still wish change happened faster.
I had a fun day with a guy, a disturbing “conversation” with a guy, and then I was supported by a guy. It’s kind of funny when I think about it like this.
I will not keep quiet. For the sake of my past, present, and future self, for the sake of all humans who have been harassed and violated, I will to be part of the solution. I want to be part of the movement that increases awareness and prevents future incidents from happening. My influence my be small and limited, but it’s better than doing nothing.
I am strong enough to do this.