I remember being surprised at being invited to that executive’s retirement party given we’d hardly interacted. I was around 27 and, looking back, a bit naive.
The night of the party, one of the (ancient) executive’s pals, in his toast to the retiree, joked about inviting “pretty girls like __(me)__ so we all have something nice to look at.” Their wives looked horrified and sad, most men chuckled, and I can still feel the rage at being reduced to “something.”
I know and have loved many wonderful men – decent, kind and gentle men. I’m fortunate I can easily rattle off a long list including Grandfathers, Great Uncles, Dad and his brothers, my husband and our sons. But I also have known – and had to work with – creeps. And, in my experience, the creeps spoil the well for the good men.
Now, as a Grandmother, my Spidey senses are on FIRE whenever I’m out with our grandkids – both grandSON and grandDAUGHTER — I watch them like a hawk even though they aren’t “babies” any more. I’m hyper-aware of everyone around us; if one asks to go off to another aisle to “see just one thing” we all go; it’s not up for discussion.
I’ve talked with the grands about good people and bad people, about trusting their instincts, and if someone makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe to tell any of us, and that they will never be in trouble for doing so. I worry about Social Media and creepy perverts who lurk in shadows everywhere. But, as many of us know, creepy perverts were in our churches, schools, and communities long before Facebook or SnapChat ever existed.
I made a quick list of how experiences with creepy men has impacted how I live; the list wrote itself in minutes.
- I stay alert and pay attention to surroundings; if someone feels “off” I get away from them.
- I never walk, shop for groceries or stop for gas in the dark.
- I prefer to exercise in the house vs. in the neighborhood.
- I wear a cross body purse, always and my cell phone remains charged and accessible, even at home.
- I check the back seat of any vehicle before getting in, anywhere and in every light.
- I rarely venture away from the hotel when traveling for business ~ Company (male) colleagues like to walk to restaurants for group events (because they never have to think about lists like this!). I prefer to take a taxi but will walk in a larger (mixed) group.
- I never sleep on flights.
- All windows and doors are locked ~ if I find myself alone at the office (very off-putting) I take the cell phone with me to the copier or the restroom.
- On business trips /outings I stick to water or (sometimes) order a cocktail I don’t like and sip it; whatever I have goes with me to the ladies’ room.
- It’s Hubby’s deep voice on the answering machine.
- I’m not thin anymore; extra weight has lessened the burden of unwanted attention.
- I never use parking garages, valet where possible and expense it, and offer no explanations or apologies.
- I don’t get on elevators with men, not even one.
- I limit fluids during road trips which limits stops, and never use highway rest areas; Fast food restaurants only.
- At company functions I employ the “Irish Good-bye” – excuse myself and don’t come back.
- Can you relate to this post?
- How have your experiences impacted the way you navigate your day-to-day life?
- Any tips or thoughts to add?
“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.” — Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale”