26 5 / 2014
Let’s get a little personal.
A lot of the #yesallwomen tweets have concerned daily aggression that we all face. I needed a longer format to share a slightly longer story. This story rates about a C+ in terms of sexism I’ve encountered. It’s not the scariest or the most threatening thing that’s happened to me. It’s just one example that I feel I can share.
When I was in college I joined a language immersion program. All students were required to live together, eat all meals together, and take about 15hrs of class together per day for a summer. One of my male classmates developed a crush on me that quickly turned into something scary. With so much structured time together, there was no way to avoid him, so he was essentially free to come into my room and refuse to leave, walk past my window at night to see if my light was on, and make sure I was with him as I traveled to and from every meal, class, and exam. The program was difficult to begin with but he made it hell.
One evening our class went to a social event which included dinner and salsa dancing. Around dusk, everyone seemed to be having a good time and I realized that no one would probably notice if I left. I walked back to our dorm to get my car keys so I could go to the store. On my way out to my car, I saw the guy running as fast as he could across the quad toward our dorm. I knew he was looking for me, so I picked up my pace and got to my car before he had time to figure out that I wasn’t in my room. It wasn’t until I had finished my shopping and was in line at the store that he started calling me. He called about four or five times in a row and I didn’t answer. Instead of returning to the dorm I went over to a friend’s house and waited there until I was sure he was asleep before I returned. Thankfully he was, but the next day when he saw me, he yelled at me for a good five minutes about how rude it is to not answer your phone when someone calls you.
After the program ended it became easier for me to avoid him. I didn’t see or speak to him again until about three months into Fall Semester. One afternoon, I was walking to my car from campus. At the time, I parked in a less nice area. I was typically the only student who went that direction off of campus so I walked most of the uphill journey alone. Halfway to my car, I got the creepy feeling that someone was following me—following very close behind me. I did what we all do and picked up my pace, but the feeling persisted. After a few minutes the guy passed me, didn’t look at me, and muttered, “hey.”
Thankfully, I was lucky. I’m still alive to write this, but it very easily could have gone a different way, and every day, for many women it does. #yesallwomen