It’s Not Okay (And I’m Learning How to Say it Out Loud)

the short storyAn insult is not a way to get what you want.

Especially if I already said no.
the long storyI was verbally assaulted yesterday.

I was chatting with my friend in a cafe yesterday, having a really good conversation about research and school and medicine (we were totally passing the Bechdel test). And then a rather scruffy looking man came up to the table and asked me a question. I didn’t understand at first, and so he repeated:

“Do you have change for food?” motioning to his palm where a few quarters were gathered.

I told him I didn’t have anything, since I wasn’t comfortable giving him money. I didn’t know him, and I didn’t feel safe.

And then he called me…well I don’t want to repeat it. Let’s just say he implied that I dressed a certain way to get attention. And then he stormed off.

And I was shocked.

My friend kept asking me if I was okay, and I kept saying,

“No it’s okay…I mean, it’s obviously not okay, but I’m okay…”

We reported the man, but he was gone.

What struck me was how easily I was able to say, “it’s okay,” because it isn’t. It’s not okay to insult someone because they don’t give you what they want. It’s not okay to use a woman’s sexuality as a weapon against herself.

It’s not okay.

My sexuality has nothing to do with why I didn’t want to give him money. And I certainly hope that my sexuality had nothing to do with why he asked me for money.

I’ve been fortunate that this happens rarely to me (yes, it’s happened before), because it feels absolutely awful. I wonder if I should have just given him money, which is ridiculous because that would mean I’m compromising myself.

I didn’t do anything wrong.

Meanwhile, he probably feels like he didn’t do anything wrong.

And that’s not okay.


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