Last Week I was at my desk at work innocently engrossed in the work that I am passionate about doing, when a new gentleman who transferred from the city, stops by. A brief yet awkward and tense encounter ensued. The signals were crystal clear: his mentioning of his divorce, his emphasis of not wanting to be alone, and to top it off his boasting about being the perfect (and most loved) parent. I dread these encounters and handle them too indirectly. He asked if I could give him a tour of the area and I replied by explaining that I’m a workaholic and am either at my desk at work or at my laptop at home. My body language must have given him signals (thankfully) because he finally left, mumbling “sorry to bother you”
This is not the first time this has happened. In spite of being low key (or maybe because of, I’m not sure) I have had a number of unpleasant incidences that I somehow always blame myself for. It is a joke among my friends. The less effort I make to socialize, the more I attract. I can’t make sense of it. To compound the discomfort, the encounter alone is not what distresses me, but the reaction that I get from people that witness the event.
I have been told that I’m not confrontational enough. My rudeness isn’t glaring, and men are incapable of comprehending subtle signals. I never wear dresses, I have no cleavage whatsoever, I don’t wear make-up and rarely wear jewelry. Isn’t that enough of a message that I am uninterested in getting the attention of men? I guess not.
Once, I even had a man corner me, a man that initiated the demise of his career by doing so. It was scary, and granted, I should have gotten angry. Instead I was frightened. This prompted criticism from peers that I’m not outspoken enough in my resistance to male misbehaviors. I guess I fail at being a defensive lineman.
Here is my real complaint. Why, oh why, is it my responsibility to manage the behavior of men when they have the same grey matter behind their skulls as I do? I live in a Western culture, yet the signals that my society sends, indicates to me that the ideal would be to wear a burqa. This mentality about men and their inability to control their sexual urges crosses cultural, geographical and racial boundaries. Westerners belligerently criticize the Muslim culture for the oppression of women, yet from my perspective, women are equally oppressed in Western cultures, just without the blatant clothing. When will the human race begin to hold men responsible for controlling their own flow of testosterone, rather than depending on women to somehow mitigate their sexual urges? I hope I, or my daughter live to see it.