Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Boys Who Follow

I have previously mentioned the boys who explode, but I find that I'm increasingly needing to deal with The Boys Who Follow.

These are the guys who sort of latch onto me in a straight setting, and then insist on following me around all night. Sometimes they'll try to grab me on the way to or from the bathroom, or they'll just keep asking me for my phone number. Tonight was the first night that a boy ran after me and tried to follow me home, no matter how many times I told him it was awful and creepy. "I'm not trying to pick you up!" he kept shouting, grabbing my shoulder until I finally ran back and had to wait for an eventual cab. "Why are you acting like this?" was his (hopefully) final comment.

I don't believe that most men behave this way. Whenever I decide to walk home from Club Abstract, I always check carefully to make sure I'm not being stalked by some little possie with baseball bats. But tonight was the first time that I've been grabbed repeatedly and followed even while I protested, and I wondered why this is happening now and not ten years ago.

Maybe it's because I'm better and more confident at drag than I used to, but I really think that it's a double-edged sword of acceptance; once upon a time that sort of man would be too frightened to be a nuisance, but now that it's sort of "okay" for him to be attracted to me, he feels more confident about treating me (perhaps) like he'd treat some other girl. Which makes me, as always, appreciate in some small way what women deal with in bars.

What I find most interesting was his shout of "Why are you being like this?" I'm trying to decode what he was thinking when he said it. He obviously was accusing me of being suspicious and of over-reacting, and yet the guy was aggressively grabbing my shoulder and trying to pull me away. I wonder: would he REALLY do this to a girl? Or is it only okay because it's me? And if that's the case, is it okay because he can pretend he's just "a guy walking with a guy," or because my sexuality is largely unimportant, or because he was so repressed that he believed that he honestly, really, TRULY wouldn't do anything awful once we turned the corner?

It's a weird situation: cut-and-dried for me ("Get lost!") but muddy in its motivation.


R.M. Lupo said...

Yes, someone like that would, most definitely do that to a girl. They're the entitled-do-not-understand why-someone-would-reject-him types; the kind whose mother never said 'no' to them as children.

It really sounds like you had the situation by the metaphoric balls, though. I think I'd much less poised.

Adam Thornton said...

Fortunately I was only about twenty seconds from the club when he grabbed me, and also fortunately he didn't get any rougher when I pushed him off and ran back.

Something that occurred to me after I wrote this entry is that most women probably don't walk home alone from bars...maybe this is a good wake-up call.

Adam Thornton said...

And yes, there WAS a sense of entitlement to the guy, along with a seemingly genuine expression of bafflement that I spent all night telling him to leave me alone.

Anonymous said...

Little words mean a lot...

"No," for example. I guess some guys feel that those using that word don't really mean it, and just need some encouragement (or shame or guilt, etc.) to move into "maybe" or "yes" territory.

That doesn't make it right (especially when you say that "no" is "NO!").

But you will have to be more careful...there is safety in numbers, and your physical therapist will certainly say that you're in no condition to fight.

So, as they tell the police at muster, "Let's be careful out there!".

Adam Thornton said...

Yes, my "walk home alone" days might be over. I've had enough close calls in the past. All it takes is one stalker or one car-full of yahoos to land you in the hospital.

Which is a shame, because it isn't nice to be afraid of the world...but there's a difference between fear and realism, and I think my past confidence could have been interpreted as "willful stupidity."

Kimber said...

It's really sad that you can't walk home alone if you want to, but I don't recommend it. I did it once and although no harm came to me, the experience freaked me out thoroughly.

And plus, how the heck are you going to make a decent getaway in situations like these wearing those amazing high-heeled boots and shoes you wear??

Adam Thornton said...

I'm pretty quick in those shoes!

But I always think that my "get-away plan" is to run up on somebody's porch and bang away on the door and -- if truly necessary -- break a window. I figure that would create enough of a ruckus to scare would-be attackers away, and my route home is lined with houses.

Considering that real girls are usually too scared to walk home alone, it's foolhardy to think that I shouldn't be too.

Anonymous said...

The get-away plan may be overly optimistic - considering how some folks don't want to get involved, especially in the small hours of the morning.

Perhaps augment your accessories with a police whistle. You may also wish to purchase whichever chemical spray deterrent is legal in your area (just be very careful that it's not grabbed and used on you - get some professional advice first).

Unfortunately, in your pursuit of the feminine, you will have to learn to manage the risks inherent in being a girl.

One more bit of unsolicited advice - have fun, but err on the side of caution. I think that you will.

Adam Thornton said...

Hopefully I'll never know whether my "get-away plan" would work, but the idea would be to scare the attackers away more than to engage the homeowners.

The people I have problems with are almost exclusively young male university students, who I think would be more worried about negative consequences than inner-city thugs (crazy, drug-addled, poverty-stricken, and/or with no fear of the police).

My assumption is that if I ran to private property and caused a ruckus, they'd most likely sober up and disappear.

I hope!

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you are right. Get the police whistle anyway. It will certainly create a ruckus, and may scare away someone more determined than an annoyingly amour-intentioned student.