Unwanted male attention is not a new issue for me. Not meaning to sound big headed, but every female I know has experienced unwanted male attention at some point in their lifetime.
Leaving work Thursday shortly after 9pm my usual bus stop was closed and so I had to walk to the next stop. I realised my phone battery was running low, which meant no music for me. With a 15 minute wait ahead of me I sat down and focused my attention on the oncoming traffic in case my bus came early.
Four teens walked towards the bus stop, and I had a feeling they weren’t just going to ignore me. One sat next to me, one stood in front and the other two leant against the bus stop poster. They were speaking in a language I couldn’t understand, although the topic was obviously me. The one stood in front of me said hello and proceeded to ask the usual questions like my name, what I was doing there etc. One leaning against the poster asked if I smoked, and when I said I didn’t attempted to persuade me that smoking was good, especially weed, and I should try it.
Now the boy in front of me wanted my number, which I refused. Which of course gained the reaction “Oh do you have a boyfriend?” Because the only logical reason for declining him would have been having a boyfriend. So I lied, I said I did. This didn’t stop anything, leading me to question the point of asking in the first place. Next to me the boy who had stayed reasonably quiet until now stated he didn’t believe me, and asked how old my boyfriend was. The friend in front of me noted it was funny we were both 22 and saying “Well I’m 22 date me.”
And so began the tag teaming… Each would interject with a comment or a question. When they weren’t hounding me they were discussing me with one another and laughing about the situation.
My least favourite of the four was the taller boy leaning against the poster. He would constantly say he was having a party at his house and I should come along. When my head was turned away from him would grind against the poster saying things I couldn’t understand while his shorter friend laughed. The boy next to me would laugh as he did so and ask why I was ignoring his friend.
I lost my patience near the end, telling the taller boy “Do you not understand the word no? It is two letters it really can’t be that hard to grasp. N. O.” This was meant by a chuckle from all for and a “But I’m having a party and I really want you to come.”
Realising no matter what I said these boys weren’t going to stop, I caved. I asked my friend to call me so I had a reason to ignore them and walk a distance from the stop.
Part of me felt weak for doing this. Had these boys not understood that I didn’t want to converse with them? Couldn’t they see how visibly uncomfortable I was? Would having headphones in of deterred them?
But more importantly, could the other people surrounding the bus stop not hear that I wanted these boys to leave me alone? One man stood next to the poster looking out for his bus and at one point I caught his eye, he looked away.
My friend spoke with me until my bus arrived, explaining how she understood my position and had been in a similar situation too many times. The boys moved onto another girl who seemed more than happy to laugh along with them. Was it just me then? Was this situation nothing to feel uncomfortable about?
But this was something. My reasoning was two-fold. First, I wasn’t going to tell my mum about it. My mum worries enough already I knew telling her this wouldn’t help, which meant there was something ti worry about. Secondly, I didn’t want my sister to be in the same position as me. My sister is only 15, but she is reaching the age where sad old men will beep their horns as they drive passed her. Even imagining her with those boys surrounding her laughing at her and making her feel uncomfortable had me red with anger.
You should be able to stand at a bus stop without fear of receiving unwanted attention from a group of people let alone a single person. No matter whether it is day or night, young or old, male or female. I want to now recall my opening statement, that this is nothing new to me. This is a sad statement to make, and writing this has made me realise that something needs to be done. What that is I don’t know, but I hope it happens soon.