yj: Why do women get all snotty when I look at them?
oj: What do you mean by “snotty”?
yj: Like, they make a little frown or somehow seem annoyed by me.
oj: Who? All of them?
yj: No I’m mostly referring to strange women on the street or in public. You know? Like a woman you pass on the sidewalk, or who you see in a cafe. Somebody you share a space with for a brief period who you don’t know. My sexy looks used to work so well when I was in high school, but now it’s like strange women just hate me.
oj: All right. How old are you?
oj: Oh, that’s easy, then. It’s because you’re pissed. Like, super angry. You don’t realize it, but the last few years have been really rough on you; falling-out with your mom and sister so many times, moving around so much. You’re really upset at everyone because you feel like you’ve been left alone, and it’s written all over your face.
yj: Okay, but I can’t be the only one with issues.
oj: You’re not! Trust me. You’ll find out soon. It’s just that most people feel like they have enough problems of their own, and your shit might just be too much. You’re gonna have to deal with your anger all by yourself, because no woman is going to save you.
yj: All right.
yj: Why don’t my friends talk to me on fb?
oj: Most of your facebook friends are really more like acquaintances. Those are the ones you’re upset about. Your actual friends talk to you when they see you, which is often, and you’re not so bothered when you don’t hear from them 20x a day.
yj: Okay, so how are we supposed to become anything more than acquaintances if they never talk to me?
oj: They don’t talk to you on the internet because it’s too easy to fuck up. Things are really fragile in the beginning of a relationship because the two people don’t really have a bond yet, and there is too much that can go wrong with texting, and especially with facebook messaging. People either don’t see or don’t check the messages, and you completely lose the other person’s reactions. It’s just a really lousy medium for getting to know people.
yj: Okay, so why don’t they call me or ask to hang out?
oj: They do. They add you on facebook, then invite you to their crap.
yj: Yeah but how do I know they aren’t just filling seats or whatever? How do I know they want to see me?
oj: You don’t, really. But consider the alternative. Is it appropriate to invite somebody you barely know to do something one-on-one?
oj: But is it usually weird?
yj: Yes, unless you want to fuck the other person.
oj: Well, that explains why you have so few male friends. It’s still weird when you want to fuck the other person, and even when they want to fuck you.
yj: Yeah I guess. I dunno.
oj: Yes, you’re very comfortable with crap like that, but it’s a lot of pressure for the other person. You’ve been out with people and found out eventually that they were surprise dates.
yj: Fucking weird right?
oj: Yeah. Forget dates. Forever. Forget about dates. Take these stupid-ass group activities or “serendipitous” meetings and run like FUCK. Use them to your advantage, every time. Make an impression, plant a seed, make a bond—you know? Eventually, the groups will get smaller. For example, you show up for a house party or something and the group thins-out as the evening wears on. Is your girl still there? Stay as long as you can without it being awkward. Take her away from the group somehow. Get her alone. Seduce her.
yj: But how do I know if she likes ME?!
oj: Who gives a shit! Maybe she does. Maybe she doesn’t. She’s probably not sure yet. If she wants to fuck, and you want to fuck, then fuck.
yj: All right, tell me more.
oj: That’s pretty-much all I know. Wait, no, actually, be discrete. I mean, be really discrete about it. You happen to attract a fair amount of attention, and a portion of that attention will be cast upon her by being around you. She needs to feel like she can bone you and it’s not going to screw up her life.
yj: Why can’t they just bone me publicly? Why does it have to be a secret?
oj: They don’t want the judgement/scorn/scrutiny or other bullshit from everyone. They don’t want to deal with the shit from their friends, your friends or anybody else. Keeping it a fucking secret keeps things from getting too out-of-control for your fledgeling relationship.
yj: All right, whatever. Sounds like there’s a lot of sex in my future.
I was still in kind of in a funk from a public conversation I’d attended a few days earlier. It was a talk held in the basement of the YWCA with twenty-or-so feminists, all in agreement that The Patriarchy is the reason why the percentage of edits made by women to Wikipedia (the encyclopedia which anybody with access to the internet can edit) is so low, and that there should be ways to censor or punish people who share unsavoury opinions online. I was sick of people, and didn’t really want to do anything for anybody, which doesn’t explain why I rescued some chick from her abusive boyfriend and walked her to the metro.
He’d refused to let her walk away from an argument they’d had, and I happened to see the situation from across the street. I approached them, joined by two other boys who’d seen the same things. He did the usual crap. He tried to intimidate me, then he tried to explain that he had the right to harass her. She told us she was fine, and that it was just an argument. The other guys started to leave, but I didn’t. I didn’t believe her, and when he got in my face, the other guys came back. I told him it was time to call it a night, and he eventually left with us. I didn’t feel like walking with the guy, so I decided to take Esplanade and continue to my favourite Indian place on Saint Laurent.
I saw her walking ahead, checking her back and clearing her corners. Being the only other person on the dark street, my instincts told me that I might have been creeping her out. Then I realized that she wasn’t looking out for me, she was looking out for him. I caught up with her at Duluth. I told her I could walk her wherever she needed to go. Still looking anxiously, she said yeah, and asked me to escort her. I asked where she was going, and she told me “Anywhere, any metro.” On our walk down side streets to Place des Arts Metro, she told me that there aren’t a lot of “good samaritans” left. She asked me where I was from, if I was in the army, and whether my friends did anything to him. When we arrived at the metro’s entrance, she thanked me, shook my hand and said “You’re a good man”. I said “Thanks.” I should have had her sign a certificate, or something I could put on my wall.
I didn’t ask her why she chose a dark, empty street to have her abusive boyfriend follow her down, away from busy mount royal. I didn’t ask her what they were even doing there together if he was an asshole, or why she put us in a precarious position by telling us everything was fine when she really needed help. I didn’t ask her why she said I was a “good man” for breaking up a confrontation and escorting somebody who feels unsafe, instead of saying I was a “good person”.
I didn’t tell her that I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of getting into a fight with a complete stranger on the street when “everything was fine.” I didn’t tell her that neither I, nor any other man, is obliged to throw their own safety out the window for a woman or anybody else, despite what popular culture shoves down our throats.
I figured her night had been stressful enough.
I get that she felt good about me, and wanted me to feel good about what I’d done, but I really didn’t like any of it. I think about what my mom would say in these situations: “Is your safety less important? Are you worth less than anybody else?”
I felt like she had a sense of entitlement; like it wasn’t just good fortune that somebody came to her aid. Somebody at the conversation said that it was men’s responsibility to protect women in situations like this, and I was resentful of that idea. It’s bad enough when I’m compelled to risk my own safety for a stranger, and it’s even worse when that stranger says I don’t have a reason for doing so. If I were a cop, I would have had to walk away when she told me everything was okay, with certainty the abuse would continue.
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