After reading some discussions about street harassment this morning, I had a sudden flashback. I was surprised as I hadn’t thought about this encounter in a long time. The flashback put me back almost 14 years ago.
I had just moved to Paris and was walking by myself on the quay of the river Seine. A young man, much younger than me, started talking to me.
I spoke little French at the time, so I had a hard time making out what he wanted from me. I stopped and asked him to repeat what he had just said:
“You are beautiful; I want you to watch me jerk off” !!!
The safest reaction would have been to walk on, and I actually advice other women to do just that if you feel that the situation is unsafe, but something in his eyes and my funny bone made me stop and enter into discussion with him.
“Is this your typical way of addressing women?”
I offered to have a coffee together. Basically he was just a lonely guy who had taken some wrong turns in life and was dangling at the edge. All he was looking for was some human contact. A sentiment I could definitely relate to; Paris can be quite lonely.
We talked for a long while and then went our separate ways. I don’t know what has become of him. Whether he has continued his way of being or whether he has changed. I hope for the latter.
The memories made me giggle for a moment, my sense of humor sure has saved me more than once in life, but the reality of things is harsh. Too many women get harassed every day and feel like they have to justify their “no”…