The reality of things

25285_430273331040_3306098_nAfter 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”…


3 thoughts on “The reality of things

  1. I certainly have a gift for turning the thoughts of others onto a better path. I applauded you for taking the time to help this young man to see there is a better way to obtain what he really needed and not what he thought he needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Soms zijn er dilemma’s waar niet goed een oplossing voor te vinden is – althans niet door mij. Het verhaal doet me denken aan toen ik nog lesgaf. Sommige kinderen waren op het schoolplein niet in staat om anders dan door te schoppen of te stoppen contact te maken met andere kinderen. In de klas kun je opdat moment niet anders dan te reageren en ze te geven wat ze willen; aandacht. Het wrange is dat je hun verkeerde gedrag beloont. Dat geldt ook voor de jonge man in je verhaal. Misschien voelt jij zich door jouw reactie wel gesterkt in zijn manier van aandacht vragen. En zal hij het daarna weer doen. Dat is wrang. Maar je weet het niet en gelukkig is er ook een andere – meer positieve – mogelijkheid. laten we die maar voor ogen houden. Mooi geschreven verhaal trouwens.


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