I climb the stairs into the bus. It’s turning cold outside, but not yet frosty. The weather is favourable for October and the sun is shining, but I am happy to be welcomed into the warmth of the vehicle. The seats are taken except for two, and as I walk towards them I see him, one seat back, smiling. It’s not a smile that welcomes, rather one that gives me chills. I pretend I don’t see him there, and sit down.
I search through my purse for my regular glasses; the light in here is too dim for my shades. Out of the corner of my eye I can see him, shifting his gaze to try and attract my attention. I turn away and look out the window.
I know, as the bus weaves its way through suburban hills and quiet neighbourhoods, that his eyes remain on my back. I can feel the way he stares and still I ignore it, hoping he’ll be distracted soon. I see his arm indicate his stop and nearly breathe an audible sigh of relief. I want nothing more than for this awkward moment in time to be over.
He tries to catch my eye as he leaves the vessel, but I’m staring at the floor where he can’t read me. He steps off the bus and shades his eyes. The reflection of the bright autumn sunlight makes it hard for him to locate me, but he finally does. Stepping towards the window beside me, he tries to meet my eyes once again, blowing kisses through the window. I am humiliated and degraded. I am objectified. I am nervous and scared. This does not flatter me at all.
I’m sitting on their bed, holding my coffee; my good friend and her husband are talking with me. We’re bathing in the afterglow of a delicious dinner, and I’m enjoying the laughs and great company. When she leaves the room, he begins to pace. He seems stressed, worried about something. Running his fingers through his hair, he turns to me.
“I’m assuming you feel it too. There’s some serious sexual tension here and I think we should discuss it.”
This is not right. I don’t know how to answer him. I am blindsided.
The atmosphere has changed drastically. There’s a feeling in the pit of my stomach. I am humiliated and degraded. I am objectified. I am nervous and scared. This does not flatter me at all.
Standing outside my job, he approaches me. His breath smells overwhelmingly of stale cigarettes and alcohol. He leans in close to me, a stranger invading my space. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen…” I am humiliated and degraded. I am objectified. I am nervous and scared. This does not flatter me at all.
Walking down the street next to our house, I am dressed for work. Trucks drive by at breakneck speed and I jump as one blasts his horn loudly and stares me down in his rear view. As I jump in fear, I am humiliated and degraded. I am objectified. I am nervous as his truck slows. This does not flatter me at all.
These incidents happen to women daily. They are awkward and uncomfortable. They are misrepresented as being flattering. They are written off in one way or another by saying that we should use these moments to feel good. They are addressed by saying that our style of dress brings them on. Maybe our walk is a little cocky. Maybe we should tone down our sex appeal. This is humiliating and degrading. It’s objectification. It’s a testament to the culture that would rather tell girls to lock up their knees and breasts than show boys what it means to be respectful.