This weekend, I got harassed by a man. On a residential street. In broad daylight.
Not 10 minutes into a leisurely Saturday afternoon walk in the Victoria-Fraserview neighbourhood, I was stopped by a man who looked at my completely bare wrist and asked if I knew what time it was.
“Yeah, for sure,” I replied.
As I fumbled through my bag for my phone to check the time, he started staring me up and down.
Then he said the words I loathe the most from strangers: “You’re beautiful.”
“Uh, thanks?” I said warily, not making eye contact while I stepped back from him to look at the time.
“It’s five to two,” I informed him, and hurried to shove my phone back in my bag.
During this interaction, the man continued to stare at my legs and my tits, murmuring over and over, “You’re beautiful. You’re so beautiful. What a beautiful woman.”
I ignored him and crossed the street as quickly as I could, practically running down the sidewalk.
I was, in a phrase, really fucking creeped out.
What am I supposed to do in this situation? The man, maybe in his late 40s, hadn’t touched me. In fact, one may argue he was giving me a compliment.
You know, a wholly unsolicited compliment while licking his lips and sizing me up like a pork chop.
Even now, I feel dirty, ashamed, and angry at myself. Am I not a woman who knows how to shout down a creepy asshole? Why didn’t I scream, “YOU’RE BEING GROSS! STOP IT!”
Why did I even pause to give him the time of day? Shouldn’t I have ignored him completely?
I wasn’t dressed inappropriately—knee-length jean shorts, a long-sleeved white T-shirt, and a cardigan—yet this complete stranger made me feel like I was showing way too much skin on a sunny fall afternoon.
So, thanks dude—for reminding me that I’m not even safe from harassment in my own neighbourhood in the middle of the day.
And that maybe I should just buy a watch.