It’s “Thirsty Thursday” and I had just gotten off of a 6 hour shift waitressing at an Italian restaurant. Ready to have a drink, or five, I called one of my girlfriends begging her to come out and have a simple girls night with me. Finally giving in, she told me she’d meet me at the bar soon. Of course, I didn’t think that there would be an issue waiting at a bar alone for a few minutes, especially a bar in the neighborhood I’ve grown up in and lived in my entire life.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Walking through the door, by myself, immediately every guy in a 5 foot radius of the front door looked at me-and not just looked at me, they up and down checked me out; eye-fucked me. I felt like I was standing in the spotlight, in my underwear. Brushing off the embarrassment, I walked over to the bar to order a beer. Immediately, while waiting for my bill, a short guy in a too tight t-shirt approached me, calling me every name under the sun except my own. After the fifth “sweetheart,” I told him I wasn’t interested and proceeded to walk away looking to see if my friend had arrived.
Not being able to find her, I stepped outside for a cigarette and immediately dialed her on my phone. Her cab was late, as usual, and she was trying her best to get there. Luckily, I’ve known the bouncer for several years and struck up a conversation about his family, friends, etc. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted t-shirt guy approaching me with his friends. He muttered something to one of his boys and proceeded to come my way, again calling me sweetheart, and put his hand on my shoulder. I stepped back. He laughed. He began to walk towards me again, and this time I put my hand out to stop him. I could tell he was already beyond wasted.
I was just not willing to put up with his shit any longer.
Sure, it seems harmless that a guy tried to pick me up at a bar. I was a young, pretty girl alone in a bar. But, it’s not harmless when the same guy followed me outside while I called my friend, proceeded to get too close for personal comfort and then called me a lovely see you next Tuesday when I rejected him for the 20th time that evening. Or when he proceeded to grab my ass at the bar later that evening in front of his friends trying to look like a big shot, in which I lost my temper and had to actually leave the bar.
This wasn’t exactly the first time that I’ve been nearly harassed while alone at a bar or club. Numerous times throughout my life, my friends have left me to go hook up with a really hot guy or run off after taking one too many shots of tequila and I’ve been left to fend for myself. Every single time – and yes I mean every single time – I have been approached by a man who thinks that a woman alone is a tell-tale sign that they can score.
As a woman, it’s as if I have to fear the times where I’ll be alone for a split second, especially at night and especially around men. Whenever I go anywhere, my mother’s main concern is who am I going there with. Why should I ever have to feel uncomfortable in my solidarity because of the way men act towards a woman alone? As if I’m more vulnerable and easier to seduce if I’m riding solo?
Women are always being told to be careful about where they go and who they go with. If you’re a woman and you go to a bar, you have to always hold onto your drink incase someone tries to slip something in there. Before you leave, you should make sure that your outfit isn’t “too revealing,” or giving anyone “the wrong idea.” Fuck that.
The truth is, men have it all wrong. A man who tries too hard because they feel I’m weak on my own and push themselves onto me will never be the man who comes home with me, fuck he won’t even be the man who lands my number. It’s like the age-old story of the “cat call.” Ask one woman walking down the street if they actually enjoy getting cat called, and they will tell you “absolutely not.” Women don’t want to be seen as objects and especially weak objects. If a woman is strong enough to enter a bar alone, that stands for something. It’s not that she’s vulnerable, no. It’s that she’s strong and independent. She doesn’t need to fall back on anyone to protect her or have a good time. She’ll be the first one to also pour her drink on you the minute she’s disrespected.
Featured image via Jeliza Rose.