I’ve reflecting on the day I was working at the mall and was approached by a man who asked about our current sales. After pointing out some of our popular sales, he asked me about a certain product he had heard about, that I knew we carried but wasn’t sure if we had in stock at the moment. While looking it up in our computer he turned to me and said:
“Do you have a man?”
“No, and I’m not particularly looking.”
“I don’t believe women should be happy without a man.”
Yep. A middle-aged man in a cowboy hat I had never seen decided this was an appropriate conversation to have. Now let’s take a moment to highlight some of the key features here.
- There’s no need to ask me if I have a man in my life. No. Need. This question can only lead to inappropriate conversations in this setting. Either advances towards me, or commentary such as this.
- I shouldn’t have to feel unsafe in saying I’m single. I shouldn’t be afraid of inappropriate advances from a middle aged man. And yet, that is the world in which we live in. A world in which I did not feel comfortable saying I was single and felt the need to preemptively avoid further advances on the topic in order to avoid a conflict.
- Why do you believe you have any say in what should make a woman happy. Why is it men feel they have any right to say what should make a woman happy? It brings to mind so much the idea of “men like girls who…”. We don’t exist for men. Let me say that again for the folks in the back, women don’t exist for men. I don’t care what a man think should make me happy. I will be made happy by what makes me happy.
- And on that note, let’s acknowledge it’s not that you don’t believe they are happy, you don’t believe they should be happy. As though you have any right to what should make a woman happy. You are making a judgement stating a woman needs a man to be happy. That a woman cannot be whole, complete and happy without a man. That a woman cannot be just that, a woman.
It’s these moments that men often do not see or realize happen. It’s moments like this that women experience and internalize. The idea that they cannot be happy without a man. The idea that it should be their priority. It’s these moment of feeling unsafe women internalize and have to live out everyday when approached by strangers.
And to the men reading:
Take note of this story. It’s one of the many I could tell. Take note of the stories women around you tell. Believe us and open your eyes to the experiences you don’t have. Take the time to question your behaviors and those of men around you.