To The Man Who Hugged Me Without My Consent
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To The Man Who Hugged Me Without My Consent

I wanted to scrub my hand of you. I wanted to scrub my body of you. Most importantly, I wanted to run away.

To The Man Who Hugged Me Without My Consent

I thought that I would be safe. I was in a public place in broad daylight. Although I was not in my hometown, I thought that I would be okay in this big city that I had grown fond of. So, there I was. Furiously writing my 5-page paper for my online class with my earbuds in. Some new Indie song my boyfriend recommended was blaring in my ears. I thought that my laptop, earbuds, and intense expression would be enough to shield me from you. I was wrong. I first noticed you when you moved seats so that you were right next to me. I did not think much of it until you began staring at me. I noticed in my peripherals but tried not to make it obvious. Maybe you were looking behind me or just staring straight ahead. I gave you the benefit of the doubt, which is something that I have a habit of doing. I did this when you came up to me and nudged my hand and said, "Excuse me." A bit reluctantly I took my right earbud out and planted a sweet and mild expression on my face. At first, you simply told me that I was beautiful. You commented on how lovely my face and lips appeared to you. You even talked about the pretty and uniqueness of my skin color. As you were also a person of color, I brushed it off. I assumed you were being nice to me because I was alone and may have looked lonely. Since you appeared to be just a few years younger than my own mother, I thought your fatherly instincts had kicked in. You saw a girl who could be your daughter and decided to say something nice to her. I really tried to give you every possible chance.

I stopped doing this however when you asked me if I had a boyfriend. I am sure you saw the look of my face quickly morph from one of kindness to one of fear. I honestly told you yes thinking that you would back down. You didn't though, did you? Instead, you kept talking about my physique and how I was "your type." I firmly suggested that I was a little young for you and you slapped back by saying you did not want an "old woman" and that my suggesting so offended you. I was nervous and upset at this point, but you suddenly decided to back down. You said, "I am going to leave you alone now, but just know that I am going to keep staring at you." I guess you assumed that a teenaged girl with a boyfriend who was obviously working on an important assignment would just love to hear that someone her parents' age was staring hungrily at her. You must have thought that your greedy eyes were actually helping me stay on task instead of causing me to sweat and forget what I was even writing.

Regardless, I was happy you had ceased your conversation. A few minutes later, though, you came back and passionately described all of the things you could and would do to me. You talked about how my boyfriend would never be able to amount to you with your ample skill at making a woman happy. As my eyes began to well with tears, you said that you would take your leave because I was making it impossible for you to sit still. You grabbed my hand and kissed it. I'm sure you thought you were some kind of chivalrous knight but instead you made me want to scrub my hand until the skin peeled off. But then, you came in for the kill. "Can I get a hug?" I lightly shook my head. Unfortunately, as you were standing, and I was sitting down you had me trapped. You said, "come on" and "please" as you leaned toward me and wrapped your arms around my tense and trembling person.

As you walked away, I was frozen in my own body. I wanted to scrub my hand of you. I wanted to scrub my body of you. Most importantly, I wanted to run away. I quickly packed my bag and ran out of the building. I found a bathroom and just stood in a stall for 10 minutes too long. I tried to control my breathing and figure out a way to get as far as possible away from you. A few hours later, it was just a distant nightmare.

I wonder how our interaction changed you. I wonder if, like me, you began to fear anyone that talked to you on the street. I wonder if you started telling yourself to keep your head and eyes down so no one could trap you with their eye contact. I wonder if you began to, ever so slightly, fear every man that walked past you. Well, I did. Now, I do. Thanks to you I feel that much less safe. Some would say that you were just being nice. Others would accuse me of not being firm enough. Those people probably have no idea what it's like to be aggressively approached by someone twice their age, much taller, and much stronger. I probably could have been firmer. However, that could have led me to be followed and attacked by that man in an alley somewhere. There was no right approach. I did and said whatever made the most sense to me. I just fear for the girls and women who are less extroverted than I am. The ones who fear interactions with strangers. Would they have said the right thing or the wrong thing? Would they have known to leave the premises quickly? Would they have known to say that they have a boyfriend even if they do not?

To the young people out there who feel unsafe: you are not alone. You did not make the "wrong decision." You did what felt right to you in the moment. The person who targeted you was at fault; I promise you. You should not have been made to feel uncomfortable and you were in no way the reason that person approached you. It is all of our jobs to stop harassment like this. Women and men should not have to carry knives and pepper spray and what have you to feel safe. To the man who hugged me without my consent, if someone does not tell you YES, they mean NO. Leave them alone. Instead of making them feel flattered, you are really making them feel frightened. What you are doing is called harassment, not chivalry.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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