Not an Odalisque

How Not to Deal With Harassers

with 5 comments

I just threatened a man with violence, then bought Christmas cards. Well, Season’s Greetings cards, actually, because they’re for the Amnesty Card Campaign and I don’t want to offend non-Christians. I don’t want to offend anyone, me.

Except this man in a tracksuit on Portland Street in Manchester. I want to do a lot more than offend him. I want to punch him in the face and kick him until he cries. I don’t even know his name and I hate him. I’m a more violent person than I knew.

I got up this morning, looked out of the window and wondered if I could bring myself to leave the house. It is one of those days that looks inviting but numbs your fingers and scorches your throat when you go out. I decided to run a couple of errands on the bike and call it exercise. Knowing I would have to put everything in the wash when I got home I put on a pair of lycra trousers which have been chewed at one cuff by my bicycle and a jumper with at least two holes in it. I thought about tidying my hair, but it was only going to be crushed under my helmet. I looked decidedly scratty, but who cares? I was returning library books, and retrieving lost property, not going on the pull.

I got to the cafe where I abandoned possessions yesterday, locked my bike up and the pushed on the doors. It was closed. I harrumphed quietly in frustration and went back to my bike, listening to Linkin Park (yes, Linkin Park, I never pretended to have a sophisticated taste in music) being loud and angry through my earphones. I bent over my bike to coax the lock open. After a few seconds I felt something press—no, poke—against my buttocks. I straightened up, right into the body of a man standing immediately behind me. I jumped, I even made a little, involuntary noise of surprise. Stepping away from the man, I said, at a volume I couldn’t judge because my earphones were in, “what are you doing?” I couldn’t hear his reply over Linkin Park. I jerked them out of my ears and said, “What?”

“Oh, yeah, I was just going to ask you the time.” The man grinned.

I held up my bare wrist, “Sorry, I don’t wear a watch.” I had a few seconds to reflect on the fact that I had just apologised to the stranger who, I realised with gross clarity, had just been jabbing me with his erect penis, before he grabbed my arm and said,

“The thing is, yeah, my mate’s over there,” he gestured vaguely up the empty street, “and I was going to get behind you and do this, right?” He spread his arms and legs wide and thrust his hips forward in an obscene motion, then he laughed.

“Next time,” I said, “I’ll kick you in the balls.”

“Yeah,” he said, “do that!”

I wheeled my bike around and started to walk away. He grabbed my arm again. I wrenched free. “Don’t touch me,” I said, and again, louder and shriller as I reached the curb, “don’t touch me!”

I cycled aggressively, dangerously, and then shot people dirty looks as I browsed for Christmas cards. I turned the volume up loud and listened to Nickelback on the way home. It didn’t help. I feel dirty, angry, and ever so slightly ashamed. I’ve been a professional peace worker. People have spent real money on my mediation training. I’m a fair way to being a pacifist. All that, and after one touch I’m threatening violence. He wanted a reaction and he got it, which makes me angrier still.

Written by Not an Odalisque

November 28, 2010 at 3:47 pm

5 Responses

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  1. I could wish you’d kneed him in the groin the first time. Just a little accident, you know. These things happen. You could have apologised for that. If you felt like it.

    Seriously, though: you’re not the one who should be feeling dirty. Angry, yes.

    Hugs, HH


    November 28, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    • He was about 6’4’’! It was probably best not to give him a reason to hit me. That makes my threats rather empty.

      Thank you for the comment. It helped.



      November 28, 2010 at 10:12 pm

  2. Fucker. Seriously, what a wanker. I hate flashers, though I’ve never had to deal with a pushy one. And I can never think of the right thing to say *at the time*. It’s always a while afterwards that the most appropriate phrase occurs, and then I end up replaying it for ages until I’ve dealt with the situation to my satisfaction!

    A word to the cops might be in order though. These fuckwits tend to flash and bother women repeatedly and their behaviour often escalates. If you can describe him and let them know his location, there’s a chance that he might not get away with quite so much in future.

    Big hugs



    November 30, 2010 at 10:33 am

  3. I’m usually not phased as long as they don’t touch me. In fact, when I was a child, I was always rather disappointed that I never spotted the man hiding in the bushes who the teachers so often told us about in assembly. Writing this a few days later, I’m surprised how much the memory of this bloke still gets to me. I still haven’t worked out what the right thing to say was.

    You’re the third person to say I should go to the police; it hadn’t even occurred to me. I’m not sure that it’s serious enough, really, and they would probably be unimpressed with the fact that I threatened violence.

    Thank you. Hearing someone call him a wanker is very cheering!



    November 30, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    • I was flashed at the school bus stop when I was 14, by a man in a car. There was no violence, no threats, but my mother called the police when I told her about it, and they came round and asked me for a statement.

      They take it seriously because they know sex offenders’ behaviour often escalates, from peeping Tom to flasher to groper to rapist.

      This wanker *is* a sex offender.

      Hugs xxx


      December 1, 2010 at 10:40 pm

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