Y’all, some Redditor thought my willapus wallapus piece was poorly written and as silly as I think that is, I admit, it stings a little. I’m not sure why. Like, I read that piece and I still find it funny as hell.
But here’s the thing that I have noticed over the years writing for Pith. No matter how obviously funny my posts are, a lot of guys don’t recognize them as even attempts at humor. Not me trying to be funny and them just not finding it a joke that strikes their funny bone, but legitimately, I don’t think that, once they’ve assigned a “female” voice to a piece in their heads, they recognize the signals that say “this is a joke.”
I mean, I’m fine with a joke not landing. They can’t all be winners. But the older I get, the more I write, the more comfortable in my writing I am, the more it weirds me out–this unrecognition.
There’s this guy where I work. I don’t work with him. He’s not even affiliated with my employer. He’s just with a group who also has office space in our building. Ever since he started, he’s kind of given me the heebie jeebies, though I can’t really say why. It’s a kind of over-familiarity and standing too close and…I don’t know. Nothing has happened. I keep an eye on him like a hawk. I don’t have any evidence of him deserving my bad feeling.
But yesterday he came up to me in the hall, saying he got a new phone and now he can’t get on the wifi in the building and would I mind typing my user name and password into his phone? Which he then shoved at me. Then he stood too close to me to try to show me how he just couldn’t figure out how to get hooked up to the wifi and I faked ignorance. I said IT had walked me through it over the phone and I didn’t remember what they’d done, but it was a few complicated steps. But he kept thrusting his phone at me.
But finally, he then changed to standing again way too near me and wanting to chat about where IT was and did I have their phone number.
The whole thing was just super weird. Like, every instinct I had said not to touch his phone for any reason and to get away as soon as possible.
Today this news is reporting on this pervert cop over in South Carthage who openly harasses women and everyone knows it. The women he’s harassing are all too poor to hire lawyers and sue the town and the mayor doesn’t want to kick him off the force because he’s just two years from retirement.
So the continued suffering of the women in South Carthage is more acceptable to the mayor than fixing the problem and maybe hurting his buddy.
And he’ll probably continue to get reelected.
It’s hard sometimes not to feel like I am not and will never be allowed equal footing, that it’s too hard to see me as a person.
I’m glad you’re listening to your instincts. But seriously, asking you to give him your login and password, who does this guy think he is? There’s four responses that come to mind:
1. Document this, at least to the point of telling the folks you work with. There’s also a fair chance other women there have had run-ins with him; it couldn’t hurt to ask. If you know his name, you could Google him and see if he turns up as an offender.
2. Take it seriously: I know a lot of people would blow this off as him being “clueless” but these guys are only ever “clueless” around women they are harassing; somehow they manage not to be so “awkward” when they are dealing with men. This guy is pushing your boundaries to see what he can get away with. That’s bad enough to be worrying. No well-meaning person would do that.
3. Confront: You could also tell him (if you feel safe enough) “Move away from me. Your behavior is creepy, and I want you to stop talking to me and bothering me.” He’s not your boss or coworker, he has no power over you and you don’t have to put up with him. And if he demands a conversation/explanation you don’t owe him that. Just repeat what you said till he leaves you alone. You could also have someone with you as backup, unless he never approaches you when others are around? (which would be another clue that it’s not “awkwardness” but intentional).
I’m sorry. I know it’s easier for me to say what you should do than for you who is stuck in that situation.
But this shit makes me so angry, these passive-aggressive whiny little power-play harasser dudes pretending they just don’t know better than to creep on women, meanwhile those women have to do the math of “Is he going to assault me? What if he gets angry? Can I fight him off? How can I be sure never to let him be near me when I’m alone? Will he follow me to my car?” because there’s no way of knowing how far they’ll push it.
I’ve had that ‘something is wrong’ vibe around a few guys for no real reason, and I avoided them. Luckily they were just friends of friends and it was easily done.
But that dude at your work? He’s waaay over the line! I’m with emjb, he’s testing boundaries and what sort of jerk even thinks someone will give out their username and password! It’s constantly hammered at my job to never, never, never do that. (Which means it happens alot, I guess. Sigh)
And the struggle to have guys hear me when I mention doing something not usually done by women- it’s tiring. I feel like I’m speaking like the grownups in Charlie Brown by the reaction I get.