It’s Saturday night and you are on your way to meet friends for an evening out. You are catching up with one friend as you wait for the final member of your group to join you. You are laughing about something. You forget now what it was.
A man approaches. He is a stranger and not necessarily menacing, but…you can sense it coming.
A grin breaks his face open and there is a hint of swagger in his walk. Maybe he is thinking he is about to make your day. He speaks.
“Can I just say...?"
You say no. You say no with a straight spine, a straight face, and an even tone in your voice.
“No, you may not. Please leave us alone. Really.”
His face darkens.
You say no, and in saying no you stop him from what he thought was going to be the highlight of your day. You are firm. You won’t allow yourself to be “complimented,” objectified, verbally assaulted. He is shocked, then enraged. He sends a stream of expletives and insults your way. Now you are a “dyke” because you didn’t succumb to his charms. Now you are “ugly” and “dumb” because you weren’t grateful that he deemed you worthy of his attention. He leaves your friend alone, maybe because she didn’t turn around when he approached. Maybe you were his only target.
You aren’t scared of him. You are furious and fearless, even in the face of his threats. He is now your target, the way you were his. He is every man you backed away from, every man who filled you with fear and shame. You stand on the corner, looking him in the eye, never averting your gaze as he showers you with invectives.
“Remember my face!” He shouts as he crosses the street.
“No,” you think. “Remember mine.”