Orphanage Rule #10: Put In Headphones Or Read A Book

This is meant to help women avoid being harassed while in public. The logic is simple: If it’s clear that you’re busy, reasonable people won’t interrupt unless it’s important. The problem with this is also simple: It isn’t reasonable men who harass women.

Here are some examples of things that have happened when I tried this method:

Example 1: I was sitting in a mostly empty mall reading a book. A man sat down next to me & asked how I was doing. I told him, without looking up, that I was reading a book & doing just fine. Then he started talking about how he loves books, but doesn’t read often. I still didn’t look up. He told me about how he only really reads when he’s incarcerated. He also started talking about how long his day was & how heavy his boots were that he’d been wearing all day. I put my book down & pulled out my phone part way through this to start tweeting about what was going on. He told me I was being rude for not engaging with him. He left when his girlfriend came out of a nearby store. As he stood up he said, “Sorry for bothering you.” This shows he knew he was disturbing me. He knew I didn’t want to talk to him & he continued to harass me anyway, even going as far as to call me rude for not returning his attention.

Example 2: I was sitting in a food court in a mall, reading a book & listening to music. Due to the fact that I had headphones in & was looking down at my book, I was not aware of what was going on around me. I’m guessing this man had previously tried to get my attention by talking, but I don’t know. What I do know is I was sitting in peace when all of a sudden someone was touching my face.

Yep, a stranger reached over & put his hand on my goddamn face.

I jumped, as you can imagine, & ripped my headphones out as I looked up to see what the hell was going on. A man I’d never seen before was looking down at me & smiling. “Hey there.” He said to me, still grinning.

“What the fuck was that?” I said. It was rhetorical. He stopped smiling. “If you want to keep your fingers, I suggest you don’t fucking touch me ever again.” I spat at him.

“You don’t have to be such a fucking bitch.” He said, taking a step back.

“Yes I do, now fuck off.” I told him.

“You’re crazy.” He told me, before walking away.

Example 3: I was on a train & listening to music. Someone tapped my shoulder so I looked to my right. A man had reached over, across the aisle, to tap me. He was now smiling at me. I turned off my music. “Yes?” I asked him.

“Hi.” He said, looking me up and down, which was awkward as hell considering I was sitting & there wasn’t much “up and down” going on. I put my headphones back in & went back to looking out the window.

A few seconds later he tapped me again. I didn’t smile at him this time. I just asked, “What?” Again, he just said hello.

I stood as my stop was coming up. I had kept my headphones in but turned off the music. After the second time he’d tapped me I wanted to hear what was going on. I heard him telling his friend that he was getting off at this stop “with her.” His friend glanced at me as he said that.

“Fuck.” I thought.

I purposely moved to a door that was further away while he walked to a closer one. As the train stopped, I stood right beside the door as other people got on & off the train. I saw him walk off & could see him looking for me, walking towards the door that he’d seen me standing at. By the time he noticed I had stayed on the train, the doors were closed & we were moving again. I didn’t sit back down & got off at the following stop. His friend was still on the train when I got off. I don’t know if he saw me or not.

So as you can see, reading a book or listening to music doesn’t seem to do anything to deter creepy, invasive men from being creepy & invasive. An alternative to this advice would be telling men that a woman being in a public area doesn’t mean she wants them talk to her, follow her, touch her, or otherwise act like jerks to get her attention.

Dear Strangers Who Talk To Me In Public

Men, please start listening to women when they tell you they want to be left alone.

This happened:

I was in the mall waiting for my mum to get off work. There is an area in the mall with comfortable chairs. I was sitting in one of these chairs & reading a book. I was sitting there with my book when an elderly woman sat down in a chair next to me. She started talking, & I’m generally more forgiving of elderly women who do this, so I spoke to her. We talked for probably about ten or fifteen minutes before she got up & left. She was very sweet, but I was glad once she had gone. I went back to reading my book. Within five minutes of her departure, someone else sat down. I didn’t really pay attention to who because I don’t give a fuck. However, I found out in very short order who it was because he thought I seemed super nice & wanted to talk to me. He was a drunk, middle aged man who looked like he hadn’t bathed or washed his clothes in a very long time.

Now, if you’re dirty or drunk or needy, I don’t care. However, those things added together do not equal a person that I fancy a nice little chat with on the best of days. Even if I’m in the mood to talk I will not want to talk to you. Do you understand? Of course you don’t, you’re drunk.

So. This man started off by telling me how pretty I was. Then how nice I was. Then he asked me for money. I gave him money in the hopes he would leave. He did not. Then his girlfriend came over & they started telling me their life story. I ended up walking away. Then he wants to know where I was going! I told him I had to meet someone & tried really hard to walk, not run, away from whatever the hell was going on.

Now, I’m sure they were nice enough people. They didn’t give me any indication otherwise. However, that isn’t the point. This happens to me a lot. I’m doing something, & someone just decides that now’s a good time to have a novel’s worth of dialogue between us. Know what, though? Now’s not a good time. I’m out because I have shit to do & I don’t care if it doesn’t look important to you. It isn’t my job to keep you entertained. I don’t even know who you are. Go away.

This is not the end of the story. After I left, I gave up on reading my book. I was too frustrated & plus I couldn’t sit in my comfy chair anymore. I went into a store in the mall where a buddy of mine works. We aren’t close, but we get along fairly well & I like visiting him from time to time. There were some people wandering around the store, & he was sitting at the till reading a book. I found it remarkably amusing that he was reading, due to the complaint he was about to hear.

I greeted him with, “You know what I hate? When you’re sitting there, reading your book all quietly, & people keep interrupting you with pointless things & won’t leave you alone.” I thought I was being funny & he agreed. (If you don’t understand the humour, he was reading his book at work & people were interrupting him constantly, but that’s because he was at work. Get it? Get it? See what I did there?) I then told him what had happened.

However! The various people that were in the store all left in very short order, & each & every one of them was completely outraged at what they’d heard me say. We overheard one man talking about how selfish I was for wanting to be left alone.

Wait, I’m selfish? So, let me get this straight. One person is clearly in the middle of something & another person, who doesn’t know them, interrupts & expects their full attention & time, & the person who was busy is the selfish one? When the fuck did that become a rule? I’ll say it again. It’s not my damn job to entertain you.

Maybe some people enjoy being approached by strangers & talking for twenty minutes, an hour, however long you’ll stick around if you’ll let them. & that’s cool! Go forth & find those people! You have my blessing & encouragement. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be social. But when someone politely makes it clear that they aren’t interested in talking to you just accept it & move on, buddy!

What wasn’t really present in that story was how offended &/or angry some people get when I make it clear that I want to be left alone. I get called names & sometimes they try to intimidate me. I feel it’s worth mentioning that it’s always men who are angry about it. I usually keep my headphones in, even if I’m not listening to music, just so people think I can’t hear them. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes men will actually poke or tap me to get my attention so they can start talking about nothing or hit on me.

There’s something really unnerving about that. I shouldn’t have to pretend like I can’t hear you.

There’s a lot more I’d like to say on the subject, but it’s a pretty simple concept:

There’s this thing I do frequently where I need to be out for some reason. Maybe I’m grocery shopping, or on the train on my way to work. Maybe I’m waiting for my mum’s shift to end & I’m sitting in the mall, reading a book. Whatever the case is, I am in a public place & I’m by myself. When people are out in public, sometimes there’s a reason to talk to them. Maybe they dropped something, or you bumped into them & want to apologize. That’s totally polite & fine. However, please understand this: Expecting someone to enter into a lengthy conversation with you on your whim & for no real reason is creepy, invasive & unreasonable. What I am doing is not less important than your desire to be distracted from your day. Find someone else to talk to.

“I treat people the way I want to be treated. I leave them the hell alone.”

I’m not sure who said that, but it’s bloody brilliant.

You Want My Address So You Can What?

TW: This post contains threats of violence & abusive language.

*Also, I want to add that I’ve used language in the text messages I sent that I now know to be inappropriate & I sincerely apologize to anyone who is offended. I’m trying to be better.*

In 2014 I was working in a call centre job. It wasn’t very fun, but you know, it paid the bills & such. Also I met some cool folks there.

One of the people I liked was Ryan, though I had a reaction to him that seemed to confuse some people. He & I had some really great conversations. We laughed & joked around all the time. But from the beginning I made it clear that I found Ryan about as sexually appealing as a potato. He was fun, no doubt, but fucking EW. I wanted to be friends with him. I think we would have made fantastic friends. Too bad I’ll never know.

Very occasionally, Ryan & I would text. Maybe one or two sentences every two weeks or maybe once a month. No long conversations, no phone calls, not much of anything. Just the occasional, “Hey, how’s it going?”. Our conversations all happened at work. We never spent any time together outside of the office. We never even ran into each other outside of work.

So. One day I checked my phone to find a text from Ryan. I hadn’t said hi in weeks. I guess he had a new girlfriend & she’d got hold of his mobile. Here’s how that went:

ryan1

ryan2ryan3ryan4ryan5

Yeah, so that’s a thing.

She wanted to cause me serious injury because I had acknowledged her boyfriend’s existence & maybe even been friendly. Jesus fuck, what is wrong with these people?

Immediately after I tried to contact him on Facebook to ask WTH, but she had already blocked me through his account. At least I’m assuming she did. I can’t imagine why he would & since she clearly had his phone I’m assuming that she checked his Facebook page & found me there.

I thought this shit only happened in movies.

Do I need to tell you why I find it so disturbing?

First of all, there is never an excuse to talk to anyone that way, no matter what. Under no circumstances is it okay to do that ever.

Second, even if she was all freaked out, can a grown woman not tell when someone clearly has no interest in their partner? I didn’t spend time with him, I didn’t ask him any personal questions, I didn’t ask to hang out, I didn’t try to party with him, I didn’t text or message him on Facebook regularly. Hell, I wasn’t even subtle about the fact that I found him sexually repugnant. I said it to his face on more than one occasion while he was letting me use his lighter on our break.

Third, the idea that someone would go through their partner’s phone & send threatening messages is horrific. Who do you think you are? It isn’t any of your business who your partner is friends with, it isn’t your business to go through their phone, & it most certainly isn’t your business to send threats & bile to random people, especially when you clearly have no clue what’s going on.

I told one of my coworkers about it & he actually asked what I had done to make her so upset. Is this so normal that it’s expected? I’m pretty sure that falls under the category of victim blaming. I must have asked to be verbally abused by someone I don’t know & have never even met. Like anyone who behaves that way needs any prompting from me.

That’s how many people reacted. That really scared & confused me. Are we so obsessed with allowing bad behavior that we don’t even recognize it anymore? Is it my fault for making myself a target? Quick! Get me a list of everyone who has a violent, jealous person for a lover so I can avoid them & not put myself in a position where I’m asking to be harassed, or possibly worse. It couldn’t possibly be the violent person’s fault for being horrible?

I found out shortly after the fact that Ryan’s girlfriend worked in our office and sat maybe thirty feet away from me. I immediately took the text messages to our manager & explained the situation. She said I’d brought it on myself for flirting with Ryan (She’d previously witnessed us chatting & laughing) & if I wanted to avoid further issues I should start behaving in a more professional manner. That was one of the deciding factors in my not working there anymore. Talk about a hostile work environment.

**As a side note, I’d like to add that I later found out the two had broken up & she got together with another man from our office. The two of them eventually went on to have a baby together. Imagine her reaction if she found out that her baby’s father not only was interested in me, but also that we’d been sleeping together shortly before they hooked up?

Monochrome

5:59. He wakes up. His eyes open suddenly. They’re sore & swollen. He’s very still for a moment, to collect his thoughts. Then he glances at the alarm clock & reaches over to push a button. The alarm goes off at 6:00, but he always wakes up at 5:59. He briefly wonders why he sets the thing at all, but then realizes that the day he doesn’t will be the day he doesn’t wake up.

It’s been 168 days since she packed a bag & walked out of the apartment. He tries not to think about it, he doesn’t know how many days it’s been. He still has some of her things in the top drawer of his dresser. He can smell the nearly empty bottle of her perfume when he walks by to get ready for his day.

His bathroom is small, barely large enough for everything it needs. He keeps it clean & organized.

The kitchen isn’t clean. Dishes are piled in the sink, he isn’t sure when he washed them last. He doesn’t want to look at them this early, so he looks for a granola bar in the cupboard. He finds one & washes it down with a glass of orange juice.

6:24. It’s a beautiful September morning. The air is crisp & there are some clouds in the otherwise blue sky. It rained last night, the pavement is still slightly damp & everything smells simultaneously of dirt & cleanliness. He inhales deeply as he walks out of his front door. This is a good morning for a run. He’ll be gone for 32 minutes & be disappointed. He should be able to do it in 29.

7:38. He steps back outside, showered & dressed for work. Instead of a briefcase, he wears a backpack. He will ride his bicycle this morning. As he walks towards it, he thinks of her briefly. She loved this bicycle. He used to ride it to work every morning, but she would laugh & steal it before he could leave so she could use it. She had her own, but she liked this one more. When she left, she took her bicycle & left him his. He still drives to work some mornings.

8:22. He arrives to the office early. He prefers it that way, there’s no one around the coffee pot trying to talk to him. He doesn’t mind his job at all. It’s a little bit tedious some days, but he makes a lot of money & has three day weekends. He’ll be able to retire in eight years, he is 32 years old. The people he works with are very friendly, he doesn’t always have the energy to talk with them in the morning, although he likes them. The only other person he sees is his secretary. He says good morning as he walks into his office.

13:01. He walks out of his office to go get lunch. His secretary offers to go for him, or with him. He is worried about him, he’s lost too much weight over the last 6 months or so. He’s very handsome, but has begun looking ill. He declines, he’s going to the deli & grabbing a sandwich, he tells him. He’s gone for the full hour, he doesn’t eat. He meant to, but he got distracted walking.

17:14. He’s walking out of the building to go home. He’s invited for drinks with his colleagues, but he respectfully declines. Not today, he tells them. He has plans with an old friend.

18:58. He arrives at the house of his old school friend. They have known each other since they were sixteen. His friend has a wife now, & three children. They’re a beautiful family, & they’re happy. He sees them at least twice a month. They’re hosting a dinner party tonight. He brought a bottle of expensive wine. His friend & his wife will drink it privately later.

There are nine people there tonight. They laugh & talk about their lives & then laugh some more. The wine is delicious, the food is better. Two of them just got back from Spain, one of them is waiting on a big promotion, one couple is expecting their second child. These are all good people whom he is lucky to know. One of the women tells him that he looks ill. She says he needs a woman in his life, that he must be lonely. She has a friend that she’d like him to meet. She’s free tomorrow. He smiles his most charming smile & thanks her sincerely. He would love to meet her friend, but he can’t tomorrow. He has plans. There’s a new rock climbing wall downtown & his colleague has insisted they go together.

23:35. He walks through his front door & looks around. He needs to get rid of half of this junk. He has too much furniture, too many things, too many books he’ll never read again, too much black & white art on the walls that he’s tired of looking at. Everything seems so watched out & empty. He carefully puts away his shoes & hangs up his jacket. He walks into the kitchen, the dishes are still in the sink, filthy. He rolls up his sleeves & begins washing them.

00:06. He sends a text message to a colleague, “Hi, sorry I’m texting so late, but something’s come up and I’m afraid I can’t make it rock climbing tomorrow. You’ll have to tell me how it is! If it’s any good, maybe we can go next weekend. Sorry about the short notice and I hope I’m not disturbing you.” The response comes within minutes. “Hey! No problem, we can go some other time. It’s pretty late. Everything okay?” He doesn’t reply. He really will go rock climbing soon, but he just knows he will be too tired tomorrow, & he has other things he needs to do anyway.

1:27. He is ready for bed, but he realizes he forgot to make it this morning. He changes the sheets & climbs in. He picks up the book that’s sitting on his night stand. It’s a book that his niece asked him to read. It’s about a young woman who fights for women, their freedom to have civil rights & education. He smiles. His niece will grow into an amazing & powerful woman.

2:15. He’s done reading for now. The book isn’t quite finished. He will save the rest for tomorrow.

2:18. He lies down & stares into nothing. The ceiling is up there somewhere in the dark. It’s so quiet, all he can hear is the odd car driving by on the street, but it’s a quiet neighbourhood & there aren’t many vehicles at night.

He rolls over, facing the open window. He can’t hear anything now. He starts to cry silently & doesn’t stop until he can see the sun.

5:59. He wakes up. His eyes open suddenly, sore & swollen. He’s very still for a moment, to collect his thoughts. He glances over at the alarm clock, then reaches to push the button. The clock would have gone off at 6:00, but he wakes up at 5:59. He briefly wonders why he sets the thing at all, but then realizes that the day he doesn’t will be the day he doesn’t wake up.

 

Orphanage Rule #22: Watch Out For Guys Who Are Too Nice

This piece of advice is a warning of being too trusting. Nice guys are great, but if they’re too nice it could mean trouble. There’s a good chance they’re trying to make you feel secure so they can get you into a position where they can cause you harm of some sort or take advantage of you in some way.

This is a case where it seems like I’m supposed to be psychic & know which men are being regular nice & which ones are being “too” nice. There’s no way for me to know what someone’s motivations are unless they tell me, & even then they could be lying.

I think, at least some of the times I’ve been told this, the point is that when men are very nice, they often feel like they’re owed something in return. Perhaps if they do something they consider very kind & then I reject their advances later, they’ll be angry with me?

Yeah, thanks, Tips!

Okay, but I need a reference here. What does “too nice” even look like?

If a man opens a door for me, is that regular nice or too nice?

What about if he pays for my meal?

Or if he stops his car to let me cross the street?

What if he buys me a drink? Two drinks?

How about if he shows interest in my personal life without being invasive?

If he offers to cook for me, what does that fall under? Will that change if I accept his offer & he actually cooks a meal for me?

If he offers to pet my dogs while I’m walking them, should I allow it? Is he being too nice, or will I be an ungrateful bitch for telling him no?

What if he doesn’t make me pay for a service because he likes me?

If he reads my writing & says he likes it?

Or if he’s behind me in line & offers to pay for my tea? What if he actually does pay for my tea?

Let’s say he comes over while I’m being harassed & tells the harasser to leave me alone. Is that too nice?

Are any of these too nice? Are any of them regular nice?

Is this just a measure for strangers, or are friends included? I don’t think I understand.

Maybe we should just tell men they don’t always get extra favours when they’re good people. That might help them stop throwing a fit when you’re not willing to do what they want after they think they’ve done you some favour.

Is that too far? Can men be expected to learn basic humanity & decency without the promise of a tangible reward? Am I asking too much?

This is another example of women being told they must be on guard at all times & never trust men. It isn’t reasonable to expect anyone to live with that level of anxiety & fear, it can destroy them.

There’s no such thing as “too nice”. If someone’s being nice, it’s a good thing. If someone’s being nice with the expectation of favours later & will react violently when denied, they were never nice to begin with.

 

Fedora or Not Fedora?

Dear every person who wears a trilby & calls it a fedora, no more! Luckily, I think hats are pretty neat & have provided, special for you, a handy guide! The following are several different styles of hats with descriptions & names provided.

Boater
Boater: A flat-brimmed, flat-topped straw hat. Most frequently worn during summer.
Boss of the Plains
Boss of the Plains: A lightweight hat meant to be worn in all weather. It has a high, rounded crown & a wide, flat brim.
Bowler
Bowler: A hard hat made of felt with a rounded crown. Frequently called a Derby in the United States.
campaign
Campaign or “Smokey Bear”: A broad-brimmed hat made of felt or straw. It has a high crown that is pinched symmetrically at its four corners.
fedora
Fedora: A soft felt hat with a medium brim & a lengthwise crease in the crown.
Hardee
Hardee: The regulation hat for Union soldiers during the American Civil War. Also known as the 1858 Dress Hat.
homburg
Homburg: A hat with a medium brim & crown with a crease, but no dents.
Panama
Panama: A traditional, brimmed straw hat from Ecuador. They are light-coloured, lightweight, & breathable. Currently associated with the seaside & tropical locations.
porkpie
Porkpie: A felt hat with a short flat crown & narrow brim.
slouch
Slouch: A wide-brimmed felt or cloth hat most commonly worn as part of a military uniform, often with a chinstrap. This is a fairly generic term covering several similar styles.
sombrero cordobes
Sombrero Cordobés: A traditional flat-brimmed & flat-topped hat from Spain. This hat is associated with flamenco dancing & music, also worn by Zorro.
stetson
Stetson: A high-crowned, wide-brimmed hat, with a sweatband on the inside, & a decorative band on the outside. Frequently called a Cowboy hat.
trilby
Trilby: A hat with a deeply indented crown & a narrow brim, typically upturned at the back. Often confused for a fedora.