In the spirit of going with what works, I’ve decided to write a second edition of “horror stories of men without shame.” While I had planned on writing this follow-up in March (when an increased workload made tricking – er, “convincing” – others to write most of my article for me more appealing), the upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump warrants earlier publication. What better way to celebrate the rise of someone who admitted to sexually assaulting women than by indulging in some creep-shaming? Aside from drinking a bottle of whisky in the shower, crying, and scraping layer after layer of skin from your flesh with steel wool and bleach, obviously. But enough about my weekend plans.
I’ll be sticking to the standard I set last time: I will identify people only by partially accurate initials, editing occasionally for space, language, some identifying details, etc. I’m also going to add a small amount of commentary between contributions, partly to give people a breather between ugly tales, and partly to provide added information on things like the efficacy of a shot to the testes. So, let us begin.
K.E. writes: “My mom (who is currently sixty-five) was in India about a decade ago. While walking around in downtown Delhi, men (of all ages) grabbed her ass on numerous occasions and shouted things at her. Naturally, she was shocked and outraged, as this had never happened to her as a middle-aged woman in North America. Being the fierce Latina woman that she is, she attempted to chase after them and shout out obscenities back at them about how they are perverted assholes (likely in Spanish as that’s the language that comes naturally to her when she is pissed off).”
I must note that obscenities just sound better when shouted in Spanish. Or German. If you’re shouting at your attacker more than you’re shouting for help, I suggest doing it another language. You might confuse him enough to get in a couple of free shots.
M.H. writes: “About eight and a half years ago, I had just moved to Montreal, and I was looking for new friends and maybe a date. I met a guy on Plenty of Fish and agreed to meet him at the park near my apartment. After about ten minutes I knew that he only wanted sex and he thought that because I’m fat, that would mean I was desperate and easy. As I went to leave, he grabbed my arm and pulled me into some large bushes and tried to take off my skirt while fondling my breast. I kicked as hard as I could, managed to get him in the jewels, and ran back to my apartment.”
Fun fact: I’ve taken a hockey puck to the protected jewels on several occasions, and even that has left me on my stomach, gasping in pain. A knee to the unprotected jewels? You probably have enough to smoke a cigarette and laugh before the jerk gets up (not that you should test this theory).
L.E. writes: “Once, a man grabbed my arm, pulled me basically into him and whispered ‘I’d like to fuck you deep and hard’ into my ear. I was 14.”
I’m just going to sit here in stunned silence for a moment.
G.D. writes: “While I was jogging near York’s The Village, a guy came up alongside me, told me ‘I see you jogging around here all the time,’ and then carried on what I thought was a fairly innocuous conversation (a bit presumptuous of him to talk with me while I was jogging, because I obviously would rather have been left alone, but whatever). He asked me if I wanted to go jogging with him, I politely told him ‘no, I actually enjoy jogging by myself, but thank you for offering,’ and then he completely switched. His face totally changed, his expression so angry that I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen someone look at me that way (for reference: it was just the two of us in the middle of a field, so not a lot of people around). He yelled profanities at me for a bit, and then bolted away. I was so rattled that I had to stop and catch my breath.”
Okay, one more moment of stunned silence it is.
R.E. wrote about almost being forced into an alleyway before someone stepped in and chased off her assailant. She’s the assertive type, but wanted to emphasize that anyone can get caught off-guard. If someone hadn’t stepped up, who knows what would have happened. I suggest taking that as encouragement to stay alert, both as a potential victim or someone who could stop an assault.
A.A. gave us a two-fer: “I was in a subway, guy kept staring at me and following me from seat to seat, putting his hand on my leg and staring. Two young guys, without saying anything, stood up and made it obvious they were ready to pull out the golf clubs they were carrying and chase him off. That made him back off enough so that I could get off the subway.
“Worst experience was when I was living rough. My ex had locked me out, and I had to try and grab a few hours of sleep in an alley. Woke up to a smelly old dude trying to take my shirt off. I punched, kicked, and ran. Thankfully I wasn’t passed out drunk like I believe he thought I was, the nasty [slur for the spawn of unmarried parents].”
If you think those were bad, the final two provided by an old friend are worse. If you’re having trouble holding on to the contents of your stomach, skip them. She provided additional stories from other people that I had to skip, and I don’t want anyone getting to close to that. You’ve been warned.
P.U. writes: “I got wasted at a friend’s apartment and woke up not knowing what happened, just to find out a day later over a text that I’d had sex. I don’t remember having consented, nor the act itself, but I couldn’t go to the authorities because days had passed, and who was going to believe me? I didn’t even remember it.” (Apparently, her attacker was subsequently beaten for his actions, but that doesn’t undo what happened. It did give her “closure,” but one shouldn’t need closure against something that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.)
“Also, last Saturday, I went out on my own here in [redacted South American city], and was stupid enough to have accepted drinks from a stranger. I think I was slipped a roofie because I didn’t drink as much as usual, and yet I woke up in the ER. I was lucky to have met a really nice couple, but the guy had to fight off even more men that wanted to take me home. When I couldn’t get up because I passed out, actual good cops came and called an ambulance.”
Okay, having swallowed enough of my revulsion to speak in something other than rambling obscenities, it’s time for final thoughts.
I’ll begin by reiterating something I emphasized in my first edition of this compilation. If getting attacked by a creep, fight back or call for help. Kick, scream, bite, sing out of key; whatever you think will work. There’s a reason that sexual predators go after women who are in a defenceless state. It’s the same reason we call them predators. The wolf that tries to take on a healthy moose cow often gets its skull crushed like that Inigo Montoya lookalike in Game of Thrones. Furthermore, even when a wolf goes after the moose calf, the cow will often (literally) step in and dirt-stomp the wolf, reflecting how fighting off the predator/creep/actual wild animal is often a team effort. Whatever it takes, do it.
Also, I want to note that the last two stories happened in Latin America, and I bring this up for three reasons. First, my friend wanted me to bring up the issue of women’s rights in Latin America. She’s Latina, and wants to bring attention to the violence faced by women in the region, as well as the frightening lack of police protection they can expect to receive. The stories she described to me went far beyond sexually propositioning a fourteen year-old girl on a park bench: she was describing women being murdered and the police doing nothing. I will link one of her articles below (it’s in Spanish, but Google Translate has gotten surprisingly good), and can provide more if requested.
Second, I want to point out that progress in regards to violence against women is possible. This is not to congratulate ourselves on our record, considering things like Robin Camp’s continued presence on the Alberta bench, or the fact that you could legally rape your wife in Canada thirty-four years ago. Forty-odd years ago, my mother had to fight her school for the right to wear pants. I’m just saying that we can – and should – demand better, and at the very least, if a woman gets murdered in Canada, you can at least expect a police investigation (unless she’s Aboriginal, which is part of a broader national travesty, and another subject for another day). Even if there’s a long way to go, one need only look at the plight of women in other parts of the world to see how far we’ve come.
Finally, I want to say – in light of my friend’s disclosure – that we should be far more prepared to accept female refugees from parts of the world with a deplorable record on protection of women. Without going into too much detail on the basics of refugee law and protection, I’ll simply state that Canadian officials are often overzealous in seeking reasons to refuse granting asylum to any sort of refugee claimant. While I’m an advocate of broader refugee protection reforms, I especially think we should be extremely hesitant to refuse extending refugee protection to women from places where persecution is the norm and not the exception. If you’re horrified by the stories I’ve provided of women being subjected to abominable treatment in Canada, a good response would be getting into refugee law, or taking some pro bono cases for women facing extradition. Do what you will, but do something, or at the very least, don’t do something to withdraw protection from the vulnerable. If you have to be callous, at least don’t be cruel.
And that’s that. A big thank you to the women who shared their stories, a big shudder coursing down my spine as I realize I’m going to be doing this again next year. The fight will never end, but that makes giving up even less of an option.
Anything so we don’t have to tell another generation of women that abuse is normal.