I recently found myself in the middle of a frightening and uncomfortable situation outside of Panda Express. This situation had me fearful and really demonstrates the prominence of the rape culture, even in Midland.
I was picking my little sister up from eating dinner at Panda Express. While I was waiting for her to come to my truck I noticed my friend in the parking lot and she waved me over.
As I was walking from my truck to hers I noticed a car with two young men pass by. The men waved at me and, assuming they knew me, I casually waved back. I noticed that I actually did not know them, but didn’t think much about it as I began a conversation with my friend.
As our conversation continued I noticed that the car with the two men had stopped and began to back up to where I was standing.
I was unsure of what was about to happen so I hastily said goodbye to my friend and walked briskly to my truck, calling out for my sister. I was safely inside my truck but my sister had not come outside yet. I turned around to see that the young man in the passenger seat had exited the car and was walking to my truck.
My heart began to beat faster and I threw my truck into reverse. I then proceeded to circle the parking lot, hoping my sister would hurry.
As I was about to round the corner of the building to the west I noticed that the man changed direction and was walking towards the door, where my little sister was coming out. Now fearful for her, I hurriedly drove around the building and pulled in front once more.
I urged my sister to get in the truck, but by the time she got inside the man was standing by my window, just inches from my face.
I cracked the window just a few inches and asked “can I help you?” The man then proceeded to answer with “I just want to get to know you.” I was taken back by the question and found it strange that this man would follow me around creepily just to ask that. I then proceeded to say, “Oh thank you, but that’s okay,” but his persistence continued when he asked, “Can I have your number?” I knew I wasn’t going to give it to him so I politely said “no that’s okay,” and then drove away in a haste.
When describing the situation as creepy to my fellow MCP staff members, most agreed that the actions taken by the man were a little too far, however, one reporter argued that he was not stalking and it was just a form of flattery. While I agree he may not have followed me home or for a long distance, but anytime someone follows a person and it makes them uncomfortable it is not okay. In fact, it is never okay to perform an action that would make another person uncomfortable, no matter if you find it appropriate or not.
I believe this is a big factor feeding the rape culture that it is becoming more prevalent in today’s society. According to Marshall University, “Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.”
This type of society is putting more of a burden on women by making it seem that they have to protect themselves and not appear desirable, “sexy”, and/or vulnerable. Instead of placing blame on women, we need to have programs implemented that will teach men not to rape and the wrongfulness of it.
My peers also brought up the notion that if the man was attractive to me it wouldn’t have come off as creepy. While it may be true that attractiveness seems to invite flirtation and interest, if someone comes off as creepy to you it is off putting and you begin to see them as less attractive.
Back to rape culture, maybe a factor is that men find themselves desirable and think that women must want them. This makes them come off too strong and sometimes even forceful.
People need to retrace back to the days of courtship and pursuing people. When I use the word “pursue,” I do not mean following them around a parking lot in hopes of getting a number, but really finding out their interests and trying to win their heart through affectionate gestures.
I want to reiterate what I said about how if an action that you perform makes another person uncomfortable, please don’t do it.
Females are already made to feel unworthy from messages sent by pictures in magazines and on TV, men need to understand this and not take advantage of that vulnerability.
The best way to get someone’s attention is by genuine conversation and gentle actions, not force. I urge everyone to take this into consideration. Let’s stomp out the rape culture of today’s society.