Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Cracks in the wall

on September 8, 2010

This is a blog about women’s issues, and I recently had an experience that brought some of the less-pleasant things about what it is to be a woman to my attention. 

There’s a wall between feeling safe and feeling unsafe, threatened and scared.  Other people can put cracks in this wall, or tear it right down.  But only we can rebuild it and mend the cracks and holes.  Sometimes we tear down our own walls, but still, we need to be our own bricklayers or continue to live on the wrong side of the wall. 

Someone put a crack in my wall last week.  This, I suppose, is my way of grabbing the spackle and paint and making it right again. 

What happened started out innocuously, and was really not as horrible a thing as happens to many women around the world.  I’m not attempting to compare myself to victims of rape, violence or threats.  I think what happened sucked, and it left me feeling bad, but I’m not permanently altered by it, I’m not injured and I’m not scared.  But I was left feeling a bit victimized and assaulted, even if not physically. 

I was driving to my parents’ house last weekend.  I was on a particularly boring stretch of highway, listening to the radio and trying to make good time.  I looked to my right and noticed there was a good-looking man in the truck next to me.  He saw me notice him and smiled flirtatiously.  I smiled back, turned my attention back to the road and kept driving.  I’ve done the car-flirt before.  I’ve smiled and winked and even, on one occasion, made chase down the street for a time.  It’s always been fun and cute and left me feeling giddy and attractive. 

Now, I was not looking my cutest on this particular occasion.  I was post-work out, I had showered and run a brush hastily through my hair, thrown on some clean workout shorts and a t-shirt before getting into the car. So, I was a little surprised that this dude was flirting like this.  It went on for about ten miles of highway.  There wasn’t a lot of traffic so he was beside me for most of that time.   

Finally, at the exit before mine, he started moving to the right, to get off the highway.  When I looked over the last time he stood up and flashed his erect penis at me.  I was mortified.  All of the self-confidence I had been feeling for the past ten minutes vanished.  I was disgusted. (I’ll take this opportunity to also say that I don’t find anything wrong with the act of masturbation itself, I just have a problem when it’s done in public.  And before you say, “oh, he was in his car, no one could see,” let me say, “No, he was waving it out the window.  That is wrong, and it’s a crime.”).  Then I felt a pang of fear.  I hadn’t seen his license plate, but he may have seen mine.  He might have a way of finding my house, he might do any number of other things with whatever information he was able to get.  I knew it was a stretch, but it was out there…”what if?”

Looking back, I should have slowed down, taken his plate number and called the police.  I didn’t think, though, and I sped up and tried to get away as quickly as possible. 

I was shaken.  It was such a minor incident on the scale of scary sexual encounters, but nevertheless, it was one of those moments when the rug is pulled out from underneath you.  Your illusion of safety disappears momentarily and you realize that anything can happen to anyone at anytime.  Almost like those dreams where you’re falling and you wake up short of breath with a sinking feeling in your stomach.  Then you have to make the patches, and wait for the spackle to dry so that you can continue to live in a world where all the dangerous stuff is on the other side of the wall.  And you cross your fingers and hope that it never breaks through.


One response to “Cracks in the wall

  1. Very well written. What a creep! Sorry that happened, hon.

    The good thing about building a new wall is you can change the decorations, right?

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