As I walked to work yesterday, minding my own business, a young man who looked to be between 18 and 23 years old rode his bike towards me and stopped.
“Excuse me,” he said.
I stopped, thinking he was going to ask me for directions somewhere.
“Will you be my girlfriend?”
I was shocked, but managed to get out a “no” before moving on.
I carried on down the road, my hands shaking. I was terrified. I didn’t know how this man was going to react to me turning him down so bluntly. I had my hand on my phone ready to activate the Emergency SOS function (if you have an iPhone I’d recommend setting this up) if things were to go wrong. I wanted to look over my shoulder to see if I needed to run, but I was too scared even to do that.
You might not understand why I was that scared after simply rejecting a stranger’s proposal to be a couple. But, this is the reality of being a woman in today’s society.
On the 18th of May a 17-year-old boy shot up his school in Texas killing 10 and injuring 10.
The Associated Press first reported the mother of a victim from the Santa Fe High School shooting believed her daughter, Shana Fisher, was targeted by the suspect.
Sadie Rodriguez, Fisher’s mother, told Buzzfeed News via Facebook that her daughter had been having problems with the suspect in the four months leading up to the shooting.
“He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no,” Rodriguez said. “He continued to get more aggressive.”
Rodriguez said the suspect was an ex-boyfriend of her daughter’s best friend, and that her daughter “finally stood up to him” recently.
“A week later, he opens fire on everyone,” she wrote.
The school was shot at because a girl said “no” to a boy.
Back in 2015, the Independent compiled a list of stories of women being abused after saying no to the advances of men.
The men in the stories would lock women in walk-in freezers, yell insults out of cars, throw things, all because a woman, often a stranger, rejected them.
When writing this, I googled “men kill women for”. I didn’t need to finish that sentence, it was already there.
To be honest, all of those results are disturbing as hell. But, still, rejection killings are everywhere.
I am aware that, even though this is a gender issue, the opposite can happen to. A woman might still kill a man for rejecting her. It’s just not as common.
Out of the top six results, only two are actually stories about women killing men for rejecting her.
It’s not fair that a woman can’t say no to a man without fearing for her life. What kind of world is that.
I can’t spend a night in town without something happening. I have my defenses of course. I have a backstory for a fake boyfriend, because sometimes the only time a guy will leave me alone is if I tell him I’m unavailable.
I hope by the time I have kids that, if I’m lucky enough to have a daughter, that the world will be safer for her than it is right now.