Ruby discusses whether the pandemic has increased sexual harassment and unwanted flirtations. She takes us through her funny but distressing personal experience of having an increased amount of male reappearances during lockdown.
There must be some correlation between the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and men invading personal boundaries whilst hiding behind their phone screens. Just as the UK buckled itself down into lockdown, a guy I met travelling two summers prior decided to message me out of the blue, saying ‘I so would have gone for you’ and that I was a ‘beautiful ginger’. Ignoring for a second the verb ‘gone’ and the implications this has for my choice in this imagined past scenario, you have to laugh. To add some context to why this comment is funny; my lasting impression of him was pulling his unconscious body into the bathroom after he had thrown up on himself in the middle of a shared dorm hostel in Vienna. We hadn’t even left for the club at this point. The illusion that this boy would have even had the guts to ‘go for me’ (unpack that as you wish) is laughable – but the point is by sending that message it served him a little ego boost to the expense of my personal boundaries and bewilderment.
I genuinely wonder what guys expect our reactions to be when we read messages like these. Given I last spoke to him two years ago, I am well aware I was probably not the only person to receive such a ‘complimentary’ message from him over lockdown. I also recently had to block from my social media another guy I dated years ago when he commented something suggestive on a social media post of mine. This was AFTER a conversation we had where I made it clear I was cool with being friends, but that he had previously overstepped the line. I also made it clear to him I was in a relationship (because bros don’t want to step on the toes of other bros, right?). The point is that neither of these guys would have said these comments to my face. So, who are they trying to kid? Don’t insult the intelligence of women everywhere by pretending you don’t know we see through this bullshit.
Women are tired of being told what is and what isn’t a compliment. Being told to ‘ignore it’ won’t stop me from physically jumping the next time a man honks at me from his car whilst I’m out running. My friend didn’t blush at the ‘compliment’ of a stranger inviting her and her friend into his van for a threesome. A man who followed my friend whilst repeatedly telling her he liked the colour of her dress, didn’t make her feel a rush of self-confidence.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t flirt or shoot your shot over the internet. I am aware that for many people social media allows a positive build-up of confidence, and this is something that should be celebrated. But next time you put yourself out there, ask yourself is this purely for self-gratification and is it respecting the boundaries of the recipient?
You have to laugh about it, but you can also be angry.
Header image credit: Stephanie Deangelis / @steph_angelis (instagtam) / steph_angeles (society6)