sometimes / by mrm

I do hate men, unequivocally, as a group. Only for a brief flash of time. But the feeling is real.

Sitting on the bus alone, reading, after midnight. As my section clears out, a man gets up from his seat, several away from me, to sit directly across from me. These things are deliberate. I don't look up. He says something I don't hear and I ignore him. He says "I like your shrimp pin. Is it a shrimp?" He's leaning in. He's not crazy or even particularly drunk, at least as far as I can tell. "No." I say. "Is it a cockatoo?" I don't say anything. "Nice neighborhood," he says as we pass through the Tenderloin. Meanwhile, I think to myself, I could move to another seat. He might follow me. What if he follows me off the bus? What then? I have pepper spray. He's bigger than me. He gets off the bus before me.

The wash of anger I felt then. This never happens if you're with a man. It almost never happens, and never in the same way, if you're with another woman. No. It is preying upon your aloneness. I thought, I could have said to him "Women don't like this." But it is the fear: keep still, keep silent, don't provoke them. This is what you are told, and told again, and told again. Don't provoke them. My existence as a woman alone provokes them. It has nothing to do with me.

The feeling flares up, despite everything. Despite the unfairness of it. It goes away quickly. But I feel it.