It's a tough 'ole world out there for us girls - this is a known fact so I shan't labour it too much, worry not. I just want to share with you an experience I had the other day which had a superb effect on me.
Sunny day, bright and bloody hot, too hot - as an English person, the only middle ground for us between temperatures is the term muggy. It's almost worse than too hot, it's definitely not cold, it's sticky and a vile thing to experience. This day though, it was more than muggy, it was sticky - meaning it was both muggy, sunny and sweaty. An absolute atrocity.
This weather meant that I was more irritable than usual. I was on the phone and I said the words: "Hang on, there's a group of lads approaching." These lads ranged from 30 - 60 and there were around 5 of them - I wasn't scared, I was prepared. I had put on my metaphorical armour and was ready for a sexist battle in which I would reign champion of them all. This was the plan at least.
As they approached closer, a few of them made way for me to pass, with a friendly smile on and I thought, hello, yes, I too am a friendly person, thank you kindly for disputing my prior judgments, good day. I took my metaphorical armour off and once again returned to speaking on the phone. One of the men broke down to one knee, alright Mollie you've only got your helmet on now, what do you do? He says the words, "Will you marry me?" To which I respond with a flattered laugh - because it is funny - swiftly followed by a kind "nooooo." He continues: "You are so beautiful........" I reply thank you and proceed to walk past him. That is a hand on my wrist, fine okay, quite tight actually, ow. He swirls me under his arm like a little 1950's Soldier and his lass would have done, he wraps his arms behind me and sways. All quite innocent really - but my armour wasn't on anymore and I felt vulnerable. I laughed it off and went to walk away again, he told me: "You are very pretty...but I'm not sure about the purple lipstick...doesn't suit you....Oh well, I will dream well tonight." The last sentence annoyed me more than the actual insult. It was said through the teeth of a man trying to be overtly sexual...it bothered me.
The issue with encounters like this, is that to the bystander or the reader, in this case, they seem relatively innocent and quite sweet. I should be flattered, I am told. As the person experiencing the situation, it is quite hard to manage your feelings about it. I walked away laughing but I progressively became angrier. Why did he think it was okay to grab me when I tried to walk away? Was the insult my punishment for not responding in the correct way? Was I too rude? Already sticky from the weather I felt the grip of his hand still on me and that is the touch that has stuck there like a ghost handprint since.
Since that encounter, though - as I've said, it was small and not really a massive issue in the grand scheme of sexism - I have been more conscious of my vulnerability in public. I felt as though maybe I should stay on the phone for the rest of my journey, just in case. These thoughts annoy me, I don't want to be triggered so easily, I don't want to be bothered by these things because I like to see myself as friendly and approachable. I just doesn't sit right with me.
It comes down to this for me, I have personal space - we all do. Your personal space is most definitely different to mine, so was his. My personal space differs depending on the situation and quite honestly even if Mr David Gandy himself had done the same I would have reacted the same way - it was too hot to be touched by anyone. Seriously, maybe just don't grab girls by the wrist if they aren't engaged in your chat - maybe don't see them walking away as an invitation to chase them or make them stay.
Respect personal space, it's an actual thing that exists in this world and has a purpose - making sure people are comfortable with your company and in themselves. Let's keep that a thing.