Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Feminine instincts and personal safety

Yesterday, I was in a café with a friend, standing in line. After she got her order, I moved away from the line and a male staff member bump into me from behind.

Instead of just apologizing, he grabbed me from behind, firmly holding my waist with his arm. He maintained his hold of me for two or three seconds, and said something like "Shall we dance?"

As the place was noisy, I had not seen or heard him coming, and was completely caught by surprise. He was holding me and speaking to me from behind, and I couldn't even see his face.

When he let go of me, I caught up with my friend. I told her what had just happened. I was angry, but more than anything else, I was really upset, as the incident has triggered old fears and feelings of inadequacy.

I wish I had had the instinct to defend myself, to push him away, to yell at him, to claw his eyes out. But I did not do any of those things. I didn't even say anything, not even a hushed complain.

Of course, I fell incredibly outraged and angry at this asshole. But I can't help to feel angrier at myself, for being so inadequate and useless in defending myself. I also feel sad that I can't do what I preach, what I have learned and what I believe is the right thing to do.

I couldn't apply the basic rules I've learned: attack his eyes, pull his hair, kick his groin... It didn't even cross my mind. I was paralyzed by surprise and fear.

It wasn't an attack per se, although this guy didn't have the right to touch me - let alone seize me - like that without my consent. (Assault simpliciter, anyone?) Maybe the guy acted in good faith, or without thinking - which, while it clears him of being a predator, doesn't change anything to his being a complete idiot. It happened in a public place, and I guess that another person might have reacted differently than I did.

My point is just that, had this been a full-fledged attack, I'm not sure I would have been able to adequately defend myself.


April Reign (aka Debra) said...

There is a completely different thought process when you are in the midst. It is almost like your mind and body go into a slow WTF? and paralyse you.

Have you thought of phoning and speaking to a supervisor? That was completely inappropriate conduct.

I'm sorry that happened to you. :(

Anonymous said...

I support reporting the guy and getting him in trouble - what he did, that's not appropriate at all! However I don't think your idea of "attacking his eyes, pulling his hair, kicking him in the groin" is a very good idea, unless you're OK with some assault charges. He should definitely get in trouble for that lameness, but resorting to painful violence isn't going to be in your best interest unless you are literally getting physically assaulted in a manner where fighting back is truly neccesary.

Oni Baba said...

Just to clarify, I was not advocating the use of violence as a response to an assault. I was just referring to common self-defence techniques that are taught to women.