How To Be A Slut

photo cred: http://gathua.wordpress.com
photo cred: http://gathua.wordpress.com

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Have an awesome night out with your friend and old roommate, Leah, at the opening of a new tattoo parlour in Toronto. Meet a dozen lovely, open people. Have easy conversations about their terror of turning 30, their dreams of being a writer in Paris, their fathers who are electricians. Free wine flows generously; imbibe liberally.

Go back to Leah’s for some much needed pizza, watching The Simpsons, and a reunion with Oliver, the black cat. Walk to St. Clair West at 1:00 am, still feeling warm from the simple pleasure of meeting new people and sharing some wine. Realize you just missed the streetcar and start heading east; keep moving to stave off the cold.

After walking a few blocks, notice two very large men sauntering towards you and swinging takeout bags. Think, “oh shit” despairingly as your hands turn clammy and your stomach drops, and see that it’s too late to cross the street without drawing more attention to yourself. Immediately start gauging the distance left before you have to walk by them – the gap is closing fast. Subtly scan the area for signs of other people, in case you need to run, to scream, to fight.

They start to pass by you, these two men in dark clothes with beards who are easily 250 pounds each. There’s no way to predict whether a man will pass you by without saying a word, or turn to corner you against the darkened storefront glass. It’s a gamble, every single time.

You try to keep your steps measured, determined. To falter is to invite a reaction. You stare straight ahead, draw your shoulders inward and your purse closer towards your side. Maybe this visceral spasm of fear in your heart, this surge of raw adrenaline, will result in just another false alarm.

Not tonight. The men whistle admiringly as you walk past. They stop and turn towards you, their arms outstretched and welcoming. It’s just a friendly question, after all:

“Where’s the party tonight? You like to party?”

Say nothing. Keep walking.

Their attention immediately turns malicious. They are filled with bitter resentment that you have ignored their lovely invitation. One sneers, “Oh, so you’re a snob. Would you look at this snob?”

They spit out a stream of invective at your receding back. “You’re a fucking slut. Walking right by. You hear me? You’re a slut. Fuck. You.”

Don’t turn back, don’t slow down. Walk away as the men continue swearing at you, screaming “slut” and “fucking bitch” until you are out of hearing range. They don’t follow you out of rage – this time. They will continue on home without needing to turn back to check the street every few minutes. They will forget about the incident in moments, their attention shifting easily to the more immediately rewarding bags of takeout.

Finally dare to exhale the breath you’ve been holding clenched in your lungs all this time, tight like a fist.

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5 thoughts on “How To Be A Slut

  1. Oh my heart goes out to you. This is all too goddamn familiar. I actually wrote about my experiences with street harrassment and catcalls in Toronto last week. I wish there was a way for these men to have to walk in our shoes and experience that surge of fear and adrenaline that their thoughtless harrassment and aggression causes. Ugh. I’m sorry you had to deal with that after a lovely night out.

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    1. Thank you for your comments. The sad thing is, so many women have been in these types of situations. The more we spread the word about stories like yours and mine, the sooner we can end street harassment. –

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  2. This is not a slut moment, my friend – it is a selfish moment.

    There is a harassment that this woman goes through and then there is also the social harassment that those two men are going through – they are lonely. Let us solve problems by identifying the root. Their problem has become yours…their loneliness has forced them to beg for your company and cry for your help. You didn’t care for their despair, did you? You didn’t reach out and try to introduce them to two 200 pound girl friends of yours (or someone their type) did you?

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    1. Amy is much classier than I am. “Realist Existentialist” (delusions of grandeur much?), I can only assume one of two things: 1) you’re a just troll (in which case, get a life you absolutely pathetic loser) or 2) you genuinely believe what you’re writing. If it’s the second, how terrifying that our society failed you so horribly, and left you so wildly ignorant. I have no idea how you’re living life now, but let me tell you, you’re missing out. Read intelligent books by accredited authors. Read multiple, credible award-winning news sources. Meet new people. Make a change. Because right now, you are dumb as fuck.

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