The following happened during a fun night on the town when me and my girls hit H street to see Epic Win Burlesque. It's burlesque so it's all sexy and fun, but then it's nerdy burlesque so it doesn't make us seem too cool--though there is never much danger of that.
You're probably wondering what makes something nerdy burlesque. Basically the costumes the ladies wear (and then remove) are pop culture/fantasy/sci-fi/video-game themed. So I am delighted to tell you that I have seen Seven of Nine, Lara Croft, the Joker, and a Honey Badger remove their clothing in a sexy manner. One lady also came out dressed as Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King's IT, but please believe me when I tell you it was very much on the scary spectrum rather than sexy.
After the show we wandered down to Dangerously Delicious Pies because 1) that's what you do on H street in DC and 2) watching ladies take off their clothes makes my friends want pie. Rachel and I decided to wait outside the shop since we had already had our pie and we didn't want to wait in the long line.
(enter drunk college assholes, stage left).
Drunk College Asshole 1: OMG, I am so drunk and I want pie.
Drunk College Assholes 2 and 3: YEAH PIE DUDE I LOVE PIE!
Drunk College Asshole 1: Hey, look! There's a giant bell over next to where that ginger girl is harmlessly texting and chatting to her friend!
(Drunk College Asshole 1 staggers over to the bell and begins ringing it loudly, and then manages to elbow ginger girl (me) in the head)
Drunk College Asshole 1: Oh, sorry the bell is so loud!
Rachel: I think it was less the bell ringing and more the fact that you ELBOWED HER IN THE HEAD.
Drunk College Asshole 1: Oh, I'm sorry!
(Drunk College Assholes 2 and 3 see the commotion and teeter on over)
Drunk College Asshole 2: You hit her in the head, you should say you're sorry!
Drunk College Asshole 3: Give her a kiss to say you are sorry!
(Drunk College Asshole 1 moves to take Me's arm...and I don't know, try to kiss me? Pat me? Whatever. At this point Me remembers reading a most excellent blog post from years ago by Sarah Bunting about how women are trained to keep quiet and not raise a fuss, which usually works against them in situations where men feel they can paw/grope/assault/rape and otherwise take advantage of them. So Me decides in that second that NO WAY IN HELL is something like that happening in this circumstance. BTW, isn't it amazing how much information your brain can process in less than a second?)
Me: Do. Not. Touch. Me.
Drunk College Asshole 1: I just wanted to say that I was sor...
Me: GET AWAY FROM ME.
Drunk College Asshole 2 and 3: We just....
Me: GET AWAY FROM ME NOW.
(Drunk College Assholes run away down the street, the pie forgotten).
I think I did pretty well with no exaggerating that exchange there, though Rachel will have to be the objective judge.
Now let's be clear: I wasn't afraid these guys were going to actively hurt me. We were standing on a crowded street with lots of people walking by and my friends standing about 5 feet away. And they were clearly just drunken college assholes who were in command of maybe 33% of their mental facilities. But you know what? These guys did not have the right to hit me in the head, try to grab my arm, or otherwise hassle me and my friend. And sometimes you need to just speak up. People who know me would probably say that I never had trouble speaking up, but I think it's true that most of the time people (and by people I mean women and by women I mean me) don't want to make a fuss or a scene. Nothing was probably going to happen and the probably would have just wandered away on their own after a few more awkward attempts at conversation.
But that doesn't really matter. Because I don't need to put up with that and neither do you. Don't ever be afraid to speak up.