BY STEPHANIE MARIA
DISCLAIMER: Everyone in this story is of LEGAL drinking age.
Let me set the scene: It’s Friday night, about a week before the fall semester starts, and I’m at a rooftop bar in Nashville with my friends. I’m drinking Dolly Parton’s signature ranch water and feeling pretty much unstoppable. That’s when I notice that a horde of men who had previously been posted up at the bar have been slowly but surely moving closer to us over the past five minutes. They look like lions who’ve spotted a herd of especially sexy gazelles. One of them locks eyes with me, and I realize with dawning horror that I’m the gazelle.
The flood of emotions that happens next holds an uncanny resemblance to the seven stages of grief. I like to call it, “The Seven Stages of Getting Hit On By A Man When You’re A Lesbian.”
- Shock and Denial
Look, I get it. Unfortunately a group of drunk female 20-somethings dressed in clothing that would have scandalized a pilgrim into an early grave is an obvious target. I’m annoyed but not surprised that we were approached. What does continue to shock me is the persistence of men in the face of complete and utter disinterest.
I become the most boring person on the planet when a man starts hitting on me. I give one word responses. I speak in a monotone voice. My face looks like I’ve been sitting through a three hour lecture about the intricacies of adjustable-rate mortgage securities. Short of getting “I’m not interested in men” tattooed on my forehead, I don’t know how much more obvious I can make it. But they just don’t get the hint! It’s shocking to the point of unbelievability. I start to think that maybe the last ranch water was a mistake, and I must be hallucinating.
- Pain and Guilt
As an ex-Catholic, I’m very good at feeling guilty about things that aren’t my fault.
I start to analyze all the choices I made that led me here, and this is when the internalized misogyny strikes. Maybe my outfit is a little too revealing. Maybe I shouldn’t have entertained the conversation from the start.
- Anger and Bargaining
Thankfully, the second stage doesn’t last very long. Yes, my outfit is cute! But no, that doesn’t mean I’m open to unsolicited comments or propositions. Through my words and actions, I’ve made it incredibly clear that I’m not into it. Who do these men think they are? Why won’t they leave me and my friends alone? I’m suddenly possessed by the righteous fury of every single woman in all of human history who has had to put up with unwanted advances. If I wasn’t 5’2” with the muscle mass of a small dog, I’d be sending people to the hospital on stretchers.
But alas, I am 5’2” with the muscle mass of a small dog (pomeranian maybe). So I stand there with my blank expression and dead eyes, and remember that this is just the reality of being a woman. Even if I manage to slip away from this particular man, there will always be another man waiting in the corner for his turn to score. I’ve straight-up told some of them that I’m a lesbian. The response is always “Are you sure?” or “Have you ever been with a man before?” or, the dreaded “I can change that.”
It’s horribly depressing.
- The Upward Turn
When the night is over and I’m lying on the fold-out couch in the AirBnB, I feel a little bit of peace in the fact that those men wasted most of their night chasing after me and my friends and are probably sleeping alone tonight. Also, even if I were straight, they were absolutely terrible at flirting, so I doubt they pull any women. And I think that’s beautiful.
By the next day, it’s all a hilarious story my friends and I recount to each other over doughnuts. Can you believe those losers? Talk about desperate. Next time we’ll go to the gay bar.
- Acceptance and Hope
Yeah, this is something I’ll have to deal with for a while, and yeah, it sucks. But I’m incredibly grateful for the queer spaces that exist in my life, and I’ve somehow been able to surround myself with people who love and accept me for who I am. These men who will inevitably try and fail to hit on me will do just that: try and fail. And men not getting what they want gives me hope.