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In Which I Am Brave

classic fishie
I was waiting for my bus up to Ye Olde Transit Centre early this morning, and I noticed a young couple scuffling outside the Youth Employment Centre near my bus stop. They were older teenagers - the boy was 17 or 18, and the girl looked to be about 16. She was crying and yelling something at the boy, and suddenly they started pushing and shoving.

She took a swing and he grabbed her hand (he was easily 6' and she must have been 5'2 and about 100lbs) and he threw her up against the building and grabbed her throat. I was alone at the stop and reacted instinctively: I pushed my way between them and told the boy to back off. Predictably he started screaming at me to "stay out of his business" but I ignored him and worked on leading the girl away. She kept sobbing in apology, and flinched when the boy tried to grab her hand. The boy kept yelling at me to "stay out of it" and I told him that he if was going to assault his girlfriend on a public street than it damn well was my business, and that if he didn't back off and move away I was going to call the police.

He pushed into my space and drew back like he was going to swing at me. "I was trying to defend myself!" he yelled, and I rolled my eyes and said, "Sure. You're twice her size, you asshole. And now you look like you're going to hit me. Get control of yourself."

He muttered, "Fucking feminist bitch!" and moved away up the street. The Youth Centre was locked so I waited with the girl (who kept apologizing the whole time) and hoped that the guy would just drop it. He didn't, of course - he came back a few minutes later and told me, "I don't hit girls." I ignored him and kept talking to the girl, telling her that no one has the right to manhandle her like that. By this time there were more people at the stop and they were starting to notice that something was wrong. The guy grabbed for the girl again and twisted her around to say, "I don't want people like her" (meaning me) "to think that I'm some kind of jerk. I don't want to hurt you!" The girl kept crying and my bus arrived; I coaxed her onboard with me and we rode about ten stops together until she'd calmed down enough to get off and find her way home. I gave her bus fare and tried to listen to her explanation of the fight but she was pretty upset, and my heart was still racing from the adrenaline. I watched her get off and I really hope she gets out of whatever relationship she's in with the guy. I think she really did feel like it was her fault, like she'd provoked him or something. I kept telling her that, no, there was no excuse for his reaction. And that she didn't have to take that shit from anyone. Nothing is worth being in a relationship with someone who uses violence to intimdate you.

I've never gotten involved physically in a confrontation like that, but I kept thinking about that solidarity pledge that went around a little while ago in the wake of that asinine "boob grab" program that asshole suggested be instituted at a con. The idea behind the pledge was that, when you see a woman in a dangerous or threatening situation, you do not look the other way. You do not hope that she can handle herself. You do not wait for other people to intervene. You speak up, and you do what you can do diffuse the situation and help protect the other woman's basic rights. I'm glad I stepped in: it was pretty clear if the guy was ready to put this tiny woman in a choke-hold on a public street and throw her up against a wall, he would have done much, much worse until someone intervened. I'm not physically imposing (I'm only about 5'4" and a 160lbs - not exactly a powerhouse) but I was damn well ready to take a punch if it meant that he would learn that there are consequences to trying to dominate and intimidate women, and that people are ready and willing to step and intervene.

I was a little stunned by how quickly his anger towards me for calling him on what he was doing became anger about "feminism” - as if suggesting it's not right to assault people is some kind of extreme political ideology. Not that feminism is extreme, of course - just that he would make that connection so quickly in the midst of all his adrenaline and anger and shock at being told, "No. You do not get to do this." His instinctive reaction was anger towards women's collective fight for independence and recognition. It sort of boggles my mind.

Anyway. I'm a little shaky, but it felt good to step in. I can't imagine how awful I'd feel if I'd just turned away and gotten on the bus. There are issues of personal safety to consider, yes, but if I can't stand up to some 17-year-old guy who's just learning about his own position of power, when will I be able to speak up?

Comments

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eledhwenlin
May. 23rd, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
*hugs* You are, indeed, very brave.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
I was also very scared. Yikes. *hugs back*
__marcelo
May. 23rd, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
Well done! You are my hero.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks, kiddo. But I think most people would have done the same - in fact, I think by stepping in I took the pressure off other people not to act, which is a little disturbing.
luzula
May. 23rd, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
Go you!!! That was awesome of you, and I hope I'd have done the same thing.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
I think you would have, L! It was scary; it only occured to me later that he could have had a knife or a gun. But I'm still glad I did something.
jadelennox
May. 23rd, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
good for you! I hope that being interfered with like that makes the boy think -- you never know, it just might sink in. I don't know if that was the smart thing to do, or the safe thing to do, but I'm glad you are okay, and I'm glad you helped. Jesus, good for you.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm really, really hoping that by saying something I made him twig to the fact that his reaction was extreme and innapropriate. It might not have been particularly smart or safe, you're right, but I'm glad I helped, too. *hugs you*
akite
May. 23rd, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Go, Nos! I wish everyone was this brave, including me.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC)
Ha, I'm sure you're very brave. You don't know untily you're in that situation, right? I wasn't sure how I'd react until I was in that moment, and I surprised myself. I think you would too.
jamethiel_bane
May. 23rd, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
YOU ARE AWESOME.

Seriously. Good for you!
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 04:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks! You are also of the awesome! I'm just reading about your mall adventures right now. When I come visit you in Australia we will go on a search for good coffee and you will lead me around the wilds of Mall Territory.
catwalksalone
May. 23rd, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
*hugs* That was very courageous and exactly what I'd expect from you. I hope that once he's had time to calm down that the young man is able to think about his behaviour and to stop himself from repeating it. \nos/

But also? Tiny though the girl may have been, she does not get to take a swing at him. His reaction was entirely inappropriate, yes, but she doesn't get to physically smack him because she's just a small girl and he's a big guy so it's OK. It's not.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm totally with you - it was wrong for her to take a swing. He'd been pushing her and it looked like a defensive blow (and a weak one at that) but she definitely didn't have the right to try to punch him. But I was disturbed by the way he thought that justified his own violent reaction: simple physics should suggest to him that maybe he didn't need to toss her around like a rag-doll to defend himself. These things get complicated quickly, but yeah, I do hope he won't repeat that kind of behavior. And hopefully she'll learn to cut her losses and walk away.
meresy
May. 23rd, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
Good on ya. *hugs* That's scary. I'm glad he didn't actually get violent with you -- you took a big risk getting between them. I hope she got home okay. =/
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I thought later, "Um, what if he had a gun or a knife?" But I didn't think he'd even listen unless I got between them and made him step back. I hope she got home okay, too. Poor kid.
(no subject) - meresy - May. 23rd, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
sageness
May. 23rd, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
Holy crap.

And wow, I am entirely impressed with how you handled this. And I LOVE the transfer of fandom's By Women (mostly), For Women (mostly), Pro Women attitude onto real life.

I'm so glad she went with you. (Also, what is up with guys grabbing girls by the throat? *shudders* *squashes flashback*)

*hugs you*

~\n/~ <--- rockstar AND a superhero! ♥

nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 04:33 pm (UTC)
YES! The pro-woman attitude of fandom (yay solidarity!) really gave me that extra push to step in. And yes, why the throat? That's so scary. Ick. *hugs you back*
hyzenthlay26
May. 23rd, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC)
GO YOU! You're courageous and decent for stepping in, something more people should do and sadly don't, when they're witness to this sort of scenario.

I too am wierded out by his quick flight to "feminism". I mean what the hell does that have to do with bullying and beating up on another person? That his brain would go there in the heat of the moment is very telling and almost for sure indicates he's repeating learned behaviour patterns. Creepy. Additionally worrying is that she's internally taking the blame. Been there. Bad cycle.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I saw a lot of public incidents of domestic violence was a kid, and people DO NOT get involved until it gets really, really ugly. I don't know why people let it get to that point.

And wow, yes, he really was repeating learned behavior patterns. That was the most disturbing thing: I did expect him to yell and swear but the attack on "feminism" was really shocking. I hope the girl gets out of that relationship quick: you're right, it's a bad, bad cycle.
aerye
May. 23rd, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
You are marvelous.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
*tips Stetson* Just doin' my job, m'am :-)
ubixtiz
May. 23rd, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
That is brave. I'm glad there are people like you around.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:03 pm (UTC)
I sort of have to believe there are a lot of people out there who would step in. I wouldn't want to live in a world where there wasn't, y'know?
(no subject) - ubixtiz - May. 23rd, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
lamentables
May. 23rd, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
You are brave. I'm proud of you.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks, L. *smishes you*
wihluta
May. 23rd, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
WOW! You are definitely my hero of the day.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
*wears hero hat with pride* I do think a lot of other people would have stepped in if it had escalated beyond shoving and pushing. It's just...the question becomes what it DOES take for a stranger to interfere.
(no subject) - wihluta - May. 23rd, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
sam80853
May. 23rd, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
You did good ::hugs::. Just reading this makes me proud, proud of you and of people like you. More people, including me, should have the courage to speak up like you did.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
I think you would have stepped in, Sam. You're in a pretty rough n' tumble part of the world right now, and I think you're a very strong person. You would have said something too.
hurry_sundown
May. 23rd, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
I think a lot of the trouble in the world today comes from people not standing up for one another. Good on you, Nos. *hugs you*
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I agree. And it's just such a little thing, stepping up and saying, "Nope, not cool." Much easier than living with yourself if you don't speak up, I think.

*hugs you back*
sansets
May. 23rd, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)
Can I just say that I feel pretty proud to know you at the moment? You did what I don't know that I'd ever have the courage to do and that makes you AMAZING! \0/
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
I think you would definitely have had the courage! And really, the guy was a kid. A big kid, but still a kid. And he was scary and angry but I made a conscious choice not to be intimidated by him. I think you could have and would have done the same, because you're pretty amazing yourself.
ruthless1
May. 23rd, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
Oh my gosh Nos - I am SO proud of you. On so many different levels too. Wow. You make the world a better place!
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
This is what I do on my days off from porn :-)
sdwolfpup
May. 23rd, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
You are awesome.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
*hugs you*
marag
May. 23rd, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
::hugs you fiercely:: And *this* is why we love you :)

Go you! On behalf of mothers of girls everywhere, thank you thank you thank you.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
Awww, thanks! And y'know, as I get older I keep giving more and more thought to that question, "How do you raise a daughter in this world?" I think the act of having a child and raising her to be strong and free-thinking and independant and not afraid must be the hardest job in the world. I'm reading Carol Shields' "Unless" and it's pretty profound on its take on mother/daughter relationships and how difficult it is to exist in a world where you're not given the same value. (Not that this is news to you, or to anyone here, really. But still. It's tought stuff, and I think you are very, very brave).
andeincascade
May. 23rd, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
Just when I thought I couldn't admire you more! Seriously, Nos, this took a lot of guts and you were so clearheaded throughout. You're a shining star in the universe, babe.

:::loves on you:::
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC)
*loves you back* Watch out, 17-year olds! Nos is on the case!
brigantine
May. 23rd, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)

*\o/*



I am so very, very proud of you!!! *dances the Proud of Nos dance*



nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC)
Hee! I like that dance! It's got a good rhythm!

And you would have done the same, Brig.
ignazwisdom
May. 23rd, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
You are my hero. :)
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
Heee, thanks :-) You are also my hero, so that works out nicely.
byzantium_dei
May. 23rd, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
go you! you're much braver than I would be. I probably would've run or tried to flag down a man to intervene. nice to know the streets are safer with you walking. SUPER HERO.
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
Crazily, looking for a guy to help out didn't occur to me at the time, and upon reflection I think that would have been a bad move. Had scarfe been there, he also would have intervened, but things might have gotten more violent since the guy probably would have been willing to hit another man, even a big guy like scarfe. And if the girl was apologizing for her boyfriend to me, I can only imagine how she'd feel if another guy intervened and tried to rescue her.

All these weird power dynamics get tangled up in a situation like that, and I just wish there would have been more people around to help out and subdue the guy if it became necessary.
darthhellokitty
May. 23rd, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
Wow, you ROCK! That's so wonderful of you! And Jerk-boy is young enough that his brain isn't set in stone yet, and maybe he learned a little something while standing around, mortified, watching the bus leave. XD

"I don't want people like her" (meaning me) "to think that I'm some kind of jerk.

The best way to prevent people from thinking you're a jerk is to NOT ACT LIKE A JERK. So simple, and yet so hard for people to comprehend.

So - you learned you can do nervy things when inspired, boy learned that actions have consequences, girl learned that there are people out there on her side and that it ISN'T normal for a boy to treat you that way, and we (and the others at the bus stop) learned that if you can do it, we can too! Go you!
nos4a2no9
May. 23rd, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
I really, really hope something clicks within him and he learns not to throw women around. *crosses fingers*

The best way to prevent people from thinking you're a jerk is to NOT ACT LIKE A JERK.

Heeee! Yes! That's exactly what I wanted to say to him. Moron.

And we did all learn valuable lessons, indeed!
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