I shouldn't have to be the one to manage YOUR bad behavior.
Here is how it starts; I get a Facebook friend request.
I see that this person is friends with a couple of people I know so I accept their request.
The first message is relatively tame, “Hi. Do you remember me from high school? You were so sweet in high school. What’s new?” I want to say, “I was sweet in high school, I’m still nice, and I don’t want to be bothered by you.” Instead I say, “Sure. Nice to see you again. I’m happily married, have three great kids and love my work. You?”
Now you are probably asking yourself, “Why does she even respond back?”
And the answer is that I’m a nice person, and I hate to be rude to anybody, ever.
He now responds back with, “I’m all good but you look so pretty.”
“Hey Sweetie, have a great day. How are you today, beautiful?”
If I don't respond, the messages often turn into, “Hey you really aren’t pretty you know that? Who do you think you are, bitch?” or “You always thought you were better than everyone else.” And so on. You get the point.
I block him and tell myself to never accept a friend request again.
Until the next time when I feel bad and want to be nice and think, “Maybe this person is just a nice former classmate who wants to keep up on Facebook.” And some of them really do want to reconnect and be friends and it’s all-good.
But here’s the thing, I’m tired of feeling like it’s my job to make you feel better about harassing me.
I’m tired of feeling like if I don’t smile, I’ll get yelled at (or worse).
I’m tired of pretending to not notice your sexual innuendos and inappropriate flirting. I don’t want to get your creepy private messages on Facebook. I don’t want to pretend that what you are saying isn’t completely sexist and rude.
I don’t want to be pleasant so as not to hurt your feelings when you just reached out to me in a completely inappropriate way.
Here’s what I really don’t want, I don’t want to be rude to you.
I never want to be rude to anyone. I don’t want to have to walk away from you, or block you on Facebook, or tell you that I’m uncomfortable with what you are saying.
I don’t want to do that and I shouldn’t have to.
I should be able to enjoy social media without being harassed. I should be able to go to work or social events without having to listen to your sexist comments.
I don’t want to change into someone who has to manage you. I don’t want to have to set limits on you and your behavior. I want you to do that all on your own.
If you connect with me on social media, it’s safe to assume that we are friends and will never be anything more than that. If I meet you at a networking event, it’s safe to assume that I am there for business and not to hear your sexist jokes or condescending comments about that “girl” in your office. If we are at a social event, I don’t want to hear why Hillary is an ugly bitch or why Trump was just kidding when he made all those sexist comments. I don’t want to hear it and I shouldn’t have to.
I don’t flirt with you. I don’t hit on you. I don’t bring up topics that are likely to make you very uncomfortable. I don’t talk about your appearance or the appearance of other men. I don’t tell sexually explicit jokes or stories. I don’t call you honey, sweetie, or boy. I don’t send you creepy messages on social media and I don’t make you work hard to treat me kindly and with respect.
I make it so easy on you to be nice and to be a decent person.
It’s time for you to do the same for all women and me.