At a big jewellery shop with my husband - just after maghreb. The salesguy - a very well-dressed perfectly respectable-looking man - is all politeness & amiability as he shows us around & tries to get us to buy everything he has on display. Eventually we get tired of it & we tell him we want to look around on our own & we'll let him know.
Am standing there preoccupied with some pendants I really like, sort of leaning over the counter, trying to see them better through the glass when I suddenly notice that salesguy sitting behind the counter - touching himself!I freeze for a second then look around me to find my husband standing with his back to us at the other end of the display counter - presumably looking at something else. Am afraid to turn my face back back so I move about 2 or 3 meters away from the guy & towards my husband's end of the store. And I notice the guy following me. I can see him through the glass & mirrors in the counter & he is still doing it! I panic & stop - not knowing where to look. For a crazy moment I wonder if he's going to do that infront of my husband. Then I tell myself to take a deep breath, that he wouldn't dare, that such people are cowards. And I go to my husband & tell him I want to leave.
As luck would have it he wanted to look at a watch - so he tells me one second & he calls the guy over. I tell him I'll wait for him in the car outside & he says no wait we'll leave together. So I grit my teeth & keep my head down - but the guy is Mr. Respectability again.
Am glad we didn't buy anything from him. Told my husband I didn't like the watch - even though I love Ted Lapidus usually.
Later I wonder why I kept quiet. Why I pretended not to notice. I know if I had been alone in the shop or with my girlfriends we'd have sworn at him & walked out. It's always like this when we girls are out & we have men with us - whether the men are our husbands, relatives, friends, colleagues, bf etc...- & someone is harrassing us -the same reaction - panic & the most important thing becomes that the men who are with us shouldn't notice. Infact it is part of our social conditioning that any woman who causes a fight between men in such circumstances has committed a major faux pax. If we hear of such things we comment about her stupidity, lack of social polish & etiquette etc...but we never ask ourselves why?At least I never asked myself that before. Why is it considered 3aib (disgraceful) for a woman to admit she was being harrassed & ask for protection?Why do we keep silent as if we did something wrong?
It's like when my sister & I are out with my mother & someone harrasses us in some way my mother will tell him off & she might even set the security or the police on him. But if my Dad is there Mom will say be quiet your father will hear & we'll just leave the place. We never tell my father or my brothers these things. Never.
Men rubbing up against you at the coop. Being groped in the dark on the way into or out of the cinema, or the theater, or the club.The waiter who leans in too close & breathes down your neck & stares down your top when your dinner companion has gone to the bathroom & who is instantly all respectability when your (male) companion comes back. And these men who touch or expose themselves at you whenever they think no one else is looking. All of these things have happened in one form or another either to me or to some woman I know. And without exception we all let it pass.
Clearly this man - & others like him - knew I wasn't going to tell my husband what he was doing. He knows there is such a social rule & he was taking advantage of it.
Strange social dynamics. Why do some men have no respect for women & only respect other men?It was really insulting the way he was so respectful when my husband was next to me & then so disrespectful when he thought my husband's back was turned. It's like am not a person & don't deserve respect as a human being in my own right without a man next to me. Is it physical force?Do such men only respect other men because they think men are physically stronger?Do we still live in the jungle where only muscle counts or deserves respect?