Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Signs of my beloved Autumn and the beautiful Tennessee season.
The best apples to use when making candied treats for Halloween.
Slightly provocative and absolutely carefree—how I always feel when wearing red.
My favorite color to wear on my lips—MAC Russian Red, to be exact.
The cloak that conceals my favorite fairy tale character’s brave little face.
Dreams of the perfect crimson shoes that I have yet to find.
Strands of my mother’s fiery hair while she works on her garden and the rays of the country sun setting after.
The current blush of my face, I just stumbled out of bed after tossing and turning all night—bewildered and exasperated.
A sign of the building resentment in my tired green eyes.
RED—my blood is boiling.
RED—the only color that I can see.

It means STOP.
Not go, damn it.
Why is it than when a woman says, ”STOP” some men have a tendency to GO?
For instance, last night my friend was in a taxi on her way to meet me for shisha at Villa 55, perhaps one of our favorite afternoon places in Maadi, Cairo. While on her way to the restaurant she noticed that the taxi driver kept looking back at her legs, even though her modest skirt came down to her knees. When giving the driver directions of how to reach the restaurant the driver commented on how good her Arabic was and proceeded to reach back and rub her legs. My friend quickly pushed his hand away and he grabbed onto it while she was resisting and forced his way onto her legs again. She yelled “NO” and “STOP” but he kept driving the taxi until she opened the side of the door and began to drag her feet on the ground until he came to a complete stop.

Is this necessary, to have to throw oneself out of moving vehicle to feel safe and secure? My initial thought would be no. I’m not trying to generalize. Not every taxi driver in Egypt is like this and a majority of men in the world would not behave this way, although occurrences like this happen all over the globe at every moment of every day.

I can’t help but think of the several instances when I was back in Knoxville working at FIZZ in Market Square. A slightly deluded and deranged man would often come into the boutique to browse around drunkenly, possibly buy a few things, and stare at me with immense interest. He began to frequent the store more often and I would have to dash to the back of the store and the manager would have to appear so he would leave without bothering any customers or me. It got to the point where we had to buy a bell to keep at the front of the store to ring in case the man came in (often times my co-workers and I would forget about the symbolic importance of the bell and would sometimes make up little tunes to play if no one was in the store, then whoever was in the back would race to the front to make sure that the creeper wasn’t doing something outrageous…which he did on a few occasions). He even decided to give me the nickname “Little Red Riding Hood”.
Finally, it got to the point where I was being stalked. One day I was opening the store for an hour by myself and the man came in. Like a wolf he cornered me behind the desk of the store and I could not get to a phone or away from him. He tried to touch my red hair that he was so fond of but I couldn’t hide my face from him. At this point I backed away and said, “No, stop please.” Then he began muttering about guns and how I should protect myself. He asked if I liked guns and I felt my knees buckle beneath me. I prayed for a cloak of protection. I begged God for him to leave. ***My closest friends and family have always been concerned about my lack of the “sixth sense” that most women possess. At this moment ALL of my senses were raging and I felt like someone was stabbing me in the stomach, making my inside writhe with the strangest pain. I felt so trapped and confined—which is my biggest fear, to not be able to move or go when I want.*** Two women walked into the store and at that moment I swore they were angels. Then, like the evanescence of a dream, the man left after a few terrifying seconds. I miraculously pulled myself together and managed to walk out from behind the counter to call the police.

I’ve heard so many stories of small assaults such as this and know that my own loved ones (my beautiful and strong sorority sisters, amazing church  and family members, and unforgettable mentors) have experienced such injustices. One should note that women are not the only ones who receive this type of treatment! My best gay friend has also been the subject of harassment and unwanted contact.

Cairo has reminded me on a daily basis of why I have come here. Fortunately, it’s not to the point where I’ve had to get one of these bad boys but they are a rather interesting invention. Who's afraid of the big bad wolf now!? Rape Axe: Take Back the Power
I’ve had to behave a bit differently and have had to wrap myself in a sort of meekness that I am definitely not used to but you can bet your bottom dollar that my cloak is not a boring and dull, old thing. It’s effervescent, full of life, and most importantly…RED.

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