Two days ago, my sister and I accompanied our mother to a doctor appointment. For context, I’m 21, I hate that I have to specify but I was wearing shorts and a tank top. We were already a bit late, mom wasn’t feeling great so she was a bit slower than usual, and we were holding her arms for support. We were out for a solid 10 minutes when a guy (probably in his late 30s-40) slowed his car next to us and praised us for taking care of her. He clearly wanted to start a conversation, and she is always really nice to people so she replied politely. The guy’s first red flag comment was: “when can I marry your daughter”, looking down at my uncovered legs. We just walked, and instead of dropping the subject, he actually parked his car nearby and approached us. He positioned himself in front of us, (maybe not so) subtely blocking the path. He only adressed my mom, asked where the family was from (mom side’s from Algeria, as he guessed). My sister and I let the conversation between them go for a minute or two before reminding my mom that we had to speed up (I’ll spare you the misoginistic view he shared about women “back home”, who should always tell their husbands where they are going, and if my mom still had a husband… stuff like that). Last thing he says to my mom when we press her to go: “yeah, okay, call me up when you want me to marry her”, looking down at my body like it was his, with a fucking disgusting laugh. My mom didn’t really understand, so she just smiled. I frowned and told him a simple “no”. He still smiled. We walked away. She was completely oblivious to the behaviour of this stranger, and actually thought he was quite nice, and I am worried because she gave him our last name. My sister was cursing under her breath, and when we got further away from the guy, she started ranting about how she wanted to insult him to his face because of the way he looked at me, etc. She gets angry easily, but to be honest, she never makes a fuss in front of the people she talks about. I’m guessing she’s nervous or scared to do so, just like me.

I felt so powerless because I didn’t really stood up for myself ; I felt angry. I shut down in silence and it took a few hours for me to calm down. I’m angry at my mom, for being too easily trustful in complete strangers, and mostly at this fucking asshole who just so clearly wanted to bargain for me with her like I am some fucking object for his use. I hate it. I hate him. I curse him for being so comfortable in women’s oppression. I’m not a fucking piece of meat you gawk on, I wear shorts and tank tops because it’s fucking hot outside. And I shouldn’t have to explain myself. I shouldn’t have to cover up because disguting people that are fucking twice older than me enjoy making me uneased by their gaze. I’m angry. And I wanted to share this encounter so that, if you recognize yourself in these words, you can feel seen and heard and understood, like I want to feel seen and heard and understood.

You’re never alone, sister, and hopefully, this will happen less and less until it never happens again. We may take small steps towards change, but we take steps nonetheless.