Today was a rainy day and I was doing a big grocery shopping expedition. While in line to pay, the middle aged man and woman behind me offered me their four dollar off groceries coupon in line. They said they didn’t buy enough for it to apply, and I should use it.

I thanked them, and walked out of the grocery store flying high.

Out in the parking lot, I’m loading about 10 bags into my car and as I’m putting my head into the backseat to get the groceries in, the thought crosses through my mind that someone could easily push me in from behind- grab my keys and drive away with me in those kidnapping schemes you hear about occasionally. I am proud that this doesn’t really phase me, it’s just a blip in my mind while I’m getting the work done.

When I finish loading up the car, I get into the drivers seat and then turn my head as I hear a car honk from the parking space across from me. In it, a middle aged man is smiling at me, and I automatically smile back. It’s a good day. And then I see him mouthing something- so I look closer.

“You’re Beautiful” I finally realize he is mouthing. I automatically look away, the smile disappears, and I put the car into drive. The honk comes again, and I glance over just to make sure I’m not missing anything. He now has his phone up in the air, and is miming typing a number and trying to get me to roll my window down.

I drive away.


As I’m driving away I think about what happened, and then remember that thought I had while putting my head into the backseat to get the groceries in.


It’s that difference in mindset that separates those raised men from those raised as women in society. It’s not like I’m constantly thinking about people snatching me- but the thought is always in my mind. Why is this you say? Because of all the shit we hear about happening in the world around us, stories we hear from friends, and own personal experiences like this creep today.

And the most fucked up part of it all is he looked like someone’s nice family member. If he hadn’t honked, I might have glanced across at him in his car and thought what a beautiful world it is- him included. But instead I’m writing a blog post rant about how unempowered I feel in public spaces because of peoples’ eyes on my body. My body that is specifically cultivated to look less feminine, to gather less of the stares (the baggy clothes, the short hair). And yet it persists. Fuck all men who honk at women.



A lot of women know what I’m talking about, but some other women I have talked to about these kinds of experiences have said that they don’t ever get the kind of shit like this. And I wonder- is it the fact that I look poor because I’m loading groceries in my old beaten up car with the coat hangers holding the bumper on? Or do I look alternative and hippie-ish so that they take the liberty of thinking I’m down for everything? I mean, I still get this shit when I am wearing my work clothes and walking down the street in my own neighborhood, so I don’t think it’s any of the above. I specifically give off a queer vibe to show that I’m not really interested in putting up with this. Maybe they are just wanting to fuck with the feminist? Who the fuck knows. It’s most likely because I look young.

But it does make me insecure. I know this is a thing that happens universally to women — but when I hear other women say they don’t experience this I’m like, why me? It feels like I’m doing something wrong- when really I’m just loading my groceries into my car LIKE EVERY FUCKING OTHER PERSON ON THE PLANET.

You say I should be more trusting and less scared of people? Yeah, I’ll start doing that when middle aged men stop gawking at my ass while I’m loading groceries and then having the gall to insist for my attention.

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© Copyright 2018 Annie Windholz

midwestern librarian, writer, activist. subscribe —

midwestern librarian, writer, activist. subscribe —