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By Tammy Sutherns

He is standing too close, staring at me, his eyes burning holes into my head. I’m embarrassed and trying to pretend I don’t notice, shuffling a little away from him as nonchalantly as I can manage. I don’t want to be rude or overreact just because he is a he and I am a she. The crude words form on his tongue, delivering themselves into the air. They are met with cackles, the humour appreciated in such an awkward, close situation. It is not appreciated by me as my face grows hot. I shift uncomfortably from foot to foot. “Lighten up chick,” someone says. “Shame, she’s shy,” someone else says. I want to look directly into someone’s eyes, so they see the anger and the fear the wells up inside of me. I want to lash out, to roar at them that it is not OK to make me feel this way. It is especially not OK to make me feel this way because I am a woman. A polite woman. A woman who just wishes to mind her own business. A woman with things to do and errands to run. Instead I stare at my toes, wishing the world will swallow me up. I can feel his breath on my ear, he is standing so close. If I was a man, I would be able to stare him down, stop him, be rude even. But I am just a woman.

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