July 18, 2019
Why I’m No Longer Talking to (Some) Men

From men who shout like crazed monkey on the street, to colleagues with octopuses' hands who like to fat shame, these are men I refuse to talk to.

by Aya Prita Belia
Issues // Politics and Society
Not Cool 14 Thumbnail, Magdalene
Share:

That’s not entirely true, of course. I still like men.

I am a devoted fan of K-pop boybands as evidenced by their posters on my wall. I have a lot of Sebastian Stan’s pictures on my phone, I binge watch Chris Evans’ movies, I have a big crush on someone... I love men. I really-really love men. But there are some men who irritate me to no end. And I guarantee this piece isn’t about my ex or even my ex-crushes – or even Taylor Swift’s break-up songs.

There are some men whom I do not want to engage in any conversations with and here are some of them:

Those who treat me like I’m some kind of animal. I was enjoying my morning walk to the office one day, when a man shouted, “Mbak! Where are you going?” I did nothing and the man started to shout like a crazed monkey.

A year ago, a colleague often made inappropriate remarks to me. One day as I was teaching, he kept on peeking through the window until I warned him. He acted as if he did nothing wrong. Thank God, he finally resigned.

Recently I walked to an ATM to top up my virtual wallet, and as I walked back to my office, I ordered a motorcycle taxi from my ride-hailing app. The driver sent me a message through the app, “Is this the beautiful girl with a jacket who was walking to the ATM?”

Mind you, I was wearing a face mask and my Captain Marvel jacket zipped up to my neck.

“Mas, that’s not how you talk to a woman,” I replied curtly, before cancelling the order and choosing another ride-hailing app to go home.

I wear a face mask, a jacket that is zipped up to my neck, and sometimes a cap as an armor when I walk down the street by myself. And, still, I am haunted by the constant fear of being harassed. What’s wrong with these men?

Some men refuse to budge, like when I warned a male colleague of mine who had a habit of touching me, while telling me that my skin sagged like jelly. Or when some women in pretty summer dresses walked past men who the told the ladies they caused them to break their fast before time, I told the men it’s their lust not the women’s dresses were to blame.

There are some men whom I don’t want to talk to because they use religious scriptures as a weapon to harass women or put down women. These same men would argue that women should stick to the rigid traditional roles assigned to their genders, and that we should be married by 24. When I countered them by saying that women can be whoever they want to be, these men would call me an angry feminist or SJW.

There are some men who hate their female bosses because they are bossy. When their female co-workers wanted to move up the career ladder, these same men will never allow them.

Well, these are some of the men I will no longer talk to. I know this world can change, but I don’t have a huge power to change it by myself. I still know a lot of amazing men who help create a safe space for women. It may take a long time to create a world that is safe for all women, but the fact that these men are aboard with us, makes me feel somewhat better.

Aya Prita Belia is a freelance worker with an overflowing bookshelf of literature, pop culture, social science, spiritualism, and a handful of K-Pop albums. Say “hi” to her at ayapritabelia@gmail.com.