Last night my friend and I went to a bar. It was great, thanks for asking.
Except for the part where our night was ruined because we refused to let a man buy us a drink.
He approached us just as we were finishing our first beer, a middle-aged, well-dressed businessman.
"Let me buy you girls a drink," he said, gesturing with his wallet. My friend, always polite, was about to accept, but I cut her off.
"No thanks, we're driving."
He pushed on. "How about a coke?" We refused again and he went away. We were relieved, knowing a drink is never just a drink, but comes with the obligation of polite and usually inane conversation.
When I went up to the bar to get another beer, I could feel his eyes on my back.
It's a tiny bar, our local, the Dunedin version of Cheers, where people really do know your name. Outsiders stand out. And if someone is watching you, it doesn't take long to work it out.
I mentioned the situation to the barman, who said refusing a drink and then buying your own sent a clear message, but he'd keep an eye out anyway.
Later, I came back from the bathroom to find my friend looking shaken.
"He came up to me," she said. "Right in my face, like this." She held her palm up to her nose.
"He said you'd lied, that you weren't driving. I told him, we just didn't want to talk to him and to go away."
We again mentioned it to the barman, but the man was about to leave so it seemed the situation would be resolved. However, on the way out, the man stopped at our table.
"You are the f***ing rudest women," he said. He was shaking with rage.
As he walked out the door he stopped and looked back. I gave him the finger. He turned.
"Do you want to hit us?," my friend asked. He stormed outside, paced up and down a few times and then disappeared into the night.
Both of us were unhappy, but we laughed it off, deciding if it came to a fight we could have taken him. However, we realised were now effectively trapped in the bar, as he was probably waiting outside.
Fortunately, a male friend of ours arrived. As we were talking, the man appeared at the window again, leering. Bar staff went to chase him off, but he'd already gone.
Creeped out, we decided to go home. Our friend dropped me to my car, the 10-minute walk deemed too dangerous by myself. I was grateful.
This morning, I am fuming.
I'm furious at being forced into the role of damsel in distress. I am seething that it's 2018, and women are still suffering due to unbridled male entitlement.
We did not owe that man anything, and yet in his eyes, we did. I can't stop thinking about what he would be like in a relationship. Would he feel entitled to tell his wife what clothes to wear? Would he feel entitled to have sex with her whenever he wanted? Would he feel entitled to hit her when she refused?
This is what is meant when we talk about toxic masculinity. Dominant behaviour that threatens women and promotes violence.
The irony was, my friend and I had spent most of the night discussing sexual violence. Our friend had awoken to find her boyfriend having sex with her. Should she go to the police, we wondered? Last night, I'd said no. Today I would say yes. This behaviour needs to stop.
It's not flattering. It's not cute. It's not thrilling. I am not charmed. It's not even a very good story. It's the mundane reality of being a woman. And we are bored of it.
Please just stop. Because we are so tired of having to have this fight.