The Dangers of Men
I wanted to talk about this incident because I am one of those people that touts how safe Paris is. Seriously I can walk around at 3am by myself, and I have never felt unsafe. I once moved from an apartment at Place de Fetes at 3am in the morning. The night bus from there only went to Montparnasse so I had to walk to Port Royal from Montparnasse. Nothing happened. Another time I had to move from my flat on rue Saint Dominique to my flat on rue Cler. Like 6 trips back and forth, not a soul on the street. I once had a creep follow me home off the night bus but when I saw him following me, I turned around and told him to fuck off, and he walked away. I’m pretty mean in public, and I’m also pretty tough, I will tell a guy off. Paris isn’t New York, but it has hardened me. You need to be tough to live amongst the Parisians.
Once a guy on ligne 4 tried to hump my shoulder on the metro, and I punched him in the dick. Another guy masturbated at me on the RER C and I recorded him and told him his dick was small. I don’t know what it is about Paris but it makes me mean, and it gives me courage to be mean. I even walked through République during the Gilets Jeune protests one night in December. My ex was afraid to go out but I told him he was being an idiot and sure enough, everything was fine.
My point is Paris is safe. I go back to America, and I am scared to walk alone at night, but in Paris, I don’t have that feeling. Color me surprised when after 6 years something finally freaked me out.
I was coming home from doing my laundry. It was about 8pm and it being rue de Passy on the corner of Place de Costa Rica, it is extremely busy. I had my headphones in, which is never a problem. I walk every night around 9 or 10pm to try to get my steps, and always have them in. I walked through my door and entered my building. As I was walking to the stairs I saw a man in the mirrored reflection on the doors. I thought nothing of it because it was after work and people were coming home. I get to the stairs and I walk about 5 steps when I notice him behind me. He starts saying something to me and grabs my laundry bag. I pull out my headphones, tell him no, but he refused to give it back. I thought this must be one of the weirdo crackheads the guy two doors down is always letting in. That guy is constantly trying to help me carry bags so I assumed this was another one of those annoying “I’m so chivalrous let me help the weak woman” situations. He would not accept no for an answer. I tried to understand what he was saying but it was bad French with a Spanish accent.
If you’re a female you too are probably accustomed to this annoying giving in that occurs with men. It’s like we’re conditioned to be nice so we do a lot of stupid things to just get them to leave us alone. This is probably something we need to condition ourselves to stop doing because men take advantage of it and it also puts us in dangerous situations.
We get to the top of stairs, and I’m like ok, thanks, give me my bag, but he refuses. He gestures for me to walk. At this point I’m not scared, I’m just pissed off. We get to the part of the hallway that splits to left or right. Again I grab for my bag but he refuses. It’s only then that I’m like this guy is a fucking weirdo, and I don’t think he knows anyone up here. I decide to get to my door quickly where I can scream for help if need be because my two neighbors on either side would be home.
Finally I get to my door and I’m all ready for fight or flight. Again most women know this situation because we all experience it at some point. He finally gives me my bag, but still he refuses to go. He tells me “fatigue”, and then he tried to offer me a calendar. I tell him no thanks, but he doesn’t let up. I assume this is why he was being so “nice”. I throw 8€ at him, open my door, and quickly slam it behind me without even giving enough space to fit through. He then proceeds to knock on all of the doors on my floor and I hear him talking to one of my neighbors who is coming home. Being Filipino she probably didn’t understand him either.
My landlord lives downstairs (I don’t know why I didn’t knock on their door on the way up), so I quickly tell them what happened. They inform me that someone just knocked on their door and then rang their interphone asking them to buy a calendar. They then told me I should never let anyone in.
The thing is, I am pretty rude with holding open the building’s door. I don’t do it. And sometimes I even push it behind me so it closes faster. I have no idea how or why this guy followed me in, as I said it was 8pm and lots of people come home. They piggyback sometimes so at first I didn’t think anything of it.
I got really lucky that nothing happened to me, but it freaked me out. He was in all black; baseball hat, shirt, bag, shoes, and it didn’t click to me that maybe he was a weirdo. This is Paris everyone dresses in head to toe black. As I said my annoying pot head neighbor a few doors down always has guys over, sometimes they’re just standing in the hall when I get home, and I just assumed it was one of his friends.
Just be careful. And I guess just be rude and slam the door on people’s faces because being nice can get you in trouble. The calendar’s were for some pet charity that looked like they had been stolen and like he was selling them for money. I doubt any charity would advocate people soliciting like that. 6 years and I finally got my scary moment.