Dear prats of Bethlehem,
Over the last six months or so, we have got a little too well-acquainted for my liking. My usual policy is just to ignore you and your tacky gold jewellery and your excessive hair gel fetish when I see you out in the street, but when you start heckling me, following me, and trying to grope me, it gets a little difficult for me to go on ignoring – as the guy who reached out and appraisingly squeezed my backside a few weeks ago will attest. I ditched my pacifism at the roadside, smacked him round the face, dumped the contents of my water bottle over his head, and then pursued him all the way from Shawerma King to Toast-r-Us at a brisk sprint, shouting for the police. Unfortunately it is getting too hot for me to keep putting myself to that sort of trouble, so I am writing you a corrective letter instead.
As you have noticed, I’m foreign. This means that I am slightly different from you culturally. I can’t stomach hummus, for example, and I like to form an orderly queue when I’m waiting for something as opposed to taking part in a cheerful free-for-all. But ‘desire to leap into bed with any male that moves’ is not one of our cultural differences. I don’t know where you have got hold of this idea, but you need to drop it, fast.
You also need to realise that a woman out walking alone is not signalling her availability. She is out for a walk. There are all sorts of reasons for this – enjoying the fresh air, getting some exercise, taking in the breathaking view of our local illegal settlement, visiting friends, generally having a life. Whatever her reason for being out in the street, you aren’t it. Leave her alone.
Not all of you are the gold-chain-and-hair-gel type who chase after girls in the street, but you needn’t think that you are exonerated just because you have better taste in dress and your preferred method of harassment is more subtle. You are just as bad in your own way – if not worse. Here is an example. A few months ago I attended a barbecue hosted by a friend. She had several guests I had never met before. One of them was a guy from another town. At first he seemed perfectly nice. I was enjoying our chat. (Note: ‘enjoying your company’ is yet another thing that does not translate as ‘I am so bowled over by your good looks and magnetic charm that you can behave how you like’.) Then he started to inch closer to me on the bench, reaching out and touching my arm and my shoulder. The questioning got overfamiliar: “Are you married? Do you have a boyfriend?” This was when I casually produced my rosary from my pocket and threw it down like a gauntlet, as advertising my status as Hardcore Religious Girl is sometimes enough to ward people like you off. This particular guy was unfamiliar with Christian rosaries; he thought it was a set of Islamic prayer beads. He vacated the bench as though he had been shot. (Good – he’d been getting too close.) “Are you Muslim?”
I told him no. And he took that as more than ample invitation to slide back into my personal space and spend the rest of the evening following me about, pestering me for my phone number. Do you realise that this is even more insulting than being groped in the street?
I am not going to put up with this from you lot any more. Tonight’s heckling business was the last straw. Yes, I was out on the street at eight p.m. – daring, I know, but not something that automatically makes me a prostitute. You and your arsim-type friends were out on the street at eight p.m. too – does that make you rentboys? No? Then you can just stop being a nuisance to me, or I will get some male friends to go up to you in a group and proposition you. You wouldn’t like that.
Enough. Khalas. Next time it happens I will throw something worse than water at the offenders. At this rate I may take a leaf out of the IDF’s book and ask if I can borrow some skunkwater. You’d deserve it too. Cut it out.
Bothered in Bethlehem.