You took my picture tonight without my permission.
You stood five feet away from me in a crowded bar while I watched USC lose in the Final Four. You thought you were being sneaky with your phone, but my friend saw you and alerted me.
You pretended not to hear me when I asked you, “Hey did you just take my picture?”
So I asked you again. “ Excuse me. Did you just try to take my picture?”
“Not tried. Did.” You look back at me. Daring me to do something about it.
“Show me the picture on your phone and delete it.”
You pull out your phone and there it is. A picture of me watching the game, oblivious to the fifty year old man in the Tommy Bahama shirt snapping away my picture. Next to my picture is a picture of my friend’s butt.
You delete it. Not apologizing. Not really caring. And try to slide the phone back in your pocket.
“No. Delete this one too.” I point to the picture of my friend.
You delete it.
“What you did was wrong. If I catch you doing this again, I’ll report you.” I say.
You look at me and sneer. I can’t remember what you say verbatim, but it’s something along the lines of “Who you gonna tell?” At that moment, you almost made me feel like I was helpless. Like you could stand five feet away and take as many pictures of me and my friends for your spank bank and make us feel as uncomfortable as possible, and there was nothing I could do about it.
“At that moment, you almost made me feel like I was helpless.”
But there is always something that I can do about it. Always.
So I tell the bartender, who alerts the bouncer, who asks you to leave. I watch from the corner of my eye as you are forcibly removed after trying to punch the bouncer.
The bouncers later come and make sure things are ok. They tell me that you threw racial slurs at them and became physical. The police are called and your wife shows up.
We all give statements. I give mine five feet from your wife. I ask the officer to switch places with me so I don’t have to make eye contact with her while I tell him what happened.
The whole thing feels weird. Like I’m in some bad movie. I feel numb and wonder what the score is.
The police ask do I want to press charges? No.
The police officer is nice and so is the restaurant manager. They ask me if what I want from this situation. I say I just want to watch the game without someone taking creepy pictures of me and my friends. They dismiss me and I catch the last 57 agonizing seconds of USC’s tragic loss to Gonzaga.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t care what happens to you. You don’t feel any remorse and to be honest, probably got off on being caught. But I’m glad I confronted you. I’m glad there are no pictures of me and my friends in your phone.
“To be perfectly honest, I don’t care what happens to you.”
It’s our duty to call people out on this behavior. Yes, it would have been easier to ignore you and move away from you and continue watching the game. But what if you don’t get caught. How far will you go? Who will be next? It’s both men and women’s responsibility to confront this in public as it’s happening. YES it’s uncomfortable. YES it sucks. But sexual harassment is not okay. It never will be.
Author’s Note: For me, the most shocking part of my evening was not about the perpetrator. It was about the fact that I was so unaware of someone taking my picture without me knowing. I was cognizant, sober and watching a ball game for Pete’s sake. The lack of remorse and the guy’s attitude didn’t shock me at all, but tonight served as a cold reminder that cameras now are on everyone’s phone and it’s more easy than ever to take a discrete photo of someone without their knowledge.