Something wonderful happened a few days ago.
I was walking through the local market, down a crowded street, and a Git Man was coming the other way. I say Git Man, because that is what he was. I went to the left to get out of his way… so did he. I went to the right… so did he. And through this little merry dance we found ourselves squaring opposite each other, our every move accidentally mirroring the other.
“Are you going to get out of the f******g way?” he snarled at me.
I got out of the way, and he walked off, muttering various opinions about my genetic origin and physical inclinations.
And the curious thing was… for the first time I can remember, I didn’t feel cowed. I didn’t feel threatened, or intimidated, or in any way vulnerable in the face of Git Man. In fact, as we squared off against each other, the first though that went through my mind was that if he tried anything, I’d put a fist into his throat.
Hell – I didn’t want to put a fist through his throat, but as he glowered and cursed, a part of my brain which had never before made itself known outside of stick-hitting class sat up and said: “Well, there’s a limited amount of space between you and him, and not much room to dodge. The street is busy so if he does attack you it probably won’t take long until help comes. He’s clearly swearing at you because you’re a woman and look like a soft touch – if you weighed seventeen stone and sported a mighty dwarven beard, things might be different. Thankfully, if he does attack, he’ll probably under-estimate you, which helps. Owing to the lack of space, you’ll probably have to use arms rather than movement to block, and if your arms are already up for defensive purposes you might as well follow through – probably with the right hand, as he’s likely right-handed himself and so your block will be with the left – and take him out as quickly and efficiently as you can. Throat’s quite a small target to get, but then, we are close together already, and where’s he going to move to really? And if he’s still being obnoxious after that, perhaps push him head-first into the wall of the electric supply shop and see what happens?”
All this happened in a split second, and I was delighted. Not at the thought that I might end up causing grievous bodily harm to another – that rather intimidated me, because obviously the footnoting part of my brain was already waaaay ahead to the police being called and the court case and the litigation and…
… so on…
… but because for the first time in as long as I can remember, a man was being casually abusive at me, and I was not cowed. I wasn’t afraid, I didn’t shrink back into my skin. He was attempting to intimidate me with both voice and posture, and I found the entire thing laughable.
And so I stepped aside, and said nothing, and smiled all the way home.
Because this time, in this place, I stepped aside not because I was afraid, or cowed by his abuse, but because it was the intelligent thing to do, and I chose to do it.
And that’s an excellent feeling.