Been working on boundaries for a couple of weeks now. Setting them, respecting them, enforcing them.
Things, people, have been getting on top of me lately. I am an open person with a lot of love to give but sometimes I just need a break to look after me, you know?
I had this one guy who I met on Twitter. I bumped into him at a conference. He recognised me and grabbed me for a hug and kissed me on the cheek. I had NO IDEA who he was. It was a bit creepy to say the least. After that he would say things on Twitter then send me a direct message asking if he deserved a hug for being a good ally.
(HINT: if you are being a feminist ally to get hugs off women you need to examine yourself very closely. In the face. With a chair.)
I ignored these messages and thought him a bit weird but harmless.
Out of the blue he messaged me on facebook to tell me he liked to cross dress. Fine. Good for you buddy. He then started calling me sis. Asking me to validate him as a woman. I wasn't overly comfortable with this but I didn't really make a fuss about it as he didn't seem to be doing anything wrong. I just had a feeling of discomfort.
(HINT: I do not exist to validate anyone. It is not my role in life. I am not the fucking Goddess of Validation.)
It got worse. He would message me on facebook ALL THE TIME and expect immediate replies. He liked and commented on everything I did and then would send me a message asking if he was a good ally.
(HINT: No. Now fuck off.)
I started to get a bit freaked out. I needed to him to back off. I needed to set a boundary.
Did I send him a message asking him to back off? No. I just defriended him.
I've not always been very good at this you see.
I wasn't taught as a child that I could say no. I wasn't taught that it was ok to set boundaries and enforce them.
I was that child who was made to give the creepy uncle a kiss even if I didn't want to. I was the child who was made to sit on the paedophile step dad's knee and parade up and down aged 12 in his prison shirt and high heels. (The heels were mine, not his). I was the child who believed the ice cream man who molested me that my mum would be angry if I didn't let him touch me as I had never learned otherwise.
I never knew how to set boundaries.
I'm getting better at it though. I will say no to a hug off someone who offers if I am not comfortable and I will hurt anyone who just grabs one without permission.
I will say if someone is needing too much from me when I don't have the headspace.
I will point out to someone who I hear is telling people that she has been busy groping me and will get a snog off me that I am not interested and tell them that they are no longer welcome in my personal space.
I will establish and enforce boundaries. Because you know what? I sometimes have to look after me or I can't look after everyone else.
And you don't have a RIGHT to my time, attention or personal space. These are things I give freely when I can and feel comfortable in doing so.
So, did creepy guy take the hint?
Did he fuck.
He tried to re add me on Facebook. I declined. He tried to join a closed group I am a member of, obviously not realising I am an admin. Again, declined.
I blocked him on Twitter and felt a lot better.
THEN HE STARTED FOLLOWING THIS BLOG.
He won't be able to read this as I have now blocked him from here too because for fuck's sake. How much fucking ENTITLEMENT to me do you think you have? Take a hint. The fact that he cannot respect that I need to have him out of my internet space means that I was right to set and enforce a boundary with him.
And he has given me the strength to do so with others.
Personal space both physically and mentally are vitally important. We must teach this to our children and remember that they are autonomous beings who do not exist to be things we are entitled to.
Teach them well that they can say no and encourage and praise them when they enforce their own boundaries.
It is a skill they will thank you for.