“Hey Sexy” is how I was greeted by a young man at the VF bus depot. So, I said hello. Within 90 seconds he was asking for my cell number. I politely declined. This was the 2nd time I’d been asked for my number since I arrived. I wish I could say it’s because of my wild charms but alas it’s just how it goes here. Here’s how I think they’re looking at me…
Prior to arriving in St. Lucia I had read the Peace Corps welcome package which was fraught with caution, guidance, and safety tips on dealing with unwanted male attention. I’m sort of a novelty, if you will, as there aren’t many Caucasian women here. I must admit, dealing with sexual advances was probably highest on my concern list. Would I be able to handle them? Could I keep myself safe? How would I know who was genuine?
Upon arriving, safety continued to be an emphasis. A new friend, Hollianne, also gave me some tips on handling such advances. This was a big deal. I’ve encountered outward calls, hissing (sort of sounds like pssssst), physical contact, invitations to see them later, invitations to go out, offers to “stop by” my work, and far less intimidating, hello. These have taken place on the road, on a bus, in the grocery store, walking through town, and in a food court.
Imagine yourself being pursued, verbally and physically, within the confines of a minibus, like the one below. What is your recourse? What do you do?
Can you feel your anxiety climbing? He leaned his leg against mine; as I inched away, he followed. I wanted him to stop. Seriously, I was worried that he would take the next bus I was on then see where I lived. I contemplated getting off a couple houses away from mine or changing up my route in some way. Those who know me best won’t be surprised that I ultimately asked him to move his leg to give me space. He complied. Such a wave of relief! For added good measure, I told him I was married. I suppose he felt I wasn’t playing into his hands and THANKFULLY got off one stop before me.
There are different approaches one can take: ignore, play dumb, yell, etc. For me, acknowledging the men works well. Better yet, I try to greet first; “Bonjou!” I suspect by giving a friendly greeting in Patois it startles the guy(s) into not pursuing me. In essence, I remove the target. I’ve been told they simply want to be “seen.” I understand so I do my best to “see” them. Anything else…eh…they can’t touch this;) Cue music…
Let’s hope as I gain more confidence and comfort in this foreign land that I will be able to blend in more.
Stay tuned…because I’m not sitting on the sidelines of life.
Other blogs you may be interested in:
~Brie Messier, MBA
Note: The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps