When I see people having an argument in the streets, I try not to react to it. Obviously it’s quite an emotionally intense moment for them and openly altering your path and avoiding them will make them feel more conspicuous and potentially anxious. I hope that by behaving in a normal way, it will help to stop the situation feeling any worse (if only in a small way.)
So the other day, when I saw a man and a woman shouting at each other very angrily, I adopted my usual method. It was a very intense argument and they had even resorted to pushing each other physically. I didn’t want to alter my path, but due to the pushing, they were essentially right in front of me as I got to them.
The argument took a rather unexpected turn when the man started telling the woman that he thought she was ugly and that she looked like a man. I would think that if somebody has to resort to substance-less comments on somebody’s appearance, their argument is weak – but then, in defense, the woman then pulled down both her trousers and her underwear and shouted “Do I look like a man to you?” over and over, while continuing to push. At this point I was only a couple of meters away and beginning to regret my decision not to steer myself away – in the heat of the moment, perhaps she had forgotten that she was not in the privacy of her own home, meaning that my close proximity could have ultimately caused her to feel more uncomfortable.
All the while, I didn’t really know what to think: on the one hand the human body is nothing to be disgusted by, on the other this was sexual assault! But then again she was being shoved pretty hard… while shoving hard herself! Neither of them was really the ‘victim’ as they were both being pretty nasty to each other – meanwhile I just tried to continue my walk through town in as nonchalant a way as possible. A friend of mine later said that I am a magnet for terrible people; I wouldn’t say so myself but I hope that’s not the case!
(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)