When I was in my late 20s, my partner and I visited Yaoicon in San Francisco. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s a form of manga dealing with romance and sex between men, aimed mostly at women.
Personally, I had no interest in the genre, but there were a ton of cute geeky girls there, and the atmosphere was pretty good. I had a ton of fun for the most part.
At one point, we ended up at a small party in someone’s room, and I was introduced to a guy who called himself Cypher, I think. Big guy, heavy and pretty socially awkward. We talked a bit, and it quickly became clear that he was a gay male fan of the genre. They were a minority, but they did exist.
I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but at one point, I needed to go get something, and he said he’d come along to help. So, we both step into the elevator and the doors close.
Now, let me start by saying that nothing physical happened. Also, him being socially awkward, he most likely meant no harm. But… that elevator ride was a deeply scary experience for me.
So, what happened? Well, after the doors closed, Cypher commented on my attractiveness… and I’ll never forget the way he looked at me. Like he wanted to eat me. My brain went into overdrive. I was trapped in there with him. He was much taller and heavier with me. My mind came to a very simple but chilling conclusion: if he would try to assault me in that moment, there was precious little I could do. I’d fight and struggle, but it was pretty obvious he would win. He would be able to take what he wanted, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do.
It was scary as fuck. I nervously thanked him and laughed it off. Nothing more happened. The doors opened, and we got the thing we needed. No harm done. But 15 years later, I still remember that moment vividly.
Now, why am I writing this? Because I later realised that this is what women feel like all the time. When some well-meaning guy comes too close and awkwardly flirts with them. When a man comments on their clothing, assuming it must be an invitation.
We men often don’t realise how scary we are. But we are. Women do this math all the time. Is there an exit? Will he be able to overpower me? Is help nearby?
So, when you’re thinking of talking to that cute girl… Ask yourself.. am I being Cypher right now?