It's not often that the internet surprises people in a good way, but a recent feminist Craigslist missed connection has managed to do exactly that. Last month, an anonymous, splint-wearing patron of a bar in Madison, Wisconsin, posted on Craigslist about a fellow dancer whom he had witnessed putting off the unwanted and intoxicated advances of no fewer than five men in a row. It may sound like the feminist odds were stacked against this one, but the man was totally respectful from the get-go — and as if that wasn't notable enough, the meet-cute took an unexpectedly empowering turn when the anonymous woman responded to the post. Prepare to have your faith in humanity restored.
"You were tall, long black curly hair, red lipstick, green dress, wearing your friend's golden sparkly jacket," the man wrote, before launching into 300 words of admiration for the woman's assertiveness. The first four dancers were dismissed with businesslike efficiency that was apparently beautiful to behold, but the fifth rejection was where the magic truly happened. I'll let the original post speak for itself:
You literally lip-synced "I don't want no scrubs" RIGHT in his face after he tried to get close. You pointed right at him! He was so owned that afterwards he, attempting to regain some manful pride, threw his arm around me to say 'But I know I'm not a scrub! I have a BMW!' I laughed til hypoxia. One of the funniest things I have ever seen.
The man's respect for the woman's personal space is noteworthy enough (although in a perfect world, it would be the norm), but the Daily Dot reports that the woman in question actually responded. The resulting post elevated a cute missed connection into a valuable discussion of female sexuality and male senses of entitlement.
"Dear mystery man. Thank you for existing as well," she wrote, adding that he was a "peaceful presence in a predatory space." She went on to express her desire for a world where women can enjoy their bodies freely, without worrying about the ever-present male gaze.
"When I am dancing, it is not for the arousal or entertainment of the men who creep up behind me, who watch from the corners of the room, who form a circle around me and my friends," she wrote. "It is for me."
She moved on to put the politics of the dance floor in a larger context, describing women as "warriors" constantly battling against rape culture. She continued:
This is not just about the dance floor, this is about the bus stop, where men tell me to smile, try to get me to talk before my morning coffee and when I refuse tell me, "I'm gonna sit right next to you on the bus and make you really uncomfortable." This is for the bike path, where summer night silence and shadows hid screams and blood and a woman left for dead. ...
Who does this rape culture serve? It is a cycle of violence that harms everyone involved.
The post touches on a number of ways the patriarchy hurts those who live within it: Toxic masculinity, lack of respect for consent, and how even small incidents — like refusing to take no for an answer on the dance floor — build to create a world where women's bodies are considered public property. "There were many men that night, and every night. ... Men who touch, who smile, who surround and crowd and watch and take and take and take," she wrote. "I have so much practice dealing with these men."
The post should be required reading for anyone who ever plans on going dancing -- in a perfect world, clubs would paste it in their bathroom stalls. You can (and should) read it in its entirety on Craigslist. High fives for feminism all around!