It’s Saturday night. I’m drunk, stumbling up a hill in my city’s clubbing district, LKF, with my boyfriend. I’m a little nostalgic, to be honest, thinking about my many other nights throughout high school spent in this area. Happy memories of hilarious conversations at restaurants, and some not-so happy memories of dragging my drunk friends home in taxis.
As I walk, I briefly make eye contact with a man a few meters in front of me, but quickly look down at the floor and hurry past. Not quick enough. He grabs one of my arms. Hard. I try to brush past and ignore the gesture, but he doesn’t let go.
“Hey pretty, where ya headed.” I turn to face him. “Just going home.” I feel my stomach knot up. Where is my boyfriend? “So soon?” he says coolly, “why don’t you stay with us a while” he gestures to the other men with him, all maybe 28 or so years old. “No thanks.” I pull my wrist away from him again, but his grip tightens. This time I am filled with dread. I feel helpless. I look around, beginning to panic. Let go of me. “I gotta go, my friend is getting a tattoo.” I bluff. “Alright” he rolls his eyes, “promise to come back later?”. “Yeah sure” I respond immediately. “Promise?”. “Yes, I promise. But I really have to go”. His grip finally loosens, a wolfish grin spreads across his face. “See ya later pretty”. I bolt up the hill to meet up with my boyfriend who is looking for me up a staircase, and I tell him what happened. He threatens to go after the guy, but I ask him not to, and we carry on our night as if nothing had happened.
I’ve always felt safe in Hong Kong. I’ve never worried much about going drinking with my friends in the city, especially not when I’m with my boyfriend. But that night, that experience, made me feel unsafe. The next morning I wondered if I had done anything wrong to provoke his response. Maybe I should have walked farther away from him after we made eye contact. Maybe I should have walked more quickly to keep up with my boyfriend. Maybe I shouldn’t of had so much to drink. Maybe my skirt was too short, and I should have been more careful with what I wore.
But after a while, I realized these ideas were ridiculous. I’m sure none of my male friends had ever second guessed how much they drank or what they wore because someone made them feel unsafe. It makes me sad that this is the world we live in, where women are treated as nameless objects that can be pulled around. And, I hope one day this will no longer be the case.