Every woman — no matter what their size, color or facial features — knows what it’s like to be approached by a stranger demanding attention. And at that moment, the instinctual thought usually is, “how do I get out of this?” But no matter how awkward, demeaning or even scary that moment may be, I’ve never expected to be shot for rejecting a pick-up attempt.
Sadly, that’s exactly what happened to 27-year-old Mary “Unique” Spears of Detroit. She had just left a funeral when a 38-year-old man started harassing her.
“Can I get your name, your number?” he asked.
She said, “I have a man, I can’t talk to you.”
But he wouldn’t leave her alone, her family says. And eventually, he grabbed her and hit her. Her fiancee stepped in, resulting in a fight — so the stranger took out a gun and shot Unique. She started to run, and he shot her two more times. Now Unique’s three children will never see her again.
This turned into a mass shooting, leaving Unique’s fiancee and four other family members wounded.
Obviously, this guy is unusually disturbed. But the story hammers home an issue that women must constantly deal with — some men’s belief that they are somehow entitled to our bodies.
Walking home from work once, I told a guy on the street I was married (I wasn’t) to get him to leave me alone; he started screaming at me, calling me a bitch. Another time, I was carrying my cat home from the vet when a group of guys on the street started gawking. One of them yelled, “I’m gonna rape you!” It was terrifying. And millions of ladies have similar stories.
I don’t know what it will take to stop this epidemic of harassment — the media, outdated values and inflated egos are probably all part of the problem. But I hope someday women will be allowed to just be, without having to put up our guard every time we walk down the street (they called it putting on the “bitch face” in a recent, fabulous Daily Show episode).
Most men I know are wonderful, decent and gentle people. It’s too bad a minority has so far to evolve.
RIP, Unique. You deserved better.