by Caitlan Charles
WHEN is a woman "fair game"?
The answer is never.
She is not a game, she is a human, with feelings, thoughts and, to be honest, the last thing she probably wants is men saying she's fair game.
There seems to be this belief within society that if a woman is single, or sometimes not even then, it's expected that you are allowed to make advances.
Earlier this week, actress Brie Larson smiled at a TSA agent when going through airport security and he asked for her phone number.
I don't know about you, but I smile at almost everyone I walk past.
Men, women, children, teenagers, if I happen to make eye contact with you, I'm probably going to smile. It's polite.
I've also been on the receiving end of a smile from a stranger when I've been having a bad day, and it made it a whole lot better.
It doesn't mean you get to make that woman feel uncomfortable for going about her business.
There is a misconception out there that women are available for men, who don't quite understand boundaries, at all times.
This doesn't mean you can't approach a woman and strike up a conversation or have a friendly chat, and then maybe, both you and the woman, will feel like perhaps you want to talk again.
A smile does not equal "I am interested in you", a smile is a polite gesture that EVERYONE should give to the people around them.
While I understand that not every man behaves this way, let me take you back to a night out at SoHo in Kings Cross when I was 19.
To set the scene, it was a Halloween Party, and I was dressed as the Queen of Hearts.
When you're out on the town drinking and having a good time, things get a little loose. Dancing and having a good time, maybe the odd dance with a guy, it's all acceptable.
But I was dancing with a group of friends when a guy reached up my dress and slapped my bum.
When I turned around, he was smiling like he'd just done something hilarious.
At no point in time is it acceptable to touch another human being without their consent.
Consent comes in different ways, but in this particular situation, I was definitely not fair game.
People need to learn to respect the personal boundaries of others, and the people who cross that line the most are men who assume women are going to want them to touch or grope them in any way.
It's not uncommon for women to have stories like mine, or stories that are worse, much worse. It worries me endlessly.
I may have had a short skirt on, but my body is still mine, not yours.
Brie Larson chose to smile at a stranger and he crossed the line.
What is it going to take for society to realise that women are never fair game, we are humans. We deserve respect.
How many times do we have to yell and scream about our rights to say no, or our rights to have people respect personal boundaries for self-entitled people to get it in their heads that touching someone or responding to a kind gesture with something that crosses a boundary is unacceptable.
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