Me (calmly and friendly but firmly) to Random Man: Can I speak to you for a minute? I overheard your conversation with my friend and I want to let you know that you made her feel uncomfortable when you told her she was pretty and that you bet she had a pretty smile and you asked her to take off her mask and show you.
Random Man: Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to make anyone feel uncomfortable! I didn’t mean anything by it.
Me: I’m sure you didn’t mean it the way it was taken. I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how saying things like that make women feel…
RM: I’m so embarrassed! I didn’t mean anything by it…I’m married. I’ve been married for years. I’m a Christian, I believe in monogamy. And some people are just more sensitive! I would never proposition someone, even a child, which what she is…
Me: Yes, I know but it’s important that you know how talk like this makes us feel and we are usually too afraid to let people know…This happened to me (gives personal example) and I was too afraid to say anything. So thank you for this opportunity to express this to you.
RM: Thank you for letting me know and for taking the time to speak to me…
Random Man drives away, tail between his legs, pride hurt.
Me feeling brave, triumphant, happy that I took this opportunity. Then wondering if I was just going for low hanging fruit because he seemed harmless enough, thinking I’m really not that brave. Then second-guessing myself. Then dismissing those thoughts and deciding to feel triumphant again, but mostly really glad that I became all Mama-Bear on this guy and hopefully he’ll think about the impact his sexist words and gestures make on women and that hopefully I’ve helped a brilliant and beautiful young woman find her own voice, become brave enough to confront/correct men who treat her like a child who they can say whatever they want to, and never again wish that she wasn’t pretty so she didn’t have to be susceptible to this crap again!
I hope he went home and told his wife and that she agreed with me. I hope he has a daughter who he can then think about being in the same position and see it from her side and think before he ever does this again.
And I hope you do too.