All names stated have been changed and locations will not be mentioned to protect the author and their anonymity.
Alright so it’s story time.
A couple of months ago I opened Facebook to find that I had a new friend request. Now, I normally have a rule where I only accept requests from people I actually know or have met. However, I saw that this guy, let’s call him Arnold, did parkour. At the time I had been going to many different parkour events and figured it was possible I could’ve met Arnold and have completely forgotten. (I’m horrible at remembering new people). So when I saw that we had many mutual friends, I figured, “Why not?” And accepted his request.
A few days later I got a Facebook Message from Arnold. He just wanted to say hi and say how cool it was that I was a girl who trained parkour (insert facepalm here). Naturally, I decided to be nice and replied. For a while we talked about parkour and training and the conversation was pretty normal.
Things started to get mildly creepy when Arnold invited me to come visit him. He wanted me to meet his family and train with him. A part of me wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, after all, I’ve parkour-floored it with many people who I haven’t always known. Still, the guy does live on the opposite side of the globe, so I did my best to politely decline without hurting his feelings. I didn’t want to seem like a complete jerk, after all it could’ve been normal in his culture to do things like that.
And then, inevitably, Arnold asked me if I had a boyfriend. Keep in mind I now know that I have never met Arnold and he also lives in a completely different hemisphere. (AKA no way for us to even meet let alone date). I told him, no I didn’t have a boyfriend, but I was too busy with school work to focus on having a relationship.
This is when everything starts to go downhill.
Arnold proceeds to shower me with flattery saying how smart I am, how beautiful I am, how it’s such a shame I’m single and I need to find someone who appreciates finding a girl who trains parkour. (My internal feminist wanted to reach through my phone screen and give him a piece of my mind, but I refrained). I told him I appreciated him compliments but asked him if he would stop, since I 1. Was not interested in any way whatsoever, and 2. The only things he knew about me was what I was studying in school and that I trained parkour. It was at this point I was beginning to get seriously creeped out.
Arnold apologized and that was that. My school year started up again which meant that I was buried in homework, assignments, projects, and enough papers to keep me busy until Christmas. During the school year I have a habit of ignoring messages and emails that don’t seem particularly urgent. Arnold didn’t like that.
He began to tell me that he wanted to speak to me, he wanted to hear my voice. He started asking me for pictures and videos. (Naturally alarm bells are going off and I refuse to give him anything). I tried to remain as polite and distant as I could, never saying more than necessary and trying not to let on any information about my personal life. I hoped he would get the message and leave me alone. Of course I was wrong.
Then, he started using Facebook Messenger to try and call me. I never answered, of course, and he said he just wanted to speak to me. He thought my feels about him would change if we started talking. I said no. I wasn’t about to pick up the phone and talk to some random creepy guy I had met over the internet. No thank you. I’ve had enough lessons on stranger danger to know that was a colossally bad idea.
Finally, and here’s the punch line: Arnold said he wanted to tell me something. Figuring it can’t get any worse from here I tell him to go ahead.
Arnold told me he wants to marry me.
You might want to read that line again.
Marry. Me. A girl who he has never even met. Someone who was just trying to be nice and talk about a common interest.
And he wants to marry me.
Because I fucking train parkour.
Just let it sink in.
Because somehow that fact that I enjoy jumping on shit means that I would love to jump on his dick.
Somehow part of me wasn’t all that surprised. And that’s pretty damn sad.
Immediately I’m on high alert, borderline panicking, because holy shit this guy is a creep and what if he tries to stalk me, what if he flies to where I live and tries to kidnap me. I barely know the guy but now I’m going back to everything I’ve said to him, trying to figure out if there’s any way he could possibly track me down. I don’t know what he does for a living. He could be involved with some illegal activity, he could be a drug dealer or a human trafficker. Do I fear for my safety? Should I contact the authorities? If I did, what would the authorities even do? What if I’m making a huge deal out of nothing? But what if I’m not?
Yes, I know that most of these fears are completely irrational but you never know what people in today’s world will do. And that’s the worst feeling in the world. Thinking that you’ve made a new friend, you share a common interest, that this person is someone you can trust, you can have a fun light hearted conversation with. And then shit like this happens. You begin to question and fear and watch over your shoulder for anything suspicious.
Of course I blocked Arnold on all my social media and I am warning my friends who have had contact with him to do the same. As someone who is somewhat paranoid like I am, I don’t want to brush this off as something insignificant. Better safe than sorry and all that shit.
My point is this: just because it’s not happening in your community, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. And yes, yes, I have officially learned about the dangers of the internet and blah blah blah. And yes, I am probably never again going to accept a friend request from someone who I haven’t met before. But here’s the thing, I shouldn’t have to go through all this. No girl, who trains parkour or otherwise should have to go through this.
The amount of guys I meet in a year who want to date me simply because I “do parkour” is well into the double digits. I mean, I get it. We parkour girls are pretty bad ass. But we also put up with a lot of shit we shouldn’t have to.
I’ve been cat called and hit on and flirted with when I go out to train. I actively avoid going to local training spots alone out of fear that something will happen there. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.
So, there’s my story. If you take anything from it, try to learn that this shit does happen. I’m lucky enough to have found a community that doesn’t treat me any differently because I’m a girl. In fact, they push me and encourage me to be the best I can possibly be, and I am eternally grateful for that. But others aren’t so lucky. And my experience goes to show that it really can happen to anyone, even those who have an inclusive community.
Shit like this is what turns females away from parkour, and I don’t blame them. If I wasn’t as experienced as I am when it comes to dealing with sexism, I would walk away from parkour. Luckily, I’m too stubborn for that.
So please, men, keep it your pants and tell others that don’t that they can kindly fuck off. Cause if you don’t, I will. Someone has to, and if it’s not going to be you, than it’s damn well going to be me.