When I first started dating my husband, we were both working at restaurants about a block away from each other. I usually got done first so I would come to his bar and wait for him to be done so he could walk me home. We both lived and worked in Lincoln Square, a fairly safe neighborhood in Chicago, but even so, I had scares walking by myself at night with groups of guys harassing me. Something which never happened when I walked with a man. I guess once they figured I had been thoroughly urinated on, I was no longer fair game.
Look, I get it. Dating is hard in any city. You’re trying to put it out there. But when a woman makes it clear that she’s not into it, she shouldn’t have to fake her death to get you to stop bothering her. And for myself, along with apparently most women on the internet, it’s something we’ve genuinely considered.
An article this week in New Scientist shows that we aren’t the only species out there considering collapsing off our bar stool and then laying completely still until the unwanted male gets the hint and skulks back to his bros and beer. A scientist recently discovered that female dragonflies fake their deaths to avoid male sexual harassment and now, the entire internet is like, I feel you girl. Researcher, Rassim Khelifa observed the behavior in the Moorland Hawker dragonfly while collecting larvae in the Swiss Alps. While he was working, a female being pursued by a male did a crash dive into the ground and then lay motionless on her back until the suitor flew away. Once the coast was clear, she got up and left.
Curious to see if this behavior was unusual, Khelifa began observing other female dragonflies, and he found that this whole faking your death thing is standard practice when a male will not leave the female alone. 27 out of the 31 female dragonflies he watched used this tactic to avoid males.
It’s dangerous to plunge headfirst into the ground out of the sky, but the female dragonflies were willing to do whatever it takes to avoid the males. “Females may only behave in this way if male harassment is intense,” Adolfo Cordero-Rivera at the University of Vigo in Spain said to New Scientist.
The news about the female dragonflies exploded by this afternoon. And on twitter today, lots of people were sympathizing with the dragonflies. Because lady dragonfly? We’ve all been there.
So I guess now when we say #YesAllWomen we can include female dragonflies. And while this is more or less tongue in cheek banter about dragonflies, it’s not totally a joke. Because most women have at (one time or another) said no or that they weren’t interested only to be pestered, followed, harassed, or assaulted. I don’t know of any woman who hasn’t at least once clenched her fist around her keys at night wondering if they could be used as a weapon while a guy follows her, or a group of men whistles, or some gross dude shouts about her body out of the side of a car.
We laugh about the lady dragonfly faking her death because we can genuinely relate to the dragonfly having to pretend to be dead to be left alone, and that’s sad. We laugh because it’s true and then we cry a little and watch The Handmaid’s Tale.