It’s a difficult thing to move across the Atlantic for a year to a country where you don’t speak the language, don’t know anyone, and won’t be able to visit your friends and family. There are a million things to worry about and to do. Housing needs to be found, the visa process is drawn-out and difficult, and there’s no guaranteeing you’ll get the classes you need. Women have a few special complications they have to think about. Is the place you’re renting safe for you? Is there a community of other women or students you can use for support? Will you be able to find a good doctor for your needs? On top of all of that, there’s physical concerns for someone like me. Am I going to be close enough to walk to school, even on bad days? How am I going to move heavy furniture into my room? It’s all kinda scary and overwhelming, honestly.
Some people are incredible and go out of their way to help with this process. I’ve had friends, blog followers, and complete strangers from around the world offer me help with housing, transport, visa advice, and more. Thank you all!
And then there are others who make the experience terrible, like this guy, who asked me for nude photos or sexting in return for a crummy bike, a hairdryer, and an electric heater.
My new apartment is a cute little attic room in downtown Groningen. Note: an attic room. Stairs. Heck no, I’m not hauling a bed up there. My new landlord suggested I buy some basic furniture off this guy, the previous tenant. Let’s call him Dick. Dick was offering 200 euro for everything. I agreed that was a fair price, but I had just 150 to spend on that initial buy of basic furniture and I didn’t want ALL of his stuff. Besides, I knew I could get the few things I needed elsewhere for cheap on a FB sale page. We agreed 150 for a few items and he could sell the rest elsewhere. He sent a text commenting on my profile pic with winky faces, which my roommate and I thought was weird, but hey. Whatever. Maybe he’s just being friendly.
All was well until after I sent the money. An unexpected bank fee left the payment a few euros short on arrival, my mistake. I offered to send the rest (and did in the end), but he said it was no problem.
Then the bullshit started.
He offered me a few additional things, saying that if he couldn’t sell stuff, he might offer it to me later for free to avoid the hassle of getting rid of it. Fair enough. But I’m in the middle of an international move, I don’t have extra cash. I’m clear on that.
Oh yeah. I’m sure you can see where this is going. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he wants to do a delayed payment or something, right? You never know.
Oh, hell no.
Not the first response that came into my head, I assure you.
Dick responded with “Of course, I just wanted something nice from you. You could be nicer with me.(winky smiley faces)”
He has an obsession with the word “nice” apparently. I’m a “nice” girl who could send him “nice” pictures and should be “nicer” to him for asking. Here’s a newsflash: I’m not “nice,” and I’m not a “girl.” I’m a woman, this was a business arrangement, and I do not have to be “nice” to appalling misogynists who ask me for sexual favors as payment for goods. Period.
When he realized I’d sent the deal and a description of the situation to my landlord, he first tried to evade, then tried to blame me, and then became furious when he realized no one was buying it.
To my landlord, he writes: “Maybe it was a bad misunderstanding.” Evade. Then the landlord lets him know I sent screenshots and he gets MAD.
“I could leave more things but I don’t thing so because she didn’t deserve it.”
“is true after that my behaviour wasn’t the best at all but right now is ok. I just apologied to her but she is so ‘ smart’.”
Why is it that men like this immediately attack our intelligence when they’re called on their actions? And apparently not sending nudes means I don’t “deserve” his crappy stuff. Also, he thinks it’s okay. What?
His “apology” to me, which I responded to with a basic thanks, I sent the last few euro you’re trying to blame this on, leave my stuff in good shape or else:
“Morning, I thought you are a normal person but I don’t think so because I don’t understand the message to the agency. You didn’t send me the correct amount but I am a good person and accepted it. Our deal was, bed, wardrobe, sofa and table and that is. I could leave you more things for free but you don’t deserve it. Have a nice day. Pd: if you feel uncomfortable with some message I apologize about this.”
The thought of living in this guy’s apartment is suddenly really unappealing.
The assumption these men have that they deserve our bodies and that putting us in these situations is giving us a “compliment” is appalling. They’re so wrapped up in themselves that they think they can have whatever they want, whenever they want, and if anyone stands up to that, they’re “not normal.” Maybe that’s true. Maybe it isn’t normal to make noise when a guy treats you like a prostitute during a business deal. But it should be. I’m moving half-way across the world. I don’t need this crap. I never encouraged it. But it happened anyway, just as it happens to so many of us around the world every day. We need to start standing up to this more insistently.
- A woman should be able to trust that a man will treat her as an equal when doing business with her.
- A woman shouldn’t have to worry about being respected when moving internationally.
- A woman should not be told whether or not she “deserves” something based on her body and who she’s willing to share it with.
- A woman should be called a “woman” and not a “nice girl.”
- And men like Dick should be called on this crap EVERY time until they learn to treat other human beings with respect. I’m sure his mother would be very proud.
Shout out to the landlord, a man who stood up and did the right thing in cracking down on this guy while also reassuring me, apologizing, and going out of his way to make sure I felt comfortable and welcome again. It was a great reminder that there are great guys out there who are standing up to this kind of disrespect and insisting on higher standards. Sometimes the disrespect can feel overwhelming and it’s hard to see the good men fighting alongside us for a better world. I appreciate you if you’re one of those people. Thank you, keep up the good work.
Hopefully my transition to Groningen goes smoothly from here out.