Maddison Westcott was deeply embarrassed.
As the 19-year-old student explained in a series of tweets on Twitter, she overheard a man at the gym make sexual remarks to a female gym-goer, compelling her to intervene.
Westcott herself had been subject to off-putting comments from “really creepy guys” at the gym before and had always wanted someone to defend her. She wrote, in part:
...The first time I started going to the gym older men would compliment my figure and say really weird things that would make me uncomfortable. I always wanted someone who intervine (sic) because I KNOW people were hearing this. But no one ever did. Luckily for me comments were the furthest it went.
As a result, when Westcott heard a man say: “You look nice in those leggings, can I take you out some time?” she decided to step in to protect a girl she thought was being harassed. The maneuver was simple. Westcott simply asked the girl:
“Are you ready to leave?”
Much to Westcott's surprise, however, the man was actually the girl's boyfriend. Westcott explained the charade between the couple had her convinced the girl was being bothered.
This was me and let me tell you why I thought I was OKAY to intervene (a thread): https://t.co/Y8g9R5Xe3R
— Maddison Westcott (@Maddison2036) February 8, 2018
She wrote, in part:
I could hear what her boyfriend was saying & he really didn’t sound like her boyfriend. To me it sounded like she was getting hit on and from her reaction, which looking back seems like she was just annoyed with him pretending, was unwanted[.]
Although she was “embarrassed,” Westcott said she was relieved to know the situation wasn't what it seemed:
While I was extremely embarrassed as Terry and Shannon laughed at me, I was honestly happy that he was her boyfriend because I knew she was safe and wasn’t getting harassed and something bad wouldn’t happen to her.
The girl, Nicoletta, tweeted about the incident in a show of gratitude, prompting many others to share personal stories of strangers thwarting unwanted attention.
Ricky was just acting like he wasn’t my bf at the gym, saying to me “you look nice in those leggings, can I take you out some time?”
This girl (that I don’t know) comes up to me and says “hey you ready to leave?”
I informed her he was my bf
BUT GIRL I APPRECIATE YOU
— Nicoletta (@nictoobomb) February 7, 2018
i had a girl do a similar thing but it was real, the guy kept bothering me and she pretended like we were friends who havent seen each other in years... later i cried because i was so thankful for her 💜
— molly🌻namseok (@joonieseok) February 9, 2018
Someone did this for me once & I was so grateful. I was sitting stairs in Paris & a guy was taking up skirt photos of me. She tried to tell me but I didn't understand. This bad ass lady went so far as to notify nearby police and had him detained. #girlssupportinggirls
— The One Two 7s (@TheOneTwo7s) February 9, 2018
Years ago on my way to a nightclub I got bothered by a guy I didn’t know. Some random guy on a bicycle overhears me asking to guy to leave me alone, stops and says loudly “babe! There you are! Let’s go!” I RAN and hopped on the back. Thanked him. Never saw him again, but thanks!
— I am Daenerys the wonderbull, my mom tweets for me (@deesbeest) February 9, 2018
Men, too, shared experiences of interfering in awkward situations:
I intervened at a bar once, saw this guy harassing two women and I said “Hey buddy do you mind? This is my girlfriend and sister” and he got the hint and left.
— DannyKanes (@DannyKanes) February 9, 2018
However, the interaction between Westcott, Nicoletta, and Ricky wasn't entirely perceived as an act of sisterly courage. Some commenters thought Westcott went too far by assuming the worst in Ricky.
So she didn’t come to rescue at all, she stuck her nose in someone else’s business, she needs to stay in her lane.
— Jordan Hazell (@JordanHazell10) February 10, 2018
”Thanks for assuming my boyfriend was a sexual predator, GIRL I APPRECIATE YOU”
— Jesse Barre (@JesseBarre) February 10, 2018
Why did she feel the need to serve as your protector? According 2 you Ricky complimented your outfit and asked if he could take you out? A man talks to a woman he finds attractive and other women feels she needs protection? Somebody help me understand, did Ricky do anything else?
— Chi_no_nso (@ABChinonso) February 10, 2018
One Twitter user tried to clarify the situation by explaining Westcott was simply giving another female an “out” if she had needed it.
A lot of people are losing the point of this. It’s not that the girl thought she was being harassed, but more so she was offering an out if she was uncomfortable. If she was, she could use it, if she wasn’t, she could say so. It’s providing a safe choice. 🤷🏼♀️
— Brandy Nicole (@BrandidyN) February 9, 2018
For Westcott, her choice was clear. She wrote:
All and all I thought it was appropriate because I didn’t want another girl to be uncomfortable. I would rather be mortified with embarrassment than to have her in danger.
She added: “Embarrassment goes away pretty quickly, having someone assault you doesn’t.”