The TikTok user knew he had to step in when he spotted a young woman at the mall being relentlessly hit on by a man who was reportedly oblivious to her clear discomfort.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on February 5, 2021.
There's one thing every person who identifies as a woman experiences at least once in their life irrespective of where they live in the world, what language they speak and how they dress: an extremely uncomfortable situation involving a creepy cishet dude who just won't take no for an answer. As a result, over the years, women have learned to turn our senses on high alert every time we step out into the world. That is, to always be prepared with some form of self-defense and to take note of all the exits the moment we enter an unfamiliar room or building.
And yet, despite our best efforts, it is not always possible to steer clear of members of the "desperation army." And to make matters worse, once they've cornered prey. aka women-just-minding-their-own-damn-business, creepy men will refuse to back off unless and until someone else gets involved. This is why TikTok user @thebrandonrobert knew he had to step in when he spotted a young woman at the mall being relentlessly hit on by a man who was reportedly oblivious to her clear discomfort. In a viral TikTok video that's been viewed more than 33 million times, Brandon documented how he helped get her out of the sticky situation.
"There is this weird man making this girl uncomfortable in the store," Brandon explains at the beginning of the video. "I am going to pretend I know her." He then approaches the girl while lowering his mask to show her his face and acts as though he has met her before, saying: "Oh my god, hi!" The girl immediately catches on and plays along with his bit, asking Brandon how he is. When Brandon asks her who the man beside her is, she makes an incoherent sound to indicate that she doesn't know him.
Wanting to get the girl away from the creepy guy, Brandon mentions that his aunt came with him to the mall. The girl asks if it is "Aunt Claire" without skipping a beat and proceeds to follow him toward the imaginary aunt. The moment they get away from the man, she thanks Brandon for helping her out and revealed that "he asked if I want to go back to his place. So creepy." Brandon explains that he'd noticed them from across the room and asks if the girl is OK. "Yeah, I'm good. Thank you for helping me," she replied with unmistakable gratitude in her voice.
Speaking to BuzzFeed about the incident, Brandon explained that the man had "appeared to be intoxicated or on drugs." Recalling that the girl looked to be about 19, he said: "You could tell just by her face she was quite frightened." He explained that he had observed the situation first, and made eye contact with her a few times before approaching her. "She knew I had been watching and listening to what the man was saying to her and realized I was trying to get her out of the situation," Brandon said. "She went along with me 'knowing' her immediately."
Can we make “Aunt Claire” universal and do this for all women please; this warmed my heart pic.twitter.com/CPG3b79P04— Capricious Cappycorn ♑️ (@fatedfaun) February 1, 2021
"She was very appreciative and said I may have just saved her life," Brandon said, adding that he walked her out of the store and to her car after the encounter. The video sparked an important conversation online about how often women face situations like this and how it would help if more people would pull an "Aunt Claire." Although it would be ideal if women weren't put in these situations, to begin with. Since that doesn't seem to be possible any time soon, it would be nice if the non-creepy men out there stepped up to help women out when confronted by their creepy peers. As long as you are enjoying your male privilege, might as well use it for some good.