Before I started dating, I knew and listened to a lot of men. One of their biggest complaints was that women aren’t honest or straightforward enough. “Why don’t women just say no?” they lamented. “I waste all this time pursuing women who don’t want me because I don’t know for sure that they don’t want me!”

It sounded right to me. I believe in honesty, straightforwardness, and directness. I believe in telling people the truth and communicating how you feel as clearly as possible. It seemed absurd to me that all these women weren’t just saying no when no was what they meant. Sentiments like those found in this article, which was posted to xoJane and made the rounds yesterday, could’ve been snatched from my lips in those days.

I think the solution is simple — we simply stop using excuses. If a man is coming on to you (and you are not interested — if you are, go for it, girl!), respond with something like this: “I’m not interested.” Don’t apologize and don’t excuse yourself. If they question your response (which is likely), persist — “No, I said I’m not interested.”

Just be honest and all will work out better, right?

no__9gag__by_hujikari-d51hu4l

You guessed it: wrong. It’s not always so simple for all women.

In my experience, many men take any kind of response from a woman they’re hitting on, any kind of reaction at all, to be good. The theory that all publicity is good publicity is not lost on those kind. By saying “no” to a man like that, a woman is acknowledging his presence and the fact that he is hitting on her, which, alone, is a win for him. He could take it as a challenge, a reason to engage and pursue, an opportunity to debate the woman as to his merits as a man.

Other men take it further and believe that a no is merely a yes in disguise. A “no” will mean escalation, often into the physical: cornering, following/stalking, groping, and so on. Still other men take it even further, interpreting the “no” as a challenge to their manhood and a personal insult to them. Reactions range from insults (“you’re not even that hot! no wonder you’re single, turning down a good dude like me!”) to threats (“I’ll show you what a real man is!”) to physical violence (grabbing, pushing, shoving) to various forms of sexual assault (so-called “corrective rape” is an extreme, LGBT-specific example of this).

All that for daring to express a lack of interest in a particular male someone.

The alternative? Lying in a way that those types of men understand. Men with such sexist views will be more likely to leave a woman alone, or at least not harm her, if she tells him that she’s “taken” by another man. It’s similar to street harassment: a woman is far less likely to be hassled by men on the street if she’s accompanied by one or more men. Obviously, not all men are like that, but women often have no way of knowing if a man is that kind of man until after that fact, and some of us are not okay taking that chance.

honesty_by_alyde

Honesty is only the best policy when it’s a two-way street, when your word is fully accepted as honest by the other person. In the case of some men with some women, such is hardly the reality of the situation. Feminist theory is all fine and well until, say, there’s a man much larger and stronger than you trying to grab your shoulders and force you to kiss him.

The idea that a woman should only be left alone if she is “taken” or “spoken for” (terms that make my brain twitch) completely removes the level of respect that should be expected toward that woman.

It completely removes the agency of the woman, her ability to speak for herself and make her own decisions regarding when and where the conversation begins or ends. It is basically a real-life example of feminist theory at work–women (along with women’s choices, desires, etc.) being considered supplemental to or secondary to men, be it the man with whom she is interacting or the man to whom she “belongs” (see the theory of Simone de Beauvoir, the story of Adam and Eve, etc.).

And the worst part of the whole situation is that we’re doing this to ourselves.

It’s gross, and it’s messed up, but alas, this is the world in which we live — which is why that last line makes my brain twitch. Some of us aren’t “doing it to ourselves,” we’re making choices based on reality. I’d love to quote Simone de Beauvoir to some sexist who can’t take no for an answer, but unless it’s online, to do so often represents far from the safest choice.

It disgusts me to my core that I have to use my partner as a shield against men who can’t take no for an answer. It upsets me that those men don’t respect my consent, my agency, and my ownership of my body. It infuriates me that my word is not taken seriously. Every time I use such an excuse, I’m angry. Unfortunately, in the end, my anger is safer for me than some man’s.

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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137 Comments

  1. Avatar of BlackCat
    September 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm —

    Absolutely, Heina. I completely agree with this. I have an inside joke with my husband (it’s really not that funny, when I think about it); we call it: “I need the patriarchy to save me from the patriarchy.”

    In an ideal world, women could be respected simply for being people, but until that day arrives, I will be attaching myself to a man to protect myself. The ideal world is not here yet, and it’s not safe to behave as if it were.

  2. Avatar of Corey Lee Wrenn
    September 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm —

    Yeah, I find it really disgusting when men even insist that women be “more straightforward”…it’s a manipulation technique, nothing more. It’s like a prison guard insisting that a prisoner have no secrets, or an adult telling a child in that way. It’s a means of control, as though women are not allowed any defense mechanisms. Furthermore, many women are simply socialized to protect men’s feelings, and not many of us are comfortable rejecting them or telling them our honest feelings anyway.

    • Avatar of danielsjk
      September 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm —

      I think the socializing to protect men’s feeling is very confusing at times and not helpful most of the time, at least not for the guy. Not the part of the ‘no’ that is easy to get (“you’re nice, but..” = clear no, no point in asking again); nothing to argue about. What some of us are after is improvements where needed. Let’s say the reason she says ‘no’ is simply because the man was never punctual. He should know that that was the reason, so to work on that fixable ‘flaw’. With small things like that, one should be open. Not arguing here to simply tell some random guy with who no previous rapport was established.
      Knowledge of the actual facts, be them feelings, is helpful in many ways and constructive for many of us.
      With these said, I agree there is a problem and I think it has to do not only with the way we were raised, socialized and educated, but it has to do with out own ego “How dare she say no? Can’t she see how awesome I am?”. Many of us, sometimes I included, feel shame in ‘defeat/rejection’. For many is a matter of pride, for others plays on deep routed insecurities that most likely come from education and social contexts “why did she said no, am I not good enough? am I ugly? do I smell?”. It might be not something we can understand or act against on the spot, therefore the stupid follow ups.
      In my case for many years it is very simple as I tend to take the first answer as it is, in both offering and receiving.

  3. Avatar of sallystrange
    September 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm —

    “Stop playing hard to get!”

    “Good idea. So, wanna fuck?”

    “SLUT!”

    • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty
      September 11, 2013 at 5:04 am —

      One of the things that really surprised me when I transitioned was how difficult casual sex is for women. Some of the guys that won’t take no for an answer are not, in fact, looking for a yes and will straight up flip out and start calling you a slut if you actually indicate interest.

      I was kind of shocked how with just a few incidents my dating behavior quickly fell right in line with the cultural standard. Personally, I’d prefer to date down and have sex on the first date but guys that don’t put effort into their appearance are often really bitter and misogynistic and there’s no way I’m going to be putting myself in a sexual situation with a guy without making sure he knows how to respect boundaries first.

      • Avatar of sallystrange
        May 9, 2014 at 9:49 pm —

        You said it! It was a shock for me because I was pretty antisocial as a teen and got stuck in 2 long-term monogamous relationships in my late teens and early 20s. Once I got out of those, I started having sex more and more, as I found that I liked it and began to understand how to make it happen. I kind of grew up in a lefty hippie bubble in the country, so this time of life included a lot of unpleasant shocks for me. Innumerable guys who shunned me publicly after we fucked on the first date. So many times I’ve held back because the cost of being wrong in my assessment of a guy’s character was just too high. Even without getting to worrying about assault, that sort of emotional violence takes its toll.

      • Avatar of marilove
        May 9, 2014 at 10:59 pm —

        One time I had casual sex with guy, probably twice, and then he got all weird. We had met at some party and he happened to live close. We made plans and he just didn’t show up, and as an adult, I hate that shit. I’m good if things come up, but just send a quick text okay? So I’m not waiting around. He did not like that. He was like, “Look, you slut, we’re not dating and you’re not my friend and I don’t have to tell you shit.”

        I was like, “LOL, you’re a slut too, ya know.” at this point amused. And he said, “No I’m not. You’re just a common whore. Men are supposed to spread their seed. Women who open up their legs for anyone are worthless.”

        I was like “UH OKAY BYE!” and hung up on him. Clearly he had issues. I’m USUALLY a pretty good read on people, but sometimes…sometimes the creeps get through.

  4. Avatar of pascale68
    September 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm —

    Thanks for writing this. But I have to ask, does this actually work? I remember in my younger days, I would tell someone who was bothering me that I had a boyfriend, and it rarely deterred them. I’d get comments like “well, you’re not married, so you can’t be that committed to him.” And on more than one occasion, I’d be with a date, he’d get up to go to the bathroom, get a drink, whatever, and some other guy would come over and hit on me, saying something like “if I were with you, I’d never let you out of my sight.” Which is super creepy, like I’d want to be with someone who didn’t trust me.

    I do agree with you that it should be enough to just say you are not interested. But our culture (movies, etc.) tell us that a man can get any woman if he tried hard enough, whether she is single or not. In fact, these men are shown in movies as being brave, instead of the creepy dudes they are. And any woman who rejects a man who does whatever lame things he thinks is enough to impress her is shown as being a total bitch. ughh

    • Avatar of marilove
      May 9, 2014 at 11:00 pm —

      No, it doesn’t always work, but then again, neither does a straight, “I am not interested.”

  5. Avatar of Mankoi
    September 10, 2013 at 3:07 pm —

    The sad thing (or another sad thing) is even this doesn’t always work. I knew a woman who cited a boyfriend to try and get some guy to back off. Apparently the guy told her to let him know if she broke up with the other guy, and occasionally asked about how the relationship was going. It was seriously creepy.

  6. Avatar of cityzenjane
    September 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm —

    Dead on.

  7. Avatar of GeekGirlsRule
    September 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm —

    Usually a mention of the husband is enough to get guys to back down, but I have had to resort to punching when that didn’t do it. And I will. I hit like a freight train. A lot of women don’t have my muscle mass to back up their words though.

    Also, any time some dude asks why you said no, it is just a manipulation technique to get you talking so he can try to “reason” you out of your no. Just say no. Don’t explain, outside of you, “Because you’re obviously the kind of asshole who ignores boundaries and keeps asking stupid questions,” if you feel safe enough to do that..

  8. Avatar of MyMelody
    September 10, 2013 at 8:15 pm —

    This actually happened to me.

    Me: Thank you, but I’m not interested.
    Random man I don’t even know: Bitch we had something! Stop acting crazy!

    That’s the one I remember most. I’ve also been told “whatever, you are fat/ a whore/ugly anyway”

    One man followed me from my community college almost all the way home, even though I made it clear I had a boyfriend (I did). He kept touching on me. It was disgusting.

    I’m sorry, I don’t know how to tell who is a good guy, and who is going to do some awful shit to me. I’d love it if there were an app for that, but there isn’t. I just end up being very cold and distant when out by myself in a vulnerable position. Better someone’s hurt feelings than being violated in some awful way.

  9. Avatar of Buzz Parsec
    September 10, 2013 at 9:16 pm —

    This reminds me of “Don’t feed the trolls”. Does that work? Does ignoring these guys work? Maybe sometimes, but how do you tell? Ignoring them could be worse. Or telling them the truth, a plain and simple “no” might work, or it might be treated as a challenge and lead to escalation. Or lying might get rid of them, or it might not. There is no good option, except to keep chipping away at the entitlement and the desire to play power games and dominate other people that I think lies at the heart of this attitude.

    Keep up the good fight, Heina, even if it might sometimes seem useless! :-)

  10. Avatar of laughinggiraffe
    September 11, 2013 at 12:26 am —

    The last time I was direct and straightforward with a strange man regarding how I felt about his approach to me (the words “fuck” and “off” may have been uttered), I was threatened with a punch to the face – and I don’t mean he said “I’m going to punch you”, I mean he drew his fist back. So yeah, there’s that.

    • Avatar of onamission5
      September 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm —

      This is a response that I’ve been confronted with too. Thankfully both the bartenders and bouncers were friends of mine and the guy was removed, but that didn’t make the walk home any more comfortable.

    • Avatar of marilove
      May 9, 2014 at 11:01 pm —

      After I told some asshole at a bar to “get the fuck out of my face” or some such, HE SAT DOWN NEXT TO ME. So I had to leave. Ugh. I should have thrown my drink in his face but I wasn’t going to waste my $6 IPA on that piece of trash.

  11. Avatar of dtkgreg
    September 11, 2013 at 8:42 am —

    Ugh. I can remember thinking that sort of thing in my youth, wondering why girls weren’t more straightforward. It was years before I began to understand that they were afraid, and years more before I really understood *why* they were afraid (since I’m not scary, right?)
    On the other hand, being an actual shy type back then, I took any brush-off as a ‘no’ and didn’t go pestering, groping and so forth.
    Because that’s how actual shy people act. Also, decent people.

  12. Avatar of jimnewman
    September 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm —

    Nice. I noticed from my male view that many guys do;’t even care if you are married. They assume if you’re alone or talking to them you’re willing to consider the alternative. Indeed, I have found for myself it’s dangerous to talk about my own relationship in any negative way. It seems to be code for “I might be available” or even “I am available, talk to me.” Kind of like everyone knows “come up for a cup of coffee means” is code for possibility. It all sucks. I mean flirting is fun but it has become so damned unsafe on all levels. there seems to be some notion that if you are unhappy in a relationship you are seeking a new one. Hell, no! I’m, just looking for commiseration and someone who has an idea or maybe just random venting. Maybe I’m just taking a break away to cool off, reflect, or feel like I am valued, matter, in some way I don’t feel now. It’s sad we have to announce whether we are attached or not at the beginning of a conversation to plumb the depths of possibility. Like clearing the air of suspicion. Sadly it also means we have a terrible system of meeting potential partners versus just friends in our society. Good luck!

  13. Avatar of Moniqa Aylin
    September 11, 2013 at 12:51 pm —

    Ah, yes. I have long since lost count of the number of times I’ve been called a fat, ugly, stupid, frigid slut/cunt/bitch, and even “old” (at age 26) for daring to honestly rebuff men’s advances (usually but not always online). I enjoy replying/trolling them to point out that they were the one trying to get into the pants of this fat, ugly bitch not 15 seconds ago but thank you very much for revealing your true character with little-to-no prompting, and good luck trying to attract women with your winning personality, you poor, butt-hurt crybaby. *le sigh*

  14. Avatar of capricello
    September 11, 2013 at 3:06 pm —

    This article captures the “problem” of being honest in these situations perfectly. It’s always easy to say that women should vocally stand up for themselves, be shining beacons of the feminism, etc. but it’s more an idealistic view than a realistic one in the current social climate.

    On the idea of always being honest: Actually, my honesty is reserved for those deserving of it. Pushy, aggressive, chauvinistic dudes certainly don’t make that list. (Sorry, guise. You no fun to be around.)

  15. Avatar of jimnewman
    September 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm —

    LOL. Making Amish Pbutter Bars for my daughter and had thot and had to make quick post. It’s easy for men to insist on honesty because they are in power; it’s all to their advantage. When I met my partner she remarked how she liked the old courtier system where everything is private amidst much conversation, drinking, and dancing–all to protect oneself from revealing too much. Our penchant for letting it all hang out and nothing is private is perhaps not to the best advantage of those who most need privacy. In a more non judgmental, or monolithic, society we may begin to consider honesty as norm. Meanwhile back in reality… I’m really sorry. I’m knew to these posts and it makes me sad to hear this shit.

  16. Avatar of jimnewman
    September 11, 2013 at 8:17 pm —

    So I totally forgot the Pbutter so now oatmeal-nut bars. This post has salience because of our 13 yr old daughter who is so damned kind she puts others before her and I am conflicted about her getting what she wants. Fearful to let it go as how easy is it to take advantage of a pleaser yet maybe that’s just the way she is and if I try to make her state her desires more she may react against that. My other daughter is naturally rebellious and takes care of herself but I worry about the other. Yesterday, I said it was good to say what you want, good to ask for what you need and she demurred– but it doesn’t really matter to me. I have to be so careful with her as she will second guess what people want rather then asserting herself or if she does she caves in to any objection. She totally doesn’t care about truth or not–it’s all about comfort and being kind and not feeling discord. This whole honesty thing goes beyond how to deal with asshole men but also how to ask for what you want and not hide it if there’s a flutter of disagreement. But I am done in that I don’t want to change her she has the right to be who she is and she already knows I think. Sheesh.

  17. Avatar of Mike Haubrich
    September 13, 2013 at 6:47 pm —

    I had a girlfriend who told me that her father said that if a boy asks her out, she should say no until he has asked 3 times. On the third time, if he hadn’t been chased away by her turn downs then it showed that he was really interested in her and not just sex. She obviously thought it was bullshit because she said “yes” the first time I asked her out; and I don’t think that it was because I was irresistible. But, I started thinking about this later, and wondered if he had also been telling her brothers the same thing, “if she says no ask her at least two more times before giving up!” How many dads teach this to their sons? That’s what disturbs me, and perhaps leads to the idea that men shouldn’t take no for an answer.

    I have had men hit on someone I was dating, RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, so sometimes even that dating someone else doesn’t stop them. I just want to go around knocking some of my co-genders in the head until they get this respect thing.

  18. Avatar of Matthew Chatterton
    September 15, 2013 at 4:41 am —

    Skepchick, I don’t read your blog, so if you’ve already answered this, I apologize. What do you propose as a solution to his? For me, it seems it would have to start in middle school or high school with teaching boys to accept a “no.” Unfortunately, that excludes a lot of people who are already adults.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      September 16, 2013 at 6:17 pm —

      Well, this particular Skepchick thinks that consent should start mattering more in general. Combating attitudes around women “asking for it” and otherwise being culpable for harassment and assault is something that can be done socially and is, in fact, more effective when done by one’s peers than taught through schools. Plenty of men who do respect women and women’s consent do not speak up when people they know and with whom they are interacting make comments that denigrate women and consent. That’s one place to start.

  19. Avatar of panchoruiz
    September 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm —

    Yeah, when I’m in this situation…

    Okay, I guess now is a good a time to clarify this if any time is and this seems like a relatively safe place. I’m a “trans woman,” “pancho ruiz” is a pen name I used to write under and it made more sense to write under a male name to discuss a life where people were treating me as a male. If I start commenting under another name anyone who cares will know what’s going on, not that I really think anyone will.

    Anyway, I have heard of street harassment sense the days of yore but have had less direct experience of the type women typically face. Now that it’s happening to me more I would love to be able to call these guys out and explain the scumminess of what they’re doing, but they tend to specifically do it in situations where it’s less safe for me to do that, when I’m alone and there are less passerby’s near. I don’t see this as any kind of coincidence. Then of course there’s the added fear that they might look at me a second time and decide that I “tricked” them, so anything that can get me out a situation quickly seems like a good idea. Mix in some verbal communication problems and PTSD-type issues and I am just not going to get into an argument with some guy on the street about why I’m not going to kiss his friend as a birthday present. “I have a boyfriend” is acceptable, a locked door is even better.

  20. Avatar of m 00
    September 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm —

    I do see what you’re saying – on the other hand, is this purely a feminist issue?

    If a guy comes up to chat, I will happily chat along out of politeness, and you can actually have a good conversation. However, I feel obliged to slyly slip in somewhere that I am taken (“Yes, I saw that film with my boyfriend”) – just in case the guy is really looking for that special someone (or to get laid), I don’t want him to waste his romance-searching evening with me. The chat continues for a little longer, then he makes his excuses. No hassle.

    In these situations it’s not feeling of threat that makes me mention my boyfriend. I just feel it’s decent to mention that I’m not available, whether I have a boyfriend or girlfriend. In fact, I remember chatting up a guy once, who later in conversation mentioned his girlfriend. I respected him for that (though was slightly disappointed): that he didn’t string me along, and that he wasn’t out to cheat on his partner.

    If the guy’s annoying or just butts in at a bad time, I can’t recall mentioning my boyfriend, I’ve used a neutral brush-off which they’ve accepted without a quibble and left. Maybe I’ve been lucky, or maybe it’s a cultural thing, since I’m not American…? Or maybe nearing middle age just helps you forget the jerks of past!

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      September 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm —

      I’m not sure what you mean by asking if it’s a purely feminist issue. In any case, the conversations you’re describing aren’t really the kind that I’ve discussed. Specifically, what I’m talking about are interactions that involve men who aren’t polite and don’t really want to have a conversation — they make it clear that all that they are interested in is the possibility of sex. Culture might have something to do with it, sure. Race might, as well. Women of color in the US are often treated as exotic sex objects rather than respectfully as people.

  21. Avatar of Tahereh Safavi
    May 5, 2014 at 5:55 pm —

    Yup. This. Exactly.

  22. Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
    May 5, 2014 at 11:37 pm —

    Hi Heina,

    I’m curious how you feel about men approaching you who are actually “polite”. I have a blog that discusses gender issues, and it would be cool to hear your opinion on this matter.

    The reason is because, as we know, most men who approach women are probably looking to possibly end up hitting it off and finding a date. The quick shield-defense of “I have a boyfriend”, or in the other writer’s case, “No, thank you” is not necessarily used only among aggressive men who yell cat-calls, but also among guys who have worked up every ounce of courage to talk to a woman he doesn’t know.

    It often goes: “Hi, what’s your name?” “My name is ‘I have a boyfriend’”

    And, my experience, is that this defense is almost entirely dependent on whether the woman feels any attraction to the man.

    The problem, that I think feminist writers overlook, is that they don’t realize it but they feel a certain type of resentment toward men who approach them, but who they do not feel tingly by talking to. Sometimes, quite harshly, a man will be branded as a deviant for having the audacity to try and talk to a woman despite being unattractive.

    And, this unfair biology works the exact same way among men meeting women with less sexual options; such as very overweight women. When I’m in a club, and an overweight woman comes up to me, I know that she’s hitting on me under the veil of small-talk. And, my biology pretty much screams at me “There’s no signs of fertility. Don’t talk to her.” Realizing my biology is trying to hijack my thought process, I actually make an effort to resist it and talk to such women anyway.

    I sometimes worry that women (or people in general) do not understand how their biology works; and they assign blame to a person for not meeting sexual criteria that changes their emotions in a less positive way. What this results in is nice guys who (sadly) have no rebel, masculine, confident or bad-boy attributes being absolutely destroyed by rejection after they try to muster up the courage to talk to a woman.

    Would love to hear your thoughts about this matter.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      May 6, 2014 at 1:20 pm —

      Regarding women saying “I have a boyfriend” or “no, thank you” to men to whom they are not attracted: are you suggesting that people say “yes” to dates with people to whom they are not attracted? That seems more than a little disingenuous.

      As for your theories about feminist resentment, I personally disagree. I’ve been street harassed by men who, had they approached me politely, I would’ve said yes in a heartbeat (i.e. I found them physically attractive). On the flip side, I’ve been flattered by men who aren’t at all my type hitting on me in a respectful way and look back fondly on those incidents as positive and confidence-boosting.

      You have every right in the world to not be personally attracted to bigger women, but please refrain from talking to them out of some misguided sense of pity. There are plenty of men out there who are genuinely attracted to women who aren’t thin and would be happy to be with these women. You don’t get an award for deigning to speak to women you find unattractive. In addition, your assumption that “fertility” is why you aren’t attracted to bigger women is unfortunately not borne out by science. If increased fertility were the only reason why people had sexual preferences, heterosexuals would always have at least 2 men involved in any sexual act, since sperm competition increases fertility. Such is hardly the case.

      • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
        May 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm —

        Should people choose dates they’re unattracted to? Sounds weird, but I do think people make snap judgments based on immediate attractiveness, which is deceptive. I’ve gone out with girls who I ended up really liking, but for whatever reason wasn’t initially attracted to (maybe they were having a bad hair day). If people understand how their biology works, they might look past the split-second judgment that is often unfairly made based on typically superficial features.

        As for your experiences, well that’s great. It narrows down the problem then on cat-calling, aggressive men. At least for you. Certainly some women are less receptive to ANY man talking to them. But that’s all on an individual basis. And, that you find respectful guys hitting on you to be confidence boosting is great. I think the women who don’t feel this way are probably the ones missing self-esteem. Certainly some gender issues bloggers I’ve read (I won’t name names) are a bit less kind to the very idea of anybody hitting on them, respectful or not, And, I’d observe this to be an unhealthy attitude or sexual insecurity.

        As for your rebuttal of sexual evolutionary psychology; well, I hope you’re right and I’m wrong, that it’s not about fertility, and women are not solely interested in tall and rebellious men as the protectors of their offspring, and men are not solely interested in signs of fertility. The current paradigm (that I suspect is the correct one) is that most of our sexual behavior is hardwired into us based on these types of factors. And, if a person is missing one of these traits, it is absolutely impossible to generate attraction on first encounter.

        But you’re suggesting it’s more individual. Some guys like really overweight girls. Therefore, some women like short, “geeky” guys. In my experience, both of these types of people do not / cannot exhibit attraction upon first meeting. They do, however, find partners more through personality instead of passion. Which may be why I’ve noticed very overweight women and very physically unattractive men *seem* to find happier relationships in the long run, and go through less flighty, passion-based partners.

        But that’s not scientific. Just my observation.

        However, like I said, I hope you’re right–and I hope there’s “somebody for everybody”. That the 5’1 guy I knew in college who had never had a girlfriend before just needs to be in the right place, at the right time, for a certain type of woman to see him and think “he’s hot!”.

        No, I’m not saying I deserve a medal for talking to the overweight woman I’m not attracted to at the bar, but I can say it’s not out of pity. It’s out of interest in the phenomenon of attraction, and realizing it’s very rude to dismiss somebody based on initial biological feelings from the first second of meeting them.

        • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
          May 6, 2014 at 5:15 pm —

          It is true that snap judgments aren’t the best way to run one’s life, but that doesn’t mean that anyone is entitled to a date with anyone. That is the point.

          You don’t have to hope that I’m right and you’re wrong. You have failed to cite any evidence that “overweight” = “infertile” = “unattractive” other than your own personal preferences. The view that overweight = unsexy is one that is limited to the modern Western context. Go outside of Europe/North America and/or the 20th/21st century, and you’ll find societies downright drooling over the same women you claim are “infertile” and therefore unattractive.

          “In my experience, both of these types of people do not / cannot exhibit attraction upon first meeting. They do, however, find partners more through personality instead of passion.”
          Are you really that unable to see beyond your own preferences? First you claim that your personal preferences are SCIENCE, then you claim that people cannot sincerely be attracted to people outside the beauty norms of our particular place in the world and time in history.

          I know you will find it hard to believe, but there exist men who hate my personality but who simultaneously desire me for my body. Even though my “overweight” body is repulsive to you, it certainly is not for them. Not everyone’s personal preferences neatly adhere to societal norms (which, again, are a product of our time and place, not of biology).

          Even if it’s not out of pity, I can tell you that fat women don’t need you to talk to us. We don’t want someone who has to look past our bodies — and who can’t even conceive of someone who is physically attracted to us — to be with us. We, like all people, want to be desired sincerely.

          I will leave you with this: Sperm competition causes an increase in fertility. The best way to trigger it is to ensure that a woman has more than one male sexual partner and that everyone knows about it. Why isn’t everyone having multiple male-one female sex all the time, then? Why is anyone giving a blowjob ever? Human beings and our sexual attractions are hardly dictated by the optimization of fertility.

    • Avatar of LLoyd Taylor
      May 6, 2014 at 7:11 pm —

      I am glad that a person of any gender can find it within her/himself to work up the courage to approach a person that s/he finds attractive. However, just because someone worked up the courage to speak to you does not mean that you owe that person anything for his/her attempt. Nor do you owe the person approaching you a chance due to their politeness, intelligent conversation, or kind approach. I agree that as a person, one could return the polite behavior when saying that you are not interested, as there is no need to be rude if the interaction is polite and stays respectful. But no one, particularly strangers, owes anyone the building up of or the recognition of their self-esteem. That is each individual person’s job. Sure, people you are already close to can affect your self-esteem. But random people that are approached for conversation, dates, interactions, whatever– do not owe anyone else an opportunity to do what was unwanted in the first place. Perhaps that individual showing disinterest IS missing out on that someone’s special awesomeness. So be it. This does not mean that the disinterested person is assigning blame for lacking or possessing particular qualities to the approaching person, or even making any kind of judgments about that person. Rarely is it personal, unless one is behaving in the ways mentioned in this article; then, it’s just personally unwelcome, violating, and scary. If a woman, for example, brands a generally nice, shy guy a deviant because of an honestly nice approach… consider that that response is not about YOU or anything YOU have done. It is more than likely the experiences she has had BEFORE you were there.

      If one can pull up the courage to overcome shyness or whatever fear/reason, s/he can do it again and again and again… as many times as one decides to try. Success is in the trying many different times (and not on the same person who was disinterested to begin with, obviously), in many different ways. Not all women (and men) want what you think they want… again, this is determined by their experiences, point in life, interests, etc. Trying and failing and trying again anyway is what builds a lot of confidence.

      The part about resisting your biology when talking to women… yeah, that’s probably a polite and respectful move, in general.

      The part about overweight women having less sexual options… I do not see that at all. All of the overweight women (and men) that I have ever known were not virgins, and had active sex lives… again, based on personal preferences of what they wanted to do with themselves. Perhaps you should consider these overweight women that approach you with small talk as having worked up the EXACT same kind of courage that YOU want to be recognized and rewarded by getting a chance to be a nice person to another nice person.

      If biology is the only thing at play when making decisions about with whom they want to have conversation, sex, emotions, dinner, card games… the entire dating and mating thing would be vastly different. It would be much more clear cut. Emotions, experiences, preferences, ideals, values, interests… PLUS biology create a vast soup of things that influence what we want and why. Do not worry that other people do not understand their own biology… That is o=greatly influenced by that list of factors, anyway. Instead, focus that energy on yourself, figuring out and honing who you are (all of those factors) and what you want out of life, dating, etc., so that when you do try again at approaching someone, you have your qualities AND your surety to offer.

    • Avatar of skeith
      May 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm —

      Pretty much everything Lloyd said, and also this:

      You talk about women coming up to you in a club. “People going to bars/clubs” seems to be the default mental setting for this kind of interaction whenever it is discussed in the hypothetical. What you’re not getting is that this happens to women all the time =outside= of bars and clubs. A woman going for a ride on public transit because she needs to get to work. A woman actually at work, if she deals with the public. A woman out enjoying herself with her friends. In these situations, the women are not there for you to select as sexual partners. They are not there =for= you at all. They are having their own lives, as whole people, in no way involving you, total stranger that you are. And yet these are situations in which women frequently find men hitting on them.

      Maybe it takes all your courage to talk to that hot lady on the bus, but successfully screwing up that courage does not make your approach to her appropriate. You don’t get a gold medal for doing a world-record-breaking long jump in the middle of a busy intersection; just because something is hard doesn’t make it the correct thing to do. And you need to remember that the hot lady on the bus has already been approached by tons of guys before you, guys who exhibited varying levels of aggression, and she doesn’t know you from Adam and doesn’t know if you are a soft-spoken rapist with a gun in your pocket for if you don’t get the right answer. Maybe you know that you’re just a shy guy and totally nice, but she doesn’t, and furthermore her existence in a public space doesn’t make her sexually available in any capacity.

  23. Avatar of Yasmine Grey
    May 6, 2014 at 2:55 am —

    I am shocked and confused. Are you really saying that going ‘sorry, it’s sweet of you to ask, but I’m not looking for someone right now/you’re just not my type’ doesn’t work? I don’t know how much backbone you have, but I’ve never experienced a problem with this. Just smile and show that you understand how awkward it is for him, how unfair it is that the burden of approaching any woman he likes is on his shoulders, how unreasonable this rejection is given that you barely know him…Hell, even say so out loud. Then reiterate.
    He’ll go away, and he’ll do so politely. In my experience, that has a 100% success rate.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      May 6, 2014 at 1:14 pm —

      It’s great that being straightforward yet polite has worked for you. Unfortunately, I’m hardly the only woman on the planet who has experienced the phenomenon of a polite, gentle rejection being taken as an invitation for “convincing”. Not all strategies work in all contexts and for all women. I can only hope that your experience becomes more and more common until mine is only a distant memory.

    • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
      May 6, 2014 at 5:06 pm —

      I agree Yasmine.

      Again, the big difference is the aggressive, cat-calling males, who I am guessing Heina is describing (at least after talking about it on these comments and pulling more information out). I’ve been rejected in the way you describe before, Yasmine. And, it doesn’t hurt. It communicates (if it’s authentic) “I’m an honest woman who feels weird talking to male strangers as I’m very committed to my boyfriend, otherwise would love to chat”.

      Yeah, no problem. I walk away feeling good.

      Now, I don’t go around hitting on girls all of the time. Really, it’s like once in a blue moon type thing, sometimes more as a social experiment. As far as rejections go, one woman who was a very frequent club-goer at a local venue used my “hitting on her” as an attempt (or so she thought) to crush my sense of self-esteem.

      “Go away, you fucking creep. I don’t want to fucking talk to you, you little sissy.” (Her words, exactly).

      Most guys would feel HORRIBLE, even experience long-term psychological effects. It happened to a buddy of mine, who once crossed paths with a similar woman. For me, I just realized it was somebody using gender politics to be a type of tyrant.

      The punchline to the story is that one year later, I was at the same club, she didn’t know who I was–and she came up to ME and started flirting. I could have enacted “revenge”, but I didn’t. And, no, I didn’t take her home either — I just got a good laugh about it later.

      The point? There are abusive men AND abusive women in the dating game. Be careful of drifting away from the conventions of being a polite, nice person lest you eventually turn into that woman who I described.

  24. Avatar of girlsailor
    May 6, 2014 at 6:21 am —

    What’s funny is, that if I were single, the guys that would respectfully accept my ‘no’ are probably the guys I would more likely be attracted to, if that reflects their general personality and attitude towards women.

  25. Avatar of Ben Moore
    May 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm —

    Male here. I’m sleep deprived so I’m not feeling too articulate right now.

    I’m an older guy (38 years old), but I can remember what it’s like to be a young man. I’ve had never harassed women who rejected me (well, maybe except for that one time in a bar when I was drunk, and the lady asked me to move a couple feet away from her. Since I thought we were at a comfortable distance, and she said it with a smile, I thought she was teasing and being playfully sassy. I have since learned that often women smile out of nervousness or habitual politeness. Definitely a mistake that I didn’t repeat), or even thought of doing so. So I’m perplexed why some men would behave that way. To all the women here, how often do you see that reaction from men who you rejected? Perhaps rough percentage of men taking your “no” reasonably well and who didn’t?

    After giving this matter more thought, I wonder perhaps Hollywood is partially to blame. How many rom-coms has it produced that consisted of a man winning over the reluctant lady of his dreams?

    Also, when a real-life couple regaled me with the tale of how they got started, it wasn’t unusual for the girlfriend to say she wasn’t attracted to him at first, but with the boyfriend’s persistence, she started to notice good things about him. Not only that, some of them would say they were impressed by their persistence.

    Finally, the society places the onus on men to approach women, initiate, pursue, whatever. We should see some positive change if we stop stigmatizing women who initiate, because if men knew women would ask them out if they were interested, they should become a tad less aggressive. In theory anyway. :)

    With those things in mind, you can see how some men, especially young ones, get confused. I’m not saying men who outright harass are merely misguided. I’m simply saying other factors might play a part in men’s behavior. Of course, some of them are just assholes with no respect for women’s boundaries.

    Like I said, I had never harassed women who didn’t agree to go out with me or whatever. But I did wonder how persistent I should be. I genuinely liked those women who I wanted to hang out with, so I’d continue our friendship even after they declined. However, sometimes the female friend would become a little more friendlier after rejecting me, and I’d find myself wondering if she had changed her mind about me. I usually didn’t try again because I felt asking her twice would risk our friendship. But it’s also true that I eventually dated three female friends who had turned me down at first (usually a year or two after).

    I guess the point is that reality can be complicated. I’m more than happy to hear what others have to say re: my comment.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      May 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm —

      It’s easy: if she says no, you respect that. I personally feel like it’s less confusion and more entitlement and condescension. That’s what it feels like to me: “I am attracted to you therefore am entitled to get a piece of that. You’re too stupid to know what you want.”

      Attraction may grow sometimes, but forcing yourself on someone hardly will make that happen.

      • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
        May 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm —

        Well, I disagree (I disagree with like 90% of what you write Heina but that’s why I’m here, to challenge a little bit, haha). The reason men act this way, and it IS a big problem, is more desperation than condescension. This is a dating culture that does not teach social skills, where men try to look cool in front of their guy-friends, where men hooking up is a sign of high social status, and sexual confidence is also a sign of high social status. What happens then, when a guy hasn’t been laid in two years? He starts acting desperate and pushy, his sense of self-esteem is rock bottom and he “needs” attention and approval from a woman, but is absolutely clueless how to receive it. it might feel like it’s entitlement, and he believes you’re stupid, but you have to dig beneath the surface and figure out the psychological mechanisms to understand what has really made them resort to that type of behavior.

        Also, to the commenter above me, who is 38 and reflecting on his youth…lol!. 38 isn’t wheelchair old. The world’s oldest man, Alex Imich, turned 111. I have it on good authority he was active on Facebook just two years ago (109) if that makes you feel any better.

        • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
          May 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm —

          Actually, you’ll find that men who feel entitled to and yet above women will act that way even if they’re married, taken, and/or sleeping with everyone and their mother already. The idea that not having had sex = bad actions is a myth. I know men who don’t have much sex (if any) who still manage to treat women with respect because *gasp* they think of women as fellow human beings rather than sex-dispensing machines. What a concept.

          • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
            May 6, 2014 at 6:24 pm

            This could be because even men who are sleeping around a lot are still really insecure and need yet MORE validation, and become even more desperate because they realize that having sex did not actually give them an internal sense of confidence that they believed would happen as per society’s expectations. So maybe they need to have more and more of it to finally accomplish what they want (inner fulfillment) — which is impossible to ever obtain this way.

        • Avatar of Hanoumatoi
          May 6, 2014 at 5:40 pm —

          It isn’t someone else’s problem to fix you. It isn’t someone else’s obligation to let you treat them like shit because you might feel justified acting that way, or your self-esteem is low.

          What that kid NEEDS is self-awareness, self-esteem not wrapped up in where his dick has been, and not to harass other people because he can’t figure his own shit out.

          Plus, not all men are desperate, as Heina says. Most of them just treat women like shit. (I just wanted to flip not all men on an MRA, hehe, it’s delightful.)

        • Avatar of katertoterson
          May 6, 2014 at 6:01 pm —

          What you’re describing is essentially the definition of entitlement. When I’m not interested in talking to someone who is behaving rudely or desperately I don’t “have” to dig beneath the surface to understand why that person in behaving that way. I’m not obligated to tolerate a rude person because they haven’t been laid in a while. However, in polite society the other person does have an obligation to respect another person’s decision to not engage in a conversation. Regardless of the motive rude behavior is rude and the end result is the same. Women aren’t here to play the role of a sympathetic forgiving mother figure to every random dude that’s having a bad day. Many of us women are conditioned to be sweet to everyone at all costs including our own comfort and privacy. Entitled attitudes, like the one in your comment, are what drive such unreasonable expectations of women to worry about strange men’s feelings more than their own good time. I couldn’t care less if Mr. Can’t Get Any looks bad in front of his bros. I’m busy looking out for Numero Uno.

        • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
          May 6, 2014 at 6:38 pm —

          So women ought to be responsible and understanding free therapists to these dudes who are desperate whether or not they’re having lots of sex?

          You don’t seem to think much re the humanity, self-control, or any other positive qualities of your fellow men. I choose to think that, given the basic understanding that women deserve the respect that all people do, men are capable of comporting themselves well. But that’s just me and my feminism that you 90% disagree with, I guess.

          • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
            May 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm

            No, I don’t think that women should be psychiatrists to random guys. Never really implied that, either. There’s a percentage of men who are sexually aggressive, maybe with psychopathic personality disorder. These people are more like criminals. I don’t think they’re the common denominator here. I think many women have very bad experiences with these types of men.

            But they’re not the broad-paintbrush of most male behavior.

            The vast majority of the time, when a guy hits on a girl, and perhaps he continues past the point that she says “No, I have a boyfriend”, it’s because he was told by somebody that women play “hard to get” and you have to keep pushing (as Mike Haubrich described in a post above this one, children even get taught this stuff).

            So what’s the proper response? You could A: tell him to go fuck himself, thus leading to crushing self-esteem and perhaps the rise of misogynistic tendencies as he grows to resent women for such crushing rejections, or the woman could B: kindly explain to him obvious social norms that he’s breaking, and just soften the blow in a socially productive way.

            But it doesn’t mean the guy who was “pushing” (assuming that he’s being a decent person about it, and he’s not some horrible, crazy rapist) has no understanding of female agency or is even disrespectful. He’s trying to follow really bad cultural advice.

          • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
            May 6, 2014 at 7:15 pm

            So how exactly am I supposed to divine if the guy not backing down when I say “no” is going to get violent or not? Even if the violent ones are in a minority, that’s not a bet I want to ake.

            Who exactly is advocating telling men to go fuck themselves? None of the responses to overly-aggressive men I cited in the post are rude in that way.

            kindly explain to him obvious social norms that he’s breaking, and just soften the blow in a socially productive way.

            Your optimism is adorable. Guess what I used to try to do which led to violent, angry, insulting responses from men? Just guess. Also, it’s hardly my job to educate these men, especially when said education almost always is met with hostility, if not violence.

          • Avatar of Hanoumatoi
            May 6, 2014 at 7:31 pm

            I’m not sure why you think women whose boundaries are being violated have an obligation to meet rude behavior with politesse, especially when politesse tends to reify the belief that the girl is playing hard to get.

            Men who do this have a problem. They need to fix it, and don’t deserve special treatment. If you think they need help, help them, don’t chastise the ones being abused and harassed. Why do so many of us men not do this? Is it perhaps that we treat women as people instead of encrypted sexual vending machines which we only need to put the right code in, and receive sex?

    • Avatar of skeith
      May 6, 2014 at 8:29 pm —

      “To all the women here, how often do you see that reaction from men who you rejected? Perhaps rough percentage of men taking your “no” reasonably well and who didn’t?”

      I didn’t see anyone actually answer this, so I will:

      The percentage varies depending on the context. Street harassment: rejection is met with hostility 100% of the time. In a club setting: rejection is met with hostility maybe 30% of the time, if you include “won’t fucking give up and go away” with hostility, which I do.

      But here’s the thing. Even if it is only 1% of the guys who get violent, women have to behave as though every strange man might be one of that 1%. The cost to the woman if she guesses wrong is high and dire. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and let the dude prove himself to be not a dangerous sociopath than the reverse.

      Guys like Cyrus seem to think this is an unfair program of discrimination levied by women against himself. Let me instead suggest, to Cyrus and other guys who find this situation so intolerable, that the people you should be angry at are men. It’s men who behave in a highly unsafe fashion toward women who turn them down who cause women to behave this way toward you: as though you might be one of those unsafe men. Why don’t you direct your ire toward those unsafe men, instead? Why don’t you speak up to them, tell them they aren’t cool, that you aren’t their friend, that they are not welcome to your parties, that they might have great beer but they are terrible people? When you see a man behave in an unsafe way toward a woman in public, why don’t you stand up to him?

      And if you don’t feel safe standing up to him, how do you think that woman feels?

    • Avatar of annaphylaxis
      May 15, 2014 at 3:57 am —

      When I was about 10yo, and my mum started in with the ‘social preparations’ for being a wife, I tried to explain to her that I had no interest in marriage. She told me then that I had to – that while it was regrettable, one needed to have ONE man to protect her from all the others. I found she was right.

      Percentage of men either reacting badly (threatening, grabbing, insulting) or not accepting (repeated attempts, arguing, debating), the polite ‘no, thank you’ form of rejection *save one circumstance* would be pretty darn close to 100%.
      That circumstance was if I were at a club (where I was never alone) and they asked me to dance. I do NOT dance, and stated that flatly, generally in the form of ‘no, thank you, I don’t dance’. (If they observed for any length of time, they would realize that i was telling the truth.) That one was easy and usually accepted.

      The thing that finally occurred to me during my last ‘dating’ phase, is that men KNOW their behavior is unacceptable – at least a significant portion of it. Every man I encountered attempted to assure me that he was “not like other men”, often using those very words. From this, I must assume that they realize that traditional male behavior is not acceptable to women, or they wouldn’t be trying to dissociate themselves from it as a sales ploy.
      Incidentally, they were all either deluded or consciously lying… I married the one who convinced me, and, well… he’s deluded, too. I have decided I shall keep him anyway.

      If a woman says ‘no’ – assume it means NO. Always. Totally. Do NOT “try again, in case she’s playing games”. How would YOU feel if you were badgered by someone who was not welcome in your personal space, but kept interrupting your day/evening/life?

  26. Avatar of allroadsout
    May 6, 2014 at 5:16 pm —

    I know it’s not easy and it takes a lot of confidence but we really do have to start telling men to naff off on our own terms (which shouldn’t need to include soft-soaping them with ‘I have a boyfriend’ type garbage). Appeasing men when they’re being pushy isn’t going to change anything in the long run and makes us complicit in the whole sorry saga. And I’m sorry, I don’t buy the safety line. I work in countries where men rule completely and where women are there for the taking – the only thing that has ever kept me safe is a very firm and unconditional ‘no’ when I’m being propositioned. Men back off when they know you know your value.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      May 6, 2014 at 5:23 pm —

      I’m glad that had worked for you. Sadly, saying “no” firmly has not always or even often worked for me and many of the women I know. I definitely am not into appeasing men, by any means. The bottom line is that this is, in my view, a problem with male behavior, and we shouldn’t blame women for doing what works for them in the face of abysmal men behaving awfully.

    • Avatar of Hanoumatoi
      May 6, 2014 at 5:35 pm —

      http://bigthink.com/focal-point/no-means-yes-yes-means-anal-frat-banned-from-yale

      This is the sort of shit people have to put up with. It is wonderful that you have managed with your methods, but when many other women tell you that they don’t work for them, we should not tell them they are doing something wrong, but instead listen to their experiences, and update based on that evidence.

    • Avatar of shieldingc
      May 7, 2014 at 4:22 pm —

      I agree, allroadsout! There’s no guarantee that “I have a boyfriend” line is any safer than “I’m not interested.” I can see reverting to the soft-garbage brand of rejection in the event that “I’m not interested” is met with hostility/intimidation. But I’m not going to live in perpetual fear of that reaction to the point that my default response is to sidestep the issue of consent. And I’m a stripper – I’m not naïve about these things. One thing I have learned is that, even when you’ve got bodyguards sprinkled through a room, when you’re in a situation where you’re alone with a guy you don’t know, at the end of the day all you have to depend on is your policing of your own boundaries. I feel like many women on here have internalized the “bad girl” lectures many of us received growing up, so that what they really fear is rudeness. I just don’t buy a lot of these comments that it’s a fear of physical violence that prevents women from explicitly denying men consent – if you’re that afraid that every guy you talk to is going to rape you, would you even risk going out? It’s easier to blame it on your boyfriend than to say no, it’s not any safer. And this is speaking from my professional experience: Creepy guys know women are afraid to say “No,” and they will take advantage of that as much as they can. A firm “No,” “Not interested”, or “I don’t allow that,” is the only thing they can’t mistake – it sends the message there is no negotiation, there is no way you can be pressured into saying “Yes,” and that you are fully conscious of your own boundaries. What is it that a boyfriend can do for you that you can’t do for yourself? Fight? If you’re dealing with the type of rapist who will be deterred by the threat of getting his ass beat, then make it clear you will beat his ass, win or lose, or that you carry weapons. “Do you have a boyfriend?” “My glock is my boyfriend.” The type of serial rapist who will actually attack you in public, break into your home, or tackle you into an alley and has no problem with physical conflict isn’t going to be deterred by your boyfriend, real or fictitious, especially when he’s not with you. But most rapists, according to data anecdotal and statistic, operate in that “grey” area so much of the CJ system is afraid to touch – they are people you know and not strangers at the bar, they will liquor you up, and themselves as well, to muddy the whole he-said/she-said-scape, so that he didn’t understand you meant “no” by your polite “wait”, or “we shouldn’t”, or he didn’t understand you REALLY meant “no”, by your polite “no” that didn’t involve kicking punching and screaming. He operates under shock and awe, not rib-cracking brutality, he reaps the benefits of a psychological deference to societal nicety that is too deeply engrained in most women to be overcome at the moment of betrayal when a friend who doesn’t seem like a monster is doing in a “safe space” what you thought could only happen in an alleyway. Most importantly, the typical rapist DOESN’T KNOW that he’s a rapist. He’s not a sociopath – he was raised rightly to believe a rapist is the worst thing a man can be, and he believes that he’s a good man, so he can’t be a rapist. The bottom line is, if you’re dealing with a rapist of any kind, the last thing you want to do is muddy up the issue of consent. Define your boundaries frankly, to yourself and to him. If you act like your consent matters the dude will have to accept it, or see himself for the rapist he really is.

      • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
        May 7, 2014 at 4:25 pm —

        It’s almost as if you’re denying my and many other women’s personal experiences here. In my experience, saying “I have a boyfriend” makes a man back down faster and with less of a fuss than “No”. It seems like you’re speaking from theory rather than reality.

  27. Avatar of akinox
    May 6, 2014 at 5:23 pm —

    I have mixed feelings about this. I almost agree with both types of assessments. I think a lot of men DO feel entitled. The “how dare you have the audacity to reject me” types do exist. But I think men are also taught to be persistent. And I think men can suffer from self-esteem and self-perception issues caused by society’s apparent expectations (being a woman, I can only really guess and interpret from what I’ve witnessed). However, lack of self-esteem is no excuse to become disrespectful or even abusive to a woman who rejects you. My self-esteem has been in the gutter since elementary school. I don’t harass anyone. Society tells me I’m inadequate because I’ve been without a relationship for a couple years now. You don’t see me jumping on every man I meet or pestering them into accepting me. Or calling THEM inadequate when they reject me.

    To get back to the original post:
    I’ve tried “No” I’ve tried “I have a boyfriend.” I’ve tried “You disgust me” I’ve tried “I honestly can only see us as friends.” I’ve even (honestly) said “I’m just not feeling a relationship right now. Be it with you or anyone else.”
    And I’ve still been pestered and harassed. Touched inappropriately. Stalked. The guy who stalked me got offended when I told him to stop following me around: “I’m just trying to show you I care!” I’ve been called self-absorbed, crazy, fat, ugly, “just crap,” … nothing can justify that kind of treatment.
    I mean, a guy scared me once. Grabbed my arm and kind of pinned me to a car and started raising his voice at me about why I didn’t want to hook up with him. Asked him to please let me go. That I just wasn’t interested. Wasn’t feeling up to it. Didn’t even know him. I eventually started crying when he refused to let me go. He scoffed at me and called me a gross feminist cunt then walked away. All because I looked at him for a moment when I was drinking in the bar with my cousin.
    You don’t just do that to someone because you’re a little insecure over not getting laid.

    • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
      May 6, 2014 at 6:41 pm —

      It’s not an excuse, but it’s good to understand what makes people behave the way that they do. Guys want the same thing: affection and approval from women. Rude or aggressive men do, too. But they’re extremely confused. Who’s job is it to educate them? The answer is all of us. Why are classes about social intelligence and social dynamics not taught mandatory in school? I guess the difference between me and feminists is that feminists tend to blame men, because they’re men, for horrible behavior. I blame men, because of a messed up culture and society, for horrible behavior.

      • Avatar of katertoterson
        May 6, 2014 at 7:03 pm —

        You’re so concerned with improving society yet you’re hostile to the idea of women relating their point of view and shared experiences. You disdainfully say, feminists blame men. If you care so much about your fellow human being, then why do you feel the need to label real humans’ true stories as nothing more than feminists blaming others? You don’t know what it’s like to fear going into public alone on a daily basis. Imagine the frustration you would feel if you repeatedly questioned whether or not you’d be safe without a male escort. To top it off, we are told we are over reacting and are concerns are dismissed. These experiences wear us down. Do you think this is fun? Do you think our collective female consciousness is just making crap up so we can feel superior? I’d trade comiserating about previous assaults/scares for the ability to move around with free adjency and a reasonable expectation to safety any day.

        • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
          May 6, 2014 at 7:27 pm —

          Not hostile to women relating their point of view or shared experiences. I’m curious where you interpret that with my comments. Maybe you’re confusing me with someone else?

          But yes, absolutely, I think a major problem with feminism is that women blame men, on the basis of them being men, for aggressive or even criminal behavior. What if the terrible stories you describe, like the would-be rapist at the party, are not really gender issues so much as mental health issues, law and justice issues, and sociological issues?

          There’s a gender war going on that really shouldn’t exist. This war divides men and women, creates tension, and fuels misogyny AND misandry.

          I think crazy, aggressive, potential rapist men are the result of: a bad education system, a bad mental health system, and perhaps even broken male culture, with skewed interpretations of masculinity. The question is how can people fix these problems? Obviously the current feminist movement is not really getting to the heart of these issues, or else there would be fewer problems with women feeling scared to walk home at night even in socially developed countries.

          I think feminism needs to adapt. It needs to cut to the core of psychological reasons for why this type of stuff still occurs. It’s easy to say “men don’t respect women, end of story!” but that’s demeaning to men, alienates men, and propagates the never-ending “gender war”.

          Instead, the topic needs to expand to mental health, cultural stigmas, and education, and more men need to become motivated to teach other men about sexuality and cultural myths.

          But even at the end of all this, it’s inevitable that society will still have that small fraction of psychopaths and rapists. Unless we can find some genetic cure, such people will sadly never go away.

          • Avatar of faradn
            May 6, 2014 at 7:40 pm

            You wonder why you’re perceived as being hostile toward women’s experiences, then in the next paragraph imply that relating those experiences is man-hating. Maybe you have a really bad short-term memory?

            “I think crazy, aggressive, potential rapist men are the result of: a bad education system, a bad mental health system, and perhaps even broken male culture, with skewed interpretations of masculinity.”

            A lot of feminists actually do write about these things. Also saying they consider us men innately bad because some of us do bad things is simply not true. It would seem to take willful ignorance to think that is what feminists believe, if you’ve read even a little bit of feminist discourse.

          • Avatar of Hanoumatoi
            May 6, 2014 at 8:04 pm

            http://www.reddit.com/r/MensRights/

            Start there. You can criticize women when you’ve fixed the shit men say.

            Men started the gender war, it’s up to us to stop it. Calling on the side getting shellacked to stop fighting back is bullshit.

          • Avatar of katertoterson
            May 6, 2014 at 8:11 pm

            Thank you, faradn. I have at no point suggested that all men behave terribly just by virtue of being a man. I like men, a lot. I’m currently in bed with one. I’m saying that I am not obligated to be a sweet little lady to keep some random person’s self esteem inflated when they have repeatedly ignored my requests for solitude. This applies to women too. I have had women just run up and grab my boobs because they think it’s fine since they have them too. The difference is that most men are just downright stronger than me. ?Couple a large body mass with pushy behavior and you have a recipe for intimidation. It’s not insane or sexist to ask men to be aware of this dynamic. I don’t automatically condem all men. If you speak to me like a human being, I don’t care if you’re 6’5″ and 250 lbs.

            Yes, mental heath is definitely a concern. However, I assure you that these negative experiences are much more prevalent than horrible debilitating mental disorders. You can’t explain it all away by saying I’ve somehow managed to stumble across a huge pocket of terrible mental health in my community.

            So, you bring up poor advice for men in society. OK, sounds legit. Well, that’s why we’re having this discussion. It’s an attempt to convey our experiences to inform others. So, quit complaining and disagreeing with everything we post.

            In case you never cracked open a history book, women just got the right to vote less than a hundred years ago in America. The feminist movement has obviously made a ton of progress in a relatively short amount of time. We are improving and we are getting to the heart of issues. Look how many men commented on this article. Most of their comments have been positive. If anything, it is encouraging considering different viewpoints. I don’t know how much you’ve done in your life to quiet these “gender wars” you speak of, but you shouldn’t be so quick to critize other people’s efforts to discuss complex societal issues. You’re mischaracterizing feminists as man haters when really it’s just a group of women (and men) standing up for themselves.

          • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
            May 6, 2014 at 8:18 pm

            Again, there’s NO way what I am writing can be interpreted as “hostile to women’s experiences”. What I may disagree with is how a woman’s negative or even violent experience is interpreted… Is it gender based, or is it sociological based?

            Where I’m being unfair is that feminism takes a lot of shapes. I think feminists, the wrong kind, are 50 / 50 responsible for the “gender war”. It was NOT just created by men. I understand there’s a lot of people who call themselves feminists who think like I do and look at sociological / psychological factors. Probably even the majority, and I’m guessing Skepchick and a lot of other people are reasonable minded representatives of the movement….

            As for the other kind….

            “Feminism is built on believing women’s accounts of sexual use and abuse by men.” — Catharine MacKinnon

            “All sex, even consensual sex between a married couple, is an act of violence perpetrated against a woman.” Catherine MacKinnon

            “All men are rapists and that’s all they are” — Marilyn French Author, “The Women’s Room”

            “Marriage as an institution developed from rape as a practice. Rape, originally defined as abduction, became marriage by capture. Marriage meant the taking was to extend in time, to be not only use of but possession of, or ownership.” — Andrea Dworkin.

            “And if the professional rapist is to be separated from the average dominant heterosexual [male], it may be mainly a quantitative difference.” — Susan Griffin “Rape: The All-American Crime”

            So, there’s a bit of a culture surrounding certain waves of feminism that may lead some people to feel that it’s about gender-bashing more than constructive problem solving. Some people still agree with some of these sentiments.

            As for the MRA people on Reddit and elsewhere; it’s the same phenomenon. Have problems in life? Rail against the other gender. It’s nonsense. Many “men’s rights” writers I’ve seen on that Reddit subforum are as nuts as the “feminist” authors I just posted quotes of.

            I think there needs to be more recognition of extremist views hiding in plain sight.

          • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
            May 6, 2014 at 9:11 pm

            There are more people who recognize 2nd-Wave Feminist views than there are remaining, active 2nd-Wave Feminists who actually espouse the views you quote. You wouldn’t believe how many people respond to my calling myself a feminist with “BUT BUT ANDREA DWORKIN!” I think more anti-feminists quote her than actual feminists have read her.

            Have you dated any of those quotes? They’re decades and decades old. Welcome to 3rd and 4th Wave Feminism and beyond. We’ve moved past Dworkin and MacKinnon, can you?

          • Avatar of katertoterson
            May 6, 2014 at 8:41 pm

            Yes, extremists suck on both sides. My comments accusing you of mischaracterizing feminists stem from this comment you made, “I guess the difference between me and feminists is that feminists tend to blame men, because they’re men, for horrible behavior.”

            You have to admit that that comment was out of line and not even in context of the original conversation. This post was about the phenomenon of having to excuse yourself from unwanted male attention by waving your boyfriend around. This is a real thing that happens all the time and it is gross that we feel the need to resort to that. I never saw anyone make any comments about how terrible all men are. People were describing real life situations that happened to them and it happened to involve men. The topic also touched on how we as women are generally more cautious when dealing with any new man because we can’t be sure if they are a danger or not. This isn’t implying all men are awful, it’s just pointing out that angering a man you just met with rejection is a scary prospect for a lot of women. It also touched on how if men want more honesty from us then it wouldn’t hurt for some men to learn some self restraint and boundaries. But you just threw out the claim that we think all men are awful just because they are men and we are playing the blame game. It was rude and dismissive.

          • Avatar of katertoterson
            May 6, 2014 at 8:58 pm

            Also, about the guy at the party. That happened just 4 days ago. It’s pretty fresh on my mind as you could imagine why. It was relevant example to this topic because he became angry and physically aggressive when I rejected him. It was meant as a supportive example that these things do happen. Also, I just felt the need to share that since it was ultra scary.

            P.S. I’m bisexual and I have never experienced aggression (physical or verbal) from a woman I rejected. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, of course. Inappropriate even abusive behavior from women? Yes. Aggression from women after rejection? I’ve never personally experienced that.

          • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
            May 6, 2014 at 10:14 pm

            Well the reason i said that, in this context, is because it seemed like the essence of what I was reading on here is that a man, by nature of hitting on a woman, is not showing her respect.

            So I am probably just reading between the lines too much, but that made me ask A: is a man who hits on a woman really disrespecting her? And B: why do men engage in this behavior so often? Without seeing alternative explanations proposed, I feel like it’s men in general who are amorphously blamed.

            It’s pretty much the big idea: “Male culture does not respect female culture”. Is that not the case?

            And is this idea man-hating? By itself, no. But I feel it begins to skid into that territory when proper explanations are not used to take the blame away from men. it starts to just sound like “men act a certain way because of how men are”, a kind of closed loop that is both sexist and doesn’t offer any solutions.

            Again, I don’t think this was explicitly implied on this thread, so I was probably jumping to conclusions a little bit.

            But I have to question the premise of the idea that male culture, in general, disrespects women. I think certain places, it does, like the frathouses at my college. But in general? No. I think most men try really hard to respect women.

            Instead of saying (or implying) that male culture is at odds (in general) with female culture, it’s better to say: “certain men cross boundaries, probably without realizing it”.

            And then there needs to be solutions for good-natured men (the majority of men) who, indirectly, may be acting in disrespectful ways; such as by inappropriately hitting on women. A good viral blog post can help with this.

            Here’s a question: how would YOU prefer men to hit on you? Do you not want to be hit on at all? Do you want them to do it in a certain time of day? Or use a certain technique? Could it be changed into a formal process where a man smiles from a distance, and if a woman smiles back then she’d like to talk to him? What would you prefer?

          • Avatar of skeith
            May 6, 2014 at 10:30 pm

            “I think most men try really hard to respect women.”

            No. Men, by and large, try really hard to respect an idea about women. That’s quite different from respecting women. They respect (and/or attempt to respect) an unreal conception of how they think women are/ought to be. Respecting a hypothetical woman in your head is not the same as respecting women. If you respected a woman, you would respect her time and her right to live her life without you pushing yourself into it and making her responsible for your feelings. Since you do not do that, and you feel entitled to her time and attention and care, you are not respecting her.

          • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
            May 6, 2014 at 10:43 pm

            “If you respected a woman, you would respect her time and her right to live her life without you pushing yourself into it and making her responsible for your feelings.”

            This statement is very confusing for the uninitiated. Does this relate to the act of hitting on a woman? What are some examples? How can this definition be applied to “all” or even “most” men?

            It sounds to me what you might be confusing disrespect with is basic, human socialization. As humans, in the act of socializing, we enter another person’s time and space. And, in the act of intimacy, we hand our feelings to another person.

            Do pushy, insecure or needy men do these things prematurely, often without reciprocation? Well, yes. However, is this a symptom of disrespect, or a false dichotomy of respect? I really don’t think so.

            It’s more of a symptom of personal insecurity, a desire for approval and / or affection, and maybe even a broken social system in the West; a lack of emotional support in families that leave men longing for it among prospective girlfriends.

            As a guy, I’ve had many women in my life with unrequited interest in me. I have had woman attempt to siphon my time and energy from me, repeatedly calling me, or trying to insert themselves into what I am doing. Often, I feel bad when I have to carefully explain to such women that I am not interested in them in a romantic way, as it usually creates some resentment or sadness on their end.

            But, I have never once felt disrespected from such a scenario. It’s just more the way human interactions play out, in the pursuit of affection.

          • Avatar of katertoterson
            May 6, 2014 at 10:52 pm

            I just want to throw this out there. I’ve seen a few comments on here questioning if this is a feminist issue. I didn’t see anything in the article that indicated that this was supposed to be a feminist rant. Don’t get me wrong, I am a feminist. But, I’ve noticed that some people treat it like a dirty word. Why can’t people get together without someone popping up with negative commentary about feminism? It’s almost as if any time a large percentage of women gather and discuss our culture and concerns someone feels the need to jump in a say something hateful or dismissive about feminism. Is it threatening to people? Is it uppsetting to see women organizing and being active in social movements and politics? On the flip side men are more often encouraged to participate in polical and social movements. We need to take back the word feminism and be proud about it. Brave women suffered to get us where we are. When a woman tells me she is not a feminist I just don’t understand. How can you not embrace something that advocates for your gender? Seems pretty universally appealing. Furthermore, why would men dislike the concept of feminism? We include those that want to join. If you don’t want to join then there’s no need to participate it hardly affects you. Of course there are a few outliers that may say some over the top misandry, but that’s the case for every group. There are always going to a few extremist spin offs to every group. Not much of a reason to get worked up.

          • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
            May 6, 2014 at 11:01 pm

            Well, Kate, the alternative to feminism is egalitarianism. The difference might be that an egalitarian is so concerned with equality he or she is going to defend both sides of the gender spectrum. So, if a woman feels that men are being unfairly treated in a certain way, she will defend men as passionately as she defends women. Vice versa, a man may champion a woman’s rights, but be quick to point out if there are flaws in that system, as well.

            I’m an egalitarian, and I imagine some people may identify more on that stratosphere than with feminist thought, and hence why not everyone calls themselves feminist, for the potentially limiting scope of that term (and it’s why I am certainly not a feminist).

          • Avatar of katertoterson
            May 6, 2014 at 11:22 pm

            Yes, unfortunately the overarching theme here is that a great deal of men do not repesect women. We have been training our children for generations to fit arbitrary social norms based on gender. Part of this situation is that many women I’ve spoken to report that men talk over them or even pretend they aren’t there during complex conversations or business deals. I even have a male to female trans friend who says that since she has become a woman men pretend like she isn’t even in the room. She did not experience that when living as a male. This ties into the hitting on women discussion because we want men to hear us and respect what we say when we ask to be left alone.

            Men should hit on women. That act in itself is totally normal. However, some guys need to hold back on the over the top sexual innuendos right after meeting someone. Men should do their best to remain nonthreatening throughout the conversation and insults after rejection just make guys look like losers at best and dangerous at worst. Over the top persistence is not sexy in my opinion it screams desperation, which people don’t usually find attractive. Also, do not interrupt women or especially a group of women right in the middle of their conversation. These things seems like common courtesy to me. Just introduce yourself chat a while and don’t over stay your welcome unless you’re getting clear signs.

            I think this blog is definitely trying to offer some solutions to this issue. It’s not about blaming men, it’s about discussing how we’ve been conditioned to accept crappy behavior from both genders for generations and what we can do to change it.

            Plus, when I say I don’t care about a dude’s ego, I mean I don’t care about that guy in a specific scenario that won’t let up and even gets aggressive. It happens more often than you think.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception
            May 6, 2014 at 11:37 pm

            @Cyrus Kirkpatrick – I am not ascribing this to you because I haven’t kept up completely and don’t know your full position and I don’t have the time to catch up. But I would like to caution you that egalitarianism is a word that men’s rights advocates like use to show how they are better than feminists, and even if you are not of that ilk (I honestly don’t know) you have used one of their tropes, one that is incorrect I might add. Feminists will defend men when there is inequality caused by the current misogynist system (like how boys are taught not to show emotion or how stay-at-home dads are ostracized), the problem with egalitarianism is that is becomes a tool to introduce spurious arguments about feminizing men and incorrectly perceived court inequalities. So I would caution you to be wary of using a term that has been hijacked without giving a good definition, and “an alternative to feminism” is not a good definition.

          • Avatar of katertoterson
            May 6, 2014 at 11:41 pm

            I really do feel that women all around the world and even in the US are at a major disadvantage. I wish good for all of mankind, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with being actively interested in women’s rights. I am concerned about the difficulties men face, but I’m not going to lie, I feel like women need a leg up badly. We’ve been relegated to a second class status for thousands of years and we can’t fix it over night. It’s important to remain digilent so we don’t backslide. Plus, I’m can’t help being partial. I am a female and I like me.

          • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
            May 7, 2014 at 12:24 am

            #MrMisconception – Who cares what terms the men’s rights people use? I believe egalitarianism has been around a *lot* longer then that particular crowd. Most of my impressions of the MRA movement comes from the Reddit subforum of which I am quite unimpressed (lots of venom). However, I also realize that a Reddit segment of a population may not fully express an actual community, much like a small segment of extreme feminists (not here, obviously, but in other nooks of the web) do not express the views of most SANE feminists.

            (In this instance, I’d compare Naomi Wolf as a normal, decent feminist who has a lot of great egalitarian concepts to talk about, versus say Maureen “We Need Men the Same Way We Need Ice Cream” Dowd, who I consider extreme and crazy).

            I am familiar with a large and somewhat undefined men’s movement, represented by organizations like the Good Man Project. There’s a lot of serious issues with masculinity, and how men are raised with the wrong ideas about what it really means to be a man. I really support this movement, however; it sometimes bleeds into the MRA crowd as well sometimes, who (in my observation) tend to call themselves victims when they’re clearly not (ie: my same exact criticism about certain feminist arguments, now applied in reverse with men doing the same thing. Really annoying.)

          • Avatar of Hanoumatoi
            May 7, 2014 at 12:49 am

            Cyrus, you refuse to be called a feminist because of radical feminists, but don’t care that Men’s Rights Activists have appropriated the term egalitarian? Do you not see the direct parallel here? Also, you appear woefully undereducated about feminism, because we really do get to the heart of the issues, but people like you don’t actually want to work on them, because they’re hard, and would rather come telling women to just loosen up about creeps violating their boundaries and ignoring their expressed desires.

          • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
            May 7, 2014 at 1:10 am

            No, I’d never want to be called feminist because I think the term itself is outdated, not because I don’t like the extremists (that too, though). Feminism is an “ism”, or distinctive practice or philosophy (as defined); therefore, the distinctive practice or philosophy of femininity. So, by definition feminism concerns equality of women in society. Well, I’d be more interested in the equality of all people in society, hence egalitarianism. That’s a LOT more unifying.

            Women’s issues are really, really important, especially in countries like Pakistan and India, but I still think it’s much more progressive to work on the bigger picture and encourage men to deal with women’s issues, and women to deal with men’s issues (in particular re: masculinity and bad societal standards of it).

            As for me coming in here and disagreeing with people and being “part of the problem”, understand that easily the biggest threat that any community faces is the threat of becoming an echo chamber. This is when dissent is considered bad, or questionable aspects are not called out.

            Alternative health communities are ripe with online echo chambers; namely coffee shop health expert moms who exchange ideas and pat each other on the back constantly. This recently has led to the widespread conviction by a lot of (very) misinformed people that vaccines are bad for children; and now the CDC is worried about the return of polio in America.

            The point being is that echo chambers are really, really bad, especially for online communities. It’s unlikely I’ll keep posting on Skepchick, but I’m more than happy to be able to come here and share some thoughts, and since I think feminism suffers some flaws that people in communities like this one should recognize, I feel it’s important to express these thoughts even if they are not very popular.

          • Avatar of punchdrunk
            May 7, 2014 at 3:01 am

            Feminism can feel hostile to men, no doubt. There’s no way to tiptoe around gender issues, though, so things have to be said, bluntly, and without interference.
            I agree that:
            “There’s a gender war going on that really shouldn’t exist. This war divides men and women, creates tension, and fuels misogyny AND misandry. ”

            But you’re wrong that:
            “…a major problem with feminism is that women blame men, on the basis of them being men, for aggressive or even criminal behavior.”
            Social theories of oppression and dominance are prevailing in feminism, from what I’m looking at. Maybe we’re reading different sources?

            I’m not suggesting that you call yourself a feminist, but I think this is a misunderstanding of feminist theory. Or, at least, not anything like a consensus.

          • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
            May 7, 2014 at 3:48 pm

            Cyrus: All the world is an echo chamber for people with mainstream views like yourself. Having a site where I can discuss things without having to deal with basic-level arguments against my views is a safe haven in a hostile world. I wrote about it once: http://skepchick.org/2012/02/echo-chamber/

      • Avatar of katertoterson
        May 6, 2014 at 7:30 pm —

        You did imply repeatedly, in fact, that the proper response of women to unwanted harassment from men is some sort of bashful apology: “I’m an honest woman who feels weird talking to male strangers as I’m very committed to my boyfriend, otherwise would love to chat”. This is what you think women should bother conveying to every Tom, Dick, and Harry? Sometimes, depending on the setting, I’m approached by men tens of times in one night. You know what? I’m not concerned about how good a guy feels as he is walking away from my rejection when he obviously has already demonstrated a disregard for my wishes. I shouldn’t have to worry about their poor wittle self esteem. It’s not as though I’m initiating these conversations. I don’t need to soften the blow by throwing my boyfriend’s name in the conversation. Honestly, did you even read the article? Getting respect from men because you mention that you’re taken by another man is not getting respect at all. It’s further evidence that our rights are considered less than those of men. My boyfriend that isn’t even present receives more respect than me.

        • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
          May 6, 2014 at 7:45 pm —

          I have a question for you: do you think that by getting approached by ten men in one night (assuming they’re just decent folks, and not sex-crazy weirdos) that they are disrespecting you? In reality, no. The majority of them probably not only respect you, but feel a bit intimidated by you. You feel disrespected because you get bothered so much, but for the average Joe – he has no idea what a woman goes through in public. Most men have NO idea how frequently women get approached. They’re clueless.

          Being hit on a lot is not an infringement of your rights. It never has been, and never will be. It’s a social phenomenon.

          In Thailand, where I used to live, women very RARELY get hit on by Thai men. It’s just not what Thai men like to do. As a result, women have adapted to being a bit more forward with men. I would get hit on by Thai girls 5, 10, 15 times per day sometimes.

          This is not to say every man who hits on you is respectful. Yes, that one in 10 or one in 20 is a pushy asshole creep. But, if 5 or 10% of the population are sociopaths… Well, then it makes a bit more sense.

          • Avatar of Hanoumatoi
            May 6, 2014 at 8:05 pm

            Read again. She gets hit on by the same guy multiple times in one night.

          • Avatar of katertoterson
            May 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm

            I’m not saying I am being harassed just because of the frequency I am hit on. I only said that to illustrate that I don’t have the time, energy, or desire to let every guy down gently by waving a boyfriend in their face or smother them with apologies when I’m not sorry at all for not being interested. Besides, it’s not my job to protect everyone elses ego. 9 times out of 10 I just want it to stop so I can enjoy my friends in peace. And, yes, sometimes the same man will approach me over and over again because I politely conversed with them earlier. That scenario does often escalate to an uncomfortable level of harassment. Also, it’s really like 1-3% of the population that are sociopaths. Really, there are lots of jerks out there that are just plain old regular jerks.

          • Avatar of skeith
            May 6, 2014 at 8:38 pm

            “do you think that by getting approached by ten men in one night (assuming they’re just decent folks, and not sex-crazy weirdos) that they are disrespecting you?”

            I have a question for you. If I walk up to you and take money out of your wallet, do you think I’m disrespecting you? I mean, just because you didn’t give me any kind of clue that you wanted to give me money, that doesn’t mean you aren’t interested in giving me money. How can I know whether you want to give me money until I take some of yours and see how you react to that?

            Swap “you” for “woman” and “money” for “time.” You’re taking a woman’s time, even though she’s given you no indication that she is interested in giving you her time, and only in a world where you think a woman’s time has no value is this okay. And then you want her to further expend more of her time in letting you down easy and taking care of your precious feelings? Yes, that is disrespect. That is highly disrespectful.

          • Avatar of faradn
            May 6, 2014 at 9:13 pm

            Skeith–you’re talking about people not getting the hint and going away after interest is not reciprocated, or approaching people at all? I think it’s possible to recognize disinterest and 23 skidoo before wasting a substantial amount of someone’s time.

          • Avatar of Cyrus Kirkpatrick
            May 6, 2014 at 9:38 pm

            The same man approaching over and over again is a major social doozie that borders on (or is) aggression. One man approaching for the first time, however, is not. I can’t buy the analogy of a mugger to a man approaching a woman. If the approach is done appropriately, the time wasted is minimal. And as Skepchick pointed out, at times she actually feels really good about when a man has approached her (this was mentioned in a previous comment). So, does a man truly have no value to offer if he is charming and funny and makes her feel good about herself? The man is hardly robbing her of time and value at gunpoint.

            Again, the idea a man hitting on a woman as a sign of disrespect is truly absurd. It may become a nuisance for many women, but the majority of guys who are not the sociopath crazies, or Quagmire from “Family Guy”, are quite respectful and I’d argue do deserve some form of politeness in the rejection. For the woman, it happens constantly, but from the man’s perspective — it’s probably the first girl he’s approached in a month, and he’s just fumbling along.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception
            May 6, 2014 at 9:39 pm

            @faradn – But you see, part of the problem is that society has decided that women must be receptive to our attention or they get called all style of names. Why do you assume that any amount of time is acceptable if it is uninitiated? Would you walk up to a male stranger and demand his attention for any reason, and if you would and he didn’t get it would you call him names?

            I’m not assuming your answers, just something to think about.

          • Avatar of skeith
            May 6, 2014 at 9:42 pm

            faradn:

            I’m saying, why would you assume that a woman wants to talk to you, or anyone, in the first place? Even if she is at a bar, people go to bars for reasons other than to meet potential new dates. If she’s flirting, okay, she’s open to interaction. But if she’s just sitting at a table with her friends having drinks, why would you assume that it’s okay for you to interrupt what she’s doing in order to push your sexual interest on her?

            This goes triple when she isn’t at a place where people frequently go to meet other people. Like, for instance, she’s riding the bus to work. She’s not there for you. Being female in public is not an invitation.

          • Avatar of skeith
            May 6, 2014 at 9:49 pm

            “If the approach is done appropriately, the time wasted is minimal.”

            So if I only took a minimal amount of money out of your wallet, say $1, it’d be A-OK. You haven’t lost much cash, and we both gained valuable information!

            “I’d argue do deserve some form of politeness in the rejection.”

            Of course you’d argue that. You feel entitled to a woman’s time, and you feel entitled to having her care for your feelings, even though she doesn’t know you and you’ve just pushed yourself on her and made her responsible for those feelings, for no reason except your sense of entitlement that women take care of you.

            I hope you’re not going to argue next that you don’t have an entitlement problem, as I believe you did upthread. You just said you “deserve” this thing, from this total stranger, upon whom you have pushed yourself uninvited. That’s the definition of entitlement.

          • Avatar of katertoterson
            May 6, 2014 at 10:08 pm

            Cyrus, I think we’re are having a failure to communicate here. Men hitting on us can be a polite and even flattering experience. No one is proposing flirting is wrong. It’s just that we don’t want repeated harassments especially if we’ve made it pretty clear you’re not interested. People just need to learn respect for people’s boundaries. Also, becoming angry or insulting or even aggressive is totally unexceptable and NO ONE in society should tolerate it. Some rude individuals exist and that’s just reality and they are spoiling the fun for the respectful men that do know how to approach women and know how to politely take a hint if the lady wants to be left alone. You never know, if you display good manners then maybe she’ll remember you and be more open to it when she is more in the mood to flirt. I take note when a guy is particularly nice and polite. I think if we (including men) put pressure on our friends and acquaintances to be respectful people then everyone would be ar little more pleased.

          • Avatar of faradn
            May 6, 2014 at 10:13 pm

            @mrmisconception and skeith

            You shouldn’t initiate contact with someone who hasn’t initiated contact… so basically the only legit way to meet people (including new friends) is through existing friends, family, and the internet? If that’s what works for you, sure. I doubt most women, including most feminists, would agree. I hate to appeal to popularity but your views strike me as extreme.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception
            May 6, 2014 at 10:21 pm

            @faradn – That’s not what I said, you are of course allowed to initiate contact but you shouldn’t assume that it’s welcomed. What you’ve done here is the same mistake people made during elevatorgate, “guys, don’t do that” was met with how can we meet anyone if we can’t talk to them. Quite the leap in logic to say the least.

          • Avatar of skeith
            May 6, 2014 at 10:22 pm

            faradn:

            Aside from the fact that I am speaking expressly about a specific type of sexual interaction (e.g. a man hitting on a woman who is a stranger) I’m honestly wondering how many male acquaintances you make by just walking up to other men and striking up conversations. I don’t deny that this occurs. I know it does. I’m honestly curious, however, how often you personally have initiated or attempted to initiate a non-sexual relationship with a male person by walking up to him in a public place and engaging him in conversation about something you have no reason to think is going to interest him.

          • Avatar of faradn
            May 6, 2014 at 11:12 pm

            @mrmisconception
            Last week on the train, I noticed the guy whose bike was next to mine was also the same discontinued brand as mine. I pointed this out. Also I might have said something along the lines of “nice bike.” He didn’t seem to find it intrusive–in fact he seemed mildly brightened by the exchange. Sometimes when I wear a metal shirt I get told “nice shirt” by fellow metal-heads, sometimes even female ones. I think it’s pretty reasonable for people to accept some amount of friendly interaction with strangers (which will necessarily be uninitiated by one of the two). I think we’re basically in agreement though, if you think assuming an interaction will be welcomed is the problem. I don’t know where any of my first response to skeith suggested I thought otherwise–I think everyone should learn to recognize when an interaction is unwelcome as soon as possible.

            @skieth
            Ah, “conversation about something you have no reason to think is going to interest him.” If that’s a key criterion, then I agree. I don’t say things to strange men or men or women completely cold (unless I just need to know the time or something) unless there’s something I can mention that might be a mutual interest. Like if a woman is holding a volleyball (I like volleyball–presumably she does too if she’s holding one) or he and I were both at a fiction writing panel at Comicon, or if she and I just played a Pathfinder Society game together (a venue where strangers play together frequently).

            I haven’t tried to make a lot of friends recently–being almost 30 and still living in the same place I did in college I have pretty well-established social groups. I am, however, trying to find people to join my roleplaying group, which involves talking to strangers. I think approaching people for this who I don’t have any reason to think would be interested in roleplaying would be a waste of my time as well as theirs.

          • Avatar of skeith
            May 7, 2014 at 7:04 am

            faradn:

            “If that’s a key criterion, then I agree.”

            Yes, that is the key criterion. Because what I’m talking about here (and maybe I haven’t made this clear) is when a man comes up to a woman and starts talking to her, for the reason that he is sexually interested in her, even though she has made no indication that she is open to such a conversation either from him specifically or from anyone in general.

            The man has no reason to think that the woman has any interest in a sexual relationship with him, but that’s what he wants to discuss. She might even be actively avoiding conversations on the whole, by reading a book or wearing earphones. Maybe he takes a little while to get around to the point, by asking her about her book or what music she’s listening to, but the fact is that his reason for speaking to her is sexual interest, and he has no reason to think that she is also interested in this.

            So this does not apply when a woman is at some kind of singles meet-up event, either formal or informal. If she’s at a club and she’s flirting with guys, that’s a different situation.

            “Like if a woman is holding a volleyball (I like volleyball–presumably she does too if she’s holding one)”

            Yeah, no. Don’t strike up conversations with a complete female stranger on the sole basis that she’s holding something that also interests you. Your other examples are fine. There needs to be some kind of indication that she wants interaction, with you or with people in general. If she’s holding a volleyball and she’s at some kind of sports event, that’s fine. If she has a volleyball tucked under her arm and she’s on the bus, it’s not fine.

            Context matters. Body language and social situation matters. If you’re at the house of an acquaintance and a cat appears, and you want to pet the cat, it will become super-clear almost immediately whether or not the cat is interested in being petted by you. If you can tell when a cat wants to be petted, I refuse to believe that a woman’s interest level in chatting with you is a complete mystery that can never be solved.

  28. Avatar of katertoterson
    May 6, 2014 at 6:29 pm —

    I threw a party in a building dedicated to artists and musicians recently and some dude that works on the floor underneath the party invited me and a female friend to see his workshop. Once we stepped in, he dead bolted the door. I asked him not to lock us in. He did not comply, in fact he hovered near the doorway. He then asked us if we wanted to see his “big snake”. It went from friendly acquaintances chatting to a terrifying rape prelude in 10 seconds flat. I had known this dude for ten minutes and at no point indicated any desire. He hadn’t even attempted to hit on us up till that point. We both just repeatedly said, “no” and started fumbling with the locks and dashed back upstairs. He followed us and was yelling, “They’re scared of the snake!” He started stealing our liquor and threw empty glass bottles up the stairway. Then, he threatened to shoot everyone at the party. As physically threatening as this guy was, I am so glad I never offered an excuse or an apology. I’m pretty sure all that agro behavior was brought on from the sting of absolute unquestionable rejection. It’s amazing that he attempted to lock us in a room and then he had the audacity to behave as though he had been wronged.

  29. Avatar of shieldingc
    May 6, 2014 at 8:46 pm —

    Her argument – that lying about having a boyfriend is a better decision because telling a man you’re not interested may encourage him to rape you – is about as logical a rape-prevention strategy as avoiding hygiene or wearing faux hairy-leg stockings. Whether it works or not, is that how you want to live your life – hiding who you are and what makes you feel good every time you’re out in public? And if you’re seriously that afraid of saying “No”, what’s going to save you when your boyfriend’s in the mood and you’re not? 2/3′s of reported rapes involve parties who know each other well, not the stranger-following-you-home scenario she describes. If someone very large tries to physically force you kiss him at the bar, the strategy that really works the best is to call the fucking cops because hey, that’s assault!

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      May 6, 2014 at 9:09 pm —

      That isn’t my argument. My argument is that, if a man isn’t backing down, telling him that you have a boyfriend so that he’ll leave you alone is effective even if it’s conceptually offensive to some. Sometimes, you don’t want to fight the good fight. Sometimes, you want to be left alone.

      As for calling the cops, that’s a good idea if calling the cops would actually do anything. I’m hardly the only woman who’s tried to alert security and/or the police as to the presence of a man physically harassing me and been laughed off or ignored.

      • Avatar of katertoterson
        May 6, 2014 at 9:50 pm —

        Yeah, I don’t blame other women for playing th boyfriend card. Whatever you want to do to feel safer is fine with me. Personally, I’ve been making a dedicated effort to stop saying sorry for no reason, stop playing the boyfriend card, and just say no (or even, “no thanks” if I’m feeling conginial). I just made a personal decision because I feel a sense of self loathing everytime I kowtow to men.

        This article made me really think about the over apolgizing I do: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10417202/The-nine-things-women-cant-stop-saying-sorry-for.html

      • Avatar of Ryan Crean
        May 8, 2014 at 8:22 pm —

        i’m sorry to hear that. it’s particularly bad here in colorado springs. my sister’s married to a lazy jackass. he once tried to abuse/assault her. they did nothing, and it only gave him a free ticket in his mind to do whatever the hell he feels like.

        he just got out a jail… over driving without a valid licence… as if that’s so much worse then the other shit he pulls, including how he treats her.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      May 6, 2014 at 9:16 pm —

      Also, how is not being able to say “no” (if that were even the case with what I am advocating, which it is not) related to rape? Plenty of rapes involve the victim saying “no” and that “no” being ignored.

      • Avatar of shieldingc
        May 7, 2014 at 12:19 am —

        You never made it clear you were advocating the boyfriend card in the event that saying “no” had failed. I’m saying, if a woman’s first impulse is to say “I have a boyfriend” rather than, “I’m not interested”, and if this impulse is rooted in the feeling that it is safer to call to mind your boyfriend’s desires than to state your own, this is a problem. It is NOT safer to avoid mention of your own feelings. Consider the most realistic (based on most-frequently-reported) rape scenario, which most often occurs between acquaintances. Maybe they’re romantically involved, or have been flirting for some time. They start kissing, fondling – maybe at first it’s mutually desirable. But it reaches a certain point and the female decides she’d rather not go farther. Now, because of a culture that pressures women to be pleasing and polite in all situations, she may try to politely back away, offer an apology or excuse. This attempt to end things is ignored – the guy continues to pursue a sexual encounter. If you’re the woman, you might be thinking – um, what the fuck? Has your friend gone deaf? How can he misunderstand that you don’t want to keep going? She tries again to politely tell him off, maybe a little louder, but still is ignored. At some point, she has to make a very scary decision. Does she dare to believe that this friend, this boyfriend, this trusted person, is actually knowingly forcing himself on her, escalate the situation into a full-blown kicking-punching-screaming fight to the death? What if she’s wrong – what if he’s somehow misunderstood or not heard her, and has no idea that he’s violating her? How embarrassed and hurt would her friend be to be thought of as a rapist? I’ve had friends discuss these very situations with me after finding themselves on the losing end of our polite culture – friends who froze up, not knowing what to do, or numbed their minds to what was happening in the situation because they just couldn’t allow themselves to believe that they were really being raped while it was happening. I’m saying, if it’s uncomfortable for women to say “I’m not interested” (and some of the commentators in this very thread explicitly site discomfort at breaking society’s taboo against women being anything other than pleasing as a reason to play the boyfriend card) – that’s all the more reason we should learn to say “I’m not interested”. Not for some abstract philosophical reason, but because it’s safer to identify the men who don’t listen to a woman’s “No” at the bar, rather than in the bedroom.

        • Avatar of Hanoumatoi
          May 7, 2014 at 12:47 am —

          Shieldingc, I bring to your attention, the TITLE of this piece. “I’ll Stop Citing a Boyfriend When My Consent Starts Mattering”. No doesn’t work for her enough of the time, that she is safer saying that. Your insinuation that this leads to more date rape is just a bit WTF. In your scenario, and in most such scenarios, she tells him no. This is not a consequence of girls saying they have boyfriends, this is the SAME PROBLEM, where consent doesn’t matter, and no doesn’t mean anything.

          • Avatar of shieldingc
            May 7, 2014 at 4:44 am

            In my scenario, she’s not prepared to be considered rude by aggressively asserting her own boundaries. There is no kicking screaming fight to the death – there’s a numbing out the reality of the situation because she’s not prepared to recognize an attack on her person as an attack, but to give the benefit of the doubt or assume some kind of mistake has been made. In BOTH scenarios (the woman at the bar saying ‘I’m not interested” instead of “I have a bf”, who is threated with violence or stalked, vs. the woman in the bedroom saying “I’m not interested” instead of “My bf will be here any minute” and being raped) – the stalker/rapist does not value her consent. This does not make her consent unimportant. This is not a good reason for her to avoid saying “No.” If this sounds WTF, I think it’s because the typical reality of date-rape is a disturbing contrast to the prevailing stranger-rapist-jumping-out-of-an-alley narrative everybody’s so used to. Again, this is based on discussions with real people I know, people who were not helped one jot by all the good-natured warnings of parents and teachers and mentors through the years coaching them not to go out alone at night, to lock every door before going to sleep, to scream if cornered. The fact is, there is no polite way to ask someone not to rape you. The part of my statement that is so WTF, that is so disturbing, is that because of the way society coaches women to be nice and nurture our relationships with others at the sacrifice of our own desires, is that we are not taught to recognize our own boundaries as inherently valuable. Cognitive dissonance in situations where “be nice” crashes against “no means no” makes Freeze the default defense, instead of Fight, where Flight would be physically impossible or, like Fight, too awkward to occur to us as a viable option. My argument is that we should be training ourselves to assert these boundaries wherever possible. I’m not advocating “I’m not interested” as your default response because it’s going to stick it to the man or uphold the sisterhood, but because if we don’t train ourselves to recognize and aggressively assert our own boundaries, we’ll be stuck physically as well as psychologically with the “only hang around men you trust and you’ll be fine” defense – and if the stats on date-rape show us anything at all, it should be that defense, entirely dependent on the honor of men, has failed. Let’s talk about the title, since you’ve directed my attention there – “I’ll Stop Citing a Boyfriend When My Consent Starts Mattering.” It ALREADY matters. This is my point. It matters to YOU. Own it!

          • Avatar of skeith
            May 8, 2014 at 7:09 pm

            shieldingc:

            It’s true that being firm with one’s boundaries makes a person a less attractive victim to a rapist. Rapists do select their victims. However, lots of things will make a person less attractive as a victim, including all of the traditional bullshit advice that women are always given. None of those things (including “just say no really loudly and kick up a huge fuss”) actually prevent rape and they put the focus and onus on the victim instead of where it belongs.

            What prevents rape, 100% of the time, is a person who is in a position to rape another person not doing that. Telling women to be really loud about their boundaries is not much different from telling them not to drink or be out alone, or to carry their keys in that in-between-the-fingers way. It sounds like great advice, and I guess it is as far as it goes, but you’re still putting the onus on the wrong person.

            Also, this is a good post about the social controls that are in place to keep women from enforcing boundaries:

            http://www.fugitivus.net/2009/06/26/another-post-about-rape-3/

            There are reasons why so many women have problems with boundaries: because there are consequences to a woman having and enforcing boundaries. Don’t discount those consequences. You can’t make the cost/benefit analysis on the behalf of another person.

  30. Avatar of katertoterson
    May 6, 2014 at 10:43 pm —

    I just want to throw this out there. I’ve seen a few comments on here questioning if this is a feminist issue. I didn’t see anything in the article that indicated that this was supposed to be a feminist rant. Don’t get me wrong, I am a feminist. But, I’ve noticed that some people treat it like a dirty word. Why can’t people get together without someone popping up with negative commentary about feminism? It’s almost as if any time a large percentage of women gather and discuss our culture and concerns someone feels the need to jump in a say something hateful or dismissive about feminism. Is it threatening to people? Is it uppsetting to see women organizing and being active in social movements and politics? On the flip side men are more often encouraged to participate in polical and social movements. We need to take back the word feminism and be proud about it. Brave women suffered to get us where we are. When a woman tells me she is not a feminist I just don’t understand. How can you not embrace something that advocates for your gender? Seems pretty universally appealing. Furthermore, why would men dislike the concept of feminism? We include those that want to join. If you don’t want to join then there’s no need to participate it hardly affects you. Of course there are a few outliers that may say some over the top misandry, but that’s the case for every group. There are always going to a few extremist spin offs to every group. Not much of a reason to get worked up.

  31. Avatar of marilove
    May 6, 2014 at 10:54 pm —

    A story related to this. This just happened to me on Friday. I was out in downtown Phoenix for First Friday. I checked out a friend’s gallery opening, and then walked over to a pub to meet a friend for dinner and a couple drinks. He ended up having to take off after but I felt like hanging around downtown. I went to Roosevelt and checked out some of the art and stuff until a little after 10, and then decided I wanted a beer before I jumped on the light rail home. I figured I’d head back to the same pub I was at earlier, since I liked the place and the bartenders were awesome.

    I wandered over there, ordered a beer, and happened to find an empty seat at the bar. Score! I chatted with the bartenders but mostly just sipped my beer and enjoyed the chaos of the bar. The bartenders at the pub were awesome and fun to watch.

    About halfway through my IPA, a man came up to my right to order a drink. He immediately started talking to me and asking questions. I wonder if he’d been watching me and figured out I was alone, because one of the first thing she asked was, “Are you alone? At the bar?” And I said, “YEP!” And he asked, “WHY?!” in this weird, condescending tone. “Because BEER!” I said, with a big grin, and took a nice swig.

    He immediately went on the attack. It was ridiculous! I have had some encounters with weirdly negative men before, something that doesn’t really work with me. But generally they aren’t nearly this aggressive.

    He explained that he dislikes big breasts a lot, because they are for fat people, and he is not a fan of fat. Please note that I have big breasts and I am chunky. I noted to him: “Uh, aren’t you pretty chunky, yourself?” Because, he was! Tall, kinda chunky. He responded, “Yes, I am, but it’s gross and I hate fat. I really prefer small breasts.” (I think I pinpointed some of his insecurity…the projection was gnarly on this one.)

    At this point I was done. I wanted to enjoy my beer and the fun atmosphere of the bar. “Why are you such an asshole? Go away! Leave me alone.” Did he leave/ NOPE. Instead, and I SHIT YOU NOT, he replied: “Well, you’re going to go home and fuck me tonight, that much I know!”

    I lost it at that point. “I will not. You’re an asshole. Fuck right off, you fucking asshole. Go the fuck away, right now. I have no desire to talk to you.”

    The stool to my left suddenly opens up, and instead of leaving, HE SAT DOWN and said, “I think I’ll just sit here instead.”

    I said, “No. Fuck you and fuck this shit. You are a piece of shit loser. BUH-BYE!” and I got up and left. He just stared at me, slack-jawed.

    There happened to be a free seat about four rows down, so I sat down. It turns out that the seat next to me was no occupied by a very attractive, sweet Midwestern man of about 35. Blue eyes, great smile. We bonded over Queens of the Stone Age. Then we walked to the light rail together, he came home with me, and I had, hands down, the best one night stand of my entire life. It was really fucking great.

    Before me and my Midwestern boy left together, however, I walked up to the asshole, who was still sitting at the same bar stool I left him at, alone, and with his phone. I touched his shoulder and said, “You know, were you a nicer person, you probably would have gotten laid. BYE!” and then I ran off outside, and I’m pretty sure he saw that I was leaving with someone else.

    And it’s TRUE. The asshole was totally my type — tall, dark, handsome. But he was such an asshole!

    And this isn’t the only time I’ve had to deal with really weirdly aggressive men. I don’t even go out that much, and yet every time I do, I often encounter at least one jerk. Of course, I also encountered several other really great men, including one of the bartenders (who agreed with me that the guy was an asshole). It’s just that the assholes can really stand out sometime.

    So yeah, I am a confident woman, but not all women are going to as easily walk away from aggression like that. It was uncomfortable and, yes, even though I didn’t respond with fear, scary. Who knows how he could have responded? I was pretty tipsy (and stoned lol) at this point, so I just didn’t give a fuck, and he was killing my vibe, but you know, I may not have responded like that 10, 12, 15 years ago. Not that long ago I would have likely told him I had a boyfriend, or that I was a lesbian. This sort of confidence wasn’t something I was born with. I used to be very shy!

    • Avatar of skeith
      May 8, 2014 at 6:53 pm —

      He wasn’t projecting, he was “negging” you, as per PUA instruction. Pretty much everything you describe from his behavior is from a PUA manual.

  32. Avatar of Faye Gotlieb
    May 7, 2014 at 1:54 am —

    I just want to share this, because I find it an interesting moment. I do currently have a boyfriend, and over the last few years, boyfriend and all, guys have hit on me, followed me, and refused a no, even once I pulled out my last resort ‘I have a boyfriend!!” In all these situations it started with a simple no, and it just escalated until I felt unsafe.

    But last week, a guy in a cafe approached me and said, “Hey, are you off somewhere in a hurry?’” I told him yes, and I actually was. Then he asked for my number. He was actually kind of cute, and of course after all those creepy situations, and just for the sake of honestly I told him, “Sorry, I have a boyfriend.” His response totally shocked me. He simply said, “Okay, good luck!” and smiled. He didn’t follow me. He didn’t tell me how much money he had or other reasons I should leave my current bf. And I think my current bf is the kind of guy who would have done the same thing. And no one can replace my current partner, but I have to say this very normal reaction with a stranger, let me know that a totally normal, nice guy, hit on me. It left me feeling flattered, not creeped out, and if I wasn’t taken, I might have gone for him. Gracefully accepting a no isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also far more attractive than being super pushy.

  33. Avatar of roguedreams
    May 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm —

    While well written I must say I disagree with the sentiment of your post if only because by using excuses such as ‘I have a boyfriend’ rather than ‘I’m not interested, thanks’ in a polite but firm manner perpetuates the assumption that the only reason a women can reject a man is because she already is with another one. It takes the power away from women and squarely removes the legitimacy of consent. You say you’ll stop citing a boyfriend until consent matters but we can only change the perception of consent by challenging the attitude of others, primarily by changing our own behaviour.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      May 7, 2014 at 3:59 pm —

      I agree with you in theory. However, I feel that putting the onus on women to change a problem in the world that’s perpetuated by men is hardly empowering — it’s free babysitting/therapy. In other words, why is it that I have to put myself in harm’s way and waste my time personally combating poor male behavior by telling the truth rather than the men in question changing their behavior?

  34. Avatar of jdizzle
    May 8, 2014 at 9:13 am —

    Hi Heina,

    Great article! Interesting to read your opinion, after reading the original article. I agree with both of you actually; I understand the reasoning behind the original article, and good on anyone who stands up for their beliefs. But also as you wrote ‘but alas, this is the world in which we live’ ; sometimes it’s tiring trying to change the world all the time I find.

    BTW, as a guy, I actually really appreciate the ‘I have a boyfriend’ line! I don’t feel insulted or rejected or whatever :)

  35. Avatar of jdizzle
    May 8, 2014 at 9:17 am —

    Also, if a girl is hitting on me and I’m not interested, I always say that I have a girlfriend. I’m super empathetic and sensitive towards how other people are feeling, and hate the thought of damaging her self esteem or whatever. It takes heaps of courage to talk to a stranger sometimes! Although I guess if I was hit on constantly I’d prob get sick of it real fast, so not judging any one.

  36. Avatar of darwinsmom
    May 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm —

    I read the original article before having read your response to it. While the original article cites valid arguments, it makes one giant mistake – that men feeling entitled to a woman’s body, mind, will and time can be taught to see the light. But reality is different. First of all, when you consider the number of people (men and women) who regard others as mere objects – feelings of entitlement, low or no empathy, narcissistic grandeur, etc such as narcissists, psychopaths and borderliners – they make up about 4% of the population. That’s 1 in 25 people. Add the sexual libido, and opportunity to drink and take drugs, and their prowling grounds are pubs and clubs. How many people can a club hold? 100? 200? So, there’s statistically at least 4 to 8 men there who take rejection very badly (narcissistic injury), who literally regard women as a man’s chattel and who can’t be taught otherwise. These personality disorders are permanent and cannot be treated with therapy, at best managed. So, forget about ‘teaching’ them and helping them to see the light. If a therapist can’t help them grow empathy, a woman in a club won’t either. And if she were to try, she risks a violent response. I used to say just ‘no’. It resulted in one creep stalking me to my car with a knife (after already scuffling with a male friend of mine whom he saw as a rival I learned later), and me having to run back to the pub and ask a male friend to chaperone me back to my car. Another guy stalked me to my house once, but I became aware of it before I arrived and I managed to send him packing with promises of considering a date next time I saw him, then crouching behind cars to ensure he couldn’t find out which house I actually lived and going to sleep without ever turning my light on. And then there were some groping attempts by two guys in an alley when I passed them. Luckily I have a good set of adrenaline and in fury kicked them, until they ran away. Creeps like that can’t be taught and shown the light of recognizing a woman (and other men even) as a human being with a will and mind of her own. They hold a deep, cold rage against life and people which flares when confronted with rejection and they have more testosterone than the average man. Saying ‘no’ to these guys is a cocktail of disaster. My personal safety, my time, my words, my energy are not at the disposal of these men. And the giant problem is that you cannot know which man is safe and which not, because it takes getting to know them, it takes interaction with them to remark the tell-tale red flags. On top of that they are usually skilled in donning a mask that is either very charming and flattering or they attempt to appeal to our pity and sympathy. It’s not right that I have to walk at night with keys between my fingers and my other hand on the pepper spray in my pocket, but it’s better than living with a self-imposed curfew and never stir outdoors after sunset, because some creep might knock on the front glass door that’s on automatic night lock tells me to let him in while making icky gestures. It’s not right that women have to say they have a boyfriend to ensure they are left alone on a dance floor, just like it’s not right that I have to wear wedding band and make up stories about non-existent children when I travel in certain countries, but it’s safer and pragmatical.

  37. Avatar of Ryan Crean
    May 8, 2014 at 8:08 pm —

    Just thought id comment.

    although i agree that some males dont handle rejection well (actually, no male handles it well whether they show it or not, im talking about to the point where they start getting disrespectful), and probably never will, and that simply lying in a way that appeals to their sexist mindset is the easiest and safest way to avoid sexual assault, etc. i do disagree that this practice should be done.

    yes, there are men who can’t be changed and will always remain sociopathic or have some other mental affliction that makes change even less likely, but for the majority, this isnt the case. for the majority of men. for the majority, people can be changed, but only if done correctly. first off, i’d like to point out a subtle but profound difference in male and female psychology and form of speech.

    females are excellent at discerning/reading both body and spoken language. Females, on average, speak 4 times more words in a day than males. often, females tend to employ something called “indirect speech”. it is essentially normal conversation that has subtle undertones in it that are meant to imply a different meaning. this can include exaggeration, implication, metaphor, you name it.

    males are very different. instead, we use almost exclusively direct speech. this is why males get frustrated when a female exaggerates, and it’s why females get frustrated when a male doesn’t discern implications or body language that would be plainly obvious to any female (and it gives the impression that males don’t care). this doesnt just cause problems in the clubs, it also causes problems in many other places, including especially relationships. males take things literally, and like it when things are clear. We like being told the truth directly. i noticed a few comments in here saying that’s not true.

    i can see why many might think guys dont want honesty. for instance, as many pointed out, some guys won’t take a direct NO for an answer. but i think this has a bit more to do with other factors. for instance, saying “i have a boyfriend” is a definite no, no matter what. “she’s already with someone else, so even if she IS interested, she has no choice” is the prevailing thought. whereas, simply saying no, there are a number of other thoughts a male could have. for instance “she said no, but she’s still available, i just have to “woo” her somehow to “win” her heart”. of course, that never works. For the majority of women, if they decide it’s never going to happen after initial impressions, it’s literally NEVER going to happen no matter the amount of “wooing” a guy tries. so this is the thought that often leads to harassment/stalking. Another thought a male may have is a result of our difficulty in telling the difference between when a woman uses direct and indirect speech. When a guy just wants to get laid, they start thinking “oh, she’s just being coy/hard-to-get. she’s still interested.” this is because the guy doesnt take no literally (as they should) and instead mistakenly takes it sarcastically. they mistake direct speech for indirect speech. to make matters worse, so few women actually straight up say “no” that guys who have this thought also think it’s sort of impossible for a woman to say no and really mean it. this is the thought that usually leads to various forms of sexual assault.

    but i assure you, males communicate far better in direct speech. if you want a guy, whether he’s hitting on you in a bar, or he’s your boyfriend, or he’s you husband, etc. to listen to what you say and really understand it, they will respond to you much better if you tell him EXACTLY what you want/dont want from him. sure, being told “no, im not interested” hurts a lot more than “i have a BF”, but most guys will appreciate your honesty enough to not take it too much to heart. and actually, most guys who are just looking to hook up will appreciate that because it’s succinct and doesn’t waste their time. they can move on to hitting on someone else.

    i dont mean any of this to sound like im defending the creeps or to sound like the derailer “not all men”, i just wanted to point out some of the ways males think, so that you might use it as a tool or helpful knowledge the next time a guy hits on you.

    but your concern is those who don’t take no for an answer. it’s certainly understandable that you find it safer to lie to a guy than risk him being a serious creep. here’s why i think that approach isnt all that good. mainly, i think you should BE the change you SEE in the world, much like the original article stated. If you want men to respect your opinion, show them you have one (rather than use the opinion of another hypothetical male, the fake BF you say you have. doing this only has the opposite effect and empowers sexists). if enough females started doing this, sooner or later, the males who CAN be changed, WILL change. it is a general trend in the world (or the united states at the very least) that society is ever progressing towards more and more liberal values. Today’s far right wing conservatives would be far left liberals hundreds of years ago. there is certainly still rampant sexism and racism in the states today, but not nearly as bad as it used to be. we dont have slavery anymore, and women have gained so much more power over the recent decades.

    but in order to reach this state of relative equality, it took literally millions of people willing to risk their lives making changes both large and small. in the 1860s, it was a civil war, in the 1930s, it was suffrage, in the 1960s, it was the elimination of segregation. people DIED for these accomplishments, but thanks to them, we live in a better and more equal world today.

    dont let safety keep you from your ideals. as a matter of fact, FIGHT for them. yes, it damn well is risky to say “no” to an unstable sexist man, but that’s when you get your chance to REALLY enact change one asshole at a time. want to know one of the best ways to use operant conditioning? electric shocks. carry a taser. if a guy just doesnt get it that no means no, and actually goes far enough to harass/stalk you or grope you, im sure a good long shock to the groin will get your point across ;) . It’s kind of hard for a guy to call that coy or hard-to-get or anything other than “fuck off”, no matter how sexist he is.

    but if you want change on a large scale, more people need to do this. doing this yourself will make you a leader and a role model, and you’d be surprised how many women might follow suite if you create an example.

    there will always be people who just dont get it, and are dangerous to the safety of others. but this will change those who arent PERMANENTLY like that pretty damn quick, especially if it happens enough. and for those who are permanently like that due to some mental problem, it’s still pretty effective for chasing them off even to the point where, again, if it happens enough, they will probably start taking a “no” as a warning to go away or they might get tased if they pursue. eventually, males would start respecting female opinion far more and start taking direct honesty better. they might even help enact this change in society, there are men out there who do support women’s rights. Those who’ll always be dangerous, they’ll receive less grace from the public from both females AND males, it would become less acceptable for them to act that way. they would be given a choice, be respectful or be punished. sexual assault would be greatly reduced. i am shocked at how many sexual assaults occur in this country.

    this is how change starts. this is how it ALL starts. a single person standing up and saying “that’s not right”, and empowering others who agree with you but continue to follow the arbitrary rules society lays down out of fear, to rise up. at least you’re saying that about something simple, like how to respond to being hit on, and not something as risky and endangering as desegregating schools in Alabama in the 1960s.

    BE the change you SEE in the world. it’s not going to change on its own.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      May 8, 2014 at 8:23 pm —

      Again, in theory, I’m all for this. However, I do not have the time to deal with hassling dudes. It’s not my duty to be the change in the world. It’s men’s job to behave, not mine to fix them.

      • Avatar of Ryan Crean
        May 8, 2014 at 9:08 pm —

        certainly, it’s men’s job to behave, just as it is everybody’s job not own slaves, segregate schools, keep women from voting etc. but yet, we all did this at one time in history, and it was thanks to ordinary people willing to make changes that we dont anymore.

        there is no “theory” behind it. everybody has ideals, but you either fight for them or you dont. and when too many people DONT take the time to fight for them, shit like this happens. yes, in an IDEAL world, it would be men’s jobs to behave, and not yours. and ideally, it wouldnt be your duty to fix it.

        but it is. it is ALL our duty to change the world as we see it, because we are ALL a part of it. we all contribute to culture and society in some way whether we want to or not, and the only way to opt out is if we simply stop existing. YOU contribute in some way. you should be making sure to contribute the best of you, the strong person inside who wants to make the world a better place, and whose opinion does matter. not the uncaring person who follows the arbitrary and stupid rules the REST of society created.

        neither males nor females would have any rights in this country if they didnt fight and die for them. when we allow ourselves to assume we will keep our rights forever and stop fighting for them, we lose them. so yes, it is all our duty to change the world, to fix it, including you. do you think any of the great leaders of this world considered themselves anything more than normal human beings? it’s because they were. it’s really not hard to enact world wide change on a very small level, some people do it without even realizing it. you sure do have the time. i’m in the middle of graduating high school. i have loads of AP tests, yet i still find the time to argue online, and volunteer and stuff. and i do have the time to follow my ideals, even when it’s not “acceptable” to do so. i yelled at a teacher in the middle of class because he went overboard with being rude to a student giving a presentation. the only reason i didnt get in more trouble than a “talking to” after class was because he knew i was right and so did every other student in that classroom. i’m only sad i had to be the one to speak >:( people should speak up more. and the reason i had to be the one was because none of them felt they had the “time” to argue.

        in a weird way, you’ve already done more than most women who DO say “no” do. you’ve made an article. look at how much attention you’ve drawn to this issue, look how many people have replied. then, THEN, you reply BACK to a lot of them. you even replied to me within minutes of my posting that comment, which i was a little surprised about.

        so obviously you care about this issue, to the point where you’re willing to argue with people like me for months on end. is that not fighting for what you know is right? Is that not standing up for your ideals? is that not an attempt in its own right to enact some sort of change in this world? so why dont you reflect this care in your real world actions? you obviously have at least SOME time to devote to this issue.

        if you ask me, time has nothing to do with it. you’re afraid of getting hurt by changing the way you act. this is understandable, but it empowers bullies too much. dont be so afraid of those guys, buy a taser or pepper spray, and have the courage to use it when the time comes.

        otherwise, i personally dont feel you have the right to complain. if YOU arent willing to change your attitude to reflect the ideals you hold dear, then dont complain. yes, guys are jackasses, but stop expecting them to change themselves. as a matter of fact, stop expecting ANYTHING from ANYBODY in this world. because the second you do, you’re going to be very disappointed in people. if you want something to change, dont complain about it, go out there and actually do what you can to change it whether it’s your duty or not. most of the change that has occurred in this world has occurred thanks to those who were willing to find the time, who were willing to take up duties they knew were ideally not theirs to have. they accepted them anyway, without question, because they DIDNT accept the state of things.

        im not saying it’s okay for guys to be assholes, but i also think it’s unwise to not follow your ideals in the real world because you “dont have enough time”. your ideals are what make you who you are, and if you dont uphold them, you’re doing an injustice to yourself and those around you.

        otherwise, you are only ACCEPTING that guys are assholes, like so many other women out there. in which case, if you accept it, then you shouldnt complain about it in a long internet article. if you accept it, then you obviously dont care enough about it. dont talk the talk if you cant walk the walk.

        at least, this is how i live my life. there are things i have opinions or complaints about, but unless im willing to act, i dont speak about them, because it would do me no good.

        • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
          May 9, 2014 at 12:54 pm —

          Time has everything to do with it. If there’s an answer that will make a man immediately leave me alone, I will take that over one where I have to be hassled and explain things to him.

          i personally dont feel you have the right to complain. if YOU arent willing to change your attitude to reflect the ideals you hold dear, then dont complain. yes, guys are jackasses, but stop expecting them to change themselves

          So because I don’t take the time to educate every hassling sexist dudebro who won’t take no for an answer, I have no right to speak of the injustices against women in the world? Wow. So everything else I do: the writing, the speaking, the activism, the everyday calling out of sexism, is completely erased in significance? I disagree. Just because I might occasionally use the “I have a boyfriend” (which in my case is the truth, as I have three male partners) excuse doesn’t completely eradicate all the other work I do in eliminating sexism in the world.

          • Avatar of Ryan Crean
            May 9, 2014 at 7:46 pm

            i am not saying it is the only way of activism or somehow better than others, i am saying it is morally right to uphold your ideals in the real world. this you have obviously not done, at the very least in reference to confrontation. i was speaking directly about confrontation because it is the most relatable to and on topic with your original article.

            personally i think it is most morally right to uphold your ideals in every aspect, INCLUDING direct confrontation. not holding up your ideals in one of many aspects because of a safety concern only shows you are allowing yourself to be illegally bullied into submission, which weakens your opinions in the light of others.

            and you mention things like pushing for legislation and pamphleteering, etc. have you written any bills lately, sent out pamphlets, etc? these are all perfect examples OF leading by example, making an attempt to enact real change. but if you havent done any of these a lot, why are you bringing them up? these ALSO take time. you continue to point out not having any time as an excuse. well, if you actually do these things, what makes that less time consuming than actively standing by your ideals no matter what (including in public when getting hit on).

            So again, why are you pointing out all these alternative approaches? certainly these are also respectable forms of enacting change, but how much do YOU personally do any of these things? i never said confrontation was the ONLY way to enact change, only one of the better ones morally (because it makes a very obvious real world example for others to follow, and makes your opinion more valid to others). being in danger to try and enact change enhances whatever form of activism you choose. but of course, i guess i’d have to admit you’re doing your part if you actually do any “pushing for legislation to pamphleteering to personal conversations with loved ones to silent sit-ins to loud demonstrations to letter-writing campaigns to blogging to journalism” then i’d admit i’m wrong to assume you have no moral right to speak.

            but if you dont do any of these things to any decent degree, then i still feel you havent a right to speak. i suppose you could point to this very article as some small part in an effort to enact change, but it’s not very effective. for one thing, you’re disagreeing with someone who actually DOES go out into the real world and lead by example while endangering herself. and for another, all you’ve done here is talk about it rather than suggest any real world solutions. you want change? what do you think is an active and realistic approach to altering sexism? i think actually offering your ideas for solutions to the problem is far more valuable than simply talking about it.

            and again, you pointed out time. you’ve been debating with people on this article very often since last September. that’s what, 8 months ago? you’ve spent a considerable amount of time debating with people, 8 months worth, and explaining yourself to people you dont know. and on the internet no less, where everyone can interject, you’re spending much MORE time arguing here than you would be arguing with guys in the real world. so again, why are you using time as an excuse? it’s not a very good one, since you obviously have plenty of time. so much so that you’re arguing with people on the internet for 8 months, keeping up 3 relationships (not judging, just seems like a lot to handle logistics wise. i certainly wouldnt have the energy to do that), and going to bars/clubs where you get hit on by jackasses.

            the only excuse i see valid here is self preservation, which is understandable, but not exactly a heroic rallying cry against sexism. to be clear, all the other forms of activism you mentioned were often more than enough to put people in danger (and therefore make them all the more powerful in their words). Kathryn Stockett had to leave her home town after having her life threatened (i mean, seriously threatened. the whole town hated her guts) just because she had the gall to write a book about african american maids (The Help). and this was in the 60s no less, 100 years after emancipation. Erin Brockovich, a poor single mother of 3 got a job in a law firm with no legal training, helped 400 some people get revenge on a company for releasing chromium in a town. i think it holds a record for the largest sum of money awarded in a court case of that type. she was threatened, got severely sick taking surface samples HERSELF, and it was neither her place nor duty to take the case that far (it started off with a single family fighting the company over a spit of land). Martin Luther King was assassinated for public speaking (which, i believe, falls under the category “loud demonstrations”, yes?). these other forms of activism you mention were often as, if not more, endangering than outright confrontation. i never said these are the lesser forms of activism. what makes them good forms of activism is when they dont let “safety” get in the way of their ideals. YOU have the luxury of posting things on the internet in relative safety, and as far as i can tell, without seriously doing any of these other forms of activism. so again, you arent exactly setting a good example here, and that’s what reduces the effectiveness of your article. why should i listen to someone who doesnt even uphold her OWN ideals out there in the real world? if you want people to listen to you at all and respect your ideals, you need to show that you personally are willing to put yourself in danger to uphold your ideals no matter what the situation is. only then would you be a role model for others to follow. this was the point that i was making. i would not consider you an “activist” just for writing this poorly executed article.

            so yeah, of course all this other stuff can help to change the world, but in the end, how does that make not holding up YOUR ideals any more excusable?

          • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
            May 9, 2014 at 8:06 pm

            Why am I pointing out all these alternative approaches? Because I engage in them, actively and often. Why are you laboring under the delusion that my writing is my only form of activism? It is not. You’re making some incredibly vast and sweeping assumptions, here. It’s quite easy to find out what I do other than write by looking online. Click on my name on this blog, to start. This is hardly the only thing I do.

            Also, I didn’t say I didn’t have time for anything, just that I don’t feel that directly confronting sexist jerks is helpful and therefore that it is a poor use of my time. They’re already in a defensive position because they are dealing with rejection, making them not terribly susceptible to feminist educating. I feel that engaging with people who managed to find something I wrote 8 months ago and who care enough to comment is ultimately a better use of my time than attempting to educate a defensive dude that I am rejecting.

            Also, I don’t go to bars/clubs much at all, 2 of 3 of my relationships are long-distance, and going online is easy to do in my downtime than educating a defensive man who I am rejecting. Are you demanding an hourly breakdown of my life in order for you to accept my choices as valid? LOL.

            you’re disagreeing with someone who actually DOES go out into the real world and lead by example while endangering herself.

            I did no such thing. I disagree with her telling all women to stop saying that we have a boyfriend in order to stop being hassled by sexist entitled dudebros. She can and should do as she chooses and I commend her for it. However, she doesn’t simply choose to do it or even just advocate for her approach, she thinks that no women should use the boyfriend or any other excuse to escape an overly-persistent man. It says so in her title and in her piece: she thinks that all women need to take the time to engage extensively with hassling men. That is against which I am arguing, not her personal choices.

          • Avatar of Ryan Crean
            May 9, 2014 at 8:03 pm

            i apologize, i just looked at your facebook page. is that you up on stage? i guess you have done some forms of public activism.

            but at the same time, i still hold to my original point. you’d be a much better role model if you showed that you were willing to uphold your ideals in EVERY aspect/situation, show that you arent willing to forgo them for any reason, and if that form of upholding ideals also entailed a bit of danger, it would make every way in which you perform activism more effective. by showing that you arent afraid to believe something certain because of safety, you empower others.

          • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
            May 9, 2014 at 8:15 pm

            I feel that it’s a better use of my time and limited energy for engagement with people to converse with those willing to talk and listen rather than defensive men I’ve just rejected. When you reject someone, they generally are in no place to listen and be educated. This is exponentially true for an overly-persistent man who is clearly already the sort of man who feels entitled to a woman.

            I think it’s fair to say that I have more experience with what I deal with in my own life as a woman out in the world than you do as a young man. I have tried the approach advocated in the article and even when it doesn’t turn to violence, it’s mostly pointless, in my real-life experience. Men who are hearing “no” from a woman they feel entitled to (since they aren’t accepting the “no”) aren’t in a place to be educated about gender. It’s draining and time-wasting, in my view. Other women are free to do as they please. I choose to spend my time and energy on endeavors I find more rewarding for myself and for the world in general.

          • Avatar of Ryan Crean
            May 9, 2014 at 8:13 pm

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          • Avatar of Ryan Crean
            May 9, 2014 at 8:35 pm

            actually, i find your opinion very respectable. more so in terms of how ineffective it is to argue with someone who’ll refuse to change than with the whole safety concern thing (which is what seemed to be the greater point of your article to me).

            and i do have experience in this, more than you probably realize. i can understand not wanting to argue with someone who wont change, i do it all the time. but when i do it, i dont do it with the intention of changing that one person, i do it with the intention of possibly altering the opinions of those who witness the interaction. other women in that club/bar who’ve already been hit on by that same jackass would see you as a noble figure worthy of having attention paid to your opinions. you would set an example for just how inappropriate sexist behavior really is, and that women shouldnt be afraid of having the courage to stand up and speak out in any form.

            for instance, when i argued with that teacher i mentioned previously, i had no effect on him. but hopefully, i did have an effect on one or two of the 30 some students in that classroom. hopefully, others would be affected by what i said to the teacher.

            this is what i mean. it may have no effect on that jackass, but it might on those around you and him, and that’s what counts and makes it worth the time in my opinion.

            but hey, it’s you’re life. and i am glad that you write these articles and do these other things, even if i get a bit argumentative about it (sorry, i know im very opinionated). more people should be as active as you in society. and again, sorry about jumping to conclusions about you. i suppose i should have looked at your page first.

          • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
            May 9, 2014 at 8:50 pm

            and i do have experience in this, more than you probably realize

            I’m sorry but you simply do not have experience being an adult women out there dealing with entitled jackasses in the world. Full-stop. I find it condescending that you would pretend to know what it’s like and try to tell me what to do about situations that you have never experienced.

            i can understand not wanting to argue with someone who wont change, i do it all the time. but when i do it, i dont do it with the intention of changing that one person, i do it with the intention of possibly altering the opinions of those who witness the interaction. other women in that club/bar who’ve already been hit on by that same jackass would see you as a noble figure worthy of having attention paid to your opinions. you would set an example for just how inappropriate sexist behavior really is, and that women shouldnt be afraid of having the courage to stand up and speak out in any form. for instance, when i argued with that teacher i mentioned previously, i had no effect on him. but hopefully, i did have an effect on one or two of the 30 some students in that classroom. hopefully, others would be affected by what i said to the teacher. this is what i mean. it may have no effect on that jackass, but it might on those around you and him, and that’s what counts and makes it worth the time in my opinion.

            I have written several whole articles on this very matter. You don’t have to explain this to me of all people, I promise.

            Examples:
            Why I Will Always & Forever Read the Comments
            Growing Up Online: Why & How I Care About the Comments

            What I meant by “click on my name” was to see all my other posts (which you can do here). You seem to have thought that reading a single article not only gave you a full picture of my activism, but that the article itself encapsulated my entire activist career, which is hardly the case. If you are curious, I have compiled a document detailing my involvement here. FYI, the document doesn’t cover things like writing letters, pushing for legislation, talking to leaders, or attending protests, which I also do but wouldn’t be appropriate for the document.

          • Avatar of Ryan Crean
            May 9, 2014 at 9:33 pm

            what the hell? first off, i wasnt saying i have experience being an adult woman, i was saying i have experience playing an active role in the community, and that i have had plenty of experience being treated like shit by people. i volunteered in many places in the denver museum of nature and science and the USGS, and my local community today.

            as for activism, i was one of the youngest volunteers in the 2008 obama presidential campaign, and even though im not really known on the internet like you, i’ve written many of my own articles in my school.

            this is what i meant by experience. its not as much as you, but it’s a hell of a lot more than most people my age.

            i also assure you i was not trying to “instruct” you on how to be an activist, nor imply you don’t know anything im talking about, i was just telling you how i feel on the matter. when i tell people about my opinions, i explain them, even if i know the person probably already knows what im explaining, just to make things as clear as possible. excuse me for responding before reading more of your articles.

            and i already acknowledged that you are more prominent than i realized and that i made false judgement based on little more than this article, and APOLOGIZED for that. are you really finding an apology condescending?

            and you know what, you ARE more experienced than me in this subject area, so while im at it, how about i apologize for the fact that i had the gall to say anything, that that fact somehow makes any opinion disregardable. excuse me for interjecting my opinion on the matter despite the fact that i am not a woman and obviously dont know how any of this feels. obviously, being a male means i dont have to put up with this, as if its not true that every woman i ever let myself fall for hasnt given me bullshit i really dont deserve.

            i have had 3 interests total in my entire life. people i was friends with. 2 of them not only rejected me, but embarrassed me, treated me like shit, and took me for granted even when we were friends. and the third who i wasnt close friends with at the time, rejected me. she was the only one who actually did have the courage to straight up say no, and i left her alone after that. but even then, she embarrassed me afterward, essentially telling every other female in the school i was a total schmuck for having the gall to ask her out. she was way out of my league and i got made fun of by many for even trying. so dont act like just because im a guy i dont get treated like garbage from the opposite gender, cuz it feels like i do, constantly, and i dont know why because i try to be nice, and im way not the type of guy to go to clubs and bars and hit on girls. i have social anxiety and the idea of going to such a loud public place to hit on people i dont know freaks me out. its driven me to the point where i’ve given up and dont even bother asking out people i like. as a result, ive never dated, never had sex, never kissed, at the age of 18. i hope that explains some of my “lack of knowledge” in this area.

            and speaking of condescension, do you really think it’s any better that you’re jumping the gun on ME? i may be “young” but that doesnt mean i dont know a damned thing about the world. i study my ass off, and i know more than many adults in several areas. for christs sakes, i TAUGHT things TO adults in a museum at the age of 12! i think you should at least consider what i have to say before writing me off as a “young’un” without the proper experience to have a proper opinion on any matter, and frankly, why are you telling me this? if you want me to gain experience, dont you think my being in an active debate with you will help me gain a little?

            but fine, if you really think i shouldnt be allowed to speak here because i lack experience, then i ill just go. good bye.

          • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
            May 9, 2014 at 11:19 pm

            I think your are misunderstanding what I mean by “experience”. Let’s explore this.

            i wasnt saying i have experience being an adult woman

            You never said that, but to march into a comment thread telling me what to do in a situation that you have not and will never experience the likes of is sort of implying that you know better than I do about my own life and my own experiences, which isn’t fair to either of us.

            I do not doubt your activist experience. You don’t have to prove anything to me. I never said you were inferior in that way. You, however, assumed the lowest and worst of my activism, so I felt I had to address that fully.

            obviously, being a male means i dont have to put up with this, as if its not true that every woman i ever let myself fall for hasnt given me bullshit i really dont deserve [...] so dont act like just because im a guy i dont get treated like garbage from the opposite gender, cuz it feels like i do, constantly

            I never was speaking to the general fact that people of all genders treat people of other genders badly. Of course women can treat men badly, just as men can treat women badly. I am speaking to a particular form of male aggression towards women and never said nor implied that women could not treat men badly.

            ive never dated, never had sex, never kissed, at the age of 18. i hope that explains some of my “lack of knowledge” in this area.

            Your dating experience was never relevant to this. For what it’s worth, I have friends who were even later bloomers than you are and I was as inexperienced as you are — maybe even more so — at 18. I would never shame anyone for lacking in romantic or sexual experience

            do you really think it’s any better that you’re jumping the gun on ME? [...] i think you should at least consider what i have to say before writing me off as a “young’un”

            I never brought your age into this, you did. I am responding to your comments in good faith and engaging with your points. I am citing evidence for my points and trying to make good arguments. It heartened me that you apologized and that you are listening and continuing to engage.

            without the proper experience to have a proper opinion on any matter, and frankly, why are you telling me this? if you want me to gain experience, dont you think my being in an active debate with you will help me gain a little

            Again, this isn’t about your dating experience. The most romantically and sexually experienced man in the world still cannot know what it’s like to be a harassed woman. All the same, I am engaging in active debate with you, am I not? I think I might have responded to you more than any other commenter I ever have on this site.

            fine, if you really think i shouldnt be allowed to speak here because i lack experience, then i ill just go. good bye.

            I never said that. If you step back from your misinterpretation of what I meant by “experience,” you’ll see that by engaging with you and taking you seriously, I am saying the opposite: that I am glad you’re here. That I am glad you are engaging with me. That I am glad you seem to be learning. I really hope you don’t stop reading and engaging here, but if you so choose, I obviously cannot stop you.

            What I do hope you know is that I never meant to imply that your arguments are invalid because of your age or perceived inexperience, and also that I appreciate your apology and understanding of what I have to say. All the best to you.

          • Avatar of Ryan Crean
            May 10, 2014 at 12:08 am

            im sorry for any of my misunderstandings

            im still friends with a girl, even thought i probably shouldnt be.

            this is one of the three interests i mentioned. she was dating a guy when i met her, completely not her type. before i even had the chance to ask her out, she mentioned him, and i thought better of it. but then she asked for my number and we started texting back and forth.

            she confided in me that she was interested in someone else. she described him to me. he sounded a lot better for her than the guy she was dating. she was really confused about whether or not to leave him for the other guy. i suggested she do it, cuz the other guy sounded more right for her.

            a few days later, we were texting again. she confided that she was dumping the first guy for the second one… and that she also had interests in me… i had mixed feelings about it. i mean, she was dumping one guy for another, now she starts talking about me, the whole situation seemed weird.

            so we texted a lot, including about stuff we maybe shouldnt have. finally, i asked her out. i mean, it was worth a shot, what if she wanted to date me instead of the other guy? but by then, it was 3 in the morning and she had fallen asleep, and i had to wait till morning.

            she said no, that she wanted to date the other guy (he has no future. i dont get what she sees in him, i guess it’s because they’re so similar, but that’s not really a good thing). anyway, we left it at that. probably the easiest rejection ever, especially since i saw it coming.

            but SHE didnt leave it at that. she dumped the first guy. then started texting me again. essentially, after much belaboring and beating around the bush, she said this: she was going to date the second guy, but not for another week… which meant a week of being single… during which i could, you know, do stuff… with her… i didnt feel comfortable with this, i dont want to “do stuff” with someone unless we’re dating. it felt too much like being part of an affair, even if it “technically” wasnt. i told her this, that i wasnt comfortable. i thought she’d leave it at that. she didnt. she pestered me, in the middle of class, for 2 hours on the subject, trying to get me to, well, fondle and make out with her during the week she wasnt dating the second guy. i kept repeating im not comfortable with it, but she wouldnt leave me alone about it. i started feeling like she was lying in saying she was interested in me, because it seemed like she was more interested in just getting some. wouldnt stop hugging me either (and other stuff), which really creeps me out considering all this drama and the fact that im kind of a touch-a-phobe and i really didnt want it. i yelled at her that day, literally saying “no, unless you actually date me, that’s never going to happen.” only then did she drop the subject. of course, all the hugging took another month or two to stop, even after she started dating the other guy. all the while there was more ridiculous drama ten times worse that hurt even further, on top of an ungrateful attitude about our friendship. but i wont even get into all that, i’d need to write a book just to do it. i think she’s single now, still interested in me. but she doesnt go very far in that direction anymore, i think she knows i wouldnt touch her with a ten foot pole after all that. but she’s constantly dropping hints and still hugs me on occasion. its uncomfortable. i dont think she’s capable of having a normal relationship or appreciating others. makes me feel like a tool. this isnt the first time a girl came on to me in a way i hated or made me feel uncomfortable/worthless.

            this is just one small example of what i mean by the bullshit ive gone through in my romantic life.

            i think that’s why i got pissy. no, i’m not an adult woman, and i dont experience this sort of thing on a day to day basis in bars and clubs, but i feel i have experienced it enough to have a valid opinion over it, and make suggestions about what to do in that situation. i told her no, she didnt really want to hear it, and still tried to get me to do things, wasting hours of my time with it. but in the end, i’d rather tell someone the truth, even if they dont accept it. (im sorry if i came off as “telling” you what to do, that was never my intention). this is my opinion, and it IS based on real experience with this issue. so it pisses me off to hear “have not and will never experience” from someone who doesnt know me very well, and i can understand why you are pissed at me because i made assumptions about you without knowing you very well.

        • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
          May 9, 2014 at 12:57 pm —

          By your logic, no activism is valid other than personal confrontations. I will have to point to history and say you’re wrong. Everything from pushing for legislation to pamphleteering to personal conversations with loved ones to silent sit-ins to loud demonstrations to letter-writing campaigns to blogging to journalism have helped to enact change in the world. Personal confrontation of oppressive jerks played its role, too, but I hardly should shut up about what’s wrong in the world just because I don’t do what you personally, for whatever reason, think is the superior form of activism.

      • Avatar of Ryan Crean
        May 8, 2014 at 9:09 pm —

        erm.. i posted that video to illustrate what i was saying about enacting change, i didnt intend to compare sexism with “brian’s” petty issues if that’s how it came off.

  38. Avatar of tesstimoan
    May 9, 2014 at 10:11 pm —

    I haven’t read all of the comments, but I just wanted to convey my own experience and say, women not only fall victim, but they play a role in perpetuating the problem. A situation just occurred this week. My husband and I have been looking for play partners. Married couples work well because we all have the same skin in the game. We found a couple, the wife and my husband clicked well. I did not click with the husband. I tried for the sake of my husband’s enjoyment, but ultimately it wasn’t fun enough for me. I was honest with the guy in a gentle way. He asked for time to process. The wife responded very poorly. She was rough on my husband about my hurting him. I sent her an apology. She really didn’t accept the apology. She told me I was being hasty. It was too soon to know. Many other comment were exchanged where I was made wrong for my feelings. I chose not to relent. The husband eventually got over it and she seems to too, but what I went through in the meantime was troubling. Luckily, my husband did his best not to let my feelings be dismissed as less than valid. All I can say is that I never thought of this as a thing, until I read this article. By George, I think you’re on to something.

  39. Avatar of Sigyn
    May 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm —

    I have read the article and the entire comment thread, and there were many things to which I was tempted to reply, but chose not to because other people said it all better. To summarise, I am very glad that articles like this exist. I was gleefully potholed to several other links on this blog, and I look forward to reading them. I was very impressed with Heina’s maturity in replying to comments that made my sister and me explode in rage.

    I, too, do not feel the need to explain myself to random men who hit on me. Before I had a boyfriend, I used to wear a wedding band when I went out to protect myself. It didn’t stop men from hitting on me, and a male friend of mine said that many men see such a thing as a “challenge”, to which I take offense because a woman is a person and not a prize to be won. I do not like interacting with people out in the world, and I wear headphones that cover my ears most of the time when I go out. This also does not deter guys from pestering me, and yes, I do consider any man trying to get my attention as someone pestering me. Perhaps it’s paranoid, but it feels safer to avoid face-to-face human interaction than to risk my body and possibly my life. There is no one “right” answer for deterring unwanted interaction, especially for a person like me for whom most interaction is unwanted. I am hostile to strangers and am met with hostility most of the time. I generally ignore them until they go away, or start loudly singing to make it clear that they do not have my attention. So far, I have not been harmed by this tactic, though it does make me look like an asshole.

    I do not believe that women are under any obligation to be polite to someone whose attention they do not want. I do believe that whatever reason gets a person away from someone bothering them is a good one, regardless of whatever unfortunate implications they may have in society. I agree that, ideally, we would be able to say “Nope, bye!” without receiving a fuss from the person trying to interact with us, but I also know from experience that that does not work.

    Well, anyway, thank you for posting this article. My sister and I both loved reading it, and I personally found the comments informative and entertaining. I do have a boyfriend, and I don’t necessarily need to mention him, since he’s the screensaver on my iPod and the desktop on my phone. I also wear a necklace he gave me, depicting the god he was named after (Loki), and it’s a great conversation-starter, because it’s interesting AND gives a good opening for casually mentioning the fact that I am taken!

    Oh, yes. I do remember reading another article a few years back where guys would talk about how to combat “I have a boyfriend” as an excuse to get rid of a dude. I found it offensive, but basically, the premise was that women don’t mean it when they say no, no matter what the reason they give may be. More blogs like Skepchick need to go viral to combat that sort of nonsense, and I plan to post the link to every single article I love to my Facebook. Cheers, and best of luck to all of you!

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