Monday, August 18, 2014

Leave Women Alone

I came across a post on Tumblr the other day that was another variation of a somewhat common form of post I see often - one that tells men not to catcall, but to yell nice things at women instead.


There was already a response attached to that post, which simply explained that any man yelling something at a woman on the street, no matter how nice it may sound, is scary and intimidating. I reblogged the post, adding my agreement that men should just not yell things at women, or really try to compliment women they don't know in any tone while on the street.

And what I noticed is that I got a shit ton of people reblogging that to add their opinions on the matter. They were all women and they all say YES PLEASE DO NOT TALK TO US ON THE STREET OR ON PUBLIC TRANSIT IF WE DON'T KNOW YOU, DO NOT COMPLIMENT US IT IS SCARY NO MATTER WHAT.

Hark, I can here it now. The plaintive wail of the manchildren - "so I'm not ALLOWED to compliment women anymore?"

You are allowed, by law, to compliment women in public spaces where they're just fucking trying to get somewhere. It is not illegal.

What you can't do, the vast majority of the time, is compliment a woman in such a situation without making her anxious and/or uncomfortable. Not sorry. That's just the way of it.

And I really don't care what your intent is. Because we're not mind readers. We don't know your intentions. I've had conversations with strange men who started out seeming totally nice and cool but as soon as I gave them any hint of rejection, they turned into massive creeps and acted as though I had stabbed them directly in the heart by suggesting that I was not going to do what they wanted me to do.

So any time a man talks to me in public, at all, I honestly cringe a little on the inside. Because time and time again it has turned into a bad experience. And I have heard story after story from women who have experienced a lot worse. How am I supposed to not be scared when a strange man talks to me now? And the more I talk to other women about this, the more I find that they all feel the same way. The sense of dread, the hyper vigilance, looking for signs that this will turn ugly, the racing thoughts and subtle looking for exits. Please, please let this end quickly, please let my polite but brief reply be taken as an indication that I don't want to go further instead of an indication that I'm interested in him. Please just leave me alone.

This is what happens when you "compliment," or say anything to a woman you don't know on the street or in a store or somewhere in which people are just going about their business. It may not be your fault, it may suck that you can't strike up a conversation with us whenever you feel like it without making us feel uncomfortable, but maybe it would help if you tried thinking about someone other than yourself for two fucking seconds. Because trust me, it sucks more for us.

If you are aware that something makes us uncomfortable and you do it anyway just because you "should be allowed to," you're an asshole. If you have a problem with this, I invite you to fight against rape culture, because that's the cause of all this crap. If you just want to blame women for all this instead because it's easier, then again, asshole.


Lindsey Weedston said...

Wow so you say you saw a single woman who responded positively to street harassment, and you saw her give him a number that may or may not have been real? Well by all means, use that as an excuse to harass women!

I don't care how many women you've seen smile in response to harassment. First of all, many women do that because we know that if we ignore the guy or get angry, we risk verbal or even physical violence. Women have died for it. Secondly, even if some women like it, most don't, and unless you have a magical power that allows you to know how a woman will respond, LEAVE WOMEN ALONE.

If you can't get a date without harassing random women, please isolate yourself from the entire human population. I'm not going to give you permission to harass women just because you say you say one asshole get a woman's number. Fuck you.

Aaron said...

I can relate to this despite being a guy. I'm rarely hit on but when it does happen it has made me very uncomfortable. I have a strange way of dealing with it. In one situation I made a silly goat imitation and that got me out of the situation and I was able to laugh about it later but it was still a mechanism I had developed to keep myself comfortable despite how awkward it was.

Lindsey Weedston said...

Thank you for that. It seems like a lot of guys can't manage to empathize with what women go through but I think if anybody were to think of it, it would make anyone uncomfortable to be hit on by someone who they're not interested in.

Also, I'll have to try the goat noise thing.

Anthony Seyffer said...

Is there ever a time when it's ok for a man to approach a woman to try to engage her in conversation?

Lindsey Weedston said...

Maybe in a singles bar/event? When she waves you over? Or when you learn to read body language? Or when patriarchy and rape culture are eradicated? Or when you stop prioritizing your ability to get the attentions of women over their safety? And of those times would be fine.