Why, if you think harassment is flattering, you are stupid

624555_-dont_walkFrom CNN: Catcalling: creepy or a compliment?

Naturally, in the above linked article, the woman who argues it’s flattering to be catcalled and looked up and down when she walks on the street is from… wait for it… you can guess this… Los Angeles. (If I start a “help Jenn escape from Los Angeles” fund, would any of you make donations? I’m, like, totally serious.)

I just want to take a moment to expound on something that came up in the comments on this post.

Strange men do not hoot at, yell at, or leer at you because they think you’re hot. They do those things because they think you’re vulnerable and needy. If you think they want you sexually, you need some serious education on power psychology. They want to feel like they’re on top of you, but not in the way you imagine.

When you see someone attractive, it’s natural to look. But not to stare – there are rules against staring throughout the animal kingdom. And you don’t talk unless the person you’re looking at says something to you first, because when you get caught looking, it would be aggressive to follow that up with verbalization. This is something your cat understands, for pete’s sake. Stop reading Cosmopolitan and get in touch with your animal instincts. Discrete looks are flattering because they reflect only a natural aesthetic reaction. Leering – staring overtly at someone who’s watching you stare – signals aggression. Uninvited verbalizations are also aggressive – that’s why when the salesman at the kiosk leaps out to ask you if you ever get split ends, you feel pressured and cornered (until you realize you’re entitled to tell them to back off and leave you alone because they started the hostility and you’re only responding in kind).

If you don’t know the difference between aggression and honest appreciation, you’ve bought into civilization too much for your own good. Ask yourself: why do men typically leer and catcall in packs? Rarely will one man by himself with no buddies around look you over and say something about your appearance. Because they know deep down it’s aggressive, not merely appreciative. Ask yourself: why do they continue to yell daily at women who’ve told them clearly to back off? Because they’re so concerned she understand how sexy they find her? Or is it maybe a little more likely they like pissing her off because it’s a power struggle, not a sex game.

I’ll grant that there can be some disagreement over precisely where the line between appreciation and aggression gets drawn, but my point is: if you don’t draw one anywhere, you have been completely brainwashed by your culture into thinking your meaty deliciousness is something these men give a shit about. It’s not. Especially here in L.A., where beautiful women are in extreme surplus. Men who want to be with beautiful women devote their energy to winning dates with beautiful women. Men who devote their energy to aggression toward strange women enjoy winning fights with women. That’s why they’ve set up a context where she feels cornered and pressured and where their male buddies back them up.

And when you find that flattering, they think you’re pathetic. They think you like having a big strong man be forcible with you. They think you’re a vain, selfish ass who ought to be brought down a peg. They start talking behind your back about the things they’d like to do to you, and those things revolve around humiliation, not simple sexual enjoyment.

Edited to add: Please also see the follow-up post, Why, if you think women should be flattered by your harassment, you are stupid.

Comments

  1. Izzy says

    Thank you, yes.

    There’s nothing wrong with looking, even sexually motivated looking: when riding the T home, I often take a gander at some of the young college beefcake that occupies my car and think some variant of “I’d hit that like the fist of an angry god.” But *staring*? When it’s not sleazy, it’s creepy: guys who stare only come in Practically Licking His Lips Perv and Dead Eyed Serial Killer. Don’t do it.

    And for the love of God, don’t talk. I mean, admittedly, I’m coming at this as a repressed New England girl, wherein strangers who talk to me on the street are either hitting on me, hitting me up for money, or trying to convert me to Scientology (with a small minority of honestly confused tourists trying to figure out where Harvard is) and I firmly believe that, if you want to meet people, you should do the civilized thing and join a book club, so my opinion may be in the minority. But if you do talk? One statement. Conversational tone. Not about her body. Very brief. And if she responds with a monosyllable, BACK THE FUCK OFF.

    Lord. Also, the next person who tells me “it won’t hurt to be friendly” is getting a permanent iPod mark on the side of their face. Yes, it will: it’s a waste of my time, it’s a waste of the dude’s time, it gets people’s hopes up when they shouldn’t be, and also, I don’t owe theoretical guy anything. Not sex; not empathy; not conversation. I have a book, it’s far more interesting than you, let’s all move on.

    Furthermore, I totally sympathize about LA. I lived in SoCal for a while, and if there was ever a city built over a Hellmouth…

  2. Robin says

    “…when riding the T home…”
    Hey, I’m in Boston, too. :)

    As a gazillionth generation New Englander, I completely understand that instinctive reaction of “What do you want?!” when a stranger looks at you the wrong way. As a moderately pretty and fairly shy geek/nerd girl, I’ve never been comfortable being ogled (Well, who is, really?), and that kind of attention puts up my defenses in the blink of an eye. There have been a few times when I almost resorted to violence because of the high creepy factor.

    So, yes. I agree with Beta that catcalling, etc. is not a sincere form of flattery. Nor should it be acceptable in a society struggling for so many forms of equality. It’s one thing to appreciate an attractive person. It’s something else entirely to make that attractive person question their value as a human being by turning them into an object to be leered at without their consent.

  3. SunlessNick says

    But if you do talk? One statement. Conversational tone. Not about her body.

    The only appearance-based comment I’ve ever made to a strange woman was asking where she got her T-shirt because I wanted one too. (I thought it was constellations at first, but it actually seemed to be a rendering of particle-tracks; and I SO wanted one).

  4. harlemjd says

    “But it will hurt to be friendly, because tolerating your bullshit is painful to me. So fuck off.”

  5. says

    You win at the internet for this post.

    One angle you’re missing, though, is that of the men who have actually bought into this and perpetuate it because they think what they’re doing is flattering. I don’t know how common they are, but I’ve had a couple long conversations with friends like that trying to explain to them that, while some women may take it the way they mean it, at its core their behaviour is still aggressive and intimidating. It’s a hard sell, though… especially since we live in a culture that heralds hierarchical heteronormativity as the only kind of romance there is.

  6. MaggieCat says

    there are rules against staring throughout the animal kingdom. And you don’t talk unless the person you’re looking at says something to you first, because when you get caught looking, it would be aggressive to follow that up with verbalization. This is something your cat understands, for pete’s sake.

    This became much, much funnier since I got to watch my year-old kitten beat up an Akita puppy nearly twice her size this morning. When she hisses, he now backs up and lies down. Shouldn’t have barked at her, dude. And people think I got this nickname because it’s “cute”.

    I’m using this analogy from now on when someone asks why I wasn’t bothered by a relatively brief glance but gave a nasty glare to someone who called out something allegedly complimentary in some circles. I didn’t feel like prey for the first, and it’s socially and legally unacceptable for me to hiss and growl and smack him on the nose for the second.

  7. Izzy says

    Robin: Hey, fellow Bostonian! Neat!

    Harlemjd: Word. So much word.

    tekanji: I’ve had a couple long conversations with friends like that trying to explain to them that, while some women may take it the way they mean it, at its core their behaviour is still aggressive and intimidating.

    Heh, yes. I spent a not-very-productive hour trying to explain to the boyfriend (who doesn’t do the catcalling thing himself) why responding to “Smile, honey!” with “Fuck off and die, asswipe!” is not particularly unwarranted. (To be fair, he says he’s been told to smile himself, and takes it as people wanting to cheer him up. But it probably doesn’t sound as patronizing to a 6’3 dude, and people probably don’t call him “honey.”)

  8. sbg says

    I’m genuinely curious, because I’d be willing to swear in court that I have absolutely never seen a complete stranger tell a passerby who’s male to smile, while the number of women I’ve seen or heard about it happening to (including myself) is simply staggering.

    Shoot, homeless people looking for change and getting denied by me quite frequently respond with, “Well, can I at least get a smile?”

    WTF? No. SBG does not smile on command.

  9. MaggieCat says

    (To be fair, he says he’s been told to smile himself, and takes it as people wanting to cheer him up. But it probably doesn’t sound as patronizing to a 6?3 dude, and people probably don’t call him “honey.”)

    Question: Did he have any sort of contact with the people who’ve told him to smile other than that single interaction? I’m genuinely curious, because I’d be willing to swear in court that I have absolutely never seen a complete stranger tell a passerby who’s male to smile, while the number of women I’ve seen or heard about it happening to (including myself) is simply staggering.

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’ve never heard of or observed a guy being told to smile (but then they’d know better than I would), but I have a face that naturally on first glance looks either serious or snobbish, depending completely on how insecure the person observer is.

    I only ever make it a few months without some strange man – always men – telling me to smile, usually with a follow-up along the lines of “It’s not so bad.” And the thing is, I’m almost always in a fine mood when this happens.

  11. SunlessNick says

    I have been, but my face tends to look unhappy, which means there may be a slightly different motive in asking.

  12. Patrick says

    I tend to have s serious expression on my face at most times, but no one has ever told me to smile as a solitary interaction, nor have I seen it happen to any other man.

  13. harlemjd says

    The only response that seems to shame the smile guys is “my mom just died.” It doesn’t teach them that they’re being controlling assholes, but it at least points out that they’re intruding in the life of someone they know fuck-all about, who may have a damn good reason for not smiling.

    I’d rather they learned, but I’ll settle for making them feel like shit.

  14. says

    The only response that seems to shame the smile guys is “my mom just died.”

    That makes me wish that I was asked to smile just so I can say that.

    My ear/facial piercings seem to be significant deterrent for that kind of behaviour, though. Now I just wish it was a good screening method for jerks (unfortunately it seems to attract them; makes them think I’m kinky, which is true, and therefore I will want to sleep with them, which is not)….

  15. Jennifer Kesler says

    @Nick and Patrick: it’s always men who tell me to smile, and they’re usually middle aged or older. I think they believe they’re flirting harmlessly, but the feeling I get is that while they’re perfectly happy to see a man like Patrick thinking hard, it disturbs them to see a woman “worrying her pretty little head” about something which, if it requires thought, obviously should be left to her male caretakers. Nick, it’s interesting that you get told to smile because you look “unhappy.” I’m pretty sure my look is serious or thoughtful rather than unhappy, so I wonder what that’s about. Possibly it’s just minions from the Ministry of Eternal Happiness doing their job. You know, those people who are determined every day is good and life is always lovely and we should be grateful for every second and no one is ever allowed to have a fucking bad day once in a while. ;)

    @Harlemjd, that is AWESOME. ROFL!

    @Melpomene, very true. That’s another false distinction we’re all programmed to make. I forget to point it out because I grew up in a very all white (redneck) area, so there was never any question in my mind that all the many attacks and sexual assaults on women that went on locally were committed by white men.* And yet even there, I witnessed a lot of people convincing themselves against all fact that it was mystery men of color doing these things (and then when that failed, it was the woman’s fault). So I should remember to mention that when I talk about stuff like this.

    *As a result, I have almost the opposite bias, wherein I expect a man of color to have some sympathy for me and be less likely to harm me… or at least have more fear of the law than a white man.

  16. Jennifer Kesler says

    Tekanji, that’s true about men who think they’re being flattering. I kind of had them in mind as I was writing this post, and hoped the remarks about animal aggression might mean something to guys who think that behavior is flattering. But it might be worth a post on its own.

  17. SunlessNick says

    Possibly it’s just minions from the Ministry of Eternal Happiness doing their job. - BetaCandy

    That may well be so. I have wanted to say the same thing as Harlemjd (though I’d make it my sister, since I don’t have a real one), but never thought of it at the right moment.

    There was one time I was walking along in obvious and severe pain – I wasn’t told to cheer up, but someone did ask if they could pray for me.

  18. says

    I think one thing it’s important to keep in mind is that in our society it’s a lot more likely that you’ll think someone’s threatening if they’re a PoC. That’s one of the things I get torn about in debates about catcalling — a lot of times conversation about it gets racialized in really problematic ways.

  19. cub says

    re. smiling– there’s always, “why don’t you drop dead and give me something to smile about, motherfucker?”

    re. race– statistically we are prone to be victimized by known assailants of the same ethnic and socio-economic group. i’m from memphis, where i grew up as part of a white minority, and on the rare occasions i was harassed, either from a distance or up close, it was done by a rainbow coalition of strangers. so much for statistics– or– look on the bright side: integration works! actually, the latter may be true. if you compare the south to southern california, wage disparity in regards to ethnicity is greater in socal.

  20. Lavode says

    What if it’s actually meant as a challenge?

    I subscribe to a couple of mailing lists that tell men how to attract women, and they all teach that the way to flirt with a woman is to challenge her. By teasing her slightly, touching her arm, being “cocky and funny”, etc. The point is to show her that you’re (a) interested and (b) dominant.

    I always wonder how well those courses work in real life, because when a man approaches me with what seems like a show of dominance I tend to raise my hackles and growl, and many other women probably do the same. But maybe there’s a lot of men who believe that all women want to be swept off their feet, and maybe some of them think that catcalls are a good way to flirt for the same reason.

  21. says

    See, when I used to complain about getting cat-calls/ogled while walking to/from work about four years back, my female co-workers would respond, “Was he young or cute?” as if that would have made it OK.
    Only one of the older women I worked with and my ROOMMATE — incidentally, part of why she and I shared a home was because neither one of us felt safe living alone– agreed that That. Made. No. Difference.
    This was a point in my life, as well, that I wasn’t dating much. Apparently, if he was a young/cute harasser, it was supposed to be flattering, and I should have been more friendly.
    Actually, come to think of it — and to link that to the random people who tell you to smile — it’s amazing how many of my stories end with me being told I should have been more friendly.
    I may have been twenty at the time, but I’ve always been told I look three-to-five years younger than I am, and ANY man harassing someone whom looks like she’s in high school, regardless of whether or not he’s genuinely closer to my age is not ANY less creepy than getting the same from a guy who’s middle-aged.

  22. harlemjd says

    Lavode – you forgot the time-honored trick of feeding her back-handed compliments to lower her self-esteem until she’ll sleep with you. It’s super-classy.

  23. Izzy says

    The hell of it is, I like men who *actually* challenge me–men who have opinions and aren’t afraid to back them up, who can hold their own in the witty banter department, who aren’t scared by my fairly direct and sometimes vicious personality. When I push, I like someone to push back.

    But this is totally different from the invasion-of-personal-space, backhanded-compliment, yeah-you-totally-want-me pseudo-challenge.

    Did he have any sort of contact with the people who’ve told him to smile other than that single interaction?

    I don’t think so, though I’m not sure. It could just be the Ministry types, as BetaCandy says. And they almost piss me off more than guys who are just trying to get into my pants or show off their cocks or whatever, because….well, basically because the Sunny Sally mindset is alien in a nigh-Lovecraftian way.

    Not that the guys don’t piss me off. But it’s like, okay, you’re trying your thing, you’re a dipshit, whatever. Whereas some random stranger giving a damn whether or not I smile= “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?”

  24. Jennifer Kesler says

    Lavode, I think most men use (what they believe to be) their best seduction tricks when they’re the only one engaging with a given woman. Catcalling always seems to happen with groups of men, so I can’t buy that they really think they’re on the path to getting her number or whatever.

    —————-

    Mana G, don’t you know the solution to everything in a woman’s life is to get her fucked by a man, and to that end she needs to be more and more tolerant of men until she finds one that will fuck her? As soon as people find out I don’t have a “husband” or “boyfriend” and am not gay, which they take to mean I’m not getting fucked, they start advising me to be nicer and nicer and nicer to whatever dregs of humanity they see flirting with me – or looking at me twice, or yelling harassment at me from the street. Unoccupied vaginas really really bother people in a way that, strangely, imminent threats of nuclear bombs dropping during the Cold War never seemed to.

    And if the owner of the vagina in question is really ecstatically thrilled to have it unoccupied (by other humans, anyway) at the moment? She’s obviously deranged, and we must save her from herself!

    If you had a young cute guy paying you ANY sort of attention, even the really scary kind, and your vagina wasn’t occupied, WTF WERE YOU THINKING, GIRLFRIEND?! Go get that penis! /sarcasm

    This is one of the many reasons why I hate people. :D

    ——————

    Izzy, I’m right there with you on the genuine challenge thing. I rarely find men who can challenge me that way – to be fair, I don’t think I always realized that decent human males need a LOT of encouragement before they’re going to say anything that could possibly be interpreted as antagonistic or intimidating because they recognize that men have an unfair advantage there so they need to get to know me before going there. OTOH, I’ve found a lot of men interpret MY challenges to them not as the playful banter I intend, but as a man-hating insult to their hetero-mega-virility… so it’s still mostly a good litmus test of whether I can be bothered to get to know a guy better or not.

  25. wemblee says

    I hope this doesn’t seem too weird, and it’s kind of off-topic, but: okay, this is my first time at this blog, and this post really struck a chord with me, as did your bio. I’m a writer and a recent film grad that’s new to LA, and the whole “nerdy-girl-feminist-fish-out-of-water in a land full of beautiful people” thing is kind of freaking me out. Do you have any survival tips? My email is here. (I literally, until reading this, didn’t even think that there was a “surplus of beautiful women” in LA… I was just spending all this time wondering why I felt so lousy about my appearance all of a sudden. I am clueless.)

  26. Jennifer Kesler says

    Wemblee, welcome – to the blog and L.A. I’ll shoot you an email so we don’t go too far off topic. It’s always great to hear from someone else who can relate to these experiences. I don’t know that I have any great survival tips, but I’ll tell you the thoughts I have during all my “If I could go back again, knowing what I know now” ruminations. :)

  27. E says

    I get the “Smile!” thing less now that I live in the UK than I did when I lived in the US. But every now and again it rears its ugly head.

    The most recent one was a few days ago. I’m currently dealing with back problems and at the time I was in agony and on my way to a doctor’s appointment to get painkillers that would make the pain bearable. I stopped at a fast food place to quickly get something to eat. When my burger arrived, someone had written on the paper in large letters “SMILE, MATE”.

    I didn’t. I just ate as quickly as I could and left. I was literally in too much pain to have the energy to make a fuss.

    The ‘mate’ thing especially bothered me. Guys in the UK use terms such as ‘mate’ and ‘pal’ towards women they don’t know as a way of saying ‘I’m not interested in you’. But to say that still means they’ve thought about it, so the sexual thing is still at the forefront, unlike it would be if they’d just said whatever they wanted to say without using epithets.

  28. wemblee says

    Thanks! Yeah, I don’t want to derail you either — it’s a great post — so email is great. Thank you! :)

  29. says

    So, um, moving to L.A. is my creepy little secret dream and I’d really appreciate some advice too. :) I want to go to school out there, but I realize it’s the land of Fake Bitches (male and female).

  30. says

    Samia,

    Most of what I emailed Wemblee had to do with being in film as well as just surviving out here – you didn’t mention film school, so I’ll assume you’re just talking about how to function in a city where traditionally gorgeous women abound and men who couldn’t score a date in any other city are able to find female companionship.

    The first thing to realize is that if you were a 7/10 on that nasty “traditional beauty scale” where you live now, you’ll feel like a 5 in L.A. (If you’re a 5, you’ll be a 3, etc.) You will notice that the “quality” (again, going by the nasty beauty standard our society forces on us) of men hitting on you here will drop sharply – as a cute blond friend of mine once said, “Back home in Denver, I’d have been hit on by 5 young, cute guys by this point in the evening – here, I’ve been hit on by one really old guy, and he wasn’t cute.”

    No matter how much you realize that it’s all bullshit, your ego still feels it. Mine did. But this is where it’s important to remind yourself: I am fabulous. I may or may not be gorgeous, but I am wonderful in other ways. Anyone who doesn’t realize that doesn’t deserve to know me.

    You may feel fake telling yourself those things, but it’s less fake than padding your bits with silicone and collagen and telling yourself, “Ah, now I’m beautiful, and that makes me worthy.”

    The more you believe in yourself, and disbelieve in anyone who ignores you or doesn’t want you because they think they can score a “hotter chick”, the more confidence you’ll have. Confidence is attractive – not just to potential dates, but to friends, professors, employers. It must also be said confidence is unattractive to some people – but those are almost always people you don’t want around anyway. Think of it as a litmus test.

    Hope that’s some help!

  31. Rosa says

    Melpomene, thank you for pointing that out – I was going to post, in response that I (white, fat girl) have always been really squicked by white guys catcalling/talking me up on the street, but never by men of color…and then I realized that, living in the upper Midwest and being white, I have *never* been catcalled by a group of men of color I didn’t know.

    One-on-0ne, sure, “smile, baby” “Let me carry that, do you have a man at home?” Even, when I used to dye my hair blue “Can I touch that hair?” All the time. That’s how it is in my neighborhood, and it’s generally pretty friendly, no negative pushback if I say no gracefully. (Not that it’s not intrusive and sometimes rude…but not threatening or extra time-consuming)

    But the white boys feel the need to rev the engine on their SUV and try to talk me up out the window when I’m stopped at a red light on my bike, or follow me out of the bar to have a talk with me at 11 pm when I’m headed home. It’s always threatening. Even one-on-one it feels creepy to me. I wonder if it’s just my personal experience talking, or the specific circumstances (car -> bike is a whole power imbalance of its own) or if the underlying race/power dynamic trumps the sea of racist bullshit we all swim in.

  32. Eileen says

    Can I make a late addition to the advice for people thinking of living in L.A.? When you get sick of the scene and the constant pressure of Los Angeles itself, but still want the advantages of the City and the wonderful weather, move to Long Beach. It’s nice, I swear. Don’t listen to what the television tells you. It has an arts community that does not require supermodel looks or rock star backing for participation.

    The most socially miserable I’ve ever been is when I’ve gone to clubs in L.A. I just don’t want to try that hard, and that impulse (not wanting to spend every ounce of energy to be aesthetically pleasing to extremely particular men) is quickly noted and punished. Night life? No, not for me. Not on those terms.

  33. Latavia says

    Any chance I could get a copy of the suggestions you sent to Wemblee, BetaCandy? I’m in the same boat as Wemblee – writer, heading towards film, nerd, etc – and all suggestions or tips would be exponentially appreciated! Thanks a ton!

  34. says

    Uninvited verbalizations are also aggressive

    If this is the case, and any uninvited verbalizations are “aggressive” and therefore “bad”, how do you expect people to engage in any form of flirtation?

    If people are not allowed to speak to each other, where do you get progress? If men are supposed to wait until women speak to them first, and if we then apply the same rules to women…

    You have an impasse.

    Or does the “no talky” rule only apply to men, then?

  35. Jennifer Kesler says

    Black Thirteen, it’s a matter of situation. If a co-worker talks to me, it’s not exactly uninvited since work happens by communication. If I go into a bar – the nature of bars being places for strangers to chat – I don’t infer aggression if a man speaks to me. If you attend a church and a fellow congregation member talks to you, again, there’s no sense of aggression because what you have in common invites conversation.

    But when I’m just trying to walk down the street or take a bus, that doesn’t invite conversation. A man can still successfully approach a woman under those conditions if he’s aware that the approach is aggressive and compensates with extra politeness or reassurance that his intention isn’t to annoy or harm me in any way.

    As for your final question, no, that’s not what I was suggesting. But it’s true that men are going to be perceived as aggressive more readily than women – by anyone, including other men. This is because men commit by far the majority of violent crimes and because we have a legal system that is both racist and misogynistic in dealing with rape. It’ll take fixing a whole lot of things in our society before that imbalance is corrected enough for men to feel intimidated by women as often as we feel intimidated by men.

  36. says

    Though, that still creates an unbalanced situation.

    It’s not exactly a common thing for women to approach to the object of their desire.

    In fact, it’s generally expected and assumed that they will not.

    See what I’m getting at, here? If it’s inappropriate for men to approach women outside of bars and their coworkers (many don’t work with women OR go to bars), and women generally don’t do the approaching, you still reach an impasse. Someone has to make the move.

  37. says

    Someone has to make the move.

    Says who?

    I’m a chick. When I was single, I didn’t work with anyone I wanted to sleep with; I didn’t go to bars; and I still didn’t want Random Desperate Guy hitting on me. If I wanted a date, *I* would put myself in a conversation-appropriate situation: a party, a bar, an online dating service. If you’re a single guy looking for a date…do the same thing. Join a book club; go to parties; put a profile up on OKC. In the end, though, I don’t really care–it’s not my responsibility to help desperate men get laid.

    And feminism aside? That’s what a guy approaching a strange woman on the street or bus looks like: desperate. Like a guy who doesn’t have enough of a life to meet women like a *normal* person.

    Like, in other words, a giant loser.

    Just so ya know.

    Unrelatedly: cool user name, love the DT series.

  38. says

    Says who?

    Well, if someone wants a relationship, someone has to make a move. If it’s a male, and he’s not allowed to make a move, then it would have to be her. But if women generally don’t make those moves, or also assume they shouldn’t, well, that’s my point.

    I’m a chick. When I was single, I didn’t work with anyone I wanted to sleep with; I didn’t go to bars; and I still didn’t want Random Desperate Guy hitting on me.

    That’s a little insulting, really. If someone wants a date, they’re automatically desperate?

    If I wanted a date, *I* would put myself in a conversation-appropriate situation: a party, a bar, an online dating service.

    Does that make you Random Desperate Girl? :P

    And feminism aside? That’s what a guy approaching a strange woman on the street or bus looks like: desperate.

    Well, then why is it, when women do it, men are expected to be oh-so-wowed and flattered that she bothered to come near us?

    Like a guy who doesn’t have enough of a life to meet women like a *normal* person.

    That’s subjective. I don’t have time for a “life” (I don’t date either, but that’s beside the point), and why not? I’m busy working. If having money means I’m a loser, well, so be it. :D

    Edit: I should also add, to a lot of people, (myself included), very social situations (bars and populated parties) make them uncomfortable. There’s also the fact that really, I can’t see why anyone would want to date/sleep with the kind of person that requires being drunk first in order to meet someone. Ick.

    I’m just saying, my point is, if you restrict people and say “Men aren’t allowed to speak to women in public”, you end up with a really warped situation.

    Unrelatedly: cool user name, love the DT series.

    Would you believe in about 6 or so months of using it, you’re the first person to actually get it?

    Most people (women, and feminists especially) get angry at me, insult me, and assume it’s some form of black penis reference.

    I’d get frustrated with them if it weren’t so hilarious to me that they get it so very wrong.

  39. Jennifer Kesler says

    Black Thirteen, yes it is warped. The patriarchy made it that way in its attempt to lay women completely under the control of men. Go complain to the patriarchy. You didn’t respond to my comment in which I explained all that in detail. You have to correct the “rape culture” we have before you can have women and men equally comfortable meeting one another. And if you’re in the camp that believes that’s not possible because rape is unfortunately natural and all that, then go complain to evolution or God or random chance, as per your beliefs.

    Why in the world are you asking FEMINISTS to address an imbalance (women having good reason to be cautious of strange men) that misogynists created? Because you lack the nerve to go against the patriarchy and want to blame someone else for their mistakes and your misfortunes?

    If you want results, lay the blame where it belongs.

    And BTW, I don’t know who these “feminists” are that you claim think your name means a penis, but my first thought was Rook, the card game. Realizing that was too obscure to be likely, I still figured it was some sort of game reference.

  40. says

    Well, if someone wants a relationship, someone has to make a move.

    Well, yeah. But making a move does not necessarily mean coming up and talking to someone you don’t know–like I said below, there are other ways to meet people if you want to date.

    That’s a little insulting, really. If someone wants a date, they’re automatically desperate?

    Well, yeah. It’s supposed to be–if someone wants a date *and* isn’t willing to go through the normal channels of society, then…yeah, desperate.

    Does that make you Random Desperate Girl?

    Nope! Or at least I don’t think so: see above re: “conversation-appropriate situations.”

    Well, then why is it, when women do it, men are expected to be oh-so-wowed and flattered that she bothered to come near us?

    While my possession of a vagina doesn’t qualify me to speak to all women…you *aren’t*, as far as I know.

    I don’t talk to strange men in public. Not because I’m scared of them; because I know that if I start randomly talking to Guy on the Street, I will a) probably be bothering him because he’s thinking his own thoughts and trying to get somewhere, b) come off as desperate or crazy.

    For the record, when *women* talk to me at random, I assume they’re crazy, or trying to sell me something, or possibly trying to gain converts for their cult. (They could also be hitting on me, but I’ve got enough internalized heteronormativity that it doesn’t spring to mind. Or I just think better of lesbians, I guess…)

    That’s subjective. I don’t have time for a “life” (I don’t date either, but that’s beside the point), and why not? I’m busy working. If having money means I’m a loser, well, so be it.

    I work. I have money. And yet I still managed to meet a boy or five without bothering random passers-by.

    Also, and this deserves some emphasis: *you* made the choice to spend so much time working and thus have no time to date. Your choice; your problem. Neither I, nor any other woman out there, is at all obligated to solve that problem for you.

    And money doesn’t make someone a loser, but it also doesn’t *keep* them from being one. Lack of manners, on the other hand, will certainly qualify you.

    Edit: I should also add, to a lot of people, (myself included), very social situations (bars and populated parties) make them uncomfortable. There’s also the fact that really, I can’t see why anyone would want to date/sleep with the kind of person that requires being drunk first in order to meet someone. Ick.

    Neither do I. Thus: book clubs, martial arts classes, roleplaying games, meeting friends of friends, joining an online dating service…I could go on. There isn’t a binary here. Your choices are not restricted to “crowds and booze” or “bugging a random hot chick on the subway.”

    I’m just saying, my point is, if you restrict people and say “Men aren’t allowed to speak to women in public”, you end up with a really warped situation.

    I’m not allowing or prohibiting anything, as I have no lawmaking authority. That said? As I mentioned above, I think people who bother strangers on the street–unless there’s an obvious “hey, I need directions”-type reason–come off as crazies, tacky and somewhat sexist social maladroits, or, generally, both.

    If I’m on the street, I’m *going somewhere*. I’m thinking my own thoughts, and I like them just fine. I don’t need or want anyone interrupting me, no matter how long it’s been since they got laid or how important it is that I come to Jesus.

    and assume it’s some form of black penis reference

    …whoa. Took me a while to get that one. I haven’t had my coffee today.

  41. says

    Black Thirteen, yes it is warped. The patriarchy made it that way in its attempt to lay women completely under the control of men.

    I was speaking of the “Men are not to talk to women in public” situation. Men didn’t do that. It’s what you’re advocating.

    Why in the world are you asking FEMINISTS to address an imbalance (women having good reason to be cautious of strange men) that misogynists created?

    Because, by continuing to propagate it, the feminists are helping the imbalance? For the record, you and I both know that “stranger rape” is not where the majority of rapes come from, so being wary of every single man you don’t know isn’t going to prevent it.

    As far as approach goes, men created the “men approach women” setup. Women have continued it just as much as men have.

    Because you lack the nerve to go against the patriarchy and want to blame someone else for their mistakes and your misfortunes?

    I’m not sure what you mean here. Go against, related to what, specifically? Or, rather, to DO what?

    And BTW, I don’t know who these “feminists” are that you claim think your name means a penis, but my first thought was Rook, the card game. Realizing that was too obscure to be likely, I still figured it was some sort of game reference.

    Well, as it was put to me: Obviously, we’ve all heard the stereotype of the well-endowed black male. Ergo, they apparently took it as “Black (and) Thirteen (inches)”.

    It’s from a book, actually. By Stephen King.

    Still brought me a lot of laughter that they took it the wrong way, though.

    Well, yeah. But making a move does not necessarily mean coming up and talking to someone you don’t know–like I said below, there are other ways to meet people if you want to date.

    Well, isn’t the entire thing of dating, getting to know someone you don’t know, in order to see if you can have a relationship with them?

    I mean, I admit, I don’t know jack and/or shit about dating, so I’m making a few assumptions when it comes to it.

    Well, yeah. It’s supposed to be–if someone wants a date *and* isn’t willing to go through the normal channels of society, then…yeah, desperate.

    Well, I just figure some people don’t have those social circles, some people don’t have the time or money to do bars and parties, etcetera.

    I work. I have money. And yet I still managed to meet a boy or five without bothering random passers-by.

    Well, it tends to be easier for women to meet men than the inverse.

    Also, and this deserves some emphasis: *you* made the choice to spend so much time working and thus have no time to date. Your choice; your problem. Neither I, nor any other woman out there, is at all obligated to solve that problem for you.

    That’s not why I don’t date. I’m just illustrating that some people don’t have time to go out to parties and bars. Also, really, once you’re past the age of 21-23, the whole “bar scene” is highly inappropriate, and full of people 5-7+ years younger than yourself.

    I spend so much time working because, well, the economy in the US sucks, and one kinda has no choice, if they wish to keep paying their bills, eating, and also having the money to have the things they like/want.

    And money doesn’t make someone a loser, but it also doesn’t *keep* them from being one. Lack of manners, on the other hand, will certainly qualify you.

    Oh, I’m quite polite when I’m required to be.

    Neither do I. Thus: book clubs, martial arts classes, roleplaying games, meeting friends of friends, joining an online dating service…I could go on. There isn’t a binary here. Your choices are not restricted to “crowds and booze” or “bugging a random hot chick on the subway.”

    I’m pretty sure, that, despite my love of movies and video games, I’m not quite nerdy enough for D&D. :P Online dating services are an incredible scam. One so brilliant that I wish I’d thought of them 15 years ago, because I’d be sitting on a computer chair made of solid gold. Though, a little sick in my opinion, to sit there and rake in cash via the insecurity and loneliness of your fellow humans.

    I dunno. I just think most of the “generic suggestions” are just that. Generic, and not really relevant to the real world.

    …whoa. Took me a while to get that one. I haven’t had my coffee today.

    Hahaha. Well, I got yelled at it for it, and it provided me much entertainment.

  42. Jennifer Kesler says

    I was speaking of the “Men are not to talk to women in public” situation. Men didn’t do that. It’s what you’re advocating.

    This is getting old quickly. This post is about STREET HARASSMENT, not talking to people in public. If you don’t know the difference, you had better find it out. As Izzy says, there are plenty of public ways to meet new people without hassling people on the street or in situations that don’t invite conversation.

    Your whole point, as far as I can discern, is WHAT IF MEN CAN’T GET LAID? OMG, WHAT A TRAGEDY THAT WOULD BE? We’ve heard it all before.

    Please read this article before posting any further comments.

  43. says

    This is getting old quickly. This post is about STREET HARASSMENT, not talking to people in public.

    Well, then why give the command to men (as if they are children) of “Do not speak unless spoken to”? It doesn’t say “Don’t harass unless harassed first”. It simply says “speak”.

    Your whole point, as far as I can discern, is WHAT IF MEN CAN’T GET LAID? OMG, WHAT A TRAGEDY THAT WOULD BE? We’ve heard it all before.

    Feel free to ASK for me to clarify. Do NOT feel free to TELL me what I’m saying/thinking.

    It’s incredibly rude, and downright ridiculous to tell someone what they’re thinking, in order to tell them they’re wrong for thinking it.

    Especially considering you’re wrong. Even when I illustrate, in advance, to hopefully prevent this all-too-common conclusion jump, (by pointing out the fact that I. Do. Not. Fuck.), you still go ahead and make the assumption anyway. Kudos, really.

    If you’re going to debate with/speak to me, I kindly ask you refrain from attempting to exercise your psychic abilities. I have no problem with you inquiring as to my intent, if you feel you are uncertain, but I do have a problem with you assuming my intent, then basing your counter-arguments off of that.

    I apologize if that comes off as too harsh, but I really dislike it when people assume my thoughts, and then proceed to yell at me because of something they assume I’m doing, when I’m not.

    My first thought was roulette. I wonder what that says about me.

    That either you go to Vegas too much, not enough, or have watched the Ocean’s series of films too much.

    Just when you’re “required” to be? When aren’t people supposed to be polite? I know there are times when it’s ineffective, but if we’re going by sheer bulk hours, I’d say it’s more like there are times when impoliteness is called for; polite should be the standard operating procedure, not something that’s brought out only when absolutely necessary.

    If I’m at work, I’m polite. Politeness would be required of me when dealing with my clients.

    If I’m outside of work, I am incredibly abrupt with people, bordering on outright abrasive.

    If someone doesn’t like that, they aren’t exactly legally required to speak to me for whatever reason.

    Really? I know 7 married couples who met online, and it’s where my mother met the man she’s been seeing for two years. Now a couple of those weren’t on dating sites, but I’d hardly call it a scam or irrelevant to the real world. Just my observation.

    I’ve lately started preparing a long blog entry about dating sites, and how much of an interesting, yet very clever scam they are.

    Just to quickly highlight, how about the fact that conveniently, when one’s subscription is about to expire, that individual will get lots of enticing emails from people they’d very much be interested in…that don’t exist?

    Or perhaps the complete imbalance between the sexes on such sites? They’re largely intended to capitalize on the fact that a lot of men are really stupid. When you have a 3 to 1 or higher ratio of men to women, you’re going to have a lot of men paying money, and continually paying money, trying to date these women (that may or may not be employees of the dating site company [Match.com has had various legal troubles because of this]) that, due to the nature of a “seller’s market”, as it were, are going to be incredibly picky.

    Or, in the case of keeping profiles long after the members have left, you find men attempting to hit on women that aren’t even there to be hit on, and paying to do it.

    It adds up. Like I said, I wish I’d thought of it before everyone else did.

    But all of that is neither here nor there.

  44. Jennifer Kesler says

    No, Black Thirteen, that won’t fly.

    You’re the one with the psychic powers. No one but you thinks the article says people can’t talk to each other in public. I had a bad feeling about your intent when you closed your first comment with “Or does the “no talky” rule only apply to men, then?” but I gave it time to see which way you took it – would you engage in discussion, or just keep insisting I’m saying something I’m not, and I’m wrong, and derail the conversation?

    You derailed the conversation, which is against our guidelines. Good day to you!

  45. MaggieCat says

    I still figured it was some sort of game reference.

    My first thought was roulette. I wonder what that says about me.

    Oh, I’m quite polite when I’m required to be.

    Just when you’re “required” to be? When aren’t people supposed to be polite? I know there are times when it’s ineffective, but if we’re going by sheer bulk hours, I’d say it’s more like there are times when impoliteness is called for; polite should be the standard operating procedure, not something that’s brought out only when absolutely necessary.

    Online dating services are an incredible scam.

    I dunno. I just think most of the “generic suggestions” are just that. Generic, and not really relevant to the real world.

    Really? I know 7 married couples who met online, and it’s where my mother met the man she’s been seeing for two years. Now a couple of those weren’t on dating sites, but I’d hardly call it a scam or irrelevant to the real world. Just my observation.

  46. Izzy says

    Aside from the “…and this is *still* not my problem, dude,” deal, I was going to point out that there are at least a few free online dating services, many of which are way the hell better than the for-pay ones. (eHarmony gives me the screaming jibblies.)

    And that “generic suggestions” work pretty damn well if you’re willing to do some of the heavy lifting rather than sitting around moaning about how you caaaan’t meet women.

    And that even if you seriously for serious can’t meet women in a way other than bothering them on the street…well, dude, if you’ve got two hands, I’ve got no sympathy. Suck it up and deal…or don’t. But playing the “I can’t meet women and am so very lonely” card isn’t gonna make me react to you any better when you bother me, or think any better of you in the abstract.

    But it looks like dude is banninated. So I preach to the choir, I think, as usual. ;)

  47. Jennifer Kesler says

    I did ban him, and want to explain it clearly to anyone else who might for have legit questions about the article, or who might disagree with us for cogent reasons.

    In another article, I pointed out that the definition of harassment is talking (or engaging) AT someone rather than with them. That’s what his comments felt like to me. Let me break it down simply.

    The point of this article is that harassment and public flirtation are two different things. His point was that in saying you can’t harass, we must really mean you can’t publicly flirt. It’s such a stark contradiction to what was really said that I almost didn’t let the comment through in the first place.

    The only way to draw the conclusion he drew is if you totally can’t tell, or don’t want to tell, the difference between harassment and public flirtation..

    As the comments progressed, you could tell he was reading our responses, but not listening. He wasn’t learning anything – he was just here to correct us females on our misguided thinking.

    In short, he is banned because he was talking at us, not with us.

    In his continued submitted comments which are going in the ban pile under all his new sock identities, he keeps harping on the idea that because he’s not dating, we can’t claim his big concern here is about preserving male dating strategies. This, too, entirely misses the point. I never claimed he was concerned about getting HIMSELF laid. I think his point is that we females have no right removing male privileges – as if men have earned the right to call out remarks about our breasts as you pass by them, and this important right must be preserved or we will enter an era of anti-freedom.

  48. says

    Walp, Jennifer, given that he says frankly that he only behaves nicely when he’s forced to in order to keep pulling his paycheck, my guess is that he behaves in this jerkish, condescending, admittedly-abrasive way even to the women he’s trying to pick up – and similarly has no clue why they all keep telling him to scram, it must be because of the Ebol Feminazi Conspiracy, of course!

    IOW, classic “Nice Guy” behavior. (I knew a guy like this. Apparently he had aims of picking me up, but since all he did was harangue me in this patronizing nasal tone of voice trying to score zingers against me in front of everyone else at the dinner party, and then look around preeningly to make sure that everyone had noticed how he’d put me down – as well as boasting of how much better educated and richer he was than everybody else in the room – I figured he hated me, thought he was an obnoxious little twit, and found it difficult to believe when I heard through a mutual acquaintance that he was Interested in me, and couldn’t figure out why I gave him the cold shoulder. He was a rich kid, and he was an academic, but even among wealthy academics of my acquaintance he stood out in my mind as singularly oafish and clueless. He seriously couldn’t understand why someone as rich and smart as he was still single at age 30 – though to top it off, he was no adonis, either, and any kind of nerdy/gawky/woobie charm he might have had was precluded by his combination of smirking arrogance and finicky old-gentleman fussiness.)

    This is exactly the way my spidey-sense starts tingling when a man starts whining that “OMG, sexual harrassment laws mean that a man can get sued just for putting a friendly hand on a woman’s shoulder or accidentally bumping into her!”

    No, dude, your guilty conscience is showing. Rubbing up and down my back trying to feel my bra strap through my shirt is *not* “just putting a friendly hand” on my shoulder. Leaning yourself up against my side, and moving to press against me as if you were my kid or my dog when I move away, repeatedly, is not “accidentally bumping into against” me. We are *not* fooled.

    (I am referring to my current boss in the above para, btw. He is, unsurprisingly, a Republican who thinks that the Bush admin has run the country into the ground because they’re not conservative enough, and will have to hold the lever for McCain and hope that he turns out to be the Real True Conservative who will fix things. He also complains all the time about how women and minorities get preferential treatment and take away the just deserts of white men. He is also howlingly incompetent at all aspects of his current job…)

  49. Jennifer Kesler says

    Bellatrys, the guy you described who put you down at parties to show how much he liked you? Yep, that’s why I didn’t date in high school. I thought guys hated me and saw me as an asexual eyesore. Turned out their attempts to make me defer to them were their idea of how men attract women. I’d link to the article on how the misogynistic jerk who gets the girl is a myth, but I’m too lazy. :)

    Genevieve, thanks for sharing that! I hate banning people, and it takes up a lot of headspace for me to make that decision. It’s always a relief to have confirmation I made the right call.

  50. Genevieve says

    Oh my God, BlackThirteen. I haven’t even read through this completely yet (I read on the JOA post that you were dealing with a troll over here…) but that it is BlackThirteen? That dude has been everywhere I have been in the past few months. Either being a straight-up jerk or pretending to be nice. And yeah, that last one was something I wrote…real smart of him, eh?

    This dude seems to enjoy being Troll Extrordinaire.

  51. says

    Turned out their attempts to make me defer to them were their idea of how men attract women.

    Something has gone horribly, horribly wrong in recent times w/r/t the biological wiring of the human male. (I blame it on the Vespan Wasp-Women’s plans for galactic conquest, personally.)

    But seriously, not only is there this increasing eroticization of a “femininity” which is entirely artificial *and* unhealthy – neither conducive to species survival, any more than breeding varieties of dogs who need c-sections to make it because their heads are too large/their hips too narrow for normal delivery – but there is this incredible disconnect that frankly, I don’t really see before the 20th century.

    In all other species of social animals that have courtship as a part of the mating process, the males try to 1) impress the females with their healthy good looks and talents and/or parenting skills, and 2) drive off the rival males.

    Instead, nowadays, at least in America, men try to fight off the females and impress the other males with their verbal skills and muscularity…

    Maybe we did get Screwfly’d already, and we never realized it.

  52. says

    Thus continues a trend of people with cool names from my fandoms turning out to actually be dickheads. Le sigh.

    Bannination is totally deserved–I was getting to the “English, motherfucker, DO YOU READ IT?” stage after writing something to the effect of “men’s lack of ability to get laid is Not My Problem” and having him ignore it, or protest that he’s not in this because *he* wants to get laid, about five times.

    Seriously, dudes who may be reading this: I do not care about your pathetic life story. I do not care why you can’t get laid–except, frankly, that it probably *is* your fault. (Um, and if you’re SO BUSY WORKING that you can’t meet women, how is it that you have time to post long rambling responses on Internet blogs, hmmm?) I don’t do pity fucks, you don’t get points for angsty backstory, and if you bother me on the street or on the subway or anywhere else, I’m going to try and rip you a new one. Clear? Good.

  53. says

    I do not care why you can’t get laid–except, frankly, that it probably *is* your fault. (Um, and if you’re SO BUSY WORKING that you can’t meet women, how is it that you have time to post long rambling responses on Internet blogs, hmmm?) I don’t do pity fucks, you don’t get points for angsty backstory, and if you bother me on the street or on the subway or anywhere else, I’m going to try and rip you a new one.

    Izzy, the thing that baffles me most – and again, some form of Screwfly Solution interference seems a logical explanation – is, do any men seriously think that a woman is likely to say “Yes! Loverboy! I want to date you and fuck you and marry you and have your babies! Let me drop everything I was doing and run away with you – or better yet, toss me over your shoulder and run away with me!” to a random guy she is being pestered by in some completely inappropriate location? I mean, OBVIOUSLY IT ISN”T WORKING, since these dudes keep complaining about how they’re not getting laid, but WHY WOULD THEY EXPECT IT TO IN THE FIRST PLACE??!?!1?

    I mean, would any of them pay attention to, and then accept, the offer of some random guy who came up with them trying to sell them a stake in some miracle invention or treasure-mining company at the bus stop, tried to get them to invest a huge amount and take a big risk, in such a situation? Of course they wouldn’t. (Well, unless they’re part of the disproportionately-male pool of victims of online spam scams…) Would they go home with that random scruffy guy who wants to show them his miracle invention to prove to them that it’s worth investing in, or would their Hannibal Lecter/Jeffrey Dahmer alarm bells be going off like crazy?

    Or, if some random scruffy, lumpen woman, unkempt, possibly unwashed – or at least looking like it – came up to them on the bus and offered to date them, wanted to bring them home, how many of these guys who say they’d like to be sexually harrassed, hur, hur, would accept, and how many would freak out – especially if she started rubbing them, or talking in suggestive ways to the amusement/embarrassment of everyone present?

    I think we can safely say that very, very few of these entitled Privilegeboys would take up any of these offers, and those who are gullible enough/naive enough to do so are good candidates for Darwin Awards all round. And most of these Privilege boys like Mr. Banninated there would agree – in these scenarios, but can’t understand why we who happen to be female would feel the same way w/r/t to their approaching us.

    As for “ZOMG! now I daren’t even SPEAK to any woman lest she think I’m harassing her, life is so UNFAIR!!!1!” – well, it’s really simple, hetguys. There are two questions you need to ask yourself before making your innocent approach:

    1) would I say this to another man (and in this fashion)? Seriously, if you’re just chatting about the weather or other local conditions, in a perfectly normal tone of voice, ie “So, did you hear about the sinkhole on Main Street?” most of us can tell that you’re just being sociable and not being a creepy hitter-upon. We’re not that stupid (and if you think we are, why do you want to spend time with us?) But if the comment, or the tone of voice, is such that you’d be mortified if the “chick” you were talking to turned out to be a long-haired dude, then yes, you’re being a creepy harasser. (and you do realize this, because you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be caught talking that way to a guy if you didn’t know it deep down.)

    This also goes for touching, btw. If you wouldn’t touch a strange guy – or a policewoman! – this way, then no, it’s NOT just an “innocent tap on the shoulder”, it’s a dominance display and creepy and invasive.

    2) Would it seem creepy/menacing coming at you from another man, or from a woman you found objectionable? IOW, if it would, then there is clearly something more than neutral socializing in the words/tone/gestures. If you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of it, then yes, it is coming across as a sexualized power-play. Don’t do it.

    I manage, nearly every day, to refrain from sexually harassing both women and men that I find attractive, in public venues of all kinds. And yet I also somehow manage to make polite casual conversation and even to give compliments on outfits sometimes, without giving offense! And I’m a nerd’s nerd, problems with social cues and all. If I can manage, so can you! (And if you can’t, then clearly you are not old enough or competent to be allowed out of the house without a minder.)

  54. says

    bellatrys: Yeah, the lack of logic baffles me too. I can only assume it’s the spammer thing: the assumption that some woman, somewhere, will eventually fall for it.

    Or, really, it’s probably the two-year-old impulse, where any attention is *good* attention. Barely tolerable in kids; totally inexcusable in adults who should know better.

    Or, if some random scruffy, lumpen woman, unkempt, possibly unwashed – or at least looking like it – came up to them on the bus and offered to date them, wanted to bring them home, how many of these guys who say they’d like to be sexually harrassed, hur, hur, would accept, and how many would freak out – especially if she started rubbing them, or talking in suggestive ways to the amusement/embarrassment of everyone present?

    Yes, this. Or, indeed, as you mention, how they’d react if a guy started pulling the same moves? (Tangent here–it’s sort of horrifyingly amazing how many of the “well, aren’t you girls overreacting” guys are the same ones who defend the “gay panic” bullshit defense. I do not understand how these thoughts line up without someone’s head exploding, but there we go.)

    Patrick: Oh, and that “polite when I have to be” business? Tells us everything we need to know about that guy.

    Heh, yes.

    I was thinking for a second that there are times when I’m polite because I have to be–meetings, for example, when it behooves me to say “oh, that’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure…” rather than “you must get off whatever drugs you’re taking RIGHT NOW, dude”–or a different variant of polite because I have to be–I don’t swear like a sailor in front of my grandparents–but as a general policy, being rude unless forced is…the sort of behavior I expect from fifteen year olds who buy their anarchy t-shirts at Hot Topic.

    Actually, now that I think about it, Mr. Banninated here comes off very much like most of the willfully-socially-maladjusted geek dudes I’ve encountered: there’s the feeling that we must justify things like manners (or showering) by his logic and that otherwise he’s totally in the right to scoff at them; the entitled idea that we have to take his particular special case and/or the case of his brethren into account…yeah, this is pretty much why I don’t go to cons without a group of friends.

    Not that geek guys are responsible for all of this crap, but they’re the most verbose and self-justifying, in my experience. (“Girls who won’t go out with me=shallow bitches,” is always an argument I love. See also “I Never Had A Date In High School, So Women Owe Me.” Ew.)

  55. says

    The thing that gets me most, though, is that most of the guys I know who act like this are perfectly capable of restraining themselves and behaving themselves in other circumstances.

    Some aren’t, but the Venn sets of “Nice Guys Who Are Really Sexist Assholes” and “Cat Piss Men In The Comic Store” and “Stoner Oafs Who Are Always In Bar Fights” has a really small overlap – I mean, there is a HUUUUUGE population of the NiceGuys(TM) out there who are clean-cut men with well-paying jobs, some of them on Wall Street, some of them doctors and lawyers, who can completely restrain themselves when they have to – as Mr. Banninated above, assuming he isn’t lying about having a good job and being able to be polite in public to people in positions of power over him.

    (This comes down to something that’s been identified in primate social behavior, btw – there’s a great article by a famous biologist, one of the guys who did some of the foundational work on how stress is bad for human health – debunking the “males will be males, they can’t help themselves due to testosterone” in which he references a study that found that when the lower monkeys on the social run in a group of males were given testosterone shots they *did* get more aggressive – but only towards those still lower down than themselves! They carefully *only* picked on the littler monkeys, never against the bigger, established alpha males. Testosterone didn’t turn their brains off, nor their capability of making social distinctions when it came time to pick targets for their aggression. This is what we see with Mr. Banninated and his ilk, and why they always go after the female bloggers for saying exactly the same critical things of games and books and statues as male bloggers like frex Chris of ISB, and with the sexualized viciousness that we have seen. It’s a primate fang-baring contest, and they *know* we’re – according to the rest of the pack – the ones it’s safe to go after, by virtue of our girlparts. We’re not *allowed* to fight back, and no one will come to our defense, because no one ever did, chivalry be damned. Only we’re changing the rules now and they don’t like it.)

    I’ve worked for and with all too many of them, I’ve read far too many accounts of harassment by law school boys and clergymen and tenured professors with families and upstanding members of the Better Business Bureau on other blogs. Sometimes they end up in the newspaper like Charles Stewart with all their neighbors going “gee, he seemed like such a wonderful guy,” but mostly they get away with their sexist asshole behavior.

    Yes, we who are fen see more of it in fandom, because that’s who we socialize with most. But I’m not buying this “nerds will be nerds” excuse for the SDCC assholes I’m seeing all over the net: for one thing, I know waaay too many polite, friendly, unjerkish non-asshole but totally nerdy and eccentric fanboys. (Like the ones who ran *our* local comic-con, which was a rockin’ good family-friendly time.)

    The ones who are asshole NiceGuys are just reflecting the wider American macho culture, the one that we see accepted and celebrated on mainstream TV shows and in mainstream novels every damn day.

    See also “I Never Had A Date In High School, So Women Owe Me.” Ew.

    And yet none of these oh-so pitiful entitled Hug and Boob and Date demanders EVER feel obligated to grant *themselves* to women who didn’t get dates in high school and who *didn’t* grow up to be Swans but are still by their standards Ugly Ducklings – Double Standards R Us!

  56. says

    Or, really, it’s probably the two-year-old impulse, where any attention is *good* attention. Barely tolerable in kids; totally inexcusable in adults who should know better.

    Shorter bellatrys: but they *do* know better, and don’t care. What they know best of all is that they will be allowed to get away with it, because women are soft targets. Society encourages this behavior in men by not punishing it, same as when you don’t crate your dog after he steals from the table.

    (The reason that “any attention is good attention” is that it’s a power game, just like “made you blink.” It isn’t really about the attention, nor even the sex, per se: it’s about the maddeningness of having someone refuse to obey you, refuse to react in the way that you want them to react to you. They must be punished for failing to roll over, sit up and beg at a man’s command.)

  57. says

    FYI – for anyone reading this thread who doesn’t also read Nothing New (my blog), I got a series of stupid emails from Mr. Banninated which I mounted over the fireplace in accord with my longstanding Troll Cave policy (trolls get hung up in stocks to laugh at) and if he does show up (he hasn’t yet done so, whether from lack of time or lack of nerve I cannot say), my regulars are by a strong majority voting to ban him preemptively for the crime of being boooooRING – see, we like to kick funny/stupid trolls around, and ban them when they get dull. (This isn’t very nice, but we’re not very nice, we’re just Good, or try to be, like Granny Weatherwax, so it’s OK.) But if they start out dull, there isn’t any fun in poking them with pointy sticks.

  58. Moniquill says

    “Even, when I used to dye my hair blue “Can I touch that hair?”

    Ugh, I hate that one. Since adopting dreads (which are occasionally also purple/blue/assorted colors) I can’t go a month without someone in a public place skipping the asking step and just touching my hair without warning. Store personnel have done this to me!

    Clue time folks; this is not cute if you are over two years of age. My style choices do not give you the inherent right to lay hands on me because you ‘just had to know what those felt like!’

  59. Jennifer Kesler says

    I just cannot believe people so commonly feel entitled to fondle the hair of complete strangers. WTF, people? I find it slightly odd when people I know want to feel my curly hair. But total strangers? Dude!

  60. MaggieCat says

    Oh, I hate all the “I have never seen you before in my life, but I totally have the right to walk up and touch you” people*. I have this fabulous sweater smushy sweater that I love — just a little fluffy, the right drape, gorgeous colour — basically if you could make Cool Whip into a dark purple chenille sweater this is what you’d get, but I had to stop wearing it in public because complete strangers kept walking up and basically petting me. Who DOES that??

    (*See also: people who go for the curly red hair. You wanna keep that hand attached to your arm? KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. This rule now also applies to my aunt, ever since her annoying habit of touching every piece of jewelry I was wearing on Thanksgiving a few years back led to me getting bronchitis that sent me to the ER and double ear infections from her for Christmas. I have no immune system, which is not new. *headdesk*)

  61. says

    I’ve always heard it joked that strangers randomly coming up and touching your stomach is common in pregnancy, but I have recently experienced it for myself. I’m still at the point where most people find it difficult to distinguish my body from what can be perceived as “fat” or “pregnant”, but that did not stop this woman. I was at the pharmacy, picking up my pre-natal vitamin prescription, when the woman in line behind me proceeds to ask “Are you pregnant?” It seemed like such an awfully personal question, and I was so surprised, that I answered in the affirmative. She then proceeded to reach out and fondle my stomach. Now, I have gotten accustomed to family members and extremely close friends touching my stomach, “talking to the baby,” etc, and I find all that rather sweet, (if somewhat irritating at times), but I did not know this woman. Though I was rather taken aback by this stranger’s action, I did manage to spit out the comeback, “I was not aware that my pregnancy turned my body into public property. Please, don’t touch my stomach.”

  62. Patrick says

    “I was not aware that my pregnancy turned my body into public property. “

    Clearly you haven’t been listening to Republicans.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>