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  1. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 26, 2011 at 3:51 pm |

    Can I comment with my own recent story? If you consider it a derail, please feel free to delete.

    I’ve lived on the (north)east coast of the US my whole life. Here, we typically don’t talk to strangers when we’re in public. We pop in our ipods, throw on our sunglasses, and if we’re super fucking desperate to avoid you, maybe we’ll give someone a call for a nice long catch up.

    Then I moved to the midwest for a few years, and fucking every dude ever talked to me in public. And creepily. “Nice legs” from a skanky old guy. Awkward request for something totally benign which then segued into guy-in-car hitting on me. Every. Fucking. Day. I got really good, by the end, of telling people, “I don’t talk to strangers.” It’s a nice throwback to childhood, but it sends the message, “Fuck off, Stabby McCreepster.” (Note: typically in broad daylight where others were present – FFS it gets so much worse if there are fewer people and it’s dark. And I have cis privilege and I’m binary gender conforming. I really can’t imagine how much worse other people get it).

    Now I’m back for a few months before graduation, and am blissfully back in the place where the headphones/sunglasses/dirty glare combo is respected.

    Until some douche threw me off my guard on my way into the city the other day.

    I shit you not, a guy (who claimed to be a psychic but didn’t know that I completely made up my fake boyfriend of 1.5 years — but did tell me I would get a job soon!) managed to get me to sit next to him on one leg of the trip (window side, so I couldn’t get up easily), sprayed his cheap cologne on my hand and told me it was “lucky” spray, then proceeded to sniff my hand and make predictions. He wouldn’t shut the fuck up about the girl across the aisle (who pulled the cell phone move against him earlier) – who apparently was going to get fat in her old age. (At this point, I thought at length about how he said fat like it was a dirty word and how I would personally love to get to an old age – even if I was gasp!fat – rather than get gutted before I got to NYC).

    I ended up chasing the conductor into the next car with some nonsense about a snack car. I conveyed what the issue was once we got into the car (i.e. I didn’t want to get hacked to death), and it was fine.

    tl – dr? People are fucking creepy. Try not to get gutted. Psychics probably aren’t real, but if they are, they probs won’t be announcing themselves on a train.

  2. Nahida
    Nahida March 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm |

    I used to have a serious problem saying “no.” To everyone, about everything. I dropped my picture money on the lawn in the second grade and someone asked if she could have it. And I couldn’t say no. Classmates through elementary school art projects would ask me to trade, and even though I’d put so much work–and, not to sound cheesy, but love–into what I’d done, I couldn’t say no.

    Three months ago I was sitting next to one of my friends. And he asked if I’d kiss him. I laughed, and began talking about something else. He asked again. I said no. And again. In a whinier tone. Now he was pressuring. “Come on, why not?”

    Why not? I’m not certain what did it, but for some reason that question pissed me off. It made me snap out of polite-society-hinting. I remembered my feminist manners.

    “Stop coercing me,” I said in a dead serious tone. “I’m only going to say no once, and I don’t owe you a fucking explanation!”

    (It felt amazing to say this.)

    He backed off immediately. And he kind of looked devastated. But not because I’d rejected him–because he had realized at that moment, when I used the word coerce, that he was being a douchebag. He verbally acknowledged this and apologized.

  3. Nahida
    Nahida March 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm |

    I have to add something slightly unrelated to my previous comment and generally random: having the following conversation pisses me off,

    “Can I have your number?”
    “No.”
    “Why, do you have a boyfriend?”

    YES! THAT’S IT! A BOYFRIEND! BECAUSE THAT’S THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE REASON I WOULD EVER TURN YOU DOWN!

  4. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin March 26, 2011 at 5:01 pm |

    Like many men, in this situations it took me a while before I learned why it was often difficult to get a straight answer from a woman who wanted to spare my feelings. This was particularly true when I was asking her out. I really do wish I hadn’t had to learn it the hard way, through experience and much failure. In the world of the ideal, we’d teach men and women essential bits of information just like this post discusses, or better yet, address them directly so that women felt no need to be evasive and/or to please men at all times.

    Let me say what follows next very gingerly. I’m going to try to choose my words carefully, because they can easily be misconstrued. I think what has gotten to me at times is receiving an empathic “no” from a woman in a tone that is angry, caustic, and dismissive. This is often, I have found, an overcompensation for a prior traumatic situation where a woman did not set adequate boundaries and ended up being scared to death, or worse yet, injured. Hellbent on not making the same mistake, she then feels a need to assume the absolute worst in every proposition from a man. As God is her witness, she will never be vulnerable again.

    And don’t get me wrong, it can be a violent world out there. My concern is not so much for myself here. I’m not crying foul so much as I am genuinely troubled. Anyone who is still so wounded that she would still carry within her this degree of fear and pain, which manifests itself in anger and hostility reinforces the belief of many a jilted male. This is when words like “bitch” and “cunt” surface. And no, it’s not fair that anger produced by trauma often produces more anger and less understanding in someone else, but this is the nature of our world right now. This is why I am a proponent of nonviolent communication.

    When talking to men about the outcome of physical fights, I usually use a particular anecdote. It goes like this. A man who won a fight bragged about breaking 12 of his opponents’ bones, while the opponent broke only 8 of his. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, both of the men were on crutches at the end. Sometimes it’s worth taking the high ground.

  5. jjuliaava
    jjuliaava March 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm |

    Did you read that chat!? Horrifying! I wanna give Captain a virtual hug–not in a creepy way…
    These points are so enlightening, I wish I had this info before I met up with a bona fide casanova and spent up all my money:
    Forced Teaming. This is when a person tries to pretend that he has something in common with a person and that they are in the same predicament when that isn’t really true.
    Charm and Niceness. This is being polite and friendly to a person in order to manipulate him or her.
    Too many details. If a person is lying they will add excessive details to make themselves sound more credible.
    Typecasting. An insult to get a person who would otherwise ignore one to talk to one. (“I bet you’re too stuck up to ever talk to a guy like me.“This is a classic move of Pick-Up Artists)
    Loan Sharking. Giving unsolicited help and expecting favors in return.
    The Unsolicited Promise. A promise to do (or not do) something when no such promise is asked for; this usually means that such a promise will be broken. For example: an unsolicited, “I promise I’ll leave you alone after this,” usually means you will not be left alone. Similarly, an unsolicited “I promise I won’t hurt you” usually means the person intends to hurt you.
    Discounting the Word “No”. Refusing to accept rejection.

    Totally going to buy this book GIFT OF FEAR and read it to my daughter at bedtime when she turns teenaged.

  6. Ashley
    Ashley March 26, 2011 at 6:10 pm |

    I have been trying to practice this word better.

    I was at a club a few weeks ago and some random guy comes up to me and asks me to dance. I said, “No, I’m just dancing with my girl right now.” He flipped me off and went on to talk shit about me to his buddies. Some guys are terrible and handling rejection. But hopefully I have helped him grow up a little because he’ll have to deal with it sooner or later.

  7. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte March 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm |

    “I don’t talk to strange men” is, I’ve found, a really great way to brush off Angry Dude. You’re framing it as a general rule that has nothing to do with him, shutting down one entire avenue of offense he can take.

  8. randomosity
    randomosity March 26, 2011 at 7:50 pm |

    Several years ago I was out with a friend at a restaurant with a full bar. We ordered our meals and drinks. While waiting for the food to come, some guy in his early 20s came over to us and started sitting down in the booth next to me.

    As he was sitting down, he said, “You don’t mind if I sit with you, do you.”

    Me: Yes, I do mind.

    Him: But I just want to sit with you and talk to you.

    Me: No. You just sat down before you bothered to ask. Go away.

    Him: (slinks away.)

    I saw him join a table of three others at a round high-top nearby. My friend told me I was rude, and I reminded her that he interrupted us, didn’t ask permission before sitting down, and I didn’t want him there.

    I also noticed that the other three guys egged him on and he came back.

    Me: I told you to go away.

    Him: But–

    Me: (getting progressively louder and I can project) If you don’t leave right now, I will Make. A. Scene.

    People looked over at us. My friend looked mortified. The guy slunk away.

    If I had to do it over, I’d do the same thing. No regrets.

  9. Azalea
    Azalea March 26, 2011 at 9:19 pm |

    I say no but I just ignore most. I live in a city where men have no qualms with approaching a woman they think is attractive and will even “wait their turn” so to speak to let her know and try their hand. A 5 minute walk can easily turn into a 20 minute step and debate if I took the time to actually acknowledge every guy trying his hand beyond “thank you” (if he throws out a compliment) or “hello” if he begins “hey , how are you, where are you going, are you married,blah blah blah blah.” I was raised to be nice but my experience taught me to be firm and clear.

  10. Tori
    Tori March 26, 2011 at 10:39 pm |

    … This is often, I have found, an overcompensation for a prior traumatic situation where a woman did not set adequate boundaries and ended up being scared to death, or worse yet, injured. Hellbent on not making the same mistake, she then feels a need to assume the absolute worst in every proposition from a man.

    @Comrade Kevin — Or, as another possibility, it is sometimes necessary compensation for multiple prior traumatic situations where someone set clear boundaries but ended up being scared to death and/or injured by someone — often someone with greater physical or social power — failing to respect those boundaries. Sometimes the only “mistake” that was made was to be born into a society that all too often dismisses a marginalized person’s “no.”

  11. Lis
    Lis March 26, 2011 at 11:57 pm |

    Comrade Kevin, I think you may be reading a little too much trauma into women who are angry. For me to overcome the anxiety that I’m doing the wrong thing by refusing someone, I often need to work myself up into anger before I have the courage to say it. This isn’t because of some terrible event in my past; it’s because I’ve been excessively socialized to give men the benefit of the doubt and always be accommodating. Telling a man “no, go away” is a major breach of the protocol I was raised with. For me to do it, I need to be angry, because if I’m not reminding myself of my own right to do what I want and decide who I spend time with, I think I owe men whatever they ask of me.

  12. saurus
    saurus March 27, 2011 at 1:08 am |

    Comrade Kevin: This is often, I have found, an overcompensation for a prior traumatic situation where a woman did not set adequate boundaries […]

    I hope it goes without saying that most traumatic situations are not because the woman did not set adequate boundaries, but because the violent party trampled right over them or tried to coerce them away or created an environment in which setting boundaries would be either very difficult or impossible. Like, it’s not just that women don’t know how to say “no”, it’s that they’re punished if they do. One might think one would be grateful for the clarity, but don’t underestimate how much one might miss the ego boosts and supplication work that women regularly do. I’ve had a boss, for example, who often says how he likes straight-shooters and doesn’t want or need to be coddled, but in reality he’s constantly swaddled by women – and he doesn’t even realize it. And god forbid you stop swaddling him (and I don’t mean saying something negative, just withholding the superfluous positive) – far from considering you a straight-shooter, he’ll resent you. In my experience, most guys – even if they suspect – are largely oblivious to all the social elbow grease women contribute, but benefit from it immensely.

    Hellbent on not making the same mistake, she then feels a need to assume the absolute worst in every proposition from a man. As God is her witness, she will never be vulnerable again.

    What are you referring to when you say “the absolute worst”? Are you saying she thinks he may rape her? Do you think it’s possible that women might give men a hostile or caustic “no” for reasons other than suspecting the man of rape – such as the man being an over-entitled douche? I mean, how do know that you came off as nicely as you intended to?

    Anyone who is still so wounded that she would still carry within her this degree of fear and pain, which manifests itself in anger and hostility reinforces the belief of many a jilted male. This is when words like “bitch” and “cunt” surface. And no, it’s not fair that anger produced by trauma often produces more anger and less understanding in someone else, but this is the nature of our world right now. This is why I am a proponent of nonviolent communication.

    Are you saying a woman saying “no” in a hostile/caustic way = violent communication?? Also, I am having trouble reading that bit as anything other than holding women responsible for men’s stereotypes. Sorry, but if I say “no” to a guy in a hostile way and he concludes that all women are bitches, I am not the one who needs to change, and changing my behavior would not fix or prevent the problem. *This* is the nature of our world right now – women could treat men as delicately as possible and words like “bitch” and “cunt” would *still* surface. Just as much! Am I going to use “violent” communication – like, say, threatening to have him murdered? Of course not. But I might deliver a resounding “Fuck off!” if he isn’t taking the “no” cues I’m throwing left and right.

    Also, that whole bit rubs me the wrong way – like, “These women are irrational and unfair, but don’t be offended because I think it’s because of their wounds/trauma.” It just sounds passive aggressive to me. Like when people say, “Really, I just feel sorry for [person you dislike/resent]. She must be so unhappy and traumatized.”

    Anyway, if a guy is respectful to me I will respond in kind. Since he’s typically the one to initiate I’m cognizant that it might be a stomach-churningly self-conscious situation for him, and I try to let him down as gently as I can. But if he starts with the assumption that I’m straight, available and attracted to him, or if he pulls some dehumanizing PUA shit or makes thinly veiled attempts to manipulate me, I will knock him down a peg if I feel so inclined. I’m sure he thinks, “But I was so nice and complimentary! Why did she respond so meanly?”

    But you know what? It’s no meaner than his behavior. It’s just less palatable coming from a female.

    I mean, there’s something to be said for how women’s resistance is so often characterized as caustic or mean or hostile or whatever – when the same vocalization from a male would be considered significantly more neutral.

  13. Chally
    Chally March 27, 2011 at 2:32 am |

    judybrowni:
    Plus it also works for getting rid of poor crazy bag ladies.

    *quietly sobs into her moderator hat*

  14. Schmorgluck
    Schmorgluck March 27, 2011 at 3:24 am |

    I’ve grown very conscious of this problem in the past years. Combined with other factors, it’s one of the reasons why I never ask a woman out. The other factors can be summed up as my general social cluelessness: nearly unable to catch hints, challenged by context evaluation, etc, which leaves me in the dark about how such a proposition would be received, and if it would cause distress…

  15. z
    z March 27, 2011 at 5:03 am |

    Chally: …

    *quietly sobs into her moderator hat*

    If this is wanted and not creepy-since-I-don’t-know-you: *hug*
    (Sorry, your sadness made me sad and I like giving hugs.)

  16. Chally
    Chally March 27, 2011 at 5:45 am |

    *wrings out hat and returns hug* I love hugs. :)

  17. z
    z March 27, 2011 at 5:48 am |

    Yay! Hugs. Okay, I’m done being off topic.

  18. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston March 27, 2011 at 8:46 am |

    A few weeks ago, I was out at a fancy ice cream place with my eight-year-old daughter. She got chocolate chip, I asked for a taste of something bizarre on a lark. It was delicious, and I wound up buying a cup.

    I offered her a taste. She declined. I thought she’d really like it, and I thought she’d be chuffed to have eaten such a weird flavor, so I offered again. She declined again. “Just one taste,” I said.

    “No,” she said. “My body, my choice.”

    I’ve used that phrase with her and her sister since they were toddlers, trying to drum it into them. Don’t want to hug your grandma? Don’t want your sister tickling you? Don’t want to wear the mask from your Halloween costume when you trick-or-treat? Your body, your choice.

    But this was the first time she’d used it on me. She was right. And I apologized. Her body, her choice. Period.

  19. petpluto
    petpluto March 27, 2011 at 9:32 am |

    Comrade Kevin, I am someone who almost always uses the emphatic “no” when I’m approached by a guy. “Do you want to dance?”-“NO!” “Do you want to go on a date?”-“NO!” And it is not that I have been traumatized, and it isn’t even that I’m angry.

    It’s this: I’m going about my regular business (dancing with my friends, running to get a train), and all of a sudden, there is a guy there who opens with this line. They seem like very nice people (normally). But just randomly being asked something out of the freaking blue that carries some emotional weight (a) confuses me, and (b) interrupts my day. I don’t have to be polite. Truthfully, in those situations I don’t know how to be polite. I’ve got a train. I’ve got my friends. I’ve got a life to live and places to go. Unless this burning question has come up in the course of a conversation, I don’t feel the need to be any less abrupt than the person in question. Because those questions are abrupt in and of themselves if hey are absent any sort of context.

  20. B405
    B405 March 27, 2011 at 10:21 am |

    If it’s any consolation, women have never had the slightest problem saying “no” to me.

  21. Jadey
    Jadey March 27, 2011 at 10:29 am |

    B405:
    If it’s any consolation, women have never had the slightest problem saying “no” to me.

    Uhm, so you have a psychic powers that let you know exactly how hard it is for women to say no to you?

    Kinda not taking you all that seriously considering your URL goes to cracked.com.

  22. B405
    B405 March 27, 2011 at 10:37 am |

    There, is that better?

    Don’t really need to be a psychic to know when a person is having trouble saying something. “Awww!” and walking away isn’t particularly hard, for instance.

  23. Jadey
    Jadey March 27, 2011 at 10:39 am |

    *sigh*

  24. Fingon Celebrindal
    Fingon Celebrindal March 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm |

    Couldn’t agree more. While most of my guy friends would see women who rejected guys left and right as stuck up b****es, I have always had only respect for such women. The key to find someone you would send your life or a significant part of it is being intolerant, being unequivocally intolerant to entertain people who you do not want around yourself, it leaves a lot of room for the ones you actually want to be with. Sadly a brutal ‘NO’ is the only way at times for women.

  25. Jennifer P
    Jennifer P March 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm |

    Thanks for the link love, David/Manboobz! And the influx of attractive and intelligent readers!

    Comrade Kevin, I’m curious – I think your heart is in the right place, and I do think that people punish present company for the sins of the past, but how do you know that the “emphatic” or “caustic” nos you heard were because of past traumas and not as a direct reaction to your own behaviors or their feelings about you? Did the women tell you later, or is it just your assumption?

  26. Jennifer P
    Jennifer P March 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm |

    P.S. This comment by saurus is brilliant.

    “I hope it goes without saying that most traumatic situations are not because the woman did not set adequate boundaries, but because the violent party trampled right over them or tried to coerce them away or created an environment in which setting boundaries would be either very difficult or impossible. Like, it’s not just that women don’t know how to say “no”, it’s that they’re punished if they do. One might think one would be grateful for the clarity, but don’t underestimate how much one might miss the ego boosts and supplication work that women regularly do. I’ve had a boss, for example, who often says how he likes straight-shooters and doesn’t want or need to be coddled, but in reality he’s constantly swaddled by women – and he doesn’t even realize it. And god forbid you stop swaddling him (and I don’t mean saying something negative, just withholding the superfluous positive) – far from considering you a straight-shooter, he’ll resent you. In my experience, most guys – even if they suspect – are largely oblivious to all the social elbow grease women contribute, but benefit from it immensely.”

    Social elbow grease – such a great term! “Hi, I’m a woman! I am here to make you feel good by being friendly and warm and nurturing the shit out of you and just radiating approval and niceness on everything you do.” And anything less = bitch.

  27. samanthab
    samanthab March 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm |

    Comrade Kevin, you’re doing precisely what ALL of these men do, which is deny women their own subjectivity. You’ve created a fantasy scenario in your head for why women you encounter behave in a certain fashion, and you’ve made them responsible for your own personal fantasy. If they’ve denied you the option of a conversation, which is most certainly their right, then how the holy fuck do you claim to know what motivates them?

    And how bullshit and creepily manipulative is your faux-empathy for their poor wounded souls? You don’t give a damn about them because you couldn’t; you don’t know them well enough. Perhaps what you care about is your ability to retain a male prerogative endowed upon you by society, the prerogative to invade a woman’s personal space? And the one to condescend to her because of her imagined traumas? What a burden it must be for you to walk around knowing that so many women are just too damaged to appreciate you! I’m sure there’s an MRA blog out there where you’ll find a lot of sympathy for those burdens.

  28. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm |

    Yeah, I read that comment yesterday and felt angry. samanthab and Jennifer P summed up my major thoughts, but I’d also like to voice irritation at the idea that I tell men to fuck off because I was assaulted.

    I’m pretty sure I don’t get angry at strange men in public because I was assaulted. I’m rather positive it’s because I’m sick of getting honked at, and yelled at, and interrupted because some entitled prick thinks my time is worth compromising for his nonsense. How is this not a sufficient reason in and of itself to get pissed off?

    Also, saying any woman experienced a traumatic situation because she failed to set adequate boundaries? Dangerously close to victim blaming.

  29. Tori
    Tori March 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm |

    Don’t really need to be a psychic to know when a person is having trouble saying something. “Awww!” and walking away isn’t particularly hard, for instance.

    Don’t dismiss the lived experiences of people commenting here.

    If one person is saying, “I used to have a serious problem saying ‘no,'” respect that.

    If another is saying, “I often need to work myself up into anger before I have the courage to say [no],” respect that.

    If multiple people are saying some variation of, “Like, it’s not just that women don’t know how to say ‘no’, it’s that they’re punished if they do,” and sometimes violently —

    It’s inappropriate to come in and toss some “not that hard” bullshit line at us. Don’t do it.

  30. Lis
    Lis March 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm |

    What Tori said.

    Also, men complaining that women say no to them, or that respecting women’s boundaries is making them feel unloved and dateless–that’s part of the problem! That’s the social pressure that says to women, “Aw, couldn’t you just be nice? Couldn’t you just say yes? Can’t you give men what they want?” It says that women’s boundaries and personal autonomy is somehow harmful to men. That we owe men something.

  31. nathan
    nathan March 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm |

    Comrade Kevin “I think what has gotten to me at times is receiving an empathic “no” from a woman in a tone that is angry, caustic, and dismissive. This is often, I have found, an overcompensation for a prior traumatic situation where a woman did not set adequate boundaries and ended up being scared to death, or worse yet, injured.”

    I agree with the women asking Kevin whether the “overcompensation” conclusion is from actual discussions or something he just assumes. That’s a fair question.

    However, samanthab comment at 28 blasts Kevin as being manipulative, offering faux-empathy, and the rest. And others seem to agree with her. Why? Does anything in the history of Kevin’s comments here really point to such a, in my view, cynical conclusion?

    Here’s what I’d like to know. The first sentence of Kevin’s comment I quoted is an expression of frustration or confusion in response to receiving “no’s” from women that appear to be hostile.

    If Kevin had simply expressed this frustration/confusion around receiving “no’s” in a particular manner, how would have others’ responded?

    I guess I’m trying to understand if the negative responses towards Kevin’s comments are solely because of the leap he made to suggest that women are responding this way because of some past trauma.

    Because as a man who almost never has approached women in public places, and who already finds it hard enough to screw up the courage to ask a woman if she’d be interested in going on a date during a conversation – the turning on Kevin here – given his comment history on this website – is kind of troubling.

  32. nathan
    nathan March 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm |

    Lis “It says that women’s boundaries and personal autonomy is somehow harmful to men. That we owe men something.”

    To add to my above comment, since this point was just made, I don’t feel I’m owed a “yes” in any situation from a woman. If she’s not interested, she’s not interested. And I, nor any man, has any right to expect a woman to cave in just because we are “good guys,” or whatever term you’d like to use.

    But what I struggle with is the ways in which the breakdown of the old patriarchal model has left a vacuum in terms of healthy scripts for men and women to use to express romantic interest. Even though more of us are rejecting the old paradigm where men pursued and got what they wanted, usually at the expense of women, the residue from the patriarchal model continues to cause a lot of misery.

    And it seems one common response from both men and women is to assume a cynical posture towards the other gender, and in the process, to respond in ways that build further walls between.

    So, when a woman expresses frustration that men can’t handle rejection, and expect her to say “yes” and/or coddle them somehow, she get’s labeled a “bitch” or is considered hostile.

    And when a man expresses feeling socially awkward and unsure of how he might show romantic interest, he’s labeled manipulative or is said to be blaming women for his failures.

    Sometimes, people seem more interested in being right about what is wrong, rather than making an effort to move the conversation towards how things might be righted.

  33. Reader Question #27: The intern is pregnant and doesn’t want to tell the bosses, which would be cool, except we work with toxic stuff in a chemical research lab. « CaptainAwkward.com

    […] time I’d be posting links to the Shameless Self Promotion Sunday thread, but it looks like that won’t be necessary this week. Welcome Feministe and Manboobz readers!  I am enjoying your fine and well-spelled […]

  34. saurus
    saurus March 27, 2011 at 3:54 pm |

    “And when a man expresses feeling socially awkward and unsure of how he might show romantic interest, he’s labeled manipulative or is said to be blaming women for his failures.”

    When did this happen in this thread?

  35. Kristen J.'s Husband
    Kristen J.'s Husband March 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm |

    nathan,

    Remember that thing I said about words by the privileged being looked at more stringently in circles where oppressed persons are talking about their experiences. Well here is an addendum. Sometimes, no matter how hard a person works at it getting that kyriarchal voice out of their head, they are going to say something that reflects that inner voice. Other people are going to respond to that statement as if it carries the malice aimed at them over a lifetime of oppression. Its unfair to expect an oppressed person to keep a list of the “good privileged people” and the “bad privileged people” so that a good privileged person doesn’t have to experience the conequences of saying oppressive fucked up shit. Because those words – they don’t feel different, they don’t have less cultural impact just because someone didn’t mean it like that.

  36. Jennifer P (aka Captain Awkward)
    Jennifer P (aka Captain Awkward) March 27, 2011 at 4:44 pm |

    Nathan,

    I think it is fucked up that our (hetero) dating culture is still based on men doing the pursuing and women doing the pursuing, and it is dysfunctional. It leads people to see women as objects. It leads to frustration when men have to act like “pursuers” and face rejection. I wrote a whole thing about how to do this without being a dick (for the record, the advice is for a woman asking out a man but could go either way)here.

    I think we have a bit of a straw man going on with all the hurt feelings, though –

    A genuinely kind, not-creepy, not-entitled person who is thinking about the other person’s sense of safety and boundaries (as in, not asking this question on a dark street or empty subway car while sitting too close) and politely saying “Hi, I see you here a lot reading books, want to go out for coffee and talk about books sometime?” in most cases deserves a polite response, one human being to another. “No thanks!” is one such response. If you ask, and the person says “no thanks,” and you go about your day because you are cool with rejection and not feeling entitled to someone else’s time and attention, where do the hurt feelings come in? Even if you get a harsh “No thanks, weirdo!” because the other person does feel invaded or is in a bad mood (or whatever, suffering from past traumas or just hates your face), can’t you just laugh it off, like “Boy, did I peg that one wrong, she must have her reasons?”

    Since heterosexual couples form, I don’t know, all the fucking time, somehow people are managing to express romantic interest in a polite, not-creepy way and have that interest reciprocated, and I have to think that not even close to every “would you/no thanks!” interaction ends with people feeling harassed or hurt by rejection.

    So I’m going to ask, what would more the conversation toward a way to “right” these “wrongs”? You’re in a space where people are sharing stories of “The time that creepy person refused to hear my no.” Why do you think that’s directed at you? Or, more constructively, what kind of rejection from a woman you are interested in would be okay for you?

  37. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm |

    @judy, the concern was over your use of “crazy.” It’s an ableist term and is offensive to many people who read this site.

  38. paraxeni
    paraxeni March 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm |

    @chally – I thought you of all people would have remembered that there are no *real* disabled/non-NT/PWMI on the internets!

    Big hugs to you. I don’t know how you manage to not just type “FUCKING FUCK OFF, YOU ABLEIST ELEPHANT’S ARSE” every time some privileged type comes in here making light of all the ~crazies~ (but lol they so FUNNY).

    I’m active in one safe space only and the amount of people who can easily comprehend why gendered slurs are not allowed, and then pepper posts with ableism in their place, is astonishing.

    Better go before my triple non-existence here (poor, PWD, non-USian) causes an implosion.

  39. paraxeni
    paraxeni March 27, 2011 at 5:53 pm |

    Oh and dear Nice Guys – kindly bugger off and stop trying to tell us how you think we should respond to our very real lived experiences.

    As someone not attractive, not thin, with obvious physical problems, I experienced the kind of harassment where men either berated me for daring to exist in my ‘hideous’ form, or felt entitled to do whatever the hell they wanted to me as it would be ‘doing [me] a favour’.

    I am grateful to this very day that I’m just not wired to be sexually or romantically attracted to men, as I don’t think I would ever be able to trust one enough to get that close. I have straight female friends who’ve either resigned themselves to singledom or ‘settled’ for a close male friend, because they’ve suffered similar harassment and abuse and the thought of dating, of literally opening themselves up to more potential harassment, was more than they could bear.

    I often wish I had a terror ray that I could beam into the heads of men who insist on blaming women for harassment, so they could feel how scary it can be to simply exist in your own body in a patriarchal world.

    You Nice Guys, trying to ingratitate yourself with the feminists by showing how ~sympathetic~ you are, you always end up showing your arses eventually. You’re such a cliche it’s almost pitiable. Almost.

  40. paraxeni
    paraxeni March 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm |

    @judybrowni – seriously, stop typing. You’re suffering from such a bad case of foot-in-mouth syndrome that it’s a wonder you’re not able to taste leather.

    The ‘crazy’ aren’t a monolithic group, neither are homeless people. Saying ‘the homeless’ is denying their personhood. That might make it so much easier for you, but they are not a grey faceless mass, they are individual people. Human beings. Like you.

    So this former homeless PERSON, this PERSON with physical and mental disabilities, would like to tell you to stop. That hole of yours that you’re digging deeper and deeper is about to hit the Earth’s core. By all means talk about the way you deal with people harassing you, but adding a qualifier just makes you look like an arse. You wouldn’t say “Oh when black people approach me” or “When poor people approach me”, would you?

  41. Amber
    Amber March 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm |

    @randomosity– you just described one of my biggest pet-peeves! Oy! “Oh, no YOU’RE right, I AM the bitch for asking you to leave my table that you were never invited to sit at in the first place. Thank you for pointing out my short-comings, embarrassing me, and all-around ruining my night. Please, won’t you stay, and be sure to put your buddies’ drinks on our tab with your beer order.”

    To the semi-confused men out there, thank you for voicing your confusion on a feminist blog; that takes guts! I think most of us ladies can agree, that it’s really the nature in which we are approached and the frequency that tends to influence our responses.

    From the moment I get up to walk my dog, I am already anxious about the inevitable “comments” I’m going to get from the contractors next door (puts on coat that covers my ass). There’s usually a look or comment or personal space infringement on the subway (puts on headphones, reads book, ponders botox for scowl lines). Once at work, if I’m not cow towing to my male or female teammates then god only knows how many unwarranted apologies I’ll have to make for my “tone.” After work, all I really want to do is get a drink and dinner with friends and not have to worry about how I look, what kind of shield I need to hide myself from attention, or whatever. So, typically, it’s not “you,” per se, but it’s the fact that if I wanted to be engaged, I would make it clear. Walking my dog is not an invitation to comment on my body or ask me out, and neither is my venturing out to any public space. If I was out at a bar or coffee shop and you tried smiling or saying “hi,” but I didn’t reciprocate or further the interaction, move on and don’t take it personally.

  42. Chally
    Chally March 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm |

    judybrowni, no. Just, no. Stop it. You’re going on permanent moderation, and please watch yourself around here.

  43. Mandolin
    Mandolin March 27, 2011 at 6:56 pm |

    Hi Judy,

    It seems to me that bipolar people are like people with any other kind of cognitive ability or disability–responsive to their underlying personalities. Some bipolar people are nasty; some are sweet; most are somewhere in between. Some people are nasty; some are sweet; most are somewhere in between. I know that’s hard because people who are nasty and also have bipolar disorder can be attention-grabbing and hard to deal with while people who have bipolar disorder who aren’t nasty and hard to deal with may never blip on your radar as being bipolar since you may never have reason to be aware of their disabilities. One myth I find pervasive is the idea that bipolar people are totally unaware of their moods and cycles. This is doubtless true of some people and not true of others.

    In any case, one would be grateful if you’d say “bipolar person” please, not “bipolars,” in the same fashion as “women” not “females” and “trans people” not just “trans.” It’s an adjective. People first language would, I assume, suggest “people with bipolar.”

    Merci.

  44. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays March 27, 2011 at 7:08 pm |

    Since we’re sharing anecdotes…my cat died on Sunday night (19 year old cat with renal failure and cancer who I’ve had since I was 18 – I was pretty devestated), and in the first few days afterwards I experienced a level of harrassment that I haven’t seen since I was a teenager. It seemed like every time I went outdoors I was accosted by some asshole, or had something supposedly complimentary yelled at me in the street. The thing is, if these had been expressions of concern over the fact that I was visibly grieving I’d have understood, but that’s not what was happening – instead I got constant “you’re so pretty!” and “smile!”. Grief – the world’s best beauty aid, apparently.

    I guess that I was unable to maintain my usual bitchface and fuck-off aura and was clearly vulnerable, hence the extra harrassment. It really drove home the fact that men hitting on women in public isn’t in any way a genuine desire to reach out and get to know someone – it’s predatory behavior. Normally people leave me alone in San Francisco, but when I’ve visibly been crying and I look miserable? Suddenly it’s officially Cassandra hunting season and every asshole around has a permit.

    Seconding the recommendation for The Gift of Fear in the linked post – it really is useful reading for anyone who still doubts that what they’re experiencing is predatory and feels bad about cutting such attempts off immediately. There’s no reason why anyone should feel obligated to be “nice” to a predator.

  45. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays March 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm |

    @ Comrade Kevin – Sigh. I’m glad that other people are already picking apart all the ways in which your comment was totally out of line, especially in a forum like this, but just in case no one here already posted it, here’s a summary of why what you were suggesting is completely unreasonable. Read the comments and then get back to us about whether or not you still think that maybe women are just a little too harsh and should try harder to spare men’s feelings.

    http://kateharding.net/2009/10/05/would-it-kill-you-to-be-civil/

  46. Chally
    Chally March 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm |

    paraxeni, can you please not tell people to “fuck off” here, or call people “it”? Thanks.

    ETA: I’m deleting that comment.

  47. Chally
    Chally March 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm |

    At judybrowni’s request, I have removed all of her comments from this blog.

  48. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla March 27, 2011 at 9:46 pm |

    judybrowni: Plus it also works for getting rid of poor crazy bag ladies.

    Wow. This must be an unstated Feministe rule: There Shalt Be An Ableist Comment On Every Thread.

    Says this “crazy bag lady”.

  49. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla March 27, 2011 at 10:06 pm |

    Chally:
    At judybrowni’s request, I have removed all of her comments from this blog.

    Would’ve helped if I had read the whole thread first, before yelling at a commenter who has left the thread…

  50. Stoner With a Boner
    Stoner With a Boner March 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm |

    Hiya,

    Here’s one fro “teh menz”**

    http://afemanistview.blogspot.com/2011/02/on-threat-of-being-wanted-trigger.html

    And here’s my personal experiences with “unwanted advances.”

    http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/unwanted-advances/

    **I personally find “teh menz” a dismissive term but am hoping to subvert it with humor :)

  51. Meredith
    Meredith March 28, 2011 at 12:36 am |

    Mandolin:

    In any case, one would be grateful if you’d say “bipolar person” please, not “bipolars,” in the same fashion as “women” not “females” and “trans people” not just “trans.” It’s an adjective. People first language would, I assume, suggest “people with bipolar.”

    People with bipolar disorder, please. As a person with bipolar disorder, I absolutely loathe it when someone calls me a bipolar person (or heavens forbid, a “bipolar”). People with bipolar isn’t much better: bipolar what? It makes it sound like some sort of mysterious condition, like “people with hysteria” or something.

    I realize we are far, far off-topic at this point, but it’s something that really bothers me because it’s so othering.

  52. Mandolin
    Mandolin March 28, 2011 at 2:08 am |

    Persons with the disorder have different opinions on which of those is othering. At any rate, I think we can agree that “a bipolar” is not awesome.

    Societal prejudice and internet discourse being what they are, it also might not be awesome to assume that everyone who has mental illnesses or other disabilities will be able to claim that as an identity in blog comments.

  53. A little bit of this, a little of that « hahayourefunny

    […] thing women need to unlearn (and men need to accept) is saying no and standing firmly without the need to coddle the men we are not pacifying. “Women are […]

  54. Chally
    Chally March 28, 2011 at 2:34 am |

    Back on topic now.

  55. paraxeni
    paraxeni March 28, 2011 at 4:02 am |

    I’m sorry chally, you know I’m not normally like that but every attempt at challenging the ableism and classism was met with worsening slurs! I’m not saying this is some last bastion of ableism, but it does often go unchallenged, and has even been perpetuated by mods. Those posts last night were the final straw for me and normally I’d have controlled it but in my current state it just wasn’t worth losing sleep stewing over a troll.

    It won’t happen again, I am sorry, but I will keep challenging ableism and classism here. I’m not going to be frightened away by it like others have. If posters are going to be ableist then this big fat crip is going to be around to challenge it. Same goes for classism and the ‘BOOTSTRAPS’ attitude. Fortunately I rarely see homophobia here so at least dyke-me gets to make sandwiches for pov-me, gimpy-me, nonNT-me and brit-me.

    1. Chally
      Chally March 28, 2011 at 4:43 am |

      Go for it, and I’ll keep right on challenging it with you. :)

  56. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 28, 2011 at 9:05 am |

    Oh, for the love of all things holy and profane.

    Every time we have these conversations, it’s as if men are being horribly oppressed and condemned to a life of loneliness because they may be brusquely rebuked when hitting on a random woman in the store, in a coffee shop, walking down the street, or when she’s out with her friends.

    Look. I’m sure some people have met that way and have even had a rewarding and loving long-term relationship. But let’s get real–most of us meet people through friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and through doing things we enjoy doing. I might notice a good-looking man in the coffee shop, or a guy reading a book by an author I like–but I figure he’s there to read, or hang out with his friends, or have some alone time, or whatever. And there’s nothing to go on that he and I would be anywhere near compatible. He doesn’t owe me his time to help me figure out if we’d be compatible, and he doesn’t owe me an explanation if he’s not interested.

    Women get rude sometimes (though ironically, are often lectured for not being blunt enough when we get harassed to the point that we’re afraid) because all too often, men think we do owe them our time. They do think that we owe them an explanation for not being interested, and unless it involves an SO, they can negotiate or debate it with us. Men (and many women who are socialized this way) are quick to tell us that we should be grateful for the attention, that we’re hurting a “nice guy’s” feelings (apparently, though, it’s okay to hurt us by completely discounting our stated wishes, we’re just silly bitches amirite), that one day we’ll be old and alone and living with 100 cats if we don’t give every random dude the time of day, whether we want to or not, whether we’re interested or not. Our agency doesn’t matter. Our desires don’t matter. Our comfort level doesn’t matter.

    And then, if we cut someone a break and they assault us, we were naive, we didn’t enforce our boundaries, we didn’t show proper caution, it was our fault, and we get all kinds of helpful lectures about how we can avoid this next time. Except then the same fucking assholes will lecture us on rudeness, and how hard it is for men to approach us when we let these past bad experiences get to us. We cannot. fucking. win.

    Look, I am terribly sorry that some men feel uncomfortable and defensive when they feel a woman they’ve approached has been harsh in her rebuffing of him. But you know? That woman may have been through what most of us on this thread have been through–a guy who felt we unjustly rejected him scream at us, follow us, harass us, threaten us, or worse. It’s beyond arrogant and entitled to wring your hands over lost romantic possibilities and hurt feelings when the worries of the women you’re complaining about are much, much, bigger.

    Don’t get on the case of women–get on the case of entitled toolbags.

  57. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 28, 2011 at 10:53 am |

    All of Sheelzebub. Rage slowly built as the thread re-centered on the (probs white) dudely experience. Rage subsiding.

  58. nathan
    nathan March 28, 2011 at 11:38 am |

    Jennifer P.

    Thank you for your response. I appreciate that you actually responded and asked questions.

    I’m mostly not taking the discussion personally. My comments and questions were coming out of the fact that I wanted to know why Kevin’s comments led to such strong rejection for some commenters. It’s pretty clear now that it was the “damaged woman saying no” narrative that pissed people off, and I can understand that.

    I also, though, wanted to know why after seeing the comments by Kevin and Schmorgluck, both of which expressed a frustration and social awkwardness I, too, sometimes feel – I wanted to know why they led to comments like this from Lis:

    “Also, men complaining that women say no to them, or that respecting women’s boundaries is making them feel unloved and dateless–that’s part of the problem!”

    I’m not saying her statement is false, but I’m also not sure that it’s happening here.

    Jennifer, you asked me “So I’m going to ask, what would more the conversation toward a way to “right” these “wrongs”?”

    Honestly, I just wish there was less personalized dogpiling and assuming the worst about a single comment like Kevin’s. I fully agreed that once Kevin went into the damaged woman narrative, he’d gone off track. And that narrative itself needed to be interrogated.

    But the comment and seconding about him basically being a manipulative asshole, and then followed up by this “You Nice Guys, trying to ingratitate yourself with the feminists by showing how ~sympathetic~ you are, you always end up showing your arses eventually. You’re such a cliche it’s almost pitiable. Almost.” – that’s what I find really challenging. Perhaps you’d argue this is the price I and other men have to pay for being on a feminist blog, but I think it also makes conversation that much harder.

    I don’t know if Kevin just hasn’t been back, or isn’t concerned about responding – but I can also imagine the possibility that he just doesn’t want to wade back in to what has unfolded here.

    Along these lines, I also appreciated Amber’s response at #40 for the straightforward telling of how she experiences things, and also for acknowledging that it’s not easy for men to share confusion about these kinds of issues on a feminist site.

  59. Jennifer P (aka Captain Awkward)
    Jennifer P (aka Captain Awkward) March 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm |

    Sheelzebub, brilliant username, brilliant post. I have a commenter who has started telling the Captain Awkward commenters that they are saying no incorrectly, should have been much more emphatic, and that she is being triggered by the fact that we all “let” men get away with shenanigans. It’s the total double-bind – if you say “no” and the guy gets angry, it was your fault for being a bitch, but if he gets angry anyway it was your fault for not saying “no” soon enough/emphatically enough/correctly enough. Shades of the debate about “forcible” rape.

    Nathan, Comrade Kevin screwed the pooch when he implied that women were “too traumatized” to be nice to him when they rejected him (as if that’s the only reason). Other posters and I myself asked him directly “Wait, did they tell you that or are you just assuming, because in the second case, NO,” but he never answered.

    Women do a shitload of managing the feelings of men. A shitload. I could explain it to you….no, there is too much….let me sum up…

    The woman who “emphatically” rejected Comrade Kevin “failed” to manage his feelings around that rejection, so he told himself a story about why that was. He shared it here, we “failed” to manage his feelings about it again. Then he got mad and went away.

    By making conversations about difficult interactions….difficult, perhaps we are failing to manage the feelings of you, Kevin, and other men who might read this, where in other spaces you might get a little more massaging with your honesty. By telling us we should be nicer to Kevin, and telling us that you generally sympathize and agree with us but you would sympathize more if only we weren’t so mean is kind of putting it back on us to….manage your feelings.

  60. Lis
    Lis March 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm |

    Nathan–my comment was because this is what happens every. single. time we debate women’s boundaries. The ur-example I can think of is in Shapely Prose’s Would It Kill You To Be Civil/Schrodinger’s Rapist. Every. single. time. women talk about how being approached by strange men makes them feel unsafe and they have to dissuade those men, and how saying no to men’s advances is risky, male commenters show up to talk about how this makes them sad and scared and isolated and no one will ever talk to them now.

    Maybe you don’t realize that female socialization puts pressure on women to say, “Oh, it’s okay! I’ll talk to you! I understand you are a nice and wonderful person and will coddle you!” rather than saying “your right to get dates does not supercede my right to go about my day unmolested.” (I don’t know how to explain it except that many women are socialized to respond to male expressions of distress with comfort, even if they don’t know the man, even if it means letting their guard down.) I mean, hurting people is a Big Thing in the realm of femininity, as in, never evar do it, so these comments from men sound like they’re saying, “But you having boundaries hurts me, which makes you a bad person, so you shouldn’t do it.”

  61. sophonisba
    sophonisba March 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm |

    There are several guys commenting here who seem to think that approaching strange women to get to know them and maybe date them is a totally reasonable thing for dudes to do, so I have a question for them.

    When you’re out in public and you see another man who looks like an interesting guy you’d like to be friends with, what happens when you go up to him and say, “hey, you seem like a cool guy, want to get a cup of coffee?” Or, Or, “Hey, I’ve been watching you, and bet we have a lot in common. Could I call you sometime?” Or just cold “Hey, can I have your phone number?”

    You must do this a lot, so I bet you have some stories to tell.

    I mean, guys have friends, so this must be how they get them. Right?

    Or could it be — could it possibly be — that this isn’t how you make friends? Could it be that in particular, this isn’t how you make male friends? Because, oh, I don’t know, you don’t know how a guy would take it. Because he might think you were weird. Because you might think it was weird. Because that’s just not how it’s done. Even when you get to talking with a total stranger, and you actually end up friends, through luck and serendipity, you don’t do it just like that

    And why don’t you do it like that? Because that’s how you treat women. That’s not how you treat each other. That’s not how you treat someone who might be dangerous when antagonized. That’s not how you treat someone you might be the slightest bit afraid of. That’s not how you treat someone whose disbelieving contempt would really bother you.

    And that’s why I salute every woman who’s done her part to make guys just a little bit nervous about accosting strange women. You don’t see us as harmless, kind, non-threatening public conversation services anymore? You’re aware that we’re unknown, unpredictable, unknown quantities, just like other men, that we aren’t fucking _safe_ for you?

    Good. Thanks, mean women of the world — I mean it.

  62. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

    @sophonisba–YES, YES, YES AND AN ELEVENTY !11!! THROWN IN.

  63. sophonisba
    sophonisba March 28, 2011 at 3:00 pm |

    Sheelzebub — Oh hey, and another thing — you know how after you go around and around a few dozen times, eventually a guy will say, Never mind sex, never mind dating — you want to make the world a cold, silent, joyless place where nobody ever talks to anybody!!!! OUT OF FEAR! Bitch, I just wanted to make conversation and I’m supposed to feel like a criminal!

    Because the only conversations that matter are the ones that men start with women. All the little, casual friendly overtures that women make to each other, they don’t count. All the pleasant remarks in the elevator, waiting in line for something, after the concert, all those conversations that don’t lead to lifelong friendships or maybe anything at all, but are nice enough and threaten nobody. They don’t matter and maybe don’t even exist, because they aren’t dude-on-lady interaction. And when a lady speaks to a dude, that doesn’t count because of course that never ever happens, and when it does, it might not even be a sexual come-on, so who cares, right?

    I would say I get the feeling that men are terrified to talk to each other the way we do, but that isn’t even a little bit true; they do chat, just like human beings. I’ve seen it! But if it happens, it’s a pleasant mutual interaction — nobody has to be sidled up to or cajoled or wooed or ground down. So that doesn’t count either for the purposes of making the world a safe and friendly place.

  64. nathan
    nathan March 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm |

    I have nothing more to add. I’ll be quiet now. Thank you for your responses.

  65. snobographer
    snobographer March 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm |

    Thanks, mean women of the world — I mean it.

    You’re welcome :)

    After a couple years of being continually pestered by random dudes every single time I went out in public, often with admonishments to “be polite” by dropping whatever I was doing to humor their entitled asses, by my early-mid-teens I figured out that being a nasty stuck-up bitch straight off just saved a lot of time and effort.

    When you’re out in public and you see another man who looks like an interesting guy you’d like to be friends with, what happens when you go up to him and say, “hey, you seem like a cool guy, want to get a cup of coffee?” Or, Or, “Hey, I’ve been watching you, and bet we have a lot in common. Could I call you sometime?” Or just cold “Hey, can I have your phone number?”

    Seriously. “Just being friendly” my ass.

  66. Jamie
    Jamie March 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm |

    Um, wait, does anyone here really think that saying ‘no’ to rapists deters them?

  67. Jennifer P. aka Captain Awkward
    Jennifer P. aka Captain Awkward March 28, 2011 at 4:51 pm |

    @Jamie = I’m pretty sure no one is saying that here, and I’m definitely sure no one is saying that on Captain Awkward, though I have one pesky commenter who is getting close to implying that and I also had to rebuke judywhatshername for implying that women could “keep themselves safe” by saying no in just the right way.

    I’m writing more about internal and external barriers women have to saying a direct, clear ‘no’ (one of them being: you might say it and the other person will completely fucking ignore you and in fact punish you for being direct). I’m really hoping you didn’t take the post here or there to mean that, but in case, to clarify, there is no amount of ‘no’ you can say to protect yourself from a determined predator. The idea that a person could “prevent” their own rape is insulting and laughable – it’s not in your hands, it’s in the hands of the raping rapist who decided to rape.

  68. randomosity
    randomosity March 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm |

    @Amber: My pet peeve, too. The good news is, he didn’t ruin my evening and I now have a story to tell that has an object lesson.

    If someone really wanted to talk to me, they’d be a lot more polite about approaching me and do it at an appropriate time and place. You can’t know that the perfect life partner is the one in a nearby booth enjoying her time with her friend.

    Ever see the “irregular verbs” jokes? I saw some of these when I was a kid.

    Two examples:

    I am forceful, you are overbearing, she is a bitch.

    I am carefully considering all options, you are procrastinating, he can’t make up his mind.

    The first one seems to be in full effect in our society.

  69. Femastrophysicist
    Femastrophysicist March 29, 2011 at 12:13 am |

    I used to be so bad at saying no. I’d let people take advantage of me because I was afraid they’d hate me if I didn’t. It meant that I prickled and got angry every time someone accosted me, and it bothered me. Even panhandlers asking for change upset me.

    Something has changed as I’ve gotten older. I had some dude on the BART ask if I would give his friend my number. I thanked him for the compliment and said no. He pushed. I said no again. He asked one more time, and I just simply repeated no. I think at that point it became obvious that I was unbendable and unlikely to give him what he wanted. I felt like a Patronus (Harry Potter nerd alert!). Maybe we’re just really lucky to live in the Bay area and am now used to being asked for things on the street and saying no, because it is part of my vocabulary now, and I understand that the person who is not accepting no as an answer is the one with the problem, not me.

  70. Amber
    Amber March 29, 2011 at 10:27 am |

    There has definitely been a social shift in the way “dating” occurs/is portrayed in pop culture, which has led to some gray area between “romance” and “stalking.” I watch a lot of these classic 80s movies as an adult and they make my skin crawl. Valley Girl, for example, was one of my favorites (feel free to interchange Say Anything here). I thought the male lead’s persistence and grand gesturing was so romantic, but now I just find that desperate co-dependence unnerving. It’s movies like this, though, that women obsess over and I can see being confusing to men. Or, at least, create the excuse for confusion when bad behavior is involved.

    Anyway, I’m not going to beat a dead horse here, but I just don’t think it’s fair to totally discredit educating, as opposed to name-calling, some of the good intentioned, yet misguided male commentary here.

  71. Emeryn
    Emeryn March 29, 2011 at 9:26 pm |

    A good part of this thread reminds me of a post of Harriet J’s. The barriers of women saying no to sex that she discusses can be applied to conversations as well.

    I’ve had to learn how to say no. Over in the comments at Captain Awkward, I explained one of the first times I ever said no- and I still got assaulted, because I was too afraid to establish a firm boundary.

    Ever since I got married, it’s a bit ‘easier’ for me in that the nice guys go away when I raise my left hand and point to my wedding ring. But that doesn’t deter all men. For some reason, there’s a large population that thinks it would be perfectly okay if I cheated on my husband with THEM, but I have the suspicion that if I was their wife and cheated with someone else, there would be hell to pay. But that’s a whole other can of worms.

    With this type of asshat, I’ve had to develop and perfect my bitch stare and state firmly that I’m not interested. It doesn’t always work. In which case I lose all volume control and say rather loudly “I already told you to leave me alone. Do I need to call the police?” or something similar.

    It leaves me little sympathy for the “but I’m a nice guy!” crowd. Because those assholes? They probably think they’re nice, too. I’m not saying all men are assholes, and I know from other comment threads that Comrade Kevin’s a pretty decent human being. But when a random guy comes up to me on the street, I’m thinking of all of the assholes I have to be rude to. I’m steeling myself for another ugly conversation. I’m wondering if they’re Schrodinger’s Rapist.

    Meredith: People with bipolar disorder, please. As a person with bipolar disorder, I absolutely loathe it when someone calls me a bipolar person (or heavens forbid, a “bipolar”).

    I’m the same way. My husband didn’t get that at first, until I phrased it this way: I am not defined by being bipolar- I’m not a ‘bipolar person’. I am a person with bipolar disorder. Same as when I have a cold. Nobody would call me a cold person because of the sniffles.

    [And I hope I got the HTML right, because I almost always do it wrong. Apologies if this comes out totally terrible.]

  72. Jennifer P (aka Captain Awkward)
    Jennifer P (aka Captain Awkward) March 31, 2011 at 3:07 pm |

    If anyone’s interested, based on some requests from commenters, I added a post today about handling conflict at work. This is the most basic, chain-of-command, CYA way, I’ll get more specific in response to some reader questions later this week.

  73. Jennifer P (aka Captain Awkward)
    Jennifer P (aka Captain Awkward) March 31, 2011 at 3:08 pm |

    Jennifer P (aka Captain Awkward):
    If anyone’s interested, based on some requests from commenters, I added a post today about handling conflict at work.This is the most basic, chain-of-command, CYA way, I’ll get more specific in response to some reader questions later this week.

    Perhaps a link would be helpful. :facepalm:

  74. z
    z March 31, 2011 at 5:53 pm |

    I’m pretty late to this discussion, but SMBC has a comic today which perfectly shows the way the dynamic under discussion here hurts men too. The consequence of the oppression for those on top.

    (Comic description: four guys around a campfire – three boys and an adult man, I think. The man is holding a flashlight to his face and telling a scary story to the boys, who look terrified. What he’s saying: “And for the rest of the night, you’ll wonder if she actually enjoyed sex or was just trying to avoid relationship conflict!”)

  75. Yonmei
    Yonmei April 3, 2011 at 6:56 am |

    Had a conversation with pack of five drunk men hanging around for a bus. One of them sat down beside me (I was eating fresh chips from the shop over the road) and told me “You have no idea how good those look!”

    Not a question, so I didn’t answer: just went on eating and reading my book. Then there was some attempted conversation about what bus I was there for (they claimed I’d missed mine, which may well have been true – ) and then the one who’d sat down beside me asked me to come out for a drink with them.

    “No,” I said flatly and quite quietly. And tucked my headphones more securely in (I could still hear them over the music, but I figured this sent another “No”) and went back to my book. And then their bus came, and they all left, thank fuck.

    It wasn’t the worst encounter I’ve ever had with a bunch of drunk guys who’ve just registered SOMEONE FEMALE.

    But to break it down to “What happened here?”

    They were bored waiting for the bus and I was there: fairly immobile (I walk with a stick – it’s temporary I hope) and a possible source of entertainment. Also, the smell of the chips I was eating was probably tempting in itself. For them, this is probably an encounter they’ve already forgotten – depends how massive their hangover is this morning, they may not even be awake yet.

    For me, they were a potential threat the moment they arrived. Although I was reading and had my headphones in, and was ostensibly ignoring them as far as I could, I was paying attention to what they did and how they moved and what they said to each other. I knew what bus they were going to catch. (So I knew this was a time-limited threat, assuming they were acting sober enough to be let on the bus.) When they spoke to me they went from potential to actual threat. I was scared, and knew it would be fatal to show it or to act friendly or to engage them in conversation or do anything but be flat, bored, neutral. That’s what I did. I’ll remember them for a long time, that encounter.

    They had the privilege of disrupting what had been a pleasant evening. They had the privilege of not being aware of their disruption.

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