Can I Buy You A Coffee?

“Excuse me,” she asked.  “Can I buy you a coffee?”

It was a nice surprise.  Most people don’t buy me cups of coffee, and I was just sitting at the Starbucks trying to plot my novel.  So it was kind of charming, to have a cute girl offer to buy me a free drink.  I told her sure.

She brought me a nice iced chai, and sat down next to me, and then asked, “So have you heard about Jesus?”

Now, as it turns out, I’m a Christian, so I’m not opposed to Jesus – but it was a little disappointing to realize this drink wasn’t done out of niceness, but as a sort of recruiting tool.  Maybe I’d have been into a religious discussion if she’d said, “Hey, let’s have a philosophical talk,” but as it was, I felt a little betrayed.  So I said that I wasn’t interested, as politely as I could (for I was sipping a delicious drink), and returned to my plotting.

The next day, another girl: “Hey, can I buy you a coffee?”

This time, I was trying to work out a difficult programming solution in my mind, and she asked me at exactly the right moment to have all of my thoughts collapse like a house of cards.  “Are you just going to ask me about Jesus?”

“Oh, no,” she said, reassuring me.  “It’s just that I think you’re cute.” And she was kind of pretty.

“…all right,” I said, guardedly.  She bought the coffee.  Sat down at my table.

“But if you were wondering about Jesus…” she said earnestly, and I ejected her from my table. I kept the drink, though.  It seemed cruel, but she had been stupid enough to buy it for me even though I didn’t want it.

Over the next week, it just got worse.  Two or three times a day I’d be deep in thought, trying to focus on this tangled plotting that I needed to resolve, and some woman would tap me on the shoulder to offer me a cup of coffee.  I couldn’t concentrate, because sometimes they were very insistent: “You sure you don’t want a coffee, sweetie?” they’d ask, sometimes lurking over me after I’d refused them, just in case I changed my mind.  Sometimes they just bought the coffee for me anyway, without even asking me if I wanted it, plopping themselves across the table from me and yammering on about being saved.

It was affecting my concentration.  I started to tense up at the Starbucks, waiting for the next Jesus freak’s interruption.  If it was a regular thing, like an hourly interruption, then maybe I could have worked around it, but it was erratic.  Some days, I’d have four or five at once, other days I’d be blissedly free of interruption.  But I had to be continually braced for the next hand on my shoulder, knowing that no matter what I was doing they’d be bursting into my personal space.  I wrote less, my programs were buggier.

My friends couldn’t understand my upset.  “Dude,” they told me.  “You never have to pay for coffee again in your life!  You’ve got it made!  Do you know how much money you’re saving?”

“But I don’t want to talk to these people,” I said.

“You’ve talked about God with us before,” they replied.  “Sometimes, we’ll stay up until two, three in the morning discussing the nature of heaven and hell.  You dig philosophy, Ferrett.  If you like talking about that shit with us, then why not with them?”

“Because they’re just one-note and don’t really care what I have to say,” I said.

“Just try ‘em, man.  Some of them are cute.  Maybe some of them actually want to date you!”

“I guess,” I said.  “But how do I know which ones are genuine without having to talk to a bunch of phonies?”

Eventually, it got to the point where I started bringing friends with me for cover, so I wouldn’t get interrupted.  That didn’t work, either – while it helped, the more aggressive proselytizers would interrupt me in mid-sentence to ask me if I wanted a drink.  Suddenly, the Starbucks wasn’t fun any more – it wasn’t a place to hang out, but a place where I’d just constantly be bugged by attention I didn’t want.  And the guys who weren’t getting free drinks were calling me stuck-up, jealous that I was getting all these free drinks and not even wanting them.

So I stopped going.


Okay.  Clearly, that didn’t happen.  But I’m trying to prove a point here.

One of the things that guys don’t get is why women don’t like to be hit on.  As a guy, when you get hit on, even if it’s a clumsy attempt, it’s generally a very rare and remarkable event – it puts a spring in your step, even if you’re not particularly attracted to the woman, because as an average-looking guy, scarcity of compliments is the norm.  So if a girl catcalls you and goes, “Nice butt!” and appears to be serious, there’s often this sort of strange pride.  Hey, that doesn’t happen often, she must really be into me.

So a lot of guys have this unspoken attitude of, “I wish I’d be harassed.” And they don’t get why women are so angry when hey, I was just trying to be nice, why you gotta be so mean?

Thing is, when it’s not scarce, then even the nicest act starts to get annoying.  Because you don’t get to control when people are quote-unquote “nice” to you, and it happens all the time, and you know there’s always a hidden cost behind it.  You start to question people’s niceness, because they’re not doing it to be kind, they’re doing it because they want something from you.  And maybe, yes, that’s something you like to give to certain people, but definitely not to everyone, and almost certainly not to the kind of guy who’s certain you’re going to give it to him if he just bugs you enough.

Harassment isn’t once.  Harassment comes from a lifetime of dealing with people constantly doing things to you, whether you wanted them or not, at random intervals.  You learn not to trust people.  And what might have been pleasant, once, as an isolated incident, starts to feel pretty oppressive when it’s something you deal with on a weekly basis. It changes you, and then guys call you bitchy when you don’t feel like playing along and pretending this is just about the coffee.

But I think most of ‘em would feel the same were the tables turned.  So please.  Think about what you’re spouting.

(EDIT: In response to some comments, I’ve written a follow-up, entitled, “But If I Can’t Buy You A Coffee, How Will Our Species Reproduce?”: How To Hit On Women.)

 

241 Comments

  1. Dave Crampton
    Aug 3, 2012

    Now THAT puts it in a way that I can understand. Thank you.

    • anthony
      Feb 20, 2013

      while it was well written, and it must be a bit of a pain for an attractive girl to be hit on endlessly, it’s hardly worse than being an ordinary or even ugly male/ugly female and never getting any attention whatsoever.

      Sounds like “1st World Problems” to me. Also the guy who wrote this was writing a book, not shopping for clothes or food, neither of which require much concentration.

      • Nessa
        May 3, 2013

        Actually, in 3rd world countries it happens more often. I’m from Venezuela and I get it a lot more often there when I visit than when I’m in the US, the problem is that in the US it happens less often, but it’s much creepier or it’s only black guys yelling insults(not sure if it’s because I’m white or that’s just a normal thing for a black guy to do).

        • Drachefly
          Aug 9, 2013

          “First-world problems” is an expression, meaning ‘this sort of problem only arises because you’re doing so well’. In this case, the ‘doing so well’ of always getting people interested in buying you coffee. It’s related to ‘I’d love to have that problem, and hasn’t got anything to do with what country you’re in.

      • Ricki
        May 16, 2013

        Part of what makes this problem so pervasive is that it doesn’t just happen to “attractive” women. ALL women experience this to varying degrees, and trust me, it gets old. When I’ve spent a day running errands and I’m exhausted and all I want to do is get home and some guy on the street feels the need to catcall me, or beep his car horn at me, I just want to crawl under a rock.

        My other comment is that you don’t know what that woman is out doing. Yes, maybe she is shopping for clothes. Maybe this is the ump-teenth store she’s gone to because she hasn’t had much luck elsewhere, maybe she’s exhausted, maybe she’s mentally budgeting out her paycheck to see if she can actually afford that item that’s on sale. Maybe she’s shopping for food that corresponds with a specific dietary need or allergy, and has been reading the fine print on ingredients labels for half an hour. You don’t know. Don’t pretend that all women that are out in public shopping or doing whatever just have nothing running through their heads. There could be a LOT of things they’re thinking about, and disturbing them, for either a) no real reason or b) a misguided attempt at picking them up, is just uncalled for.

        • Jman
          Aug 17, 2013

          “Lotta sexist assumptions in this. Most chicks are not smoken hot and get annoyed at the constant attention, and if they do it’s probably cause receiver is not interested in the hitter. The dudes who are smoken hot probably get hit on as much as hot women. I’m pretty sure they also get annoyed when undesirable chicks (old, fat, unattractive, creepy) starts hitting on them. Think a chick who is meh looking and rarely gets attention would be annoyed at smoken hot dude talking to her? This is all really about ppl not liking getting hit on by undesirable people. And I think everyone regardless of genitals can relate.”

          • patgreene
            Aug 27, 2013

            Ah yes, the “old, fat, unattractive” = undesirable mindset. It’s okay of someone hits on you who is not “undesirable,” right?

          • Rachel
            Jan 17, 2014

            incredible. You managed to completely undermine the entirety of this article (which is HARASSMENT in case you’ve forgotten), but you also made the assumption that women will be okay with getting cat-called if the guy is attractive. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that it will generally just make them uncomfortable, with no relevance to how “undesirable” they guy is.

          • Trei
            Feb 10, 2014

            no, it’s not. I don’t care how attractive someone is. it’s NOT nice to hear comments about my butt/body/sexual abilities/other creepy things.

            I’m sorry – honestly – for all the insecure girls out there who dream about this, imagining it’s somehow nice. it’s just not. you don’t feel at all like it’s about YOU – who you are. it’s about something that has nothing to do with you. I was born like this, I don’t take credit for my body.

            what I would be interested in is a guy noticing who I AM. not my body, not his sexual fantasies projected onto my body, but something personal about my personality, my… ME.

            PS nice post!

      • jess6113
        May 17, 2013

        @anthony
        Sounds like male privilege to me.

      • sheila2
        Aug 13, 2013

        Also the guy who wrote this was writing a book, not shopping for clothes or food, neither of which require much concentration.

        One, it shouldn’t matter whether the person is in deep concentration.

        Two, do you not find yourself thinking about other things when going about with mundane tasks? I do. I often get hit with insight while doing mundane things, and then I want to puzzle through a problem.

      • Anon
        Aug 20, 2013

        I know your comment is pretty old, but I have to respond. I sought this post out because I was harassed not once, but several times just today alone on the street today by men saying “Hey beautiful” and getting in my face, telling me to smile as I was walking by, minding my own business. You do not understand. This is NOT a “first world problem” and please do not ever call it that. I was stressed, answering work emails, and wasn’t even wearing makeup. After one simple unwanted comment on the street when you’re just trying to get home after work, you feel like less of a person, demeaned, oppressed, and silenced. I wanted to crumple up into a ball and cry because these men had invaded my personal space in a way I couldn’t take back, and I was left unable to respond. They take away your voice. The way these men look at you is so frightening. For you to say “it must be a pain for an attractive girl to get hit on endlessly”, that is just another way of taking away a woman’s voice. It’s not her fault she’s attractive, and it’s not her fault she’s in x location at x time, wearing sweatpants, a dress, jeans, a coat, ANYTHING. No woman asked for this, and it is absolutely harassment. Please, please understand that. It is imperative to see it from another’s perspective instead of jumping to simple, ignorant conclusions. That kind of mentality is exactly why this piece was written.

        • Liz
          Feb 10, 2014

          I absolutely hate it when people tell me to smile! With a disabled son and a teenage daughter (and being a single mom), I’m often deep in thought and trying to just make it through another day.

          I usually don’t say anything, but I did tell a drunk man one time that if he wanted to see me smile, he should go away. And it worked! He went away and I smiled.

      • Anon
        Aug 20, 2013

        And one more thing, PLEASE watch this video about harassment in public places. It’s very eye-opening and I think you’ll have a better understanding of what it’s like from a woman’s perspective. Please watch.
        http://www.upworthy.com/if-you-know-someone-who-doesnt-believe-sexism-exists-show-them-this?g=5

      • Bullcrap. Pure bullcrap.

        It is not like not getting attention. It is way worse. It is a boundary violation, whereas being ignored is not. It makes the world smaller, because you have to start limiting what you do in case you’re seen as looking for sexual attention. You have to give up doing perfectly reasonable everyday things, or find workarounds for them. Unless you want to have to keep confronting assholes every damn time around. It is not an unreasonable thing to ask to go about one’s own business without someone swooping in and expecting sexual attention.

        There’s also the size and strength factor. Just saying no is a dangerous move because of the sheer physical strength difference between a normal man and a normal woman. So now, you have to find another whole set of workarounds. Just to go do stuff without being sex-prey.

        Don’t freaking tell us we’re complaining too much.

      • Julie
        Nov 28, 2013

        Stop engaging in derailing. Stop with the false equivalences. Stop with the male privilege crap.

        No one own you a date or a flirt or anything. Otoh society do own women there basic liberties (not being harassed etc). Your comparing the two situation is downright insulting to women and girls. So stop the woe is you is ugly bs. Frankly it is most likely that misogynistic and douchey attitude (have no doubt that women can pick on it) that repels women. And perhaps a deep rooted sense of entitlement concerning what sort of women “should” be attracted to you (unrealistic standards).

        Stop seeing women as object and things will go much better.

      • Hannah
        Jan 21, 2014

        Right because , talking to someone on the phone , texting an important message , writing plans or running errands aren’t important . A woman dose not just get hit on when she is walking down a street at night . It doesn’t just happen when your skirts higher than your knee or your shirt is lower that your collarbone . Not everything a woman dose when out is shopping for clothes or food , ok .

        I do not consider myself conventionally attractive ( I don’t have self esteem issues , I love myself , other people don’t ) yet being hit on is not a pleasant experience especially if your busy and you have to get to the bus stop in five minutes . There is a time and place for telling a woman she looks nice . ( Like a party , a Date , while your both waiting somewhere ) When someone is walking it usually means they want to get somewhere , catcalling is annoying , and it dose not help your self esteem . Here is a really good blog post about the subject :http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2013/05/02/why-you-shouldnt-tell-that-random-girl-on-the-street-that-shes-hot/

      • A Woman who looks like a Girl
        Feb 11, 2014

        Hi, Anthony, I’m Nessie =) I’m four foot eleven, and I look like I’m about twelve. I’m nineteen. Why am I telling you and all of the internet this? Because I want you to understand something important. I, who look like a CHILD, have been hit on. Often, I get hit on when I’ve been stressed and look like shit. Is it gratifying, in a way? I suppose. I don’t often get compliments for my looks, because of how young I look. People I interact with often don’t want me to think they’re into little girls. Which makes it both gratifying and creepy as hell when ANYONE hits on me, no matter their age. A couple of younger teenagers? It’s creepy because I’m so much older than them. An old man or two? It’s creepy because I’m so much younger than them. Even a good looking twenty-something is creepy, because I LOOK twelve. I’ve had roommates who were normal-sized women, and looked their age – eighteen to twenty. They got hit on so much – got whistled at, or told that “You’d look better out of that dress” or whatever else, so much, that while creepy and annoying to them, they had mostly LEARNT TO IGNORE IT because people said it to them so often. You assume all women who get hit on are shopping? Jesus, what kind of world do you live in? Do you not have any female bosses, or co-workers? What about women who go to school, or who, you know, are PEOPLE with STRESS and LIFE PROBLEMS and JOBS, just like men have? Women are not children who should be glad of whatever men deign to grace them with. We are adults who deserve to stand next to, above, and below men based on the merit of our actions and accomplishments, just as men deserve to stand next to, above, and below women based on the merit of their actions and accomplishments. Women who write books in cafes get hit on just as often as women who are students, who are too young to be hit on, and as often as women who are shopping. “Hardly worse than being an ordinary or ugle male/female and never getting attention” you say? I’m not particularly pretty. Neither are the roommates I’ve had who got used to being hit on. As I said, I look twelve. Being hit on endlessly is being HARASSED. It is barely veiled sexual comment heaped onto suggestive looks that make people uncomfortable. That make people want to hide, and to blame themselves, and, eventually, when ass holes like you continue to hit on them and make them uncomfortable, it can lead to far worse things than hating yourself. I would MUCH rather not get attention than be harassed every day, or raped – which is what our culture of catcalls, whistling, and hitting on random women really leads to. You may call it “first world problems,” meaning that it is the fault of the women who get harassed, but I and every decent person know that it is the fault of the men who have propagated this kind of culture, not the women who endure it.

    • Annoyed
      May 10, 2013

      ……..So instead of just listening to women and trusting them when they say they don’t like to be street harassed, you wait for a man to explain it to you in terms “you can understand”?

      • Jaye
        Aug 16, 2013

        Let’s try to be understanding here, please.

        If we criticize someone who finally “gets it” for not getting it sooner, we’ve alienated a potential ally.

        Let’s assume until now, he genuinely didn’t understand and now he does. That’s a victory and one I, personally, am happy about. If you’re not, I understand. If you’re not satisfied with just one person — or with the lengths it took to get that one person — I understand that.

        To “take back” the common harassment phrase, maybe we could try a little quid pro quo: give a little empathy to get some in return?

        • Hemorrhagic Adrenalitis
          Oct 6, 2013

          I can’t agree. We should not have to endlessly be nice every time around to people who think harassment is okay.

          • rachel
            Jan 17, 2014

            well it’s a good thing that’s not what she was describing there.

    • Dave Allison
      Jun 27, 2013

      By the time we are grown up we should already understand even without such excellent stories. Speak to the brain, look in the eyes, be honest, be respectful, smile. be without expectations. But most of the guys I know, know those things. My sympathy to the women who meet men who do not yet understand.

    • G-Max
      Oct 6, 2013

      I currently put up with the antics of a crazy, 50-year-old woman who is addicted to Adderall, and she only bought me coffee at Starbucks ONE TIME. Replace her with a cute girl, replace her crazy Adderall-induced ramblings with a serious conversation about Jesus, and keep the coffee flowing, and that sounds like a really goddamn sweet deal.

      Of course, you could have told a different story. You could have told a story about getting hit on by gay dudes all the time. But that would only work on the homophobes. I, for one, happen to be flattered when gay guys hit on me. I’m currently typing this at a Starbucks and one of the employees here is obviously gay, and if all I had to do to get free coffee out of him was listen to him tell me how cute I am, I’d call that a pretty damn sweet deal too.

      Maybe we all just need to learn to tolerate each other a bit better.

  2. Seamus
    Aug 18, 2012

    Nicely done, Fer.

    S

  3. Cameron
    Aug 19, 2012

    Wait, this isn’t about coffee at all is it…

  4. Miriam
    Oct 14, 2012

    This is wonderful and I just linked to it in a blog post. You’re definitely someone who gets it.

  5. This should be mandatory reading for men, salespeople, and proselytizers.

  6. Theresa
    Oct 16, 2012

    Just, thank you.

  7. Allie
    Oct 16, 2012

    This is so well said, I don’t even know where to start. Your little story put it into perspective SO WELL. Thank you.

  8. Patrick
    Oct 16, 2012

    A very clever piece of writing. Bookmarked in ‘the crushing arguments’ folder.

  9. Paigey
    Oct 16, 2012

    It’s getting there. But still doesn’t touch of the whole scary Shrodinger’s Rapist aspect of it. I had a guy almost straight follow me into my Brooklyn apartment on Saturday evening until I started screaming and pointing at him. Really though if guys need this much work to ‘get’ why women don’t like being street harassed there’s a much deeper problem of general empathy going on.

    • sheila
      Oct 17, 2012

      I definitely agree. It seems there is a deep-rooted refusal to accept the too-common harassment. This isn’t something that should have to be explained, really.

      • Anthroslug
        Oct 18, 2012

        “I definitely agree. It seems there is a deep-rooted refusal to accept the too-common harassment. This isn’t something that should have to be explained, really.”

        The only way that something wouldn’t have to be explained is if there is a sufficient common frame of reference to allow things to simply be understood between people. As regards getting harassed in public places, there is no such common frame of reference between women and most men. If you need evidence of this, consider (as is pointed out in this piece) that many (perhaps most) men feel flattered when they get hit on in public because it is a relatively uncommon occurrence. As a result, we have a frame of reference in which this is an occasional surprise, and not a constant onslaught, and what seems obvious or like something that does not have to be explained to someone with your frame of reference does need to be explained to someone with a different one.

        To the extent that there’s a problem of deeper empathy, it is often a problem of not having had the opportunity to see things from another point of view, thus retarding the growth of said empathy.

        • something
          Oct 20, 2012

          Sounds like the solution is for women to agree to incessantly hit on men ;)

          • TheFerrett
            Oct 22, 2012

            Now there’s a suggestion.

        • Ansley
          Oct 23, 2012

          That could be true if all compliments were the same. But let’s be real, you don’t have to walk a mile in our shoes to understand the pretty obvious difference between following a woman into her apartment and cutely buying her a cup of coffee. Do you really have to think that hard to realize it’s just common courtesy not to be cross the line, or to equate ass-grabbing and cute moves?
          All men have sisters and moms. That counts as “experience” or a “frame of reference” to me.

          • ShadeTail
            Oct 24, 2012

            How nice of you to inform people what “counts” as a common frame of reference. Except that it really doesn’t. Merely understanding that you wouldn’t like your female relatives to be harassed is not the same as knowing how often it happens. And it is certainly a far cry from understanding that *you* might be the harasser. Men don’t get it because they don’t see it. It doesn’t happen to them, and they don’t see themselves doing it even if they do. So they simply don’t understand how often it does happen.

            None of this, of course, is to say that men *can’t* understand, or that their ignorance is justified. Nor is it to say that women owe them this explanation. Men can figure it out; I certainly know plenty who have. But to just primly declare that there is an obvious frame of reference, as you have, shows a rather astonishing ignorance of the issue at hand.

          • Jenrose
            Jan 21, 2013

            There is a part of me that finds being fat a relief because I don’t have to deal with the shit I got when I was skinny. Because it was oppressive. The last thing you want when you’re 19 and walking to the grocery store on a nice spring day is for a car full of teenage boys to pull up along side you and start wolf-whistling. Hell, when i was 9 years old a man grabbed my crotch and seemed genuinely startled when it freaked me out and I ran. Not to mention the weird men who would watch me on a bus coming home from a late class and then would follow me off of said bus, to the point where instead of going home I would go to the nearest store and phone home to get someone to walk with me. Or the man who was making out with a friend while I was trying to sleep nearby, who then rolled over and grabbed at me because I was there and obviously must be available for his groping convenience.

            There are many things I want from life, but to be “young and pretty” and 19 again is not one of them. In my life from childhood to early adulthood, while it was by no means constant, there were so many random incidents where boys or men invaded my space and put their hands on my body in unwelcome ways that by the time I hit 20 I took a martial arts class and was about ready to throw the next person who touched me through a plate glass window because I had had it. The only people I let in, from that point forward, were people who got to know me first and then asked nicely before touching.

            So if you are, or were ever confused at why someone you really find attractive went running in the opposite direction when you paid them a complement, just realize that for many of us, such “complements” may have been accompanied in the past by a deluge of harassment, assault, and in many cases, rape. You may be nice, but the words you’re using? Are walking a path many have walked before, and they left behind a whole lot of garbage.

            The people who have stayed with me in my life, who have stuck it out for the long haul, didn’t do it because I was “pretty”… they did it because I am worth getting to know. The person who has stayed with me the longest? Didn’t walk the same path as the others, and when he saw their litter, he took the time to help clean it up, by respecting my boundaries, getting to know me, and taking an enormous amount of care and time in going from friendship, to dating, etc.

        • Hekateras
          Oct 24, 2012

          The problem isn’t the frequency of the “compliments”. Even if men got hit on by women as often as women get hit on by men, it still wouldn’t be the same situation. When a woman gets hit on by a man, there’s always an awareness of what the man could do to escalate the situation and turn it NOT harmless, and how little she would be able to do to stop him. The same is generally not true if the situations are reversed.

          • J
            Dec 30, 2012

            So, if I am not mistaken, you are saying that a reason why it’s worse when men hit on women rather than the opposite is because a man has an easier time “escalating the situation” into something that is not so harmless.
            With all the self-defense courses, over the counter medications, guns and weapons out there I would have to submit that a woman, if being so inclined could easily do as many bad things to me as I would have been able to do to her.
            She might not try to overpower me with pure force.
            But to imply that women could not do plenty to make a situation turn from a harmless to something worse is in my opinion a bit degrading to to the female population. Saying that they could not defend themselves or take the upper hand in a hostile situation is just not true.
            I am definitely acknowledging the fact that there are probably more date-rapes and other horrible acts performed by men rather than women going on. But the argument that women are helpless and unable to do bad things to men seems a bit rash and non thought through.

            I speak this from the experience that I know several women that have ended up less than fortunate situations and the guy actually having to be saved from the wrath that they incurred.

            Sorry if this is a bit off topic from the essay in itself.

          • JSF
            Oct 6, 2013

            I think both your points are valid, but I’d like to put the idea out there that part of the problem is the way women are raised in our society. Even if we are able to protect ourselves, we are raised from a young age to be vary wary of strange men. You grow up hearing stories in the news of horrible things happening to girls and women, and it is ingrained into us that men, as the usual perpetrators, are a threat. It’s hard to overcome this for many of us, so simply being in a situation alone with a man you don’t know paying attention to you can be really scary. Neither the man nor woman is necessarily to blame, sometimes it’s just a sad fact of our society that men don’t always understand because they weren’t raised with the same emphasis on safety.

        • Sheila
          Jan 19, 2013

          Yeah well I don’t need to experience hunger to know those kids in Africa are starving.

          • Kawol
            Feb 10, 2013

            I think that this comes down to the fact that men are generally physically stronger than women. That women get so scared that they feel the need to carry a weapon on the off-chance that someone tries to assault them? That you are, in fact, implying that it’s not the people who assault women that are the issue, it’s the women that allow it?

    • Karen
      Jan 11, 2013

      another unfun aspect. Especially if guys do this (hoot, whistle, comment) while in a group, I become wary and try to locate the nearest cashier, security guard, etc., just in case. Many guys could understand if people on the street commented on their possessions, and then followed them, complaining they weren’t being friendly by not giving them want they wanted. Some guys do get this. Some resort to pack behavior

  10. null
    Oct 16, 2012

    So…how do you propose people get to know each other? What’s a man supposed to do if he doesn’t know you but digs you?

    • Ixel
      Oct 17, 2012

      Offer to buy her a coffee.

      … then politely leave, without taking it personally, if she says no. If she is angry or rude about it, try to sympathise with the fact that probably some other guy before you was less polite, and resolve never to be that guy.

      And if she says yes, well then go ahead and get to know her.

      • Dave Allison
        Jun 27, 2013

        Thank you Ixel

    • BetterIntheShade
      Oct 17, 2012

      I think it’s generally better to approach people in bars and clubs, places where they are likely to be open to being approached. Context is key.

      • Guest
        Oct 21, 2012

        Very few nice guys (over the age of 16) would even bother going to such a meatmarket, much less hitting on random people there.

        • inurashii
          Oct 24, 2012

          @Guest:
          If someone is uncomfortable in an environment designed to facilitate approaching attractive strangers, they shouldn’t approach attractive strangers.

          It’s totally feasible to make friends with someone through an activity, environment, or friends, and then establish a romantic connection later. A coffeeshop isn’t that place.

          • Laisser Tomber Les Filles
            Jan 21, 2013

            Actually, coffee shops are okay places to pick up women. Streets are fine places too. It’s actually slightly more unpleasant to pick up women at bars or clubs because everyone is drunk and it’s loud and it’s hard to see what people actually look like or what they are actually like. Also, most girls you meet there will just sleep with you that night and then they aren’t really worth calling back. Double standard, sure, but you want to be made to wait if you’re a guy. It gives you confidence that she won’t bang someone when you’re in a relationship and she goes to a party without you.

            I met my current girlfriend on the street. We’ve been together for two years. Before that, I dated a bunch of girls I met on the street, subway, etc. It’s actually really nice meeting girls on the street. They aren’t expecting to be hit on, so they’re actually more okay with it when you start flirting with them. Then again, I’m pretty good looking and so girls like my advances, as opposed to saying I’m creepy.

            I don’t think it’s so much that women want this to stop completely as much as it is that they want to be flirted with well by one guy that they’re actually attracted to.

            Most guys just are clueless on how to pick up women.

            Here is a handy field guide:
            1. Be confident.
            2. Don’t be overbearing.
            3. Make them think they’re the one picking you up.
            4. Do not use pick up lines

        • Jenrose
          Jan 21, 2013

          You know what’s crazy? The man I married? NEVER hit on me. Never. Amazing thing, we got to know each other anyway, were friends for a couple of years, things happened and we started spending more time together, and it just went from there. We had a lot of common interests. We still enjoy doing things together, after almost 10 years of marriage and a couple of kids.

          People who think that “hitting on someone” is the only way to get to know them lack creativity and intelligence, and probably shouldn’t be dating anyway.

          • deanstat
            Sep 1, 2013

            Thanks Jenrose for taking the time to share your story above. I’ve felt some of what you described, and I’m constantly amazed at how resilient women are (even though such extensive resilience shouldn’t be a requirement just to get through life). Glad you’re in a good place now and found someone who treats you with respect.

      • Austen
        Oct 23, 2012

        “I think it’s generally better to approach people in bars and clubs, places where they are likely to be open to being approached. Context is key.”

        Yes yes yes! For me, the same thing goes for cat-calling. When I’m working on something in a coffee shop or walking home, I’m not looking to get picked up or laid or any of that. I’m just focused on other stuff. However if I’m out at a club or bar or show on a Friday night, yeah, it’s probably more likely that I’m open to having something like this happen.

        Obviously this is just my case, but I agree–just be aware that when someone is busy with someone, there’s a good chance they’re not looking to be “bought coffee.”

    • K
      Oct 17, 2012

      http://lizclimo.tumblr.com/image/21009465036
      that never happens, people don’t meet or become friends or anything through catcalling and harassement, and its sad if u think thats the only way to “get to know someone you dig”

    • Connie
      Oct 18, 2012

      i like how a lot of guys’ initial reaction upon reading a piece like this is “but how can i still get what i want when I have to respect women’s right to be left alone?”
      WHOOOSH, the sound of the point going straight over heads everywhere

      • Solongastoriaxo
        Oct 28, 2012

        I mean, I think the point that many of them were trying to make is that it’s difficult to know if a girl will be at all receptive to whatever it is they’re after (because sometimes it actually is about more than sex) without trying to hit on her first. Because we are, at times, receptive to being hit on, in any number of different contexts.

    • mythago
      Oct 18, 2012

      How do you get to know another guy who you think would be a good friend but you don’t know yet?

      • KB
        Oct 19, 2012

        I don’t know. I don’t have *any* friends.

    • mythago
      Oct 19, 2012

      Let’s plug this back into the analogy.

      “So….how do you propose people get to know each other? What’s a Christian supposed to do if she doesn’t know you but wants to share the light of Jesus with you?”

      Or:

      “How many people have you heard of out there who’ve had great philosophical conversations because they talked to a stranger? We all know somebody who met a great friend and discussion partner because they walked up to them in a coffee shop and started a conversation. How is that supposed to happen if nobody is supposed to approach anyone?”

      If a Jesus-pusher made those arguments to justify the buy-coffee-then-convert routine, you’d instantly recognize them as nonsense. You’d be able to quickly point out to them that they’ve presented a false dilemma in which the only alternative to their current, obnoxious behavior is some ridiculous ‘well then everything will be horrible and nobody will ever talk’ scenario.

      You’d also, no doubt, be able to point out to them that there are MANY other ways to talk to people about Jesus. For example, going to church events where people gather specifically to talk about religion. Or saying “hey, I’d like to buy you a cup of coffee and talk about Jesus, if that’s all right” instead of doing the bait-and-switch. Or paying attention to see whether maybe that guy typing furiously on his laptop is busy, and, perhaps, would rather not talk about Jesus just now.

      Why is this any different when dating is involved?

    • hermione
      Oct 19, 2012

      It’s really important to read the situation and the signals she is giving. A woman using public transport and listening to music or reading a book does not want to be approached, but a woman making eye contact and smiling is more likely to welcome your advances. If she’s clearly very engaged in a conversation with a friend, don’t interrupt.

    • mindheart
      Oct 23, 2012

      Well, if the man is interacting with a woman in any context – work, recreation, socializing in a group – then he needs to TALK to her. Get to know her and maybe then ask if she’d like to meet for coffee sometime. If she is a stranger, then how does he know he “digs” her? Sounds as though he finds her attractive and would not mind getting into her pants. Most women do not actually go to a coffee shop hoping to be hit on by strangers! Try the clubs, but even then, be prepared to walk away gracefully if a woman you “dig” indicates that she does not “dig” you in return.

      • Modern Man
        Jan 21, 2013

        I said this already, but I’ll post it again:

        When I first hear a song, the first thing I hear is the melody and the beat and the tone of voice of the singer. If I like the song, I will discover the lyrics. If I don’t like the song, I will probably never bother discovering the lyrics.

        Physical attraction and vibe is the catchy melody that makes you want to learn the lyrics. Don’t be offended by it.

        Women are immediately attracted to men as well, but to slightly different qualities. I think that it is stupid to deny that physical attraction plays an important part.

        • Jeff
          Feb 11, 2014

          I’ve read your comments and agree a lot with you. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think a point you are getting at is that “gender inequality is a two way street.” Men are in a rough position because of social expectations and a culture which teaches them the wrong way to pick up girls.

          Women are also in trouble from society since they are a victim of this trend.

          I think the main issue that we should solve is the senseless catcalling and objectifying. Buying someone a coffee is NOT objectifying. It’s showing your interest.

          Once again, you are making smart points. I totally agree.

    • Thea
      Jan 21, 2013

      The ultimate flaw here is that you don’t “dig” HER. You dig what she looks like.

      • Patricia
        May 10, 2013

        And that, surprisingly enough, constitutes the very definition of objectification! Funny how that works, isn’t it?

  11. tr3ss
    Oct 16, 2012

    Outstanding. Thank you.

  12. Kethry
    Oct 16, 2012

    THANK YOU. This is ridiculously accurate. I’m lucky in that I don’t get bothered much (I learned to radiate hostility very young, and I have a VERY nice wedding ring), but when I do, I have to get mean, because they tend to be the really persistent bastards. >_< Shared on FB!

  13. Jay
    Oct 16, 2012

    disagree. now you’re saying that too many acts of kindness are annoying which i do not think is true. ulterior motives yes, i can say are annoying but to generalize and group ‘acts of kindness’ as annoying when you have too many of them is snobbish in my opinion. flip it around and have bullies teasing you all of the time, THAT is annoying. be grateful that god has given you a gift which many people appreciate and are willing to put themselves out there for.

    • Michelle
      Oct 17, 2012

      @Jay, this is exactly the point of the article. YOU are one of the guys that women get tired of. Every guy who does this thinks he’s the exception, but there really aren’t any exceptions. Constant “niceness” loses its appeal. Sorry.

    • Hawk
      Oct 17, 2012

      I think you missed the point. The problem is that you usually can’t tell which are genuine acts of kindness and which are preludes to something they want when they show up, and the genuine acts are very rare. It’s not an act of kindness if they expect your undivided attention in return. And even if it is genuinely meant as a kind act, everyone just wants to be left alone sometimes.

      • hermione
        Oct 19, 2012

        Exactly! They always want something in return. A man hitting on a woman is not an act of kindness.

    • Connie
      Oct 18, 2012

      WOMEN – this is something that happens and this is how it makes me feel, and this is why it makes me feel this way
      MAN – no, you’re wrong. feel how i want you to instead.

      oaf.

    • mythago
      Oct 18, 2012

      It is not an “act of kindness” for somebody to do you a tiny favor as an excuse to get something they want out of you that you wouldn’t otherwise give. If Cute Girl just said “Can I talk to you about Jesus?”, Ferrett would just say no. But because she bought him coffee and THEN sprung the Jesus-talk, now there’s a social obligation for him to sit there and listen: he accepted the coffee, right?

    • Annalee
      Oct 19, 2012

      be grateful that god has given you a gift which many people appreciate and are willing to put themselves out there for.

      That right there? That’s the problem.

      I am not a puzzle box with a sexy treat inside, waiting to be unlocked. When I’m trying to read/code/listen to music/write/exist in public with the only body I happen to have, I am not interested in random strangers walking up to me and ‘putting themselves out there’ for a ‘gift’ they think I have and assume they’re owed.

      I’m sure you’ve heard the term ‘objectification’ before. This right here? What you just said? that’s what objectification means. It means treating a human being like an object, a ‘gift’ you can win, instead of like a person with thoughts, feelings, and goals that don’t have the first thing to do with you or what you want.

      So no, I don’t need to ‘flip it around’ to imagine what it’d be like to have to deal with bullies. Getting incessantly hit on is dealing with bullies.

      • Ansley
        Oct 23, 2012

        So much yes. You rock.

      • Johanna
        Dec 28, 2012

        YES. Thank you. <3

      • Karen
        Jan 11, 2013

        yes, thank you. We should be “grateful” that people “appreciate” our “gift” and want to “put themselves out there for” it? If I see your car and “appreciate” it , will you then be “grateful” and give it to me?

    • Jenrose
      Jan 21, 2013

      Mansplaining. FTL.

      If you are doing an act of kindness it is an act of kindness and the recipient owes you NOTHING. Anything else is just manipulative bull.

      Did you notice that this isn’t actually about Jesus?

  14. iam
    Oct 16, 2012

    What I learned from this article

    - Apparently women don’t like being hit on, ever apparently
    - Men secretly like being harassed (as a man I never knew that)
    - If you’re completely nice to a girl and buy her a drink that’s “harassment” because other guys have bought her a drink before
    - Men are idiots and need obvious things womansplained to them
    - Having to deal with phony problem is only a problem women ever have to deal with, so men can only understand it by means of a strange analogy

    • Kip
      Oct 17, 2012

      Thank you

    • Connie
      Oct 18, 2012

      deliberately misreading it to sound ridiculous.

      -they do, under the right circumstances. if you’d actually thought about the words you read instead of getting offended by them, youd see that this piece is only attempting to explain why women SOMETIMES don’t want to be approached, and why you should respect that considering their reasons.
      - the reason that men are usually less put off by the thought of being hit on constantly is that they often dont realise how grating and offensive it can get.
      -some men really do not want to understand articles like this (ahem) and prefer to get angry at uppity women and call their explanations ridiculous rather than attempt to look at it from their perspective, so yes, sometimes idiots need to be spoken to like idiots.
      - a problem that does not happen to you is not a “phony problem.” you really do look like a petulant child refusing to listen at this point.

      • Kai
        Oct 24, 2012

        Well put, Connie! To other men: As a man, I found the analogy Ferrett used to be very helpful in conveying the difference in frames of reference that are part of the (not the entire) reason so many of us don’t get it. It’s not that men don’t have a great capacity for empathy (seeing and feeling things from someone else’s frame of reference), but that many things (male privilege taken for granted, libido not well-balanced with other motivations in one’s life, etc.) can and do get in the way of its activation.

    • Mr. Frugal Toque
      Oct 18, 2012

      iam wrote:

      > “B-5″

      Miss!

    • Jennifer L.
      Oct 18, 2012

      Wow. Way to miss the ENTIRE POINT of the post.

    • Donald
      Oct 18, 2012

      What I learned from your comment:

      - That you missed the point.

    • Kirsty
      Oct 19, 2012

      If anyone was in doubt that there was a need for this article they just need to read your comment. It’s clearly necessary.

      Reread it a couple of times and just think it through for a minute. If you still don’t get it, well, it’s probably safest for you never to approach a woman.

    • Wsc
      Oct 19, 2012

      A+ work.

    • Harrison
      Oct 29, 2012

      I’m just going to address the first point.
      If you read the analogy, it’s using a specific situation to explain what’s going on. Cute Girl has a specific goal when she offers the coffee, as do several more Cute Girls afterwards, and that goal isn’t something Ferrett is interested in, and may only be interested in under very specific circumstances.

      There’s a specific goal in ‘hitting on’ someone, and so it should only be done in certain situations and only continued if it’s apparent the person you’re hitting on is open to the same goal with the understanding that either of you could change your mind. If not, then it’s harassment and needs to be stopped.

      In a perfect situation, you shouldn’t even be thinking of things in terms of a ‘goal’, but others have made that point more eloquently than I could.

    • Karen
      Jan 11, 2013

      Thank you for totally missing the point

    • Rachel
      Jan 17, 2014

      In an inappropriate setting, of course women don’t want to be hit on. What, is there a secret sign on all our foreheads that reads PLEASE COMPLIMENT ME BECAUSE I NEED YOUR APPROVAL TO FEEL LIKE I’M WORTH SOMETHING.

  15. Amy Leigh Strickland
    Oct 16, 2012

    I love the metaphor! I may use this to teach and English class on extended metaphor. :) I don’t think men realize how cheap it makes a girl feel to have someone buy a drink with the expectation that they’ll get “something” out of it, and the “Are you saved?” talk is a good uncomfortable metaphor for that.

  16. Mary
    Oct 16, 2012

    Followed Miriam’s link here, excellent post… and may I also say I dropped my teeth when I saw the familiar green wings of the Hazerot angel… I live in Seattle now but grew up in Cleveland and the photo brought back happy memories of Lakeview. So thanks twice over!

  17. S
    Oct 17, 2012

    saving this in my files the next time some idiot demands an explanation from me. THANK YOU for writing this.

  18. Jsan
    Oct 17, 2012

    I have to say, whenever I’ve been hit on its been super inconvenient, made me very uncomfortable and I’ve spent the whole time trying to get out of there. Both men and women never can pick a good time to try their luck.

  19. StewartP
    Oct 17, 2012

    I understand, and I’m very sad.

    But I’m still a bit thick, and I PROMISE I’m not trolling! Does it mean I can’t ever again compliment a woman who I find attractive? Will she always take it as coming from another creeper?
    I understand that while I might think I’m brightening someone’s day, to her it’s just another in an endless drip, drip of harassement.
    The world suddenly seems a less nice place :(
    Perhaps I should have better control of my hormones….

    • Mia
      Oct 17, 2012

      If you stand there like you’re expecting something after the compliment, it gets painful.

      If you give an overtly sexual compliment, it’s hard to take well.

      If you think a woman is beautiful, or something about her (other than butt/boobs/legs probably) is beautiful, and you tell her as such, and smile, and don’t try to push it on her if she doesn’t accept it… that’s fine. That’s appreciated :)

      • Rachel
        Jan 17, 2014

        Exactly. I would much rather be complimented on something that won’t degrade me, as opposed to the classic “Hey Sexy Lady”

    • Hawk
      Oct 17, 2012

      This is just me, but I think you’ll be okay if it’s a compliment. When it gets annoying is if you try to disguise it as something else. If you come right out and say, ‘Excuse me, I just wanted you to know I think you’re hot,’ I would feel much less like you’re trying to pull one over on me. And if she doesn’t feel like entering into a conversation with you, just smile and go about her day. Also, pay attention to body language. If she’s sending out signals that she’s busy with something and/or wants to be left alone… leave her alone. Again, this is just me, your mileage may vary.

    • Memmy
      Oct 18, 2012

      How, when and where you are complimented always makes the difference between a genuine compliment and feeling creeped. In short, sexual remark are always creepy on stranger, but if you say something like ”hey, nice smile” without expecting anything in return and without invading the personal space, it’s a nice compliment. Stay aware of the social cue, for exemple, if the person is clearly busy, it’s kind of rude to interrupt. I

    • Zannah
      Oct 18, 2012

      I never want to hear from a random guy that I’m beautiful. Never, ever, ever. It’s become meaningless and basically has always meant “And I would have sex with you.” My appearance is the least of the things you could compliment me on.

      For me, the best time to hear it is when we are mutually deepening the relationship and committing to each other. But random people should please just leave me alone!

      • David
        Oct 23, 2012

        I respect what you’re saying, but as a guy, it still feels really bizarre to hear it. I would be happy for months if some girl came up to me and told me I was beautiful. If it meant that she would have sex with me, even better. I’m not joking when I say I’m sick to death of being told I’m smart, funny or talented. There’s not much I like better than having sex, but the last time was nearly two years ago. I still think back fondly to occasions when random girls and guys I don’t know have grabbed my butt. Because yay, sexual attention! Honestly, a random unattractive person grabbing my butt feels a lot more validating than just another girl saying I’m “the smartest person she’s met”.

        • Lynn
          Oct 24, 2012

          I’m not joking when I say I’m sick to death of being told I’m smart, funny or talented.

          Nor are women joking when they say they’re sick to death of being told they’re beautiful. Your experience is not their experience, and when dealing with women you need to respect their experience, not whine when it doesn’t align with your own.

        • Craig
          Oct 24, 2012

          David, you’ve almost got it.

          You are fed up with being valued mentally and not physically. You feel there is this whole other aspect to you that people aren’t appreciating.
          Imagine how you would feel in the coffee situation if after buying you coffee the other person said “Hey, you seem smart. Can you help me with my homework.?” You might feel obligated to help them now but inside you are screaming “This is not the interaction I want! Can’t you see I am more than just my brain?! Why doesn’t anyone ever appreciate the rest of me?!”

          Now add to that that you’ve heard that this person tends to get angry when they don’t get what they want and has the ability to get you in trouble or hurt you.

          Imagine billboards that say “People like David: not much to look at but they can do your homework”.

          Imagine getting cat-called with “Hey, brainy! You’re smart today!”

          Imagine a million other digs like that – people only appreciating you for this one facet over and over and over again.

          You are a complete person and you want to be appreciated as such. That’s what everyone wants.

          • Patricia
            May 10, 2013

            Simply fabulous post. Kudos to a male who clearly, thoroughly gets it — and is man enough to (try to) explain it to other males. I applaud you!!

          • rachel
            Jan 17, 2014

            A+++++++++++++++++++

      • jamie
        Jan 20, 2013

        I agree 100% . The very fact that someone feels their opinion on my outward appearance is more important than what I am doing at the moment (even if it’s just thinking) and they are obliged to share it with me already indicates to me they are probably ego centric and not all that empathetic, ie people I tend to avoid.

    • Danarra
      Oct 18, 2012

      If your hormones are controlling your mouth, yeah – you should probably do something about that.
      “You look nice today.” neutral tone of voice, smile and move on – Lovely compliment to pretty much anybody.
      “You look nice today.” hopeful tone of voice, moving towards the person – more than a little creepy.
      “You look nice today.” suggestive tone of voice, leer and lean back – not lovely. Highly unpleasant, actually – unless you have a specific type of relationship where that is taken as humor or even flat-out appreciated.
      “I’d tap that” never acceptable…with the same exceptions as above.

      It’s what you say, it’s how you say it, it’s who you say it to, it’s when, where, and why as well.

      • Modern Man
        Jan 21, 2013

        The point is, most men have no idea how to meet or attract women. We are just not taught that at all. It’s a huge mystery to most men. That’s why most men try to date their female best friend and get weirdly sexual with girls they already know. They just don’t know how to meet women. We get all sorts of mixed signals from society about how to do it, but most men really don’t know a god damn thing about it.

        Because of this lack of knowledge, the PUA (pick up artist) community popped up on the internet. That shows you how bad the state of affairs was: men were so clueless about meeting women that a bunch of sociopathic nerds were able to lead the discussion.

        I met my current girlfriend on the street. We’ve been together for two years. All I knew is that I thought she was gorgeous and I liked the way she carried herself, so I went over, said hello, started a conversation, and then we started dating. She turned out to be the smartest and funniest girl I’ve ever met. We live together now.

        Talking to strangers is not the problem. The problem is men having no idea what women want or what attracts women. Attracting women is a skill set that has to be learned. A lot of men need to unlearn things they think they know. You can’t pressure a girl, push a girl, anything like that. You just cannot be overbearing. You have to be willing to walk away at any moment. I’m pretty sure most single girls would love to meet a cute, charming guy who appears in their life out of nowhere and actually pays attention to what they say and what they want.

        It’s not that girls don’t like being approached–it’s that they don’t like being approached incorrectly in a disrespectful, needy manner. Just as you said. It’s all body language, confidence, etc. Women generally decide how far they would let a man go the very first time they meet that guy–based on his body language, tone of voice, etc. Most guys don’t know anything about body language or how to project confidence. It’s scary walking up to a stranger! And in this society, the responsibility for approaching and leading the early stages of a relationship is on the man in 99% of cases. And most men don’t know anything about that, because we are never taught anything about it. The only way to learn is by doing it over and over again.

        It’s an unfortunate situation, because that leads to men just blindly trying stuff or reaching a point of “Well I have no idea what to do” so they just try whatever the hell they think might work. Which can oftentimes be disrespectful and annoying to women.

        • Karen
          Nov 5, 2013

          This is a very considered response, and you almost have it. However, when you use words like ‘men don’t know how to meet women’ and ‘women decide how far they will let a man go’ you get at the root of the misunderstanding.

          Women generally are not interested in men who want to meet women (plural), or men who want to go some distance with them. Women are drawn to men who are interested in them as an individual human being, with thoughts, desires and interests all their own. Not ‘women.’ Not sex toys.

          That you met your girlfriend by opening a conversation with her suggests that you understand this.

    • cynedyr
      Oct 20, 2012

      Depends in part on whether or not you’re attractive in the first place, you know, situationally…at least that’s feedback I’ve seen a number of female friends voice (so, anecdotal).

      I’ve never understood “hitting on strangers” though and never have done so. I’ve only ever either been approached or got to know the women I’ve been involved with through some kind of common activity like theatre. Even then only after it was clear that she was receptive to such communication…which still usually took her approaching me as I apparently have a history of being somewhat oblivious to “approach-approved” social signals.

      I did learn that an off-handed compliment to a young woman acquaintance can be horribly misinterpreted so I generally refrain from compliments, really. I figure if they’re obviously aesthetically attractive they’ve probably heard it all before…so will only comment if there’s a clear message that a compliment is being angled for.

      Probably not helping as I’ve been happily pair-bonded for over a decade now…but I did meet her at an audition…and she asked me out.

      Maybe it is the social obligation/expectation that is part of the problem? (conflicting understanding of claims/obligations with respect to social interaction between “strangers”)

    • Tin
      Oct 23, 2012

      The thing is, why do you feel like you’re entitled to evaluate how a a random woman looks and then think that she cares? The location is key, never never NEVER say something like this to a complete stranger that you’ll never see again. Just smile at her, maybe tell her to have a nice day, but don’t evaluate her looks.

      • September
        Oct 24, 2012

        Thank you! I do not exist simply for your (you-general, not you-specific) viewing pleasure and it is not my obligation to be pretty or attractive for you – and all of these things are implied when a stranger evaluates my looks. Sharing your rating of my attempt to meet your unspoken expectations of how a woman “should” look is just insulting.

        • Modern Man
          Jan 21, 2013

          Wait, so you, as a woman, don’t evaluate how men look? Ever?

          I’m sorry, but if you’re out in public, and I see you, I am entitled to think whatever I want about your appearance. And you are entitled to not give a shit, just as you are entitled to evaluate my appearance and I am entitled to not give a shit.

          I met my current girlfriend on the street because I thought she was gorgeous and I liked her vibe. She was a total stranger I would never have met otherwise, had I not had the courage to go up and start a conversation with her. And no, I didn’t walk up and say, “Hey, you’re hot.” I went over and just introduced myself and didn’t pressure her or act creepy.

          Welcome to planet earth, lady. People are going to see you and have thoughts about your attractiveness. Sorry, but that’s just how it goes. We are a sexual species and sex is almost always going to be a part of our society and daily lives. I have differing views on guys vocalizing their physical evaluations. I think that it depends very much on the guys attractiveness, confidence, and his ability to not throw any pressure into the interaction. Most of it has to do with whether the guy knows what he’s doing or not.

          On a side note, several of my female friends have told me that they can evaluate a guy’s penis size by the size and shape of their fingers and hands. And they do this upon meeting guys early on in the interaction to decide whether this is someone they want to sleep with or not. Is that not objectification as well?

          This goes both ways.

          • Patricia
            May 10, 2013

            Oh, man, you need to read the post you responded to again.

            Of course everyone’s entitled to have personal, private opinions about others — their looks, posture, attitudes, clothing, behavior, whatever.

            The difference is that too often men think they have the RIGHT not to personal opinions, but to make their opinions public — to weigh in — rate, judge, comment.

            Read it again: we’re not here for your viewing pleasure. We’re not here to please you or your entire gender. We’re not here to RESPOND to (or even care about) YOUR public “ratings” of our looks or anything else — as if you have some right to judge us.

            So keep your personal OPINIONS to yourself. They’re not welcome, and when made public they’re boundary violations, pure and simple.

    • Kim W.
      Oct 23, 2012

      Stewart:

      Depends what kind of a compliment it is. Let me tell you about two compliments I actually received from men I didn’t know. One of them was a compliment I liked, and one I didn’t — see if you can spot which is which.

      A-”That color shirt looks especially good on you!”

      B-”Man, I love the way your ass shakes when you walk.”

      Bonus question – which kind of compliment were YOU planning on making?

    • Jenrose
      Jan 21, 2013

      The vast majority of the time, if you find a woman attractive, all you need to do is just… NOTHING. You don’t need to tell her. For the majority of women who get told they are pretty often, it is meaningless noise.

      Now if it is someone you have gotten to know, someone you’ve had other interactions with, someone with whom it would be appropriate to have a more personal interaction with, and you’ve said more than a few words to that person that have absolutely nothing to do with her physical appearance, then YES, at that point complements about appearance are probably going to be more welcome.

      But if you’re some random stranger telling a woman she’s pretty? You’ve got a 90% chance of being read as a creeper. Even if you are the nicest guy ever. Even if it’s a complement. Because for a lot of us, “you’re pretty” was a predecessor to “And I have a right to put my paws on you without asking.”

  20. Danielle
    Oct 17, 2012

    I am so thrilled that at least one guy actually gets this and has a way to explain to other men why “being nice” isn’t always so nice.

    • lkeke
      Aug 13, 2013

      This exactly!

      I think guys forget. We can’t tell the difference between a nice guy and a predator and having been approached by creeps on several occasions, creeps who have disguised themselves as nice guys, creeps who have used the exact same lines that a nice guy uses (because they know them too) we have found that it is much safer to repel you or runaway rather than engage.

      The predators of the world teach women to distrust all men’s motives. So it has nothing to do with how nice a guy you think you are.

      Bottom line, this has nothing to do with your feelings. It’s about whatever she’s feeling.

  21. Angela Quattrano
    Oct 17, 2012

    For a guy, the comments he thinks he is sincerely making to a woman with whom he is not acquainted (and thus he can’t understand why she is not accepting them in the spirit that is intended) come from a part of the brain I call “the inner lizard”. The inner lizard is an instinct inherited from lizard ancestors 100 million, 200 million years ago. When a guy is walking down the street, looks at a woman, and thinks he wants to have sex with her on the pavement right there, that is his inner lizard speaking to him, the same voice he hears when he sees a woman and thinks that she “needs” some “compliment” he is about to dish out, where in fact she is probably going to think of him as something akin to a predator.

    • Kip
      Oct 17, 2012

      Do you have a degree in psychology? Genealogy? Paleontology? … No? Because otherwise all I see is a sexist comment comparing men to lizards.

      • Kerstyn
        Oct 18, 2012

        This completely disregards the original comment’s point, that no woman “needs” anyone’s compliment. The “You’re just too beautiful not to say anything” excuse is nonsense and will fall flat every time.

        Also, since when is a degree the only thing that qualifies someone to comment on a blog post?

      • WTF is your problem, dude?
        Oct 18, 2012

        Sitcho virgin ass down and shut the fuck up.

      • RK
        Oct 18, 2012

        Hahaha Kip, this comment is hilarious. I am choosing to assume you are making an excellent joke.

      • Levanah
        Nov 18, 2012

        Actually, Kip, I am a trained psychotherapist – and that is not what qualifies me to second Angela Q’s comment. Many a well-read person is familiar with the term ‘reptilian brain,’ the more primitive part of the human brain, not much interested in higher intellectual processing. Look it up if you need some independent verification, although Angela does a good job of conveying the gist of its functioning. If after all the useful attempts to communicate a woman’s experience – many being offered by men – all you can hear is a sexist comment, you strike me as either really dense or extremely hostile. And that’s coming from someone with that degree you asked about.

    • Modern Man
      Jan 21, 2013

      Aw Christ Almighty, did you really start talking about the reptilian brain? If I started saying how the reptilian brain affects women, you ladies would tear my head off and say I was sexist.

  22. Beth
    Oct 17, 2012

    This is a good explanation. Thank you for posting it. You are missing a key piece, however.

    These prosthelytizing women? They’re almost all bigger and stronger than you.

    Some of them, when facing your polite rejection, get angry and use that strength against you. They grab your arm and talk louder. They cage you against the wall with their bodies when you try to get away. If you screamed, you’re not certain anyone would help you, because people are afraid to get involved with an angry woman.

    You had one of them follow you out of Starbucks once and chase you down the street, yelling at you about God. It made you afraid, because that woman could physically harm you to make you listen. You didn’t want to get caught alone with her, so you ducked into the mall until you were certain she’d gone away; you DEFINITELY didn’t want her to know where you lived. Hell, your brother’s friend had one follow him home once and force conversion on him, and now he’s physically and emotionally scarred by it. You don’t want that.

    So you don’t get angry at these women invading your space and buying you coffee, because you don’t know how they’re going to react and you’re terrified of encountering the one who’s not willing to gracefully accept your rejection. There’s only so much you can do to defend yourself against a person like that.

    • Amy
      Oct 17, 2012

      Great, great analogy. Really important. But Beth’s comment is more than worth noting. It’s at least as important as your analogy in the first place.

    • oldebabe
      Oct 18, 2012

      This is just right on the money, as they say, Beth – and almost exactly my experience years ago in at least one situation. Apparently, time hasn’t changed things enough.

    • Austen
      Oct 23, 2012

      Oh man, this too! FERRET, please please add this in as a tagline to your great piece! I think it’s yet another thing that some well-meaning men don’t realize. The more information, the better!

    • September
      Oct 24, 2012

      And this is why we all, men and women alike, need to take self-defense more seriously. Because if someone thinks it’s OK to use social pressure to force coffee and unwanted philosophical conversation on you, who knows what else he or she will think it’s OK to force on you?

    • Karen
      Jan 15, 2013

      THIS!! This so, so much.

      And not only does no-one want to intervene, you and the onlookers have all learned that saying “no” to one of these women is “making a scene”, and that “making a scene” makes a man a bad person.

      So you’re stuck with a persistent, physically imposing person harassing you, and you’re well-trained to a) not “provoke” an attack by upsetting them, and b) to not “make a scene” because you will be publicly humiliated and everyone will think you’re a crazy/rude/loud-mouthed [insert insult here].

    • Jenrose
      Jan 21, 2013

      A thousand times this.

  23. Alli K.
    Oct 17, 2012

    Thank you for posting this. People always bother me why I come off as guarded and cold. This is why.

    Sometimes I’ll throw out a sex joke or make a funny comment and guys switch from friend mode into “I could tap that” mode. I’ve always been “one of the guys” with my close friends but on so many occasions have I been harassed, left out or isolated because of my gender.

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

  24. Jen
    Oct 17, 2012

    One time when I was walking back to my dorm from an evening lecture, two men approached me to talk to me about Jesus…and started out by asking “If you died right now, do you believe you would you go to heaven?” One had his hands in his coat pocket and it was bulging so I thought he might have a weapon. I pretty much just listened to what they said and answered with whatever they wanted to hear and backed away slowly. I was scared out of my mind and to this day I have no idea if they actually were crazy men with guns or were really that clueless to think that approaching a woman at night to ask her about what would happen if she died right now would be a perfect way to convert someone to their religion and not threatening at all. I’m not sure how relevant this is, but your scenario brought this memory back and I wanted to share it.

    • missloopy
      Oct 18, 2012

      i was unloading groceries in the dark at my old apartment. two young men on bicycles (i am assuming mormons spreading the word, given the attire) came up to me. they pulled up behind me at my trunk (thus boxing me in), and tried to strike up a conversation. i said something about frozen foods needing to get in the freezer as a segway to leave. they stayed were they were, closing me in, and offered to carry my groceries inside for me. umm… no thank you, pair of strange men who are larger than me.

      honestly, i think they were probably just clueless… but someone needed to have a talk with them about closing in on a women alone in the dark & asking to come into her home. not the best way to sell it, boys.

      partially relevant in that i was reluctant to take what on the surface could be a polite gesture because of it’s potential consequence.

      • D.C.
        May 3, 2013

        Yeah, some of them are just dense, but, others? I begin to wonder if the strictness of their upbringing is affecting their young men in the oddest ways…I had a group of four of them, all in their early 20′s, just a wee bit younger than I was, come into the restaurant I was working, and, when they got up to leave, they’d left me a love note…on a little Jesus booklet…

  25. dave
    Oct 17, 2012

    really? I mean really? I compliment women all the time without wanting anything in return. When did this little convention start? Of course some of this might be my southern upbringing, but i find all this lack of politeness sad. I was reading a blog where the question of opening doors for women came up. I was shocked at some of the responses. about 40 percent of the men refused to open doors anymore because a women with her socks to tight didn’t understand simple politeness. The other men decided they would continue no matter what women thought, why? Because it’s the right thing to do. So why mention opening doors? Because many of us men compliment, smile, and do little things for women because it’s the polite and right thing to do.

    • Connie
      Oct 18, 2012

      The article is not about politeness, it is clearly about trying to understand and accept a woman’s rejection, and the possible reasons for it, without resenting them.
      I don’t think everybody who rejects me is rude, and I don’t assume that everybody must be open to all approaches at all times, can never be busy, in a bad mood, or feeling unsociable or unwell. The piece is about the assumption that a woman has no right to decide who she wants to be approached by, and if she does then she’s just acting like a bitch.

    • slaphappy
      Oct 18, 2012

      Do you compliment, smile, and do little things for men because it’s polite, also?
      Same social rules apply to both genders.

    • Kirsty
      Oct 19, 2012

      Why is it the right thing to do, though?

      I’m all for holding doors open for people, it’s a nice thing to do and is generally appreciated. The problem is thinking in terms of “Men should open doors for women” rather than “It’s nice for people to open/hold open doors for other people, especially if the other person is carrying bags or struggling in some way”.

      Anyway, the whole door opening thing is a minuscule point in a much larger issue about a general attitude toward women as being inferior and less able.

    • Callie
      Oct 26, 2012

      Is opening doors for women the right thing to do because it’s polite to hold a door for anyone, or is it the right thing to do because they’re women? I agree with you in that the world needs a lot more politeness – as much of it as it can get. But noting gender when it comes to who you’re polite to is outdated and – in these times where people are desperately trying to get across the concept that yes, women can be equals to men, and still having trouble – unwelcome. Why should only women have doors opened for them? There’s no logical reason that men don’t benefit the exact same amount by a thoughtful gesture.

      Such chivalry – the concept of being more polite to women than to men – was originally based on the notions that 1) women are weaker than men and thus unilaterally need male assistance with things, and 2) chivalrous men look better to women. The latter reason carries some subtle undertones of the ‘gift’ of coffee in Ferrett’s essay: “I’ve done something nice for you, so that earns me points, right?” Some men see women as arcade prize counters, and if they keep winning those tickets eventually they can take home that CD player. And the problem is that even if YOU don’t consciously think or intend that, some men do, and there’s no way for a woman to tell you and them apart. And giving the benefit of the doubt to all men because some have truly noble intentions can open a woman up to harassment and even danger.

      That’s why chivalry needs to be done away with and a true gentleman (and, likewise, a true lady) should hold doors for anyone, whether they be male or female or anywhere in between. I know I do.

      Finally – and this is perhaps the swing point upon which everything hinges – nothing is the polite or right thing to do if it makes the other person uncomfortable. If you’re doing something they don’t want because YOU want to, and YOU think you have the right to inflict your desires upon them, you are a huge part of the problem and any amount of good intentions cease to matter. What kind of southern upbringing says that tradition trumps whether or not you’re upsetting women? If it’s a woman you know is fine with it, then by all means, go ahead, but if you don’t know or have reason to doubt, you probably shouldn’t be doing it(or at the very least asking permission first).

  26. Ryan N.
    Oct 18, 2012

    This is a society that expects men to ask women out, even strangers in bars and coffee shops. I didn’t set it up that way, and I don’t particularly like it, but many women perpetuate it and would never ask out or approach a guy. I personally avoid the whole subject and don’t bother because I know this is what is going on in a goodly percentage of people’s heads (as if we’re supposed to know what your relationship situation or receptiveness is before even meeting you), even though some people want to be approached and probably lament never being approached. I’ve considered complimenting strangers in the past when I find them striking, but it’s just not worth bothering… even though I’ve gotten complements out of the blue (“you have really pretty eyes,” or “damn, you handsome,” or whatever) and it was a nice thing to hear and I went about my day. I would never argue that you should allow that to put yourself in danger, and I wouldn’t either (yes, it is possible for women to attack men), but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t hear a person out.

    I guess what I’m getting around to saying is that if you’re rude to all strangers and refuse to talk to them like some folks argue, eventually someone is going to walk right past you who you’re going to wish hadn’t. I apologize for all the creepers out there, but there are a lot of great people out there that god knows don’t announce themselves quite as obviously as the obnoxious ones, and the only crime they’ve committed is not having met you yet. How many people have you heard about who met their husband or wife on a train? How is that supposed to happen if no one is ever supposed to approach anyone?

    • mythago
      Oct 18, 2012

      Ryan, please re-read the original post.

      Ferrett was not talking about the Christian who approaches him and says “Excuse me, but I’d like to buy you a cup of coffee and talk about Jesus. No? Okay, thanks for your time.” That person is HONESTLY saying why she’d like to buy him coffee and giving him a chance to refuse before he sits down – and also taking his refusal politely.

      I honestly don’t understand why people read analogies like these and go into High Drama Mode, assuming that the only possible alternative to harassment is “nobody ever talks to anybody”.

    • NervousABoutAngels
      Oct 18, 2012

      It’s not a situation of never ever wanting to be asked out or complimented by a guy. Sometimes that can make your day. However, and this is a big however, the body language is key- yours and hers. If she doesn’t look thrilled, LET IT GO. We have all experienced someone who just kept pushing. Trying to sell us when we aren’t interested won’t work and in addition we can’t tell if it’s backed by force as well as persistence. If you’re a fella, learn to graciously take no for an answer. If everyone did that, we wouldn’t have to be braced for conflict. Yes, it’s lame that society says it’s the guy’s job to do the asking-out, but as we become more equal in our views, society should shift and perhaps even gain more gender equality in that arena.

    • MandaSauce
      Oct 18, 2012

      I’ve had discussions about this concept with male friends on several occasions and the interpretation that ‘therefore I should never approach anyone, and that is wrong too’ comes up a lot. No one is advocating for men to never approach women. It’s a false dichotomy to think that the only options are ‘hit on women whenever you want with no concern for their feelings or reactions’ and ‘never approach anyone ever’. Context matters. Approaching a woman who is obviously busy or uninterested or otherwise engaged is annoying. Approaching them when they are alone at night or in an enclosed space is scary. Sincerity and expectations matter. Doing something nice with the expectation that you will be entitled to the other person’s attention or company for doing so isn’t actually very nice.

    • slaphappy
      Oct 18, 2012

      It’s really best not to bother strangers. Most people aren’t looking for random hook-ups with people off the street, and if they are, they go to an appropriate venue for that kind of thing.
      I flinch and visibly cringe when strangers try to talk to me. Other people get angry and irritated. Why is it so difficult to respect women’s personal space? I honestly don’t see men invading other men’s space in anything like the same way. It’s not about ‘friendliness’, it’s about ‘notes from my boner’.

    • Beth
      Oct 18, 2012

      I’ve never met anyone who met their mate on a train, or in a bar, or even in a coffee shop.

      The people I know meet their mates in places of shared activities, where they already have something in common. In school, participating in some hobby they both enjoy, looking in the same section in a bookstore, on a dating website… Environments and times where striking up a conversation is more natural (and in some, encouraged). It’s really not as hard to meet people as you think it is.

      • Mike
        Oct 18, 2012

        Then you need to meet more people. I have a friend that met his wife at a train station in Chicago and another that met his wife at a bar in Columbia MO. Both have been married over 15 years.

        I know others that met in similar circumstances.

        Just remember, just because you don’t know someone that did something does not mean it doesn’t happen.

        • mythago
          Oct 21, 2012

          So what? If I know a couple who met because of a fender-bender, does that mean if you see an attractive woman driving a car, you should pull up behind her at the next stoplight and ram into her? Because hey, I know somebody who met his wife that way …

          • Modern Man
            Jan 21, 2013

            Do you honestly think it’s a valid point to compare purposely getting into a car accident to saying hello to someone in a bar or on the street?

    • Jen
      Oct 18, 2012

      I asked my fiance out, and we met in a class in college. Meeting people through hobbies and mutual friends also seem to be fairly common ways to meet potential partners. I don’t know anyone who met their significant other in a random public location.

      It might just be that I’m demisexual, but there’s something I’ve never understood. How do you know you want to approach someone without actually knowing anything about them at all? Do most people really just get attracted to random people all the time? I’ve never been attracted to anyone except my fiance and I didn’t even feel it towards him until after we became close friends. I just honestly don’t understand how you would know you’re interested in someone just by looking at them.

      • September
        Oct 24, 2012

        I agree, Jen. If someone thinks they want to “get with me” based on what my meatsack looks like, they’ll probably be surprised and maybe even appalled to learn that there’s a lot more to me than my body and my looks, and that some of the things that make me who I am can’t be discerned by my cup size or skirt length. Which in turn means that someone who approaches me based on looks alone is almost certainly not anybody I’d be interested in.

        • Modern Man
          Jan 21, 2013

          When I first hear a song, the first thing I hear is the melody and the beat and the tone of voice of the singer. If I like the song, I will discover the lyrics. If I don’t like the song, I will probably never bother discovering the lyrics.

          Physical attraction and vibe is the catchy melody that makes you want to learn the lyrics. Don’t be offended by it.

          Women are immediately attracted to men as well, but to slightly different qualities. I think that it is stupid to deny that physical attraction plays an important part.

          • Quoll
            Aug 15, 2013

            Being attracted to someone due only to their looks is more like deciding that you like a song based on the album cover. Just seeing someone doesn’t tell you anything about their ‘melody, beat or tone’.

            And finally, a woman isn’t a song, she’s a person. A song doesn’t care if you decide to ‘discover its lyrics’.

        • Rick
          Jan 21, 2013

          I met my wife at a game night hosted by my sister. About the only things I found out about her that evening were that she was smart and had a lovely smile (and no wedding ring). It took me a week or two to get up the courage to ask my brother-in-law for contact information, but…well, she IS my wife now, and we just celebrated our sixth anniversary.

          Sometimes a quick impression is all we–of both genders–have to go on before we decide to get to know somebody better. Lord knows if my wife had decided to give full credence to the stories my sister had told her at college (and I had been a brat to my sister…what else are little brothers for?), she probably wouldn’t have gone on that first date with me.

  27. Anon
    Oct 18, 2012

    This actually seems quite pleasant. I don’t know what the complaint is.

    • inurashii
      Oct 24, 2012

      You’re probably trolling, but:

      It doesn’t matter whether it seems pleasant to you. All you need to know is that it’s unpleasant to other people, so you shouldn’t do it.

  28. Maggy
    Oct 18, 2012

    I’ve lived in NYC for 6 years and I just want to say that I would love it if someone would try to strike up a friendly conversation with me in a coffee shop (or anywhere, really).

    I get that catcalls, rude and unnecessary comments and other forms of unwanted attention are jarring and upsetting, as I have experienced them myself. But I have never been approached by a nice, normal person in public, and I think the experience would be refreshing and welcomed.

    So guys, if you see a cute girl in a coffee shop, I would encourage you to be friendly and get her that coffee. When you’re kind and respectful, I bet it will make her day whether she’s interested or not. (Just please, know when to cut your losses and walk away gracefully!)

    • Stephanie
      Oct 19, 2012

      The entire point of this article is that that little parenthetical you tacked on at the end gets either carelessly overlooked or willfully ignored by men who, to be fair to them, have just had to face the sting of rejection. Kind and respectful is fine, but the point must be made that no matter how kind and respectful you think you’re being, or how generous by buying someone a drink, nothing *entitles* you to someone’s time or a shot at getting their number. If men approaching women could internalize that and get over the entitlement that so many of them convey, I don’t think this post would be necessary.

  29. Caroline
    Oct 19, 2012

    Just discussing this with my friends. . . great post!

  30. AFS
    Oct 19, 2012

    Firstly, I agree buying something for someone or being fake “nice” to them is a terrible way to hit on someone. It never works, and it is very annoying. Those who don’t have any moral scruples with such a thing easily take advantage of it, as you described, by getting as much “free” coffee as possible.

    If that’s all you wrote about, I would stop right here and agree with you. But you made a wider point about how hitting on women is wrong.

    It makes them annoyed, angry, and uncomfortable. This flies in the face of human nature, biology, and evolution. If men don’t hit on women, where would relationships be formed? It is perfectly acceptable and expected that if you are in a public place, people may petition you with interest. This is not harassment. This is normal human activity.

    • Nicky
      Oct 19, 2012

      You’re being willfully obtuse. Read the other comments FROM WOMEN. There are clear social cues for when you should approach a woman. While she’s on her laptop or reading a book or listening to music and being inwardly-focused is NOT it.

      It is NOT normal to approach a snarling dog. Treat busy women like snarling dogs… Keep away from us. Approach the happy ones who aren’t busy. Not the people who’ve got shit they need to get done.

      Don’t approach random people you want to rub your boner on. Because, really, that’s your goal. You want to hit on a lady, sex her up, and live happily ever after. You want to be Barney Stinson. But you aren’t. You’re just some guy who wants to tell women what his penis thinks, and is under the assumption that we are obligated to humor your penis-thoughts.

      We aren’t.

      • Vital
        Oct 20, 2012

        I agree with the main point of the blog, and disagree with both some of the comments from both sexes that have posted here (the one you replied to I do NOT agree with).

        However, don’t go throwing around that stereotypical bullshit that every guy approaches a girl simply with the intent of getting laid.

      • bob
        Oct 23, 2012

        How is one to tell the difference between “reading shit on the internet to kill time” and “focused on this thing so go away” or being “inwardly-focused” vs “just staring at nothing waiting for this coffee to cool”? Just curious since it is a dubious distinction that looks identical.

        …and yeah, I generally treat women in public as snarling dogs, but that is probably because I spend too much time on the internet reading things like this.

        • TheFerrett
          Oct 24, 2012

          It’s a difficult distinction to make. A friend of mine told me that you can generally tell if they’re willing to make friendly eye contact. He would know.

          But as a default, most people in public aren’t there to be approached.

      • Modern Man
        Jan 21, 2013

        Okay, so why don’t you go approach men? Instead, the attitude is, “Yeah, it’s your responsibility as a man to initiate the relationship, but you need to make sure you pay attention to A, B, C, D, E, F, G so that you don’t bother me.”

        I’ve dated women who I met while they were riding the train listening to their headphones. I’ve seen women at bars yell at men who tried to talk to them. There are not really rules for this kind of thing. As long as you aren’t overbearing, aggressive, pushy, or needy, you should be fine.

        I’m not going to go around asking women permission for every little damn thing I want to do. You wouldn’t want me to. You would find it unattractive. If I am single and I see a woman I think it attractive and my intuition tells me “Go,” I go with my instinct, and it’s right 95% of the time. The only time I’ve ever had a woman I approached get upset at me in public was when I asked a lesbian couple if I could bum a cigarette and one of the lesbians started screaming at me saying that I was trying to pick up her girlfriend and that I was a walking penis, etc. when in reality all I wanted was a cigarette.

        • CaptainObvious
          Jul 5, 2013

          @Modern Man
          I’ve read your previous comments, and while you seem fine and all, it feels like you’re still not fully getting it. I’m very happy for you for meeting your gf randomly wherever, but that’s not how it works. It’s not that it’s impossible or terrible, but it’s not the norm and won’t be as long as men are harassing women often, and not considering their opinion on it.
          I’ve personally went out on a date with a guy that I’ve met on the street. Likewise, me and friends met strangers with whom we proceeded to spend time with and it was a lot of fun. BUT GENERALLY that’s not the interaction you get from strangers. The general interaction is when you’re walking home at night, looking “normal” (nothing that is particularly attention grabbing one way or the other; not that it matters anyway), and there are 2 men whistling, calling you as though you’re a pet JUST BECAUSE you’re a woman who’s alone. This happened to me the other night when I was walking the 15 blocks from my friend’s to my home. THIS is the norm and sadly isn’t a big deal even to me though it NEVER stops being extremely irritating, and yes, it does make me colder to men on the street. That, however, doesn’t mean I’d never meet one that approached me in a non-creepy/directly sexual way, which is, again, the most common way. I’ve literally never had a guy approach me saying “Oh, you look super smart. Can I talk to you?” It’s always “nice ass”, “damn, girl” or “I’d fuck you”, none of which are at all complimentary. You wouldn’t say this to someone you respect, and no one really wants to date or even fuck someone who doesn’t respect them.

      • Jeff
        Feb 11, 2014

        I forgot that all men want to “rub their boners” on everything. Way to go. You just generalized an entire gender. I thought that’s what feminists were fighting.

    • Potatobunny
      Oct 20, 2012

      Relationships can be formed after meeting potential partners in shared social situations , like at university, while doing hobbies, through mutual friends, through work, etc. Generally when you know you have something in common besides being in the same space for a short amount of time, you know? I mean, I guess I’d be okay with being hit on in public by a stranger if I were at a club or pub or party or something, but if I was walking around on the street and someone just approached me to tell me he thought I was cute, I would be startled. And if he kept at it, even after my body language showed clear discomfort, I’d start feeling concerned and want to escape.

      There’s lots of ways to start relationships besides approaching strangers in public, really. I don’t get why so many people aren’t understanding this.

      Hitting on women is not wrong. Hitting on women who don’t know you, who are engrossed in their own activities or persisting to hit on women after they show disinterest is…. not necessarily wrong per se, but definitely a clear sign that you don’t understand boundaries, which is counterproductive to getting women to like you.

  31. Woman
    Oct 20, 2012

    To answer the several questions on how you should compliment a woman. You shouldn’t compliment a woman on her physical looks because that is something she cannot control and has little relation to her personality. You should compliment her on her characteristics. Like if she has done something fancy with her hair, or is wearing a pretty dress, or reading an interesting book. Something that was her choice to do, because then you are complimenting her on who she is as a person, and not just how attractive you find her body.

  32. Gigi
    Oct 20, 2012

    First of all faulty analogy. When the girl buys you a coffee to proselytise to you afterwards, that is a case of deception. When a guy hits on the girl, the girl *knows* she is being hit on. Let us not pretend that the guy is somehow deceiving her.

    “You start to question people’s niceness, because they’re not doing it to be kind, they’re doing it because they want something from you.”

    You make something normal sound sinister. They want something from you? What is this something? Like to get to know you better? Like a possible relationship? Is this the ulterior motive that makes you clench your butt cheeks? Is this the ulterior motive that you compare with proselytising?

    “Harassment isn’t once. Harassment comes from a lifetime of dealing with people constantly doing things to you, whether you wanted them or not, at random intervals.”

    Also known as “being alive”. Trust me, we’d all love to live in a world where everyone respected our wishes and did not do anything to make us uncomfortable, but unless someone is actively threatening you, boo-boo. Don’t project your paranoia on normal people.

    Sidenote: Most normal girls i know would love to get hit on by nice approachable men *anywhere*. That is their #1 complaint.

    • TheFerrett
      Oct 22, 2012

      “When a guy hits on the girl, the girl *knows* she is being hit on. ”

      Not at first. They learn what’s really happening through repetition…. Just like I did by the end of analogy. So yes, the analogy stands on that level.

      And you make it sound like “being hit on” is a delightful thing that always makes the woman feel wonderful about herself. Which is clearly not the case. The fact that this essay’s been passed around so much indicates clearly that for some strong subset of women, getting hit on in this sense is tiresome and something they wish would stop.

      Your next move is doubtlessly to claim that they’re not normal women. Because all your normal girls are apparently not getting hit on enough.

  33. Kelly
    Oct 21, 2012

    Thank you for the nice article.
    I will not comment on the content itself as I have never been hit-on by guys, or I’ve probably had but never noticed. I’m going to share it with my friends.

  34. Amanda
    Oct 23, 2012

    I saw this on Jezebel and I loved it so much that now you have a new blog reader. You, sir, fucking get it.

  35. The Guy
    Oct 23, 2012

    I laughed out loud at “quote-unquote”. Are you aware that this is a written piece? We can see the quotes you used.

    • Writer
      Oct 26, 2012

      It’s a phrase, sir. Typing it out longhand is exactly the same as using the actual quotation marks, and if he chose to do it that way it’s a stylistic choice – especially since ‘quote-unquote’ lends more weight to the insinuation that the word in question is dubious at best. Given that Ferrett is a writer, it’s not exactly surprising he’d use the phrase rather than the punctuation if he felt it would lend more impact to his point.

      Are you aware that you could have used ‘LOL’ for laughing out loud? Shall we chortle at your naivete, or should we just assume maybe you felt like writing it that way?

      Also, did you even *read* the piece, or were you too busy laughing up your sleeve?

  36. Boing
    Oct 23, 2012

    And in the real world:

    Sometimes that coffee is an adjunct to a munilateral nuclear treaty

    Sometimes that coffee is an adjunct to a corporate espionage trade, where the real secret to COKE’s recipe is given out

    Sometimes that coffee is an adjunct to a officer of the law benignly (yes! so rare in these days of hyperbole and wankery with lawyers!) sitting down with a teenager to set them on the ‘right path’

    Sometimes that coffee is an adjunct to a person, who cares if it is male or female, feeling alone in an unfamiliar place, and offering another human being a shared experience to settle, nay, attempt to gain some kind of shared bond in an unfamiliar world which they don’t understand…

    tl’dr

    Christians… obsessing about Sex? YOU DON’T SAY

    • Callie
      Oct 26, 2012

      I’m going to have to ask you to set your religious biases down and back away from the thesaurus. You have the right to look up ‘analogy’ in the dictionary. Anything you say can and likely will make you look face-palmingly ignorant to a jury of your peers.

      Yes, sometimes an offer of coffee to someone is just a harmless gesture of friendliness…except when it isn’t. And since there’s no way to tell from the outset which it is, women are allowed – in fact, obligated, both for their own safety and by a rape-enabling culture that blames the woman for not taking the proper precautions, up to and including lining her panties with barbed wire – to err on the side of caution. And sometimes that means not wanting to be approached by strangers who have no rightful claims on our time, not for all the coffee in all the Starbucks in the world.

      If it offends you that a woman would rather be left to quietly go about her business than deal with your advances, you really don’t have any business making any until you realign your priorities. People who think only their desires matter don’t do well in relationships in any case.

      • Modern Man
        Jan 21, 2013

        If a guy asks you to have some coffee with him or wants to buy you a drink, you can assume that he is interested in you as more than a friend. This is pretty well known.

        Don’t accept gifts from strangers unless you are interested in their advances. Period. Accepting a drink from a stranger or a guy you already know who might be interested in you when you have no romantic interest or potential interest in them is just leading them on, plan and simple. Don’t pretend that you are so confused and hurt when it turns out that the guy is interested in you. You don’t owe the guy anything when the guy buys you a drink (some guys act like you owe them, which is not cool), but you should at least be somewhat interested to accept the drink in the first place, because accepting the drink is seen as encouragement and a sign of interest.

        • D.C.
          May 3, 2013

          I spent my entire undergrad declining drinks from men, partly because it’s a great way to get doped, and partly because I don’t like owing anyone anything, *especially* my time. Also, I have three older brothers, and, if I have a boyfriend or am simply not interested, I have no desire to waste some dude’s money on someone who has no interest in them. I feel bad for the clueless guys who buy drink after drink for women with no actual interest…and here’s where the high-fiving MRAs in the crowd are going to start disagreeing with me: That doesn’t stop the assholes. Seriously, this one dude I’d run into at least once a week (small town, about 3 pubs in walking distance of campus) would offer to buy me a drink every fucking time. Eventually, he started buying them before asking. I sent them back over to him. He sent me his number. I ripped it up in front of him. He sent me his number another time, I sent him my boyfriend’s number. Finally, after 2-3 years of this bullshit, I set up a date, and then gleefully stayed home. Yes, men like this exist, even in the tiniest, middle of nowhere places. Just imagine how many of them exist in an urban area. To quote Pink’s U + Ur Hand, “I’m not here for your entertainment…”

  37. Kiki
    Oct 23, 2012

    I have never recieved a random comment from a male stranger that I believed was genuine. I hate when you’re having a tough day and a random guy demands you ‘smile’ because you’ll look prettier. You can choose not to smile and have them pursue you until you comply or insult you for your lack of compliance (stuck up bitch) or you can choose to smile so they don’t become beligerant and risk their taking it as an invitation. I honestly think that many guys believe they are being charming and it must be quite a shock to find out we think they are being creepy.

    • Beth
      Oct 24, 2012

      Shit, I hate that too. Actually, I hate it when anyone at all tells me to smile. It’s my damn face. If I’m not happy, I’m not going to pretend to be for your sake. I don’t owe you my emotions.

      • jamie
        Jan 20, 2013

        same here! HUGE pet peeve. As if I shouldn’t have any serious or sad thoughts in my pretty little head.

  38. Jessa
    Oct 23, 2012

    It’s not that women don’t like getting hit on, gentlemen.
    It’s you hitting on her when she is clearly showing she isn’t interested. IF you continue, it IS harassment.
    No means no.
    If she says no, if her body language says no, if what she is DOING; like typing, reading, or listening to music says no, then LEAVE. HER. ALONE.
    Think about rape. If you are pushing yourself on a girl to sleep with you and she ISN’T INTERESTED but you continue to force yourself on top of her and going through with it anyways, that’s rape. A form of abuse and harassment.
    This is not to that extent but it’s point is similar: NO MEANS NO.
    PERIOD. POINT BLANK. END OF STORY.
    If she says no, patch up your ego and go about your day. Don’t call her a bitch, or say “you’re ugly anyways”, or flick her off.
    Clearly that reaction means you were trying to “win” something in the first place.
    Once again, NO MEANS NO. Don’t push it.

  39. C
    Oct 23, 2012

    Besides saying that this is one of my favorite analogies I’ve come across in a while, I wanted to respond to some of the comments complaining about men not being able to talk to women or social expectations that men make the first move. Yes, men are expected to make the first move and at the same time women speak about being hit on as generally unpleasant and sometimes threatening. This is not a double bind, and it’s misleading to act as though it is. Making the first move does not entail hitting on a stranger. In deed, if hitting on a stranger almost always leads nowhere, then doing so would not really be a first move in so far that we usually only assign something as the first when it is followed by other things, in this case, moves. Given that the author’s requests are pretty modest–don’t be shocked or outraged when a woman is anything < thrilled at your offer of coffee, beer, and other things costing < $5, and perhaps (re) consider your intention in making such an offer–it doesn't seem fair to act as though she is imposing a burden. In short, reflecting on our behavior as men doesn't seem to be too tall an order. When we think about how we're expected to behave, rather than throwing up our arms and saying that's the way it is, we can try to understand how the expectation that we make the first move is sustained by women feeling unsafe in public.

  40. Kit Whelan
    Oct 23, 2012

    This is just brilliant! I love how you’ve explained this problem so succinctly in a non-confrontational way. I want to print it out and hand it out to people on the subway in every major city! Thank you, sir, for being so eloquent on a subject that is often so difficult to put into words.

  41. Bob
    Oct 24, 2012

    This article completely ignores superficiality and proof of social value.

    If you took a plump, balding man in a suit and tie (age 40) and had him approach 10 women in a starbucks –> how many would grant his request to sit down?

    Now do the same with a 30 year old man, suit and tie, chiseled and handsome, using the exact same language.

    We all know the answer to this. I know this because I am chiseled and handsome and I have met/dated and bedded countless women that I have met in public. Women in high public standing, “feminists”, teachers, lawyers, writers (see:intellectuals who don’t spend their nights in “meat markets”)

    As soon as someone comes along that makes a woman feel “lucky” to be approached, boldness be damned, her shield of disgust immediately evaporates.

    Have a nice day :)

    • inurashii
      Oct 24, 2012

      Your creepy PUA anecdata doesn’t really contribute to this conversation.

      • Modern Man
        Jan 21, 2013

        Yes, he is using some PUA terms, but he is right for the most part despite his kind of arrogant bragging. If women see you as someone of value, they will be interested. If they don’t, they will not be interested. This is pretty basic psychology.

        A lot of people here are saying that you should meet people via mutual friends or clubs or college or whatever. That only gives you the illusion of social proofing, essentially. The guy has already been vetted by a friend or by similar interests, or whatever, so the girl feels safer around him.

        Every example of women in the comments here saying, “Getting complimented like this is not okay, getting complimented like this IS okay, etc” only essentially proves the point about value. Complimenting a girl without wanting something in return demonstrates you have high value. Complimenting a girl and expecting something in return demonstrates low value. Being overbearing with a girl demonstrates low value. Being able to walk away at any moment demonstrates high value. It’s just basic psychology.

        If I’m in line waiting for coffee and some girl is in front of me, and I make some sort of observational joke about something happening in the coffee shop or something, and then she laughs and responds, and then I don’t continue the conversation, she is more likely to be interested in me and try to keep talking to me than if I start pushing and trying to get her to talk to me. I’m not pushing her for information–I’m making her want to open herself up to me. That changes everything.

        This is really basic psychology of human interactions.

    • Dubious
      Oct 26, 2012

      I’ve known conventionally handsome men I would happily throw under a bus, and conventionally unattractive men I would happily date. But Danny DeVito or Danny Ocean – both wouldn’t even make it as far as coffee if I thought 1) they expected me to judge them on their looks alone, 2) they were judging me by MY looks alone, and 3) they believe that being attractive enough means that they will never be refused, and is in fact the only requirement.

      On a side note, men who aren’t used to being refused are likely to take actual refusals the worst. And since you don’t even strike me as much of a charmer talking (by which I mean transparently bragging) about your victories, I can’t imagine how lovely you must have been in your defeats.

      • Bob
        Oct 26, 2012

        Look, all i’m saying – In my experience, women throw this holier than thou attitude completely out the window when they are approached by a man of higher “value” than them. (be it looks, status etc etc)

        • Miche
          Oct 29, 2012

          And if some woman does happen to be immune to your “charms” and says no, do you take her no for an answer and move on gracefully, or do you pester her until she says yes just to get you to shut up?

    • Emma
      Jan 20, 2013

      This is inane. Men who hit on women in random locations are judging the women solely on their looks. Do you think unattractive women get hit on with the same frequency as attractive women? Absolutely not.

      The disgust and frustration is with the hyper-persistence, objectifying focus on physical bodies, lack of empathy, and chronic lack of ability to read social cues NOT with dating or sex in general.

      It’s not superficial for women to have standards of who they do and do not want to flirt with. It’s not reasonable to assume that if a women isn’t interested in anyone who hits on her she is superficial.

    • IHateWinter
      Feb 10, 2014

      Absolutely false. I’ve been approached by handsome/well-to-do men and neither has made me feel ‘lucky’ enough to give in to his advances.
      I married a guy with no giant bank account and has been an underdog his entire life. So, come down off of that large pedestal you’ve climbed on and back to reality.

      Have a nice day! :)

  42. Masquirina
    Oct 24, 2012

    Good point, but now I feel bad about stalking males in high school.

  43. Rebecca
    Oct 24, 2012

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. I have so much anxiety about getting hit on, it makes me feel awful, like I’m a bitch for refusing them. I feel bad for the guy, and at the same time, I’m so angry at him for wasting my time. It’s the worst. Thank youuuu

    • Modern Man
      Jan 21, 2013

      What if he was cute and made you feel good?

      • me
        Mar 24, 2013

        But if he was cute and he made her feel good, then it wouldn’t be unwanted attention.

        You seem determined to conflate the concept of harassment with ever talking to anyone ever, yet again. That makes you a troll or a whiny little schmuck. Or both.

        And it is important to distinguish between what is true and what you WANT to be true. Does she actually think he’s cute and does she actually feel good, or do you just want to believe that so badly that you completely ignore what she actually says and does and insert your reality over hers?

  44. jose
    Oct 24, 2012

    Why would people just walk into a total stranger and start talking about random stuff. Is that how it works in your part of the world?

    Over here, what you do is to go out with friends, and those friends bring friends with them, and so on. So you’re in a group of people and you don’t really know many of them, but you have a connection through your friends. And you speak within the group first, then if things go right you continue talking. It’s always been that way. Cultural differences maybe?

  45. Sarah
    Oct 24, 2012

    Awesome metaphor, I really enjoyed it. Saw some idiotic comments on tumblr and have ranted a whole essay out of them (oops). I’ve linked to this on my blog as well- thanks for making it so relateable!

  46. Sarah
    Oct 24, 2012

    I know! Stop being one of those annoying people who monopolize the tables at Starbuck’s with their computers and work from home!

  47. Ms Anonymous
    Oct 24, 2012

    This is an excellent article. I like the analogy, and you capture the feelings well.

  48. carlo
    Oct 24, 2012

    Wear a fucking ring.

    • Numenaster
      Oct 25, 2012

      *snort* Yeah, that’ll work. Because it’s a SIGNAL that a woman isn’t interested. Like her avoiding eye contact is. Or burying her head in a book is. And we all know how every guy can see those signals, and none of them ever reads those signals as “try harder.”

    • Facepalm
      Oct 26, 2012

      Because a woman should have to buy what is essentially Intrusion Repellent instead of, say, men going to all the time and effort of figuring out how not to intrude? At least what you’re being asked to do doesn’t cost you anything, except maybe losing your Assholes Anonymous club membership.

      And, as another commenter pointed out, a ring isn’t even guaranteed to work – certainly not on the real problem men.

      You’re shifting the responsibility from the people causing the problem to the people suffering from it. This, sirrah, makes you a Class A Flaccid Dick Pinwheel, and you’ve probably earned a special AA parking spot right by the front doors. Please continue by telling us that this is reality, there’s no changing anything so women just have to take endless precautions because no one will ever revoke a man’s right to impose upon them however he likes, way of the world, etc. I bet they’ve still got an opening at the country club.

      • Modern Man
        Jan 21, 2013

        Men are still expected to be the instigators of the relationship. Until women start picking up men more often, men are going to keep trying to pick up women.

        That’s the structure of male/female interactions, for the most part.

        Men and women are both victims of the social structure.

    • Guest
      Nov 22, 2012

      The problem with the “wear a ring” response is that it still plays into the idea of the ownership of women. Now, I’m not saying that marriage = ownership. Of course not. But if the only thing that will deter a man is saying, “No, I’m currently in a relationship,” then he’s backing off out of respect for her partner and not her. Because we live in a hetero-normative society that man’s impulse is probably to think the woman is married to another man – he respects that other man’s domain rather than the wishes of the woman. And that’s messed up, too.

      • Modern Man
        Jan 21, 2013

        It’s not “respecting another man’s domain rather than the wishes of the woman.” It’s “This woman is already in a relationship. Time to find one who is not.”

  49. Snaf
    Oct 25, 2012

    I have a few problems with this. The biggest one is that you set an example of a person who is busy doing something and then gets interrupted. That’s called being rude. It does not matter if the guy is hitting on her or asking for directions. This is just a case of “do not be a jerk”.

    Is it harassment if my girlfriend keeps interrupting me while I am playing video games? I’m busy, it happens at irregular intervals, and she doesn’t have a bad intent. But it happens, it breaks my concentration, and I’m worried that she’s going to ask me something at a critical moment (boss fight).

    If I apply your reasoning to this situation, then it is pretty clear that I am being a selfish jerk. Your entry here is somewhere between trying to show women that you’re an “enlightened guy” and a lame excuse for not having a girlfriend.

    • TheFerrett
      Oct 25, 2012

      Well, your girlfriend is not a stranger, and you’ve made it clear to her that you do not want this. And if your girlfriend keeps interrupting you, then she is a jerk, and eventually that whole “she doesn’t have a bad intent” approaches the line between “so forgetfully inconsiderate you shouldn’t keep dating her.” (Or, at least, you’re justified into making it a large-scale fight.)

      I don’t think it’s pretty clear that you’re being a selfish jerk. You’re doing something you like, and you’ve presumably asked her not to. She’s the jerk by butting in.

      (And incidentally, I have a wife and a girlfriend, so it’s not any kind of excuse.)

    • Helena
      Jan 21, 2013

      Jesus, this went completely over your head, huh?

      It’s not (simply) about rudely interrupting people. Let’s use your examples: (1) hitting on someone, and (2) asking for directions. What if someone interrupted you, /pretending/ to ask for directions, but really just wanted to have sex with you? That’s what this article is about. People pretend they want to be nice and “buy you a coffee,” but what they really want to do is “talk to you about religion” without knowing your current religion (if you even have one), without taking into account that you’re busy, etc.

      The person buying coffee is lying about her intentions. Someone buys you coffee, and you think, ‘Wow! This person must think I’m nice and want to be my friend!’ Nope. This girl wants to convert you, potentially obliterating your own religious heritage. She doesn’t give a damn about you, your name, your anything—nothing but your eternal soul that she can “save.” You’re just a number, not an individual.

      It’s hard to explain these things to men, because they often have the attitude that a girl hitting on them would be a welcomed and rare occasion. You have to ignore that and think about TheFerrett’s analogy—which works for most people of either sex—while just trusting women that this kind of woman-specific treatment is annoying. We don’t like people who aren’t genuine and think they deserve our time simply because they /think/ they’re being nice.

      And on that note, yeah, you’re girlfriend /is/ being rude. So when she does that, are you in the wrong by telling her to stop? No, you’d be being rational. That’s right, because you’re not a woman being hit on and not enjoying it. Yeah, that would be called “being bitchy.”

  50. Marie
    Oct 26, 2012

    That was actually pretty good. All you need for Act II is for the coffee woman to follow you home, cajole her way into your home, and dump coffee, Bibles and crosses all over you. Yeah, that would be perfect analogy of date rape. And since you knew her and let her in, it would be your fault. After all, you spent all that at Starbucks with her. You didn’t have to keep going back there. A man can write at home where his own woman can keep him safe. Or libraries. People aren’t allowed to have coffee there. You’d be safe if you’d act right, stay in safe places and stay out of those horrible coffee shops. You have no business going in there, so its all your fault, you skank. How dare you waste the polices’ time?

  51. Raydere
    Oct 27, 2012

    Reading all the comments here makes me feel ashamed to be male. Seriously, I’ve forgotten the last time I’ve heard about a man being sexually harassed by a woman, not the other way around.

    But at the same time, it also makes me feel better about myself because I strive to better myself when it comes to behavior around my preferred gender.

    • Rick
      Jan 21, 2013

      Oh…it happens. I had a co-worker who was blatant enough in her flirting that even I managed to recognize it. I was generally uncomfortable around her, especially since she (physically, at least) reminded me of the cousin who used to babysit for me. But even though I don’t remember sending her any “interested” signals–and in fact, specifically told her that she reminded me of my cousin–she kept right on flirting with every man in the place including me.

      Another time, I was at a science fiction convention and a woman came up and asked me if I wanted a coffee. I tried to duck out of it gracefully by saying I didn’t like coffee. She pointed out that the hotel coffee shop had other offerings. I tried again to duck out of it gracefully, this time by saying I wasn’t sure when my ride was supposed to leave. I don’t remember what she did to persist at that point, but I finally said I just wasn’t interested in spending time with her.

  52. Katie
    Oct 27, 2012

    Thank you for this post! It’s awesome to see any man thinking hard about gender issues and trying to respond conscientiously!

  53. Zahra
    Oct 27, 2012

    though this does get some of the problem and spell it out nicely, it doesn’t get to the creepy bits like when guys shout highly inappropriate things from their car windows or from across the street while you are with your friends, your family or your boyfriend.

  54. J
    Dec 30, 2012

    I have, myself, been observing this phenomenon from an outside perspective being the guy behind the counter in the coffee shop rather than the one buying a cute girl a coffee. And what I am going to say here’s purely based on the observations and own experiences that I have.
    I was not working in a coffee shop in the US though, so my frame of reference could be a bit different and non-applicable to several or at least some situations here seeing as I am aware of the fact there are significant cultural differences between the US and Northern Europe.

    So by my observations on the subject those that were able to “woo” the subject of their affection/ lust or interest were in fact the ones that did not go in for the kill with the subtlety of an enraged rhino in a combined fine china and fireworks store, but rather the ones that went by with a more methodical approach to the “game”.

    I have seen countless times how guys have not done more than just walk up to a girl that they are obviously interested to just try and find that one common grounds they stand on to have something to talk to them about. And after a less than five minute long conversation they excuse themselves, and leave the girl intrigued by what just happened.
    And after doing so, they would pretend not to be so desperate to talk to the other person every time they bumped into each other, but rather make sure to have a more meaningful conversation, often seemingly pick up right where they left off the last time.
    And shortly after that the girl would start coming up to the guy instead of the other way around. And that’s when he shows a clear interest in spending time with her, inviting her to sit down at a table with him, drinking and conversing.

    And this proved a much more effective tactics than loading yourself up with the social equivalent of a grape shot cannon bombardment trying to see if anything hits an intended target or not.

    There are also, I noticed, a benefit to be the one behind the counter, since you have a natural reason to talk to people and doing some little things, like remembering their drinks of preference and some minor details about earlier conversations.

    Now, THIS is not only based on Europe as first stated, but it also really applies to those people that hang out in the kind of scene where you are likely to bump into the same person more than once.

    The conclusion to this would be that sometimes showing interest over an extended period of time is a better alternative, but you have to try and make it seem less like you are hitting on the person in question and more like you are in fact just truly enjoying having a conversation with a peer about a shared interest or a subject which you both can relate to.
    Also don’t overstay your welcome.
    It’s like they say on seinfeld:
    “I had ‘em Jerry. They loved me.”
    “And then?”
    “I lost ‘em. I can usually come up with one good comment during a meeting, but by the end it’s buried under a pile of gaffes and bad puns.”
    “Showmanship, George. When you hit that high note, say goodnight and walk off.”
    If you at any point in the conversation you notice that she seems to think that you are bothering her, and she wants you to leave but for some reason or other don’t want to be rude and tell you outright. Just excuse yourself and leave.
    And come back to talk to her another day.

    That was my two cents I guess.

    • TheFerrett
      Dec 30, 2012

      It’s a good two cents, I think.

    • Karen
      Jan 15, 2013

      “but you have to try and make it seem less like you are hitting on the person in question and more like you are in fact just truly enjoying having a conversation with a peer about a shared interest or a subject which you both can relate to.”

      Oh, my word.

      So you’re advocating playing the long game of pretending to enjoy her company in order to get the brass ring of getting laid, rather than “in fact just truly enjoying having a conversation with a peer about a shared interest or a subject which you both can relate to”, which would be the basis of a healthy romantic relationship?

      I really hope you’re not advocating that kind of manipulation over honesty and experiencing interactions with women as peers rather than potential notches on the bedstead.

    • YouSoSpecial
      Jan 21, 2013

      “… you have to try and make it seem less like you are hitting on the person in question and more like you are in fact just truly enjoying having a conversation with a peer about a shared interest or a subject which you both can relate to. Also don’t overstay your welcome.”

      Or you could actually, sincerely show some interest in a person as a human being, not just as the object of your desire.

  55. calliebann
    Jan 11, 2013

    i got hit on like this, by women, in romania. apparently it’s normal there. the first time it happened, even though a bit of a thrill, was still somewhat off putting and disconcerting.

  56. Anna
    Jan 15, 2013

    Holy smokes, so many comments I can’t wade through them all, honestly.

    I just wanted to add that your analogy is a wonderful one that gives a great example, and point out an episode of a TV show that took it much more literally (and gave it a comedic spin, of course). “How I Met Your Mother” had an episode in Season 2 called “Single Stamina” in which the guys are having this argument with the girls. They end up going to a gay club for other reasons, and the guys are constantly being hit on by the gay men in the club in a fashion similar to what most women get. At first, they’re pleased as punch by this. However, after a while, it grates on them in a way that helps them understand the women’s perspectives.

  57. Bullying?
    Jan 21, 2013

    When someone wants something from you, it goes like this: influence –> persuasion –>manipulation –> coercion. Where in this continuum does bullying start, and where does respect and dignity end?

  58. Kate
    Jan 21, 2013

    Thank you for writing and posting this. Really appreciate it and I hope others read this and think twice about how their behavior is being perceived.

  59. Logan
    Feb 7, 2013

    While this analogy is not nearly as good as some of the posters on here make it out to be, the general point is correct, particularly as it concerns men who seem to believe that being hit on is always a good thing. I was in an a cappella group in college and was (constantly) hit on by girls of varying levels of appeal. I can say for sure that this was not always appreciated or wanted, even if the girl was physically attractive. Sometimes I did just want to spend time with my friends, or hang out, or study, or whatever.

    That said, this type of thing is often communicated poorly. Ladies, while I find mansplaining to be pretty irritating, I can guarantee you that your point is completely lost on 99% of men, who see what you’re doing as womansplaining (yes, I realize that I myself am currently mansplaining to some degree). It should also be observed that many women are hypocritical in this regard.

    One, women often choose to (or subconsciously) reinforce gender stereotypes by rarely hitting on men, making it seem as though men are supposed to hit on women and never the opposite. Two, the idea that men should approach you on your terms (and only your terms), like when you’re in a club, is almost as blatantly one-sided as the idea that women should always “reward” a man who hits on them. What if a man isn’t interested in meeting women in bars or clubs? I know I sure as hell have no desire to do that.

    The key point here that should be focused on, I think, is the idea that a true act of kindness is one that has no expectation of reciprocity. That said, it may also be useful to think of this in non-heterosexual and, for that matter, non-sexual terms. If I want to get to know someone in whom I have no sexual interest (be that due to appearance or because they’re not the sex/gender I’m attracted to), I still might do something like buy them a coffee, or something similar.

    If you think about it, most or all of us have done something along these lines. There is ALWAYS something we want from these interactions. Whether it’s to get in with the cool kids, impress a frat brother so you can get a bid, make a connection for work or social purposes, or just feel better about yourself, there’s no such thing as a truly selfless act, or one that is done without thought to self or benefit.

    In conclusion, while this article does an excellent job of switching gazes and pointing to some things that most men don’t think about, it does little to convince anyone other than men like myself, who already spend a great deal of time thinking about these sorts of issues. Think in a more complex and less black-and-white manner. Realize that all interactions have stakes attached, for both people involved. And for god’s sake, think about how to stop talking about me and you, or us and them, and talk about WE.

    • C
      Aug 14, 2013

      this is several months later but I just wanted to reply to something I’ve seen in several comments, including the one directly above:

      One, women often choose to (or subconsciously) reinforce gender stereotypes by rarely hitting on men, making it seem as though men are supposed to hit on women and never the opposite.

      NO. NO, no no no, a thousand and one times no. Women rarely hit on men because most of us know that being hit on incessantly is rude, arrogant, grating, disrespectful and dehumanizing, in all but a very few distinct circumstances and ways of doing so. If I don’t come hit you with my car, it doesn’t mean I’m secretly just waiting for and expecting you to come run me over with yours! It means I’m treating you the WAY I WANT TO BE TREATED.

      Why does there have to be anyone treating the other as though their only value is as a potential sex partner? You seem to say that there MUST be one party hitting on the other. Why? Why not just strike up a conversation and find a mutual interest? Hitting on a girl BECAUSE she didn’t hit on you first? Makes you a creeper.

  60. Sajida
    Feb 10, 2013

    Brilliant :)

  61. Anonymous
    Feb 20, 2013

    To begin, I’m not an upset “nice guy” with a victim complex. However, I (and a non-empty subset of other men) have been given the impression (and not neccessarily unrightly so) that I should not have alterior motives. My only objection is to reject that courtship reduces to internet interactions on OkC. Basically, my only options are to either be a scumbag, wait for a girl to be said scumbag or quantum tunnel into a relationship state. (underlying this assertion is the fact that it’s just as pathetic to befriend a girl to laid as it is to buy her coffee).

    I understand that this question may seem rhetorical, but I’m legitimately interested, as my love life so far has consisted of waiting for girls to make an obvious pass at me.

  62. lne
    Mar 17, 2013

    Thank you. Sincerely. I can’t do much of anything without a man thinking (hoping) ill sleep with him, and the women who surround any particular man – wife, secretary and in some cases, daughter – already 100% sure I’m out to sleep my way to the top or split up somebody’s home, tryin. I’ve tried everything, but even weight gain didn’t help!

  63. Michael
    May 13, 2013

    I was directed here from a similar post entitled . I have a question and I’m sorry if this is already answered a bunch of times above. Staying within your analogy, what if I just bought you a coffee? No Jesus.

    The other article makes the argument that simply complimenting someone on their shoes is in fact, harassment. Not because I, the complimenter, am a bad person, or have any ulterior motive, but because of what other males have done, either to the complimentee, or just to the female gender in general. The argument was well made. Good enough in fact that I will probably think twice next time I want to compliment someone on their shoes, shirt, tattoo etc. This makes me sad.

    P.S. After more than 10 years in the US, I’m amazed I can still come across differences between US and UK English that I wasn’t aware of. I’m so glad I Googled before calling you out for your use of “all right”. Apparently, here in the US, I’m all wrong and the Kids are not in fact Alright :)

  64. Emmy
    Jul 17, 2013

    Lesbian here, just popping in to say that all these men who are arguing in the comment section about how being complimented by a random guy is a gift and should feel like an honor? Yeah no. No thank you. If my body language says “no thanks,” that’s probably how I’m feeling. Quit assuming all women care about your two cents on how she looks. Some may not even be interested in your gender, let alone in a relationship. I’ll be polite the first few times about not being interested, but I can’t even begin to describe the awkwardness I’ve experienced when I finally have to use my “I’m a lesbian” card.

    • IHateWinter
      Feb 10, 2014

      Well said!!

  65. emma
    Aug 14, 2013

    I love this article! I am a girl and actually stopped going to a nearby Starbucks because creepy men over the age of 50 yrs. kept hitting on me (and I am in college.) I’m sorry, but men should NOT be hitting on girls 20-30 years younger than them. That is disgusting.

    To those of you still arguing that people have no right to complain about harassment because they should appreciate affirmations about their looks – you guys are idiots. There are other ways to get attention/dates besides being harassed.

    Harassment is called harassment because it is actually humiliating. It makes the victim feel uncomfortable and vulnerable in a lot of public places. Like the author of this article, I could no longer concentrate on my work at Starbucks because, after a few bad experiences, I became tense.

    I have also been harassed/stalked at the grocery store and even while in my car in traffic. Now I don’t even feel comfortable in the privacy of my own car when alone, because apparently it is now acceptable for people on the street to jeer “Hey, pretty lady!” into your CAR WINDOW and then yell at you when you motion for them to go away. This seriously happened. 2 men came up to my car window one day at a stop light. I shook my head, thinking they were trying to sell me something. They then started yelling things like, “Why you gotta be so rude?” and started making rude gestures with their hands. They laughed loudly when they saw the shocked look on my face. It didn’t stop until the light turned green. I mean, what the actual f***! This should not happen to anybody!

  66. The Nameless One
    Dec 30, 2013

    Now that’s a great way to put it! :)

  67. IHateWinter
    Feb 10, 2014

    I have a lot of respect for the author. He puts this into a perspective that is easy to understand.
    Having random men – and even my husband – frequently complimenting me is tiresome. It puts a woman on a pedestal she may not want to be on. It also puts a lot of pressure on someone to be “beautiful”, “perfect”, “gorgeous”, “breathtaking”, etc. No one is perfect and no one is always breathtaking, so saying such things makes a woman feel less desirable on her off days.
    It’s unwanted and unneeded pressure; and completely bothersome to have to fumble out a “thank you” over and over again.
    It does become a form of harassment when it’s done by the same men (outside of a relationship) over and over again.

  68. yuka
    Feb 10, 2014

    If women wants men to treat them the way they wanted to be treated, with distance, avoidance and clear personal boundaries, why don’t women also treat men the way men wanted to be treated, with closeness, attention, and invasion through their personal boundaries?

    The two genders want completely different things. (and let me remind you that these may not apply to all individuals of either gender) If a woman avoids men and keeps distance “out of respect”, she’s just as ignorant as a man who keeps approaching women because he doesn’t know they need the distance.

    I personally have a neutral point of view. If two people want different things and they cannot be reconciled, they are just incompatible, that’s it. I think it’s however very wrong to assume your point of view is the only correct one, and all other people must want to be treated the same way.

    • emma
      Apr 8, 2014

      Are you seriously obligating women to approach and snuggle up to all men all the time? Part of a woman’s personal ‘boundary’ is her personal decision to interact or not interact with other people. I will even give you your claim that all men want “closeness, attention, and invasion through their personal boundaries” (which I highly doubt.) I am not going to waste every minute of my days snuggling up to random men (which would inherently invade MY personal boundary.) This comment is beyond stupid.

  69. Angela
    Feb 10, 2014

    Actually, while being hit on can be annoying, especially while I’m just trying to do my job (I’m a mail carrier,) I find it WAY more offensive and INTRUSIVE for someone, male or female, to assume I need saving and shove their religious beliefs down my throat!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  15. On Men Who Think Street Harassment Would Be Awesome » Brute Reason - [...] that, as this blogger explains beautifully, makes all the [...]
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