- This topic has 36 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 5 years, 9 months ago by Kate.
“You need to learn to not be offended by someone being kind and god forbid wanting to get to know you.”
Nobody needs to let someone get to know them just because the other person wants to get to know them. We don’t owe that to anyone. I get to pick whether I am interested in the other person and it isn’t going to be some stranger on the street.
I treat random people I meet with common courtesy. I say please and thank you and excuse me and hold the door for people and motion for people to go ahead of me in a line. That’s my choice. I feel no obligation to talk to some stranger. I don’t owe that to anyone. I will get to know someone by having something in common with them where we both show up at the same thing at the same time and if it happens multiple times and we make small talk we may get to know each other.AngeMarch 2, 2018 at 7:40 pm #741464
That sort of thing doesn’t happen all that often over here (not as often as it sounds like it does there) but I do agree ignoring them is the best solution. Sometimes if you read the situation enough you can turn it to your advantage. I remember my mum telling me once some gross old dude was standing outside the pub exposing himself to all the women and my mum and her friends just made fun of him for how tiny it was until he got embarrassed and left. Then they called the police and had him arrested up the road, not a great night for that guy. Sometimes it’s a power thing and if you can take your power back it would make them leave you alone. If the situation doesn’t feel dangerous a witty reply can get you there.golfer.galMarch 3, 2018 at 4:31 am #741479
When I lived downtown in college I got harassed often, not on campus but every time I’d run/walk/shop in the city. I enjoyed giving the middle finger while not looking at the person and keeping a stone look on my face as I walked by. It’s a nice combination of “fuck you” and “you aren’t worth my time”, no words needed. However, as others have said you have to keep yourself safe. There were many times I simply ignored it, especially if the guy was in close proximity. I also always kept powerful pepper spray at the ready in my pocket.
And yeah, street harassment is abhorrent. Even if what the person says is “nice”, the underlying message is that literally anyone who wants to talk to you is entitled to your time and attention. Your body is not public property, period. It is not open to public commentary, ever. A decent guy is not going to pick you up by screaming “you’re beautiful” in the street or whispering it standing behind you at the train stop. Those guys are creeps who want to feel powerful over you.KateMarch 3, 2018 at 6:10 am #741481
That’s a really good point. A regular guy who wants to get to know you is not going to say “you’re beautiful” to you on the street, either as a catcall or softly at a traffic light. Normal, desirable men don’t do that. Sure, they may strike up a conversation with you in a coffee shop or grocery store, but they’re not catcalling you. Good guys just don’t do that. You can safely ignore anything a guy calls out to you on the street or says randomly at a traffic light, even if it “sounds like” a compliment. It’s not. It’s about them, not you.Fed UpMarch 3, 2018 at 12:30 pm #741511
Thank you for your advice, everyone (well, almost everyone). As difficult as it is to just ignore this, it does seem like the consensus is that it’s the smartest, safest choice. I’m struggling to accept that because not responding feels so passive, and after years of being passive about this (hell, almost complicit, really, with the thanking them!) I feel such a strong urge to act.
I used to wear headphones everywhere, but I took them out when my therapist challenged me to turn off my music and look for one opportunity each day to make small talk with a stranger, as part of addressing my social anxiety. I’ve done well at that, so maybe it’s time to put those headphones back in, at least I get a handle on my emotions and don’t have such a visceral response to being harassed.
I don’t think by not responding you’re being passive. Not responding is a strong statement in and of itself.
What would responding accomplish besides making you feel good for about 5 minutes because you had scathing retort? Your response certainly won’t keep these a holes from doing it again or make them feel bad. So think of it this way, by responding you’re giving them power over you. You don’t want that.
Finally, if they’re doing this while working, contact the company. I’ve done that before.KateMarch 3, 2018 at 1:41 pm #741521
Yeah I think there are other great opportunities for action, but this just isn’t one of them. I guess you could give them a blank icy look and make eye contact, but then you’ve acknowledged them. I am bitchy but I still feel no acknowledgement is best.TheLadyEMarch 3, 2018 at 5:03 pm #741541
The hardest thing for me to really get about how to respond to this behavior is what everyone is saying: I literally owe them nothing. For example, the last time I did an open mic at a comedy club (two weeks ago) I was sitting in a booth by myself in the back going over my set in my head. A man came in and sat opposite me and just started talking to me. I was reading my note cards, totally by myself, obviously not wanting to talk. He either wanted to hit on me, wanted money from me, or both, because he started giving me his life story.
I started to feel panic rising in me because I needed to work on my set and he wouldn’t stop talking. I felt trapped because no one else was around. Finally I looked at him and said, “I can’t talk to you right now. Please leave me alone.” He got pissed and huffy and said something about how no one will listen to him and then got up and left. I felt guilty for awhile but at least he didn’t escalate the situation and later I realized I have nothing to feel guilty about. I owe him nothing. I was minding my own business.
In a situation like yours, I would just ignore. Just like with bullies, if you give them attention it only makes it worse. I even ignore men on dating sites who I’m not interested in, despite how persistent they are, because history tells me if I reject them politely I will be barraged with insults. IGNORE.KateMarch 3, 2018 at 5:29 pm #741545
Omg, whenever I go to this one particular Wendy’s I get people telling me about their coma they just came out of, asking to use my phone, asking for money for something to eat, the bathroom code, etc. I do give them $5 or let them call their brother, but I don’t want to talk for half an hour about whether you should take the T or walk to the Midtown Hotel. Gotta take this call.
Wendy’s is so good though.TheLadyEMarch 4, 2018 at 2:52 pm #741632
@Kate Lol! “Their coma they just came out of”…so true. I feel like I have one of those “nice” faces that people just want to talk to. My mom does too, and she totally cut this random woman off at the gym once because she just couldn’t take it anymore after decades. Heh.