I was strutting through my neighborhood’s open air market today, listening to my Bubblegum Popsicle playlist and feeling like a sexy bitch. The weather has been gorgeous lately, with bright sunshine and a gentle breeze, (and I’ve been binging care package Nutty Bars) so I chose to walk the mile or so (3km) home rather than grab the bus.
Then a guy approached me and asked me out.
I’ve decided to be flattered rather than creeped out, but honestly, he was right on the line. So I’m breaking down his approach and clarifying how this particular woman (and obviously all other women, too, because we have a hive mind) feels about the different aspects.
Bothering a Woman When She’s Walking/Listening to Headphones – Iffy
I know we live in a world where everybody wears headphones and tries to avoid social contact with strangers, especially in big cities. I don’t think this should prevent us from hitting on people. If you’re going to do it, though, keep a few things in mind:
Approaching in an Open, Public Space with People Around – Good!
If this exact same guy had approached me in the exact same way in a subway car, he’d have tipped WAY over into Creepy. Women live their lives constantly aware of verbal and physical harassment, sexual assault and murder. And honestly, fearing for your safety is a pretty strong libido killer.
Not Getting to the Fucking Point – Hella Annoying
I know this contradicts some of what follows, but this guy was so wishy-washy I spent a long time thinking he was asking for directions or collecting for a charity before I realized he was trying to hit on me.
Introducing Yourself – Good
I didn’t catch his name because I was pulling off my headphones and trying to figure out why this guy was bothering me, but just knowing that he offered it made me feel more comfortable. Offering a bit about yourself makes it feel more like a conversation and less like harassment.
Physical Attraction as the Reason You’re Interested – Creepy
No. No no no. I don’t give a fuck that you know nothing else about me. Say I look interesting, that I seem happy, like I’m having a good time, that you’re so sorry to interrupt my jam session but I seem like the kind of person you’d like to get to know. Do not tell me that I’m hot or beautiful or that I have a nice body, you creepy fuck. You’re not telling me anything I haven’t heard before.
Complimenting my body doesn’t make me feel grateful and happy toward you. It shows that you’re only interested in my body. It says that you’re shallow and lack creativity.
Not Knowing That My Eyes Are Up Here, Fucker – Creepy(!!!)
This is the pornstache of body language. If I’m looking at your face while you’re looking at my breasts, ESPECIALLY if you’re describing how attractive you think I am at the same time, all I want to do is run the fuck away.
Offering a Small, Noncommittal Date – Good
Asking someone for coffee is almost definitely a safe bet. Lunch is also good. Basically, you want to make sure the woman feels safe, which means avoid asking her to meet you at night, in places outside of her comfort zone, or for alcoholic drinks.
Talking Over Her, Not Letting Her Answer Your Question – Hella Annoying
This isn’t really creepy, but it is really rude. If you have done the asking out, shut up and let her respond. Definitely don’t keep nattering about yourself and/or how attractive she is.
Accepting Rejection Gracefully – Good!
I went with the “I have a boyfriend” line, because it’s safer for a woman to pretend that she “belongs” to a man than to admit that she’s not interested on her own terms. Ending the hitting on is appropriate at this point. Lines like “He doesn’t have to know” are offensive and CREEPY AS FUCK.
“Your Boyfriend is a Lucky Man” – Creepy!
This has somehow become a socially-acceptable response to rejection, when it’s actually offensive and dehumanizing. You make the woman sound like a toy that some other kid on the playground is playing with, but women are human beings with agency. Just smile through the rejection and wish her a great rest of the day.
I know overall this guy comes off as creepy and annoying, but I chose to be flattered because this is a much better interaction than I associate with most hitting on. I didn’t fear for my safety and was able to extricate myself with minimal fuss. (Note for Ladies: “That’s really kind, but I’m not interested,” “Thanks for the compliment,” and “Well, have a great day” are all good strategies for closing a conversation, though usually you’ll need to use more than one.)