So, this week the hashtag #yesallwomen has taken over the world. I’m sure you’ve heard of it already, but in a nutshell, a deranged gunman went on a violent shooting spree in Santa Barbara, CA several days ago before turning the gun on himself. In a video that he posted before the shooting, he talked about how frustrated he was with constant rejections from the opposite sex, stating that he would soon seek his revenge. Two of his victims included members of a sorority house where he’d been rejected multiple times. After the shooting, some guy on twitter started the hashtag #notallmen, basically to assure the world that not all men are creepy, deranged stalkers who are going to open fire at the first woman who tells them no. In a counterattack, #yesallwomen was launched. Obviously all men are NOT creepy stalkers, most intelligent women know that. However, ALL women have been made to feel unsafe by a man at some point in their lives, which, for reasons that still escape me, men just don’t seem to understand.
Case in point, on the radio the other day, the hosts were talking about a situation one of the female DJs had experienced at work where a romantic suitor persisted in making advances toward her. She’d told him MANY times she wasn’t interested. He’d even been spoken to by some of the higher-ups at the company. So, one of the male co-hosts asked how do you know where the line is, because the stalker may have just thought he was being “romantically persistent.” Are you kidding me! When someone has reported you to Human Resources, I think that’s a pretty definitive sign. But, just in case there are some other clueless guys out there who don’t know what the mysterious line is, here are some hints:
1. It bears mentioning again – IF SHE’S REPORTED YOU TO HUMAN RESOURCES. Pretty definitive.
2. You have to block her car in its parking spot in order to get her to talk to you. This actually happened to me. I was coming out of a restaurant alone and I heard a guy yelling something crass across the parking lot at me. I was very young and ignored it, having gotten used to this kind of idiotic behavior. I got into the car to leave, and saw a car pull up behind mine, completely blocking me in. I was terrified. I smiled at him, afraid of what he would do if I wasn’t nice to him, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do. I don’t even remember what he said to me, I just remember that fear. Was he planning to grab me and throw me into the car? Was he going to try and grope me or assault me in some other way? I did my standard routine – I have a boyfriend, fake name, fake phone number, whatever I needed to say to get him to leave, which he finally did. I sped out of the parking lot like it was on fire, heart racing. Guys, this is not okay. When a girl ignores you, it’s not because she’s mean, it’s because she’s afraid. Don’t use crude, nasty pickup lines, especially don’t screech them across a crowded parking lot, and for goodness sakes, if she wants to leave, let her leave.
3. She needs more personal space. If you’re talking to a girl and you’re trying to get closer and she keeps backing away, don’t grab her arm and try and pull her closer (happened to me) or keep approaching her (ditto). STOP. Respect her space. It will put her at ease, and it’s just good manners.
4. She’s stopped taking your calls. Something else that’s happened to me and a lot of other women I’m sure. You break up with a guy, or you go on a few dates and it doesn’t go well, you stop calling the guy back, and he just doesn’t get the hint, filling up your voice mail with persistent messages, maybe even randomly dropping in at your home or place of work. Take the hint. I had a guy look up my parents’ phone number years after we’d broken up trying to reach me when he couldn’t find my phone number or address online. Thankfully, my parents had moved or he may have shown up at their house as well since we’d been there during our (very brief) relationship. He also showed up other places he knew I frequented, thankfully each time he missed me or someone warned me when I was on the way. Even up to a few years ago, my heart still stopped momentarily when there was a knock at my door and I wasn’t expecting anyone. It’s not okay to make a woman live in fear in her own home. Line crossed.
So, a guy might ask, what do you do if you like a girl and want to pursue her romantically? Here’s the thing – I don’t like being “pursued,” it makes me feel hunted, like a terrified deer with a big shotgun pointed at it. I find the whole concept creepy, off-putting and old-fashioned. It’s not romantic at all. I cringe as everyone else swoons when the male lead of a romantic comedy keeps following a woman around like a wounded puppy dog after she’s turned him down, begging for another chance. Of course, in the movie, the woman always gives in and the couple lives happily ever after. Ick. I think this is part of the problem; the reason why some guys are confused. If a guy asks a girl out and she says no, I think that should be the end of it. Don’t keep asking, don’t call her house, or show up at her work, just let it go, it’s not the end of the world. Everyone gets rejected sometimes.
I think the best relationships start as friendships. Be patient. If she’s a work colleague, neighbor, or a friend of a friend, stay in her orbit, but don’t crowd her. Be friendly. If she turns you down, don’t let your wounded pride prompt you to lash out. Don’t call her names, or threaten her, or tell her she should be grateful you’re even talking to her. Any potential for a future relationship blooming from your friendship will be ruined. Don’t be gross. No unwanted touching, no sexual comments, no leering. It’s just plain disrespectful and it makes women feel extremely uncomfortable. It’s kind of sad now that I think about it, but one of the reasons I fell in love with my husband is because he was the first man I dated that truly made me feel safe. He looked at me like I was someone, an equal, not like some kind of walking, talking slab of meat. It’s tragic that it took me until the age of 26 to meet a guy like that. For some women, I’m sure it took even longer, which is just terrible.
Yes, guys, you may end up getting friend-zoned if you follow my advice, and you know what, that’s okay too. Women don’t owe you anything besides what we all owe each other as human beings, which is kindness and respect. She has the right not to be interested in you romantically. It happens. Move on. Learn from it, and be better the next time. I’m a true believer that there’s someone out there for everyone. Wasting so much time fixating on girls that aren’t interested in you could cause the right one to pass you by.