Saturday, November 2, 2013

On Being a Woman in Public (from Groupthink at Jezebel) - and Being a Man in Public


Over at the Jezebel blog called Grouthink, TyrannosaurusBataar posted a brief article on being a female in public - the dread, or even fear, that you will be approached by a man who wants to hit on you, seduce you, talk to you, or some other form of annoyance. While I am sure this is the case for a lot of women (thanks to the men who are creeps and predators, all of whom have given men in general an unfair stereotype, "all men are dogs"), I am not convinced that all men are so loathsome as one might assume from an article such as this.

One brave man tried to present a male version of this story in the comments, addressing without naming the double bind many single men experience when trying to connect with a woman he finds attractive (whether it's beauty or that she is reading a book of Beat poetry, or whatever).

I have included the exchange between the author of the article and the brave man who replied.

Being a woman in public

By TyrannosaurusBataar

Sometimes you just want to go home, but you're stuck being a woman in public.

You get on the train after a long day. The doors are trying to close and a guy jams them open to let on another guy. A man in a military uniform takes his earbuds out and says to the door-holder, "Don't hold the door open."

"What did you say?"

"Don't hold the door open."

"Oh, who are you, man? Who are you?"

You take a seat as far away from the conflict as possible and try to disappear into your Kindle, averting your eyes. Everything finally calms down.

The door-holder, who's already proven himself to have zero qualms about confronting strangers, is looking at you. You can see him in your peripheral vision and you can feel him looking. You're at a distance, but your hair is pretty bright and you're wearing lipstick so you know he noticed you. Keep reading, keep looking down. You briefly wish you were less attractive or had mousy hair or had an invisibility cloak. He keeps looking at you.

The person on the inside of your seat needs to get off. You hold your breath as you let them out and you move in, thinking of all the things you'll say and do when he tries to sit down next to you and talk to you when you just want to be left alone.

You exhale when an older woman rushes to take the seat you've vacated. You're safe and insulated by the window now.

Door-holder exits at the next stop and the tension leaves with him.

It's only been a few minutes, but this is what goes through your head when you're existing as a woman in public.

The comments are mostly from women who are sharing their own version of this story. However, one brave male commented and offered a male perspective on the double bind we feel as the one who is expected to pursue the female for a date, but also knowing that many females (as this story makes clear) dread being approached by an unknown male.

Here is that exchange - his version of the same story, her comment, and his reply. In my opinion, she totally missed his point, or chose not to see it.

Phenawn offers a scenario familiar to many single men who wish not to be single. But Ms. Bataar seems to only see men in these situations as predators.

Wanted to make this its own post on group think as a rebuttal but I don't have permissions :(

Sometimes you just want to let a woman know she’s beautiful and hopefully connect with her, but you’re stuck being a man in public.

You hold the door open on a train politely for someone who’s rushing to get into the train before the door closes. Some asshat in a military uniform gets butthurt and looks at you in a not too friendly manner. The man in a military uniform takes his earbuds out, initiates a confrontation and says,

"Don't hold the door open."

"What did you say?"

"Don't hold the door open."

"Oh, who are you, man? Who are you?"

Seriously, who does he think he is? He doesn’t identify himself as any authority or official representing the train company, who is he to be barking orders at you? Of course you would take offense and not comply immediately.

What makes things worse is now your gesture of kindness has created a scene and now you must fade off into a corner so Commander asshat doesn’t make things worse for you.

You see a beautiful girl reading her kindle at the far end of the train. You try not to stare but she is the best kind of Medusa, looking her has left you frozen in awe. You notice her bright hair and lipstick. You applaud her style and wonder what kind of girlfriend she could be.

You remind yourself that, being a guy, you must make the first move or nothing will happen. You remind yourself that you don’t really look that good today. You remind yourself that you have nothing cool to say. You remind yourself that this isn’t a bar or club so you’re not allowed to approach. You know you might never see this girl again and you have to at least try. You hope you don’t scare her, creep her out, seem rapey or a million other terms used to discourage people from connecting. You come up with a million scenarios where she rejects you in the worst ways if you dare say “hello”…

(In your imagination land…)

You: “Hey, nice Kindle, what do you like to read? –smiley face-

Her: “Wow is that the best pickup line you got?”

You: “ what? I’m just being friendly I don’t even use pick up-

Her: “That’s great, stop talking to me Mr. Out of shape, do you even lift?”

You: “I don’t even like lifting … I... I’m just going to go home and die now”

-moonwalk away in failure-

(End Scene)

The whole time you’re day dreaming you realize you haven’t stopped staring at her. She ends up noticing, you panic inside, and you must make a decision. Should you try to approach her? You wish you had more confidence, you notice the person sitting next to her leaves. You see an opportunity…

An older woman looks at you, shakes her head as if to say, “Nope, you got no chance” and sits next to her. You feel like a failure, you’re embarrassed. You immediately leave at the next stop in shame. Another day of surfing the net alone in your studio apartment and ending your night with a disappointing release following your third viewing of a Hawt tattooed girls on Xhamster, awaits you.

This is what constantly happens to you when you’re a man in public. 10/17/13 11:16am

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You probably actually don't want to post this to Groupthink. You do not understand the point of this post. Read some of the (many, many) responses to this and tell me you women don't have any reason to blow off or be afraid of men in public. But it's really funny that you think this is a burden you carry, constantly defending against rude girls.

Also: if you've never been on the DC metro, the doors don't open again when they're closing. They'll close on your arms/legs/bag whatever. It's not "politely" holding the door. It's jamming yourself in between closing, heavy doors, putting yourself in danger, and potentially holding up the whole train as the doors keep open/closing or the driver makes you offload. 10/17/13 11:22am

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Thanks for taking the time to reply, I'm surprised as this has gotten so many replies and you have been kind enough to read all of them. I realize that there is a ton of creeps out there that don't know when it is ok to approach and don't know how to take subtle hints that a woman gives, to let guys know that they are not interested. I never implied rudeness on the girls part, I just want to bring awareness that women aren't the only ones who carry all the fear and self-consciousness.

I wrote it from the guys point of view of how its also difficult for a guy to find someone incredibly attractive and want to connect, how a guy can project his feelings of fear on to her and struggle with his role in that situation. I wanted the readers to be able to see this from all points of view. I get that it's scary for women but its scary for men too, we don't look for people to harass, even if we are prone to getting into conflicts with other men. That's not the same attitude we bring or think of when we want to approach or attract a woman. On the RARE occasion that a man even approaches a female stranger.

Also, you're correct, I don't know about the DC metro, where you're story may have been true, mine was just a fictional rebuttal. 10/17/13 11:50am

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