blogs t r e t c h

between a roux and a bechamel

Thursday, September 18, 2008

OK I lied, one quick brain dump before I go back into the noblogbubble

So last night, I took metro back to VA from Velvet Lounge (after seeing Tyler's very good new band, The Awesome Few). It was last-train-o'clock, so by the time I got to Metro Center, it was crowded with lots of other people. 

But look, dudes. Just because I am alone and you are too does not mean you should sit down uncomfortably close to me at the column I came over and leaned against. When I'm watching a movie on my iPod and making no signs of acknowledgement of your too-close-for-comfort presence, it's not a signal to tell me that you like my scarf. Also, you kind of smelled bad. (And the fact that I could tell that, means you were, to reiterate, too close to me.) But, when I give you a terse, expression-less "thanks," you really didn't have to follow the compliment up with "Are you European?" First of all, you'd be amazed how often I get asked this question or one founded on some similarly baseless assumption. And it's always with the same shock that guys then respond, "REALLY!?! I would have sworn you were!" This is where it gets dicey. 

Because from there, it always devolves into unintentional or veiled criticism. I've just told you that no, I'm not European. "So where are you from?" (still not making eye contact or giving any hint of interest in continuing this conversation), "America." "That's so surprising; European girls generally have such a better fashion sense. Don't you think?" You see what happened there? By way of attempting to give me a compliment based on some assumption you've made about my identity, you go ahead and insult what I actually am. The conversation didn't get any better from there. I had to get up and walk away. 

This was just one highlight in a series of uncomfortable advances on the metro last night. The creepy starer who followed me around the platform the entire time I waited (which was what spurred me to sit down against that ill-fated column to begin with), the drunk guy who said "NIIIIIIICE!" when I sat down on the train, and so on. It was an evening full of charm. Topped off with a healthy dollop of street harassment when I emerged from the station. 

You know what I didn't feel an ounce of, after all of that? Confidence, compliment, self-satisfaction or contentedness. It was late, I was alone, and got circled by a bunch of salivating wolves. I felt pissed off and preyed-upon. Now, sure, I suppose the bad conversationalist in the metro could be stricken from the record of harassers; he was just trying to talk to a stranger (something often complained that not enough people in this city do). But take your cues, dude. I clearly was not interested in his advances, and he should have backed off. Instead he just kept being creepier and creepier. 

Anyhow, all of this is to say, this is pretty common for most women I know. And it really sucks to have to expect and accept this type of crap whenever we're alone. 


Blogger Tom said...

I wonder if the veiled criticism is intentional -- making women defensive is one of the explicit tactics espoused by the morons who subscribe to The Game and its repugnant methodology. If you're getting the same lines over and over, that may be symptomatic of the phenomenon, too. I didn't realize the rot extended so far.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Blogs t r e t c h said...

Oh god that hadn't even occurred to me. I suppose conversations with women who are angry at you are more productive than no conversations at all? Or maybe this really does work for people. But personally speaking, coming at me like that makes me think you're ignorant and unkind, and doesn't make me want to talk to you. At all. Ever.

That's the sane response to this kind of exchange, right? Or am I a frigid bitch?

4:06 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Yes, I think that is absolutely the sane response. You don't owe some dude a natural response if they're just spewing a manipulative algorithm at you.

The pickup artist stuff is really depressing, in the same way that attack ads' efficacy is depressing. As I understand it the idea is to manipulate the woman into a position whereby she unintentionally finds herself seeking the approval of the guy hitting on her. For him that means signaling his worth and subtly denigrating her in ways that aren't TOO offensive, but which make her feel obligated to justify herself to him.

Human nature is pretty dumb.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The song that best describes this incident would prob be Spit on a Stranger by Pavement.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you check Craigslist missed connections to see if any of those guys left you a message, hoping you would respond?

Wow, this one seems like it might sum it up.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Cat said...

Wow, Amanda, that sucks. But unfortunately I can totally relate to the feelings you were left with after that. I can't express how extremely angry and resentful I get when something like that happens. It's ridiculous that men are still able to exploit the power differential that way when in so many other ways we are equal.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Instead of feeling like a victim, why don't you just tell him to leave you alone next time and shift the power paradigm? Is that worse than being terse and trying to send signals that a drunk dude won't pick up on?
I do it all the time! I look at them and say in a normal tone, "Please leave me alone" and then go back to whatever I was doing. If they continue talking, I just say it again. And if they still continue, then you just move.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Kate said...

1. That was definitely a Game comment.
2. Half the time it backfires when you tell someone to back off. And honestly, as a 5'0" women, I use snark only when absolutely necessary. I've had people turn VERY nasty after telling them to leave me alone.
3. The one line I do know that is sufficiently shaming and/or surprising is "You need to stop. Now."

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Cat said...

I feel like it's a no-win situation sometimes. You tell them to leave you alone, they get nasty because you're being a "bitch". You ignore them, they get nasty because you're "too good to acknowledge them". I don't know where this sense of entitlement comes from, but it makes me livid.

5:22 PM  

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