“A Letter to the Girl I Harassed”

Predator or Prey? Really?

Predator or Prey? Really?

Whoo boy, and the ride never ends. A few days ago, I received a letter from a guy who wanted to respond to my street harassment piece with his own explanation of this pattern of male behavior. I find the letter to be quite disturbing and a little scary, but mostly it makes me sad.

I believe the writer is sincerely trying to participate in the conversation about street harassment, and for that I am truly appreciative. I’ve received enough junky hate mail on this subject to know what straight-up misplaced aggression looks like, and this isn’t it. He has granted me permission to republish in full and I have not edited his letter at all.

Here’s his caveat that he included: “I do not think that the letter offers a good or healthy perspective, however, I suspect that a portion of guys can relate to it, because at some point in their lives they have felt some of the nasty things that the letter describes. Also, such nastiness needs to be expressed, even if its not PC, because how else can we talk about what’s going on?”

*    *    *     *    *

To the Girl Whom I Harassed At the Bar

It’s a drizzly Friday in Chicago and I’m loitering outside a bar after midnight. My friends and I would like a hookup, but we don’t have enough guts to talk to any girls. Sure, we can joke and snicker at them. Being assholes is kind of our strategy, because it gives us the upper hand.

We’re chilling on the sidewalk when two young women walk out of a bar. They’re not dressed up, but they’re still pretty. I notice they’re having a good time. My friends are I are bored. So I go up to the ladies and say something about their “tacos.” My friends all laugh. I laugh too. I feel pretty good, except that part of me doesn’t feel good. It’s an odd feeling. I don’t understand. It’s just another mixed up moment in my life.

Here is something you should know about me. I intentionally hurt people sometimes to make myself feel better.

Being in the presence of a woman can be anguish. It’s loneliness (and sometimes horniness), and all that other Freudian bullshit rolled up into mundane moments. Just walking down the street can make me feel helpless when I pass a woman sometimes. I can’t shake it. If I could shake it, I would. Trust me. It’s no fun. But this is the hand I’m dealt, so I roll with it.

It’s no one’s fault that I want to connect to someone sometimes and can’t.

You ask when will someone make a gender-swapping plug-in for real life? Well if you want to gender swap, then here’s my world. I live in a zero-sum culture. There is no harmony of the sexes; it’s a battle of the sexes. Who will be overcome by desire first? Who will have their daily routine interrupted by unwanted sexual tension first? If I were a saint, I would rise above the bullshit and say no one has to suffer. But I’m no saint.

You might say I that have a problem, that I’m wounded. Maybe you pity me. Pity doesn’t help me though.

Do I want to be this guy. Hell no! But who knows another way to become a man? Who can show me how to connect with a woman and respect myself? Not the women, since half of them are ignoring me, and the other half don’t respect themselves when I diss them. The men, at least the men I know, don’t know nothing. They just watch pornos and get pussy-whipped.

Love is a zero sum game.

Sometime, when you’re ready for a change, consider this question. If you find yourself in a vicious game, would you rather be the predator or the prey?

*    *    *     *    *

Yikes. Wow. Oof. Kapow. I don’t really know what to do with this, exactly. A big part of me is afraid that this writer’s perspective is all too common. I’ve heard this kind of language, “zero sum game,” “predator or prey,” etc from other young men before and it’s usually in the service of justifying unquestionably mean-spirited, manipulative, Douche-with-a-capital-D behavior. Some of this is straight out of the pick-up artist handbook, especially the idea that if a tactic works (on the women who “don’t respect themselves”) it’s acceptable to use.

The most consistent feedback I’ve received for the original street harassment piece is the overwhelming need for empathy, literally the capacity to recognize emotions that other people are feeling and try to vicariously experience them as well. When I reread the letter with that in mind, I lose a lot of the gut reaction rage that this letter inspired in me.

Without minimizing the overwhelming perfect storm of body hating, slut-shaming, victim-blaming, mixed messaging media bullshittery that women face on a daily basis, I do think there’s a void for young men about what modern masculinity really means. This is a conversation we’ve sorta kinda maybe a little bit started in this country, but for guys like this writer, already in their twenties, there are few role models of “manliness” that don’t involve killing the bad guy and getting the girl.

Is that an excuse? No. Treat women like humans and not opponents to be triumphed over and you might have more success with them. Don’t make taco jokes; say hello and smile. Approach with no expectation of anything more than a pleasant exchange with a fellow person just doing their best.

And this is not unidirectional. Ladies (in this imaginary all-hetero world I’m writing in at the moment), don’t be jerks to guys that try to talk to you (assuming they are civil), whether you’re interested or not. You can politely move on without rolling your eyes, turning away, sighing in disgust, or being a generally uninterested pretentious douchface.

People, be nice to each other. Niceness is a awesome. Niceness doesn’t mean I want to bone you, and it doesn’t mean you deserve a date or a drink or anything of the sort. It means that shit is hard out there, son, and a little kindness goes a long way.

Related Post: You don’t have to be a jerk to get laid. 

Related Post: Two letters.



Filed under Gender, Sex

118 responses to ““A Letter to the Girl I Harassed”

  1. It’s terrifying and illuminating all at once when someone says something out loud that usually goes unspoken and unexamined.

  2. Sydney

    “I intentionally hurt people sometimes to make myself feel better.” That is terrifying. Would you rape someone to make yourself feel better?

    • Do you draw the worst inference out of an honest statement of fallibility to make the other person aware of how bad it can get? If you are hurt/offended by a statement, do you lash out with the worst thing that jumps to your mind and scares you?
      No offence, wouldn’t that be intentionally hurting someone to feel better yourself? To answer your question, no i wouldn’t. To answer mine, yes I replied as I did, cos your inference irked me and it made me feel better to say something about it.

      • I enjoyed reading your reply.:D(no offence to Sydney whoever he/she is)
        I actually read the first comment first and got annoyed a bit reading it, and before I could react, I happened to read your reply. That made me feel better.

      • first comment – the first I read (Sydney’s )

      • “Would you rape someone to make yourself feel better?”
        As a matter of fact, a lot of rapes that happen are unpremeditated (I know of unpremeditated murder as a legal term, but honestly dunno if that term exists for rapes, nonetheless:), in that the rapist loses temper or control or both, and what could have been a “fallibility” such as stalking, verbal abuse, argument, etc. ends up as a rape. Rapists have confessed time and again that while they knew what they were doing was wrong, they did not plan to commit a rape per se.

        I guess what’s worrisome is that a lot of people, mostly men, seem to think that sexual harassment not amounting to rape is somehow less serious, and hence the two should not be discussed in the same thread.

        As for Sydney’s inference, it can (and should) be irksome. However I see no reason why “an honest statement of fallibility” should not have someone point out how bad it can get. No one’s trying to talk pretty here; so what’s wrong in being honest? 🙂

      • I think I felt the same way you did when I read “Would you rape someone to make yourself?” But after reading your reply, I realized I couldn’t have responded any better.

  3. Couldn’t agree more with all of your commentary on this. It is good that this writer pointed out the dismissive tone many women take even when being respectfully approached, and I agree that they too are being assholes if they dismiss us this way (again, assuming we’re not being jackasses in our approach), perhaps feeding the asshole fire (sounds like a burning stench to me).
    I don’t live in a zero sum love world, and I think too many folks believe that most of life is a zero sum game. It’s not. Jokes can be at no one’s expense (indeed the best ones are): My laughter doesn’t negate yours. It should catalyze it. Women are not our prey, though we men do often like the chase. Even if we do have to chase, once we’re granted time together, we need to recognize that they’re partners, as we are. Non zero some love… that shit is the choicest!

  4. Sarah

    I didn’t find his letter particularly upsetting or disturbing. Hurting people to make himself feel better isn’t a new concept, and I didn’t get the sense that he meant it in a creepy, I-kill-animals-for-fun kind of way. It’s the backbone of bully behavior, and it’s the same principle that gossips operate under: cut others down to lift yourself up. Even kind, well-meaning people can lash out on a bad day, and — although it’s typically unintentional — it would have the same, or a similar, effect: displacing their negative energy, thereby making themselves feel better, if only momentarily. I thought his message boiled down to, “I have low self-esteem and don’t know how to talk to women.” Which makes sense, because if he doesn’t like himself, why would he expect a woman to like him? It’s classic projection. And like so many situations in life, his behavior seems to be rooted in fear. Fear makes him feel weak, and he compensates by grappling for power (i.e., being an asshole to have the upper hand). This is going to sound trite, but I think that rather than trying to get laid or connect with women, this gentleman’s focus should be on learning how to connect with and love himself.

  5. Samantha

    I am dating a boy who when we first met, smiled at me and started talking about the news. Just like that. In a lovely, genuine way. And then he left. He didn’t try anything because he thought I was out of his league. There were zero expectations placed on our conversation, it was just two humans having a nice moment. We became best friends.
    Men, you don’t HAVE to be sleazy about it. You don’t have to play a “vicious game”. That is absolutely not the only option. Women, you don’t have to be total snobs, either. Smile back, if you think he’s genuine.
    It IS a terrifying world and there are so many opportunities to get hurt, for both genders, but exactly like Rosie’s commentary says, kindness and simply treating each other like equal human beings all participating in the crazy ups and downs of life makes a huge difference.

  6. My boyfriend has an interesting solution for fixing the problem of how guys often treat girls – make nicer pornos. If the porn industry was saturated with videos where the men actively tried to please the women, and did so verbally by complimenting and asking the woman what she wants as well as physically and then those men were rewarded by blow jobs or whatever, it might start to change thought patterns to “if I please this woman, she will please me”. It’s quite common for a young man to think he knows everything, so instead of asking a real woman bedroom tips if he needs to extend his already “phenomenal” sex prowess there’s porn to look at and learn from. So if we turned this learning tool into something that actually teaches the right way to enter relationships with women, that’s nothing if not a good thing.

    I know this comment is mostly about sex, but I think if as a society we cleaned up sex and all our attitudes towards it, the whole male/female dynamic would be shifted.

    • What bothers me about that idea is that it reinforces the “I can only be nice to the woman if it benefits me” mindset. Heaven forbid men be polite and civil without using sex as a bribe. That doesn’t make things any more equal or beneficial; that just turns men into dogs. “If I shake a paw, I’ll get a treat.” = “If I compliment her and treat her nice, because that’s what she wants me to do, I’ll get sex / a girlfriend / whatever.”

      How about we don’t do that. The mindset should be more like “If I sincerely compliment her and find a decent way to show her that I’m attracted to her, she might give me a chance to get to know her better, and that’s all I should be asking for right now.” You could even flip it around for women who want to initiate contact with men.

      • Best comment I’ve read in a long time. If you had a blog, I’d read it. Do you have one? If you don’t, you should start one. You really need to spread that mindset around you.

  7. Tracy

    When I was 27 I was in Mexico with a friend. We met another traveler who was friendly, a good conversationalist and we had interesting frank discussions on a variety of topics. Conversation was personal but not sexual in content nor did it have underlying tones suggesting there was any attraction from any one of us to any other one of us. There was no flirting. I know when I am being flirted with and I know when I am flirting. Most of us do. My friend left to go to the bathroom and our new friend said he felt very connected to me and said he would like to spend the night with me. “Make love” were the words he used. My friend came back just after the non-douchy sexual/connective proposition and so I asked her to walk ahead a bit and for he and I to walk together so I could turn him down kindly and privately. The verbal beating I got for thoughtfully turning down his sexual proposition was astonishing to say the least. He was incensed and in some serious disbelief. Maybe this was a tac he had used before to a more satisfying end. Perhaps he was so moved by the conversation that intercourse (the non-verbal kind) seemed the next logical step. Perhaps he was incredibly lonely. Perhaps he was a complete and utter D-bag. All I really know with any certainty is I in no way deserved that verbal strafing. I have always been the kind of person that stood for kindness and accountability. I also believe that women who run rampant all over good men are a blight. I have had many lame-ass shout outs from cars and sexually suggestive epithets thrown at me in my day. I know what sexual assailants men can be. But I see clearly enough both sides and some of the things women do to good men is appalling. But, I would bet not many 11 year old boys have had a 14 year old girl pull their testicles aggressively just for the fun of it. When I was in the 6th grade a boy in the 8th grade reached between my legs from behind me as I was walking through the halls in middle school. Young as I was I knew he was in the wrong. I have seen the same done to a friend of mine in a club in SF when we were in our early 20’s and he didn’t fair so well for his assault but he did assault and what mark was left on my friend? How is this kind of behavior ever seen as funny or acceptable? Good men need to hold their lesser evolved male friends accountable. I know first hand that behaving kindly is not always guaranteed to bring kindness back your way but I will do my best most of the time. If you are a D-bag you will be treated as such.
    Most of the time, in my experience, people know when they have erred and while they may not like it, will take the hit when I call them on their shitty behavior. Also I would suppose, from their experience, they believe there will be no repercussions for their douchy behavior so it continues. I do not believe most men harass women. But I do know harassment of any kind is unacceptable. As far as educating men is concerned, they need good role models and their stronger non-mysogynistic piers seem a great first step. Women of all ages should call them on their douchbaggery whenever it is appropriate. I know also there is a great difference between women and men socially where sex is concerned and it bothers me greatly. It is important to remind young women not only to be strong but kind and to know that they have a right to defend themselves. To not perpetuate bitchiness and competitiveness amongst women so we can share in each others experiences while not getting caught up in the slut/bitch debate which really is fueled by envy and lack of self esteem, both of which are propagated in our society. We need to not be our own worst enemies as not just lesser evolved men but lesser evolved women can feed off that. We need to make sure young women value themselves as much as many value being pretty, wanted, popular, famous. To value their own orgasm and positive sexual experiences. To understand sex within society so they can make informed decisions and enjoy sex as I believe is their right. If you are having sex you should be informed enough and have enough self esteem to enjoy it, be safe with it and feel good about it. Otherwise, it should be off the table.

    • Lamont Cranston

      “But, I would bet not many 11 year old boys have had a 14 year old girl pull their testicles aggressively just for the fun of it.”

      Pull, no. Kick, yes. Apparently, kicking boys in the crotch is “funny.”

      • Tracy

        Yeah, not cool. Aggression and sexuality, while they can be linked are thankfully not always linked. That sounds more like a pure aggressive act, not one motivated by a sexual desire or with the intent to make the victim feel sexually assaulted. I may be wrong. Uncool. The guy that grabbed my crotch at 11, deserved a knee to the junk if you ask me.

    • You write, “Good men need to hold their lesser evolved male friends accountable”.???? I do understand what points you are trying to make here, but you assume too much. When you speak in generalities, you devalue your argument. Good men, as you put it, appear to exist to you to serve as your personal police force against bad men? True, if I saw offending behavior, I’d step up and say something. Or intervene. But that is not my “job”…it is what “humans” do. We do it freely and the need to do so is driven by a strong sense of value for both sexes. You devalue men when you assign them the role as your protectors, just as men devalue women when they assign them the role of helpless.

  8. I was having a discussion with one of my classes (5th grade) about the necessity of war and fighting, and one boy attempted to say that ‘someone has to be the man and compromise.’ He changed it to say ‘has to be the woman and compromise,’ since I am not, in fact, a man, but my partner pointed out that he deserves mad props for conflating masculinity with maturity and reasonableness.

    As hilarious as it was to watch someone attempt to be PC and overshoot back into sexism, I very much appreciate the sentiment that my student tried to convey. Hopefully he will keep it in mind as he gets older, & he won’t be as much like the author of this letter! It’s boys like this, or my favorite student who pointed out that truly good people don’t act differently in private than they do in public (since hypocrites are not virtuous, by definition), who make me feel hopeful about the world that’s still coming into focus. Thanks for sharing the letter & reminding us that we have a long way to go.

  9. If you had just kept the letter that was sent you as reply, this post would have been just that – a rebuttal to a point(yours) that didn’t need one. But what you add at the end, makes this issue whole, from the perspective of duality. In a world where men are harassing women and women are _______ (I don’t know how women are responding exactly, other than feel more and more victimized, angry and/or being extra careful, i guess). The result is a mutual resentment that is making the situation neither better nor safe. More than role models though, I feel what is needed, like you have pointed out, is more people behaving nicely and more often.However, Men were pompous pricks in victorian times but they were supposedly chivalrous, women were more cooped up and repressed nevertheless. So being ‘nice’ is not enough. Being respectful of the other’s individuality is also very important. A man who probably (definitely mistakenly) believes that he can garner favorable attention by name-calling and gestures will make them; if he is not sure what will do so too, if desperate for it, will make them unless he has respect for the lady in front.Similarly, women who treat men as possible sources of ______ (again, I won’t try to comprehend the sheer range of words that women could legitimately fit here) without even a look, a word or a thought spared to their actual actions are painting every man with a wolf’s garb and merely complicating the issue further. Be nice. Be respectful. The person in front of you has a brain, feelings and probably, a heart too. \\//

  10. PG

    We have Republican senators trying to redefine rape to “forcible rape.” That’s at least one reason why women aren’t nice when approached by strangers – even nice ones. For some men, smiling, being polite, _breathing_ – are all invitations. We shoot you down when we’re uncomfortable because men who have rapist mentality and potential don’t come with a warning label.

    And while it’s always tough when anyone is unkind, we aren’t – very technically – owed kindness. Rage in the face of unkindness is a signal that our expectations are out of line.

    • Women shoot men down when they are uncomfortable because they are right to do so. Beyond that, absolutely no justification needs to be given. If you don’t want to be in a vulnerable sexual position with someone and your gut is telling you to back away, then you do it, and you stay safe.

      There is no man on this Earth with a daughter who doesn’t hope his girl grows up to shoot down men who make her uncomfortable.

      • Fireandair, hear hear! Couldn’t have said it better. Funny how men’s views change when it’s about their daughter (or even sister) rather than when they are the ones doing the being-stupid.

  11. Please send him this: RT @ModPrimate
    New Video on institutionalized entitlement and aggression: Steubenville Football & Rape Culture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TQHsjYpYGwc

    and this:

    The Healthy Masculinity Project: http://www.mencanstoprape.org/Healthy-Masculinity-Action-Project/

  12. If people can experience some compassion for the author, then such feeling helps demonstrate how the author’s perspective (that there are only predators and prey) is inaccurate, i.e. if you want to prove the author wrong, then demonstrate that there are possibilities outside of his grim paradigm.

    • “It’s your responsibility not to get harassed, girls. Reform every man you ever meet, or else you’ll have asked for it.”

      Every woman on the street is not this guy’s mother, and they are not responsible for him being screwed up, nor are they responsible for gently and tenderly teaching him with infinite patience not to attack them.

      We are responsible for our own actions and behaviors. Isn’t that the Manly Way or something? No woman has to prove anything to anyone before she is allowed to not be attacked.

  13. Reblogged this on Whole Thinking and commented:
    This is so disturbing….about Street Harrassment of women by men:

  14. If this person sees dating as a “Zero sum game” he will never have a good relationship or marriage. Good relationships require sacrifice and mutual respect and can create more happiness than you ever thought possible. Having such a tiny view is really limiting the possibility for his future happiness.

  15. Thank you for raising an important and timely (unfortunately, timeless) issue. And kudos to the writer of the response letter. His honesty has helped reveal some of the larger, societal norms that promote such appalling behavior. Let’s hope this conversation changes a few minds and saves a few folks from making bad choices.

  16. Shit really is hard out there.

  17. If a couple gets lucky and makes it past the first encounter without one mortally wounding or being so wounded the other they then get to live in fear of breaking up and ravaging one another there. It is amazing what we risk to find love, what imense ego-shattering injury we all risk in an effort to find someone kind that won’t hurt us.

  18. What struck me most about his letter was the phrase “Who can show me how to connect with a woman and respect myself?” Maybe part of his (and other men’s) problem is perspective. Yes, the terms “prey” and “predator” are disturbing… but maybe if this man tried to “connect” with a woman as a fellow human being, rather than as a “hook-up,” or worse, as “prey,” than he’d have more success. Counting aside the “slag” type who are also only looking for hook-ups, most women are out there having fun, dancing, being with their friends, and meeting men is either incidental, a happy chance occurrence, or the least important objective in their minds. My advice to this guy would be, If you see a woman you like, try treating her like someone you’d want to get to know, rather than someone whose pants you want to get into. It will not only increase your chances of connecting with someone, but when you stop viewing women as a different species, and instead treat them as someone with basic human emotions, it might make you feel more at ease too.

  19. “If you find yourself in a vicious game, would you rather be the predator or the prey?”

    How on Earth is not fucking a man being a predator? He’s acting as if he has any chance at all of even BEING prey — and he really believes it because to him, not getting laid is the same as being prey.

    Some part of him is thinking that “that chick wouldn’t blow me” is equal in horror to “so I harassed her for it.”

    Dude, you are NOT The Real Victim™ because some woman wouldn’t screw you, okay? Not getting laid is not the same as being victimized. Drink some decaf and deal.

  20. Reblogged this on Lobboy's Blog and commented:
    Wow! I am impressed with though that he took the time to write this and tell it like it is, at least for him.

  21. Reading this post and its comments has made me feel extremely grateful to be old and past this bullshit . However, it also made me remember how confused and rejected I felt nearly twenty years ago in the dating scene. Kids, just remember that, if you can survive all the assholes, male and female, there are other decent people out there looking too.

    • I dont think this is an age-relevant issue actually – I am 39 now, and I would have thought that I would not be the object of anyones interest when it seems that men want younger and younger women all the time, no matter what their own age is, yet I have still been the subject of lewd comments, and disgusting predatory looks from men. If a man smiles, and has a genuine look in his eyes, then I will be nice in response; if a man has a smile, but a horrid empty look in his eyes, (and believe me, its all in whether that smile reaches the eyes or not – pay attention, girls!) and his body language is unpleasant, then he will not get a pleasant response. he may get ignored, he may get some reply to whatever he said, or did…but it will be on a par with his own behaviour, and he will be put in his place by whatever response i give. Whether he actually is bright enough to understand or not, is down to his emotional intelligence, and it seems most people these days (male or female) dont have it. Sadly society as a whole seems to have degenerated in their morals, actions, and manners, and unless people are taught to respect themselves and others once more, we have no hope of it getting any better.

  22. This was a fascinating piece. I think the young man is brave to have his thoughts printed for us to comment on. As sad as his words make me, I’m glad to hear his honest thoughts. We need to do better with our little boys/young men so they are able to interact with women in a healthy way.

    • we need to do better with the girls/young women too so that they do not grow up thinking they are a special little princess who deserves anything she wants at whatever price, and if a man doesnt give it to her, he is treated badly, and with disrespect.
      Respect is earned, no matter which sex you are.

  23. First things first — Thank you for publishing this letter. I also have to thank the guy who wrote it and shared it with you. Though a knee-jerk reaction would be to condemn it for its contents, I think the better option is to appreciate the guts it took to admit to these failings. In a better, easier world he would learn from all this self-awareness and life would be grand. We live in a complex, shades-of-gray world, unfortunately.

    The thing is, I’ve been that girl on the street outside of a bar with my friends (like we all have). A guy walks up and says something semi-unintelligible to illicit a laugh from his buds. It might contain the word “taco” and it might not. It makes me feel so small and angry because, really, what can you say to that guy? He doesn’t care that you’re you and that you’re hurt by something so seemingly innocuous. He could be saying it to anyone. The only thing he cares about is that he’s pissed off, amped up, and looking to impress his buds.

    I can spend time feeling sorry for this guy, and trying to understand his position, but to what end? I still get “chatted to” on the street by this type, and it still makes me feel small and angry.

    But, yes, an honest dialogue is important. I definitely agree with that. So thank you.

  24. Loving this blog so far, keep up the good work 🙂

  25. Sadly most mens tactics of initiating a conversation with a woman will differ greatly dependant on if they are with their friends or not. I have seen this happen. Women can be the same. Everyone wants to feel approved of, the author of the letter got it from his friends with the taco comment. These days approval seems to come from being rude to others. Apparently being rude puts you in some sort of elevated position in the world. I have had friends make fun of me for being nice to a guy I had no interest in, needless to say they are no longer my friends.

  26. donofalltrades

    I worry about my daughter being in the dating scene in 10 more years or so because I’m familiar with all the creeps lurking out there. It’s bad enough having to worry about dangerous people wanting to rob you while you walk down the street (all of us need to be alert to that) let alone having to worry about somebody wanting to do you bodily harm for some sort of non financial gain, just to satisfy some basal instinct to hunt or reproduce or whatever. Craziness.

  27. Mom

    You hit it here. I was in a stairwell in highschool when I was spat upon by boys in high school who were on a landing three flights above me. They cheered. I have carried personal desecration for thirty years.

    Young men in a car driving past me yelled “FAT!!!” and laughed. I had been crossing the road near my house. I remember this so clearly.

    I was in a bar, I thought I was dressed nicely, a handsome man asked me where I got my outfit, I said I had borrowed it from my sister’s closet (actually it was my mother’s closet) he said, “Did she have a BIG closet???” and he laughed at me.

    These are scars that I carry and there are more. My husband has hurt me. My siblings have hurt me.

    Now here is the question: After I get through wiping my eyes at the sadness of all of the above, who have I hurt? The obese girl in middle school that I had a name for that was horrible? The kids who were mentally challenged that we ALL called retards? How many people carry my scars?

    From this day forth, I want my mouth to not say these terrible things and I want to push past the ugliness of what has come before. Is that possible?

  28. Thank you for this post! I feel like the phrase I’m constantly repeating on a daily basis to my 3 kids (2 boys and a girl in between) is “be nice!” I feel like you summed up your post with the same phrase! We are all human beings. Above all we need to just “be nice” and treat each other as such. Thank you.

  29. I should have read your other piece before reading this one. However from what I see here well done! Agreed why cannot we all just acknowledge each other as human beings with compassion and empathy.

  30. Regarding the question of the letter writer about who can show him how to connect with a woman and respect himself:
    My best advice to him is to take a serious look at his male friends. If they cannot connect with women in a healthy and successful way, then I suggest that he start searching for different male friends — men (of any age) who have healthy, successful relationships with women — so that he may learn from them.
    Men who have the exact same problems with women as he has (although these friends may be easy to relate to) cannot help him to improve his feelings or situation, and will most likely encourage him to stay in the same negative patterns of behavior.

  31. this is phenomenal. A well-written look at a common problem that’s rarely treated like a problem. Thanks.

  32. The letter writer has multiple emotional issues, clearly. Rather than working on himself, though, he blames fate, society, biology, and women. That’s quite a feat of projection, there. His only hope for relief–if he doesn’t improve–is to find low self-esteem, codependent sexual partners who want to “save him” in hopes that he will magically transform under their love and save them right back. There are plenty of emotionally damaged women out there ready to serve him in this capacity, so his harmful belief patterns will no doubt continue for quite some time, most likely right through a few unpleasant marriages and divorces.

    In the end, he can blame anybody or anything he likes for his circumstances but the external targets he’s chosen are untouchable because they harbor zero accountability: He can’t say all women are teases and therefor all women must change before he can feel better about himself. The only catalyst for real, lasting change will come from within himself. Keeping the company of people he admires is a fabulous technique for self-empowerment; not lingering outside of bars in the wee hours might be a good place to start.

  33. Great words and blog! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  34. Really well done. This is a very important topic that there really need to be more dialogue about if our future generations have any hope of a civil world.

  35. I just dont understand why it is always someone elses fault that one cant function properly in social settings! I sucked at it and have spent 40 years trying to be better at it! I have educated myself on random subjects and can actually carry on a conversation about most any topic. If you want people to be interested in you, be an interesting person.

    On the other note of men harassing women, the unfortunate thing is that it only takes one woman who likes it to reinforce their bad behavior. And in todays world many women seem to crave such attention. It seems that 10 year olds now look like 16 year olds and the 16 year olds now dress like girls at a nightclub looking to be picked up! 😦 It is sad that a woman/girl/female wants to get her attention for what she isnt wearing instead of what she has upstairs in her brain and dressing like someone who has something upstairs.

  36. ingenious topic for an article, certainly got the replies going.

  37. Leah

    Brilliant analysis of the mansplaining letter! I really liked
    Is that an excuse? No. Treat women like humans and not opponents to be triumphed over and you might have more success with them. Don’t make taco jokes; say hello and smile. Approach with no expectation of anything more than a pleasant exchange with a fellow person just doing their best.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  38. mkesling63

    It doesn’t take much here. The men having what upper hand? There is no upper hand to be had here. Romance, sex, love is not combat so approaching it with I NEED THE UPPER hand and you go to the romance table with a total looser attitude and will. Start approaching a looser and you will self defeat. That loser that is there and the man can’t get rid of will self defeat them every time. It is total downward thinking mode. Why compete in love? There is only strength building in love and/or just appreciation.

  39. I think this line is exactly on target: “Here is something you should know about me. I intentionally hurt people sometimes to make myself feel better.” That is why men do it. It makes them feel powerful, and they may feel guilty as well, but that’s just another reason to do it again. Women harm others to make themselves feel better also, but they, like men, do it to people they perceive as having less power: for women, that would be children, employees, and friends or loved ones who will take it.

  40. It’s always sad to hear people make comments like this gentleman did about it being the hand he was dealt and rolling with it. When I notice unproductive habits in my behavior – and believe me there are plenty – I own them and make a conscious effort to change them. (and typically have to work on it again and again and again.) We are who we are because of experiences we have been through which have shaped us, it doesn’t mean it’s the way you always have to be.

    I appreciate your commentary on this – especially the last paragraph expressing the importance of just being nice to people. Funny how this simple thing has become so difficult for adults in society.

  41. Be kind, rewind! Er no I mean, be nice. Seriously. Love that. And that guy needs to suck it up and get the fuck over himself, it’s no excuse. We all feel vulnerable at times, it does make you eligible to be a douche. Great blog.

  42. Niceness is a awesome no doubt!

  43. I think it’s fascinating that nobody seems to be suggesting help “outside yourself” for this guy. Clearly, his father did not provide him a healthy example, so why not find a decent counselor so that he can feel better about himself? Sounds like he is becoming aware of his own crap, which is the first step. Then he needs to accept himself as he is and embrace the need to change. A counselor can help.
    So, in my opinion, can a higher divine power, however one envisions that. The thing that connects us all as humans is love, and I don’t think we naturally go there – true respect and acceptance and compassion for each other comes from a Spirit larger than we are. Reach for it, be wiling to change, and see what happens!
    At least spiritual exploration gives one something to think about besides getting screwed.

  44. It’s not hard to believe this, but it’s a bracing cold reality. I used to watch it all the time when I was a bartender and I’d wonder, just what was going through some guys heads to cause them to act that way. Sometimes people don’t realize the walls they’ve created around themselves. It’s a self reinforcing cycle.

  45. Question: Do you think this sort of, ‘I’ll drag you down to feel better with my own self” is exclusively limited to, not just guys in the dating scene, but the world, at large, generally? Isn’t this the sort of way our species communicates with each other, in whatever the situation … I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine; but I want to start out with the power, so I’ll knock you down a few notches first and instead? I dunno. Maybe I’m just an old (kinda young) cynic. But shit’s pretty messed up, generally, with the humans. We be strange creatures. And yes, niceness is pretty awesome. But more rare than it is common, unfortunately.

    Nice post, p.s.

  46. It is understandable but no one can justify these thing on their experience.
    Its true if one show kindness to other then they feel better but we can’t expect these thing from others we have no control on others. Try to choice between response & reaction

  47. Sad – both ways. It’s just a reminder how far we’re still removed from true humanity. Darwin has a lot to answer for…

  48. My last boyfriend (with whom i lived with for just under a year & jumped into the relationship very quickly) used to tell me that very thing… “it makes me feel better to make you feel bad”. I could not believe that he would just come right out and say that shit!

    I could not believe that A. he would say something so messed up in the first place and B. just how revealing that statement was as well about how he felt about himself. it also let me know what the % of success i was going to have with this relationship (very little!).

    Your writer seems VERY young. It can be hard when you are young and have little experience in life.

    The underlying issue that he (my boyfriend) had, which may be what the writer of this letter you posted has going on is EXTREMELY low self esteem. His low self esteem effected every single part of his life. Including his ability to realistically connect with women.

    My advice i would give to your writer is to find something that he can do that will first help to improve your life and in the process, find something that you can really take pride in and feel good about.

    I think we all struggle with self esteem in many different ways. It is just one of the side effects of being raised in the USA. But if we can do something that we ourselves can feel proud about, then it generally improves all of the relationships in our lives and the general outcome of our lives in general. If you can feel pride, then it is easy to talk to anyone.

    Great article.

  49. people are getting lazier and lazier, the moment i saw the size of the post, i was at once put off from reading it, that make me feel terrible about myself.

  50. truthfully when i first read it, to me.. it sounded like a woman, trying to put herself in the head of a man how’s trying to think, how a woman would think.. about the man, that the “writer Character” is portraying. If that makes any sense? so to me it seemed like a creative piece of writing. If it wasn’t then……uh yeah!

  51. When I felt he was just an ordinary friend to me, he fell in love with me. Tangling for about one year, I fell in love with him, however, he said sorry and left. That’s really really aching!

  52. surfskiesp

    Good post right there! I am following you now. If you would like to know about Ocean Paddling then follow us back! Always welcome to visit our page. Regards


  53. It all starts with a little kindness and humanity.

  54. I think the letter writer brave to share as he did. I had no idea that things were so bad out there.

  55. I really appreciated this post, for many reasons. I’ll admit that I typically focus on what it’s like to be female with all of the douche bags out there, but I’ve never looked at it from the male perspective. Many girls are mean, snotty bitches who don’t treat people with respect, especially if they are not interested in being talked to. In my life, I think I’ve taken the opposite approach, and I’m just too overly nice to everyone, which then can cause problems too. But honestly, how hard is it to smile back and have a short conversation with someone. Like you said, just because a man talks to a woman doesn’t mean he wants to sleep with her. I can imagine that it is nerve wracking to be a man and have that pressure of “having” to be the one to make a move, in whatever form.

  56. It’s hard for me to believe that someone is so insightful about his toxic behavior yet he cannot or will not rise above it. Pitiful? Yes. As an adult you are bound to hold yourself to a higher standard than that.

  57. Great post! The guy’s letter expresses clearly the expectations that society has already put upon him before he turned age five. By age five guys know that real men play with guns and real women play with Barbie Dolls.

  58. I think that you’re right in that both women and men need to work on being respectful in all aspects to each other, but I feel that there is an explanation for both sides, that men possibly do this because otherwise women won’t give them the time of day, and women dismiss them/roll their eyes/etc. because they’re afraid of what they’ll do even if they’re nice at the beginning. Personally, I find myself mostly wary of men I don’t know, and would feel supremely uncomfortable being approached, whether it was respectful or not. I am not rude, but I would say that I am curt and try to end the conversation as soon as possible. But that’s just my feeling. I don’t exactly get approached anyway, rarely did, even when I was single.

  59. I am harassed pretty much every time I walk down the street in San Francisco. I’m sure it’s the same for a woman in any urban setting.

    And every time it happens, all I can think is “What makes it okay to say these things to me when I’ve done nothing to you?” So as disturbing as it is to read this letter, it’s almost a relief at the same time to get a little insight.

    And I think you’re right. I think we have kinda/sorta started a dialog about these issues. Because the other night, I had a shocking experience.

    I was walking to a bar in the Civic Center area of SF (pretty much the downtown ghetto for those unfamiliar) and this guy standing in a group of dudes outside of a liquor store says to me “Yo, how much?” and laughs like he’s a genius comedian.

    Fairly normal, sadly. (I was wearing a long-skirted dress, by the way, paired with boots and a large jacket. Nothing scandalous in any way shape or form. Barely any skin showed because it’s freeeeeeezing out here.)

    But, to my everlasting surprise, all of his friends turn away him mumbling disgustedly and one even says “What the f*@k is wrong with you?”

    Their reaction actually triggered more emotion in me than the harassment. I wanted to cry, and I’m still not sure why. Maybe it was that someone finally came to a woman’s defense. Maybe it was because it just underscored how humiliatingly I’m treated on the street. But it felt good to have someone else acknowledge what was happening, rather than just ignore it or laugh.

    So I don’t know. Maybe we are evolving. Fingers crossed, anyway.

  60. This is scary, thought-provoking stuff. Thanks for starting an important conversation. I will certainly be following your blog.

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  62. Reblogged this on evablove and commented:
    Very interesting read by Rosiesays

  63. I don’t get this guy. A lot of hate going on there. I don’t think its just about women. There must be something deeper that needs to be addressed. If this is going on to an entire generation of young men, that’s just sad.

  64. Hi Rosie,

    Interesting (slightly scary!) response. Your comment (below) got me thinking…

    ‘I do think there’s a void for young men about what modern masculinity really means. This is a conversation we’ve sorta kinda maybe a little bit started in this country, but for guys like this writer, already in their twenties, there are few role models of “manliness” that don’t involve killing the bad guy and getting the girl.’

    This^. And I think to simply think in terms of a ‘modern’ definition of ‘manliness’ or ‘masculinity’ is not ambitious enough; a gender-free notion of ‘humanliness’ (is that a word?) is what we ought to be aspiring to. That wouldn’t necessarily preclude men from taking a dominant or even aggressive role at times; nor discourage women from being passive or nurturing; rather, it’s about removing the expectation that we must conform to these standards of behaviour in order to measure up as ‘women’ or ‘men’. I can sympathise with the guy to a point, but the truth is that it’s far easier and safer for us to step outside of prescribed gender roles than for women. You mention ‘slut-shaming’ and ‘body-hating’ – I struggle to think of male equivalents to such obviously gendered phenomena that guys have to face on a daily basis. The closest thing I came up with was during a (surprisingly polite) exchange of comments on YouTube recently, when a guy described his fear of being labelled a ‘deadbeat’, which I interpreted as a slur against men who fail to live up to the ‘provider’ role. I guess ‘pussy-whipped’ or ‘cuckolded’ would also qualify, though those are as much a slur on the female partner as on ‘her’ man. I wrote a post a couple days back that kinda relates to this discussion, I think; insofar as it deals with giving guys choices to relate to women that are free of gendered expectations (much like you were espousing in your fourth paragraph):


    Take care,


  65. And by ‘scary response’ I menat the guy’s response to your original post: not sure if that was clear.

  66. ellebronweneadie

    Reblogged this on Pointless Ramblings: Anecdotes of a Mid-Twenties Student and commented:
    Very interesting subject.

  67. well said writer!!! no other words r needed to describe this kind of approach that a man uses to prove his ‘manliness’..no woman has appreciated him for doing so…think about it..those men who truly love their women, will no matter what happens, let their counterparts tease their lady love…why? because they know that this is wrong..yet this wrong notion dominates the menfolk for many centuries…..I would like to prove them wrong..if they are good enough..they can remember the saying “give respect and take respect!” When they respect the women, they will receive respect back…

  68. Thanks for raising an important and timely (unfortunately, timeless) issue. And kudos to the writer of the response letter. His honesty has helped reveal some of the larger, societal norms that promote such appalling behavior.

  69. jessiedaher

    There’s an article on cracked that might shed some additional light. I reposted a link on my own blog or you can check it out here: http://www.cracked.com/article_19785_5-ways-modern-men-are-trained-to-hate-women.html. Kudos to the courageous tackling gender communication!!

  70. Yasmin

    Reblogged this on Flash Faction and commented:
    Fascinating. BE NICE, EVERYONE.

  71. Auntysocial

    Some men will shout “Get yer tits out love” and point / rub themselves as if it’s somehow inviting or whatever but they rarely go any further or make physical contact. Most would be scared to death if a woman actually obliged and then said “Right – what’s next?”

    Women are horrendous. Groups of women are far, FAR worse. For some reason they think it’s OK to grab some poor bloke, sit on his knee and rub him or shove his face into their cleavage etc because it’s all a bit of harmless fun.

    Women tell their friends and work colleagues about intimate aspects of their relationships and right down to the last detail – nothing is spared. I don’t particularly want or need to know anyway but the only time I ever hear about the finer details of someone else’s sex life is when a classy girl blurts out to all and sundry that a named bloke is crap in bed, not very well endowed and makes very odd noises during sex etc.

    I really do feel for young lads when they’re going about their business on a normal day. They can’t win. There’s too much emphasis on what is and isn’t acceptable for a man to say, look at or think about a woman instead of us all just upping courtesy levels and respect in general – regardless of gender.

  72. st sahm

    Most young girls and women will respond to polite and simple conversation…you will not make any new friends or potential girlfriends with the intent of a hook up or verbal assault. Since you already know this try harder!!

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  74. “it’s better to be the predator than the prey in the battle between the sexes”. This is specious reasoning. It sounds good, but it’s an totally flawed metaphor. It’s not a ‘battle’ to get a girl to sleep with you. Nor is it about being killed or surviving – it might *feel* like that, but it’s not.

    His emotions are valid, but the way he chooses to protect himself from them by defending a bunch of assholery is not valid.

    Although his sincerity is apparent, it’s not very self-reflective . A girl turning you down for sex isn’t the end of the world – it shouldn’t even be the end of the evening. It’s as important as you let it be. Framing it to yourself in Darwinian terms, and making it the answer about you, and you alone is self-defeating.

    There is another person in the transaction, right? There are a thousand possible reasons she’s not interested – maybe she is having a herpes outbreak! maybe she’s recovering from surgery! maybe her sister just died! maybe she had her wisdom teeth out! maybe she’s a lesbian! Maybe she’s just having a rotten day. Maybe she’s tired of being approached by guys who ‘just want to hook up’ and feel so entitled to sex that they treat her like a walking talking blow-up sex doll instead of a human being with, you know, a *name*.

    It’s frustrating to hear a guy creating such a Catch 22 for the woman as it it’s some sort of cosmic inevitability. If a girl responds to your insults and actually wants sex from you, you are now justified in not respecting her. if she turns you down, she’s a bitch or a cunt. Your harassment creates a no-win situation for the woman. So you both lose.

    “Just walking down the street can make me feel helpless when I pass a woman sometimes. I can’t shake it. If I could shake it, I would. Trust me. It’s no fun. But this is the hand I’m dealt, so I roll with it.”

    Vulnerability is the hand that we are ALL dealt. You choose how to roll with it. You don’t shake vulnerability – you embrace it and learn from it.

  75. I think the writer of this letter and you both make excellent points. I think you touch on some of what Kathleen Parker was talking about in her book, “Save the Males: Why Men Matter and Why Women Should Care.” I wrote an opinion article about this topic for my college newspaper and it got so much attention that I was asked on a local news program to talk about it. There IS a void for young men regarding what modern masculinity means. It leaves a whole generation very confused.

  76. Yes, we get it that you’re lonely.
    Yes, we get it when you’re horny.
    No we don’t get it when you don’t respect women.
    These attitudes exist because males men see women as objects.

  77. When I read how your world is, in your mind a few things hit me.
    Your rage, your sadness, your plea for help, your not knowing how to change, your lack of self respect which leads to lack of respect in many areas, and finally, your plea for help was the loudest.

    I have been on both ends. I’ve been the woman that men approach with aggression and venom dripping comments. I’ve been the woman that was the snob and rolled my eyes and dismissed a man. I have also been the woman that smiled and said thank you but no thank you.

    The older I get the more I can tell you things happen in a chain of events. If you approach a female or anyone with the attitude of ignorance and venom, you’ll get ignorance and venom. (not to mention the damage you could be doing to the person on the receiving end of your words and action).

    Approaching a woman with politeness and a genuine quality about you, will more than not get you a positive response. Even if it’s a no thank you. Now, not 100% of the time will your politeness get you politeness returned. There are few 100% guarantees in this world. But one that is never failing is this: Talk to someone like you’d like to be talked to. Treat someone how you’d like to be treated. Approach someone like you’d like to be approached. Listen and respect a person like you’d like them to do for you. And always be true to your word. If you can manage that, you’ll feel self respect, self happiness, easier time handling rejection, and the people around your world will shift from negative to positive. And that means, you’ll be making the connections that you’ve been longing for. That my friend is 100% guaranteed. 🙂

    ‘Sometime, when you’re ready for a change, consider this question. If you find yourself in a vicious game, would you rather be the predator or the prey?’ … Simple answer here, Don’t join a game if it’s vicious. Period. You always have a choice. We always have a choice. You may not like the choices, but you always have one. (Something a teacher once said to me and it has stuck with me).

    You say ‘Do I want to be this guy. Hell no! But who knows another way to become a man? Who can show me how to connect with a woman and respect myself?’. I am a woman and I’d like to give it a shot if you’ll bare with me.

    If you don’t want to be ‘this guy’, then discover what exactly you don’t like about it. What are you doing, saying, thinking, acting or using that chains you down to be this lower man? Then take a look at the people you have surrounded yourself with. The ‘boys’ you’ve accepted as ‘friends’. Your ‘trolling’ buddies. Take a good hard look at them. Do you like/admire what you see in them and what you see/hear them doing? Chances are, they are doing the same things you are that you don’t like about yourself.

    It’s time for an overhaul. A life, core, thought process overhaul.

    Clear out the bad. Make room for the good. Look around, magazines, books, tv shows, movies, real life!, and find a MAN you can look up to and start to work on achieving the traits he has to better yourself. It doesn’t have to be a man either. It can be anyone that you see the positive traits of being a human being in. See them, learn them, act them and become those traits.

    It will be hard. You will slip and revert back to the all to easy a–hole ways of that brick wall that protected you for so long. Who cares, so you slipped. Get up and start again. You can do it. And never underestimate the power of an apology.

    Find people that are encouraging and helpful. Insightful and example leading. Use them for strength and for a sounding board. Never apologize for who you are. Only for the negative actions you’ve done.

    From your own words I see your core. I see goodness and aching to be better. Let it out. Let the world meet who you really are and let the world watch and be a part of who you will become. Discover what your talents are, positive talents, and build them. Share them. Love them and make them your way of life.

    You have the ability to touch and affect so many lives in just one day. Make it worth while. Make yourself proud so that others may be proud of you too. And that my friend will lead you to developing into ‘A MAN’.

    Just my opinion. 🙂 I hope you’ve found something, anything in my words to encourage you. I leave you with hugs and positive thoughts. You can do it!


  78. “Ladies (in this imag­i­nary all-hetero world I’m writ­ing in at the moment), don’t be jerks to guys that try to talk to you (assum­ing they are civil), whether you’re inter­est­ed or not. You can polite­ly move on with­out rolling your eyes, turn­ing away, sigh­ing in dis­gust, or being a gen­er­al­ly unin­ter­est­ed pre­ten­tious douch­face.”

    Thank you for writing that.

  79. I just read this and am a little confused. I must admit that my daughter is partially laying on my lap, begging for cookies while dropping crumbs all over me and “Doc McStuffins” is on the tv. So I may have missed something from what you wrote. I apologize if I did.
    But I don’t understand how at the end of your blog, you are telling us women to be nice and that we don’t have to be mean if we’re not interested in a guy when you are supposedly apologizing for being a jerk to some girl you were rude to at a bar. How can you begin to have advice to women on how they are to act when you are still unsure how to handle yourself when approaching them? Just asking. But interested in your reply.
    I don’t thnk I’ve ever been mean to a guy if he tried to talk to me. I get so nervous that I get super chatty and think I confuse him. I’ll be telling him I’m not interested while at the same time asking what he’s doing later! ha

  80. I can totally relate to the “predator or prey” theory because I’ve been there myself and often times society pushes us in that spot. This was my personal experience, when meanness became my way of life. http://balamaga.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/when-meanness-becomes-a-way-of-life/

  81. Reblogged this on shalilah2002 and commented:
    This letter shows what I thought a long time ago guys who harrass women are truly insecure.

  82. You summed this up so fabulously! You remind me of Mary Anne Schwalbe – an utterly inspiring lady who understood the importance of niceness.

  83. I love the entire dialog going on. I think it’s so important and I love these posts. Thank you. I’m also really grateful to the guy who allowed you to publish this. There is such a sub- conversation that needs to be brought to the surface which is what you are doing.

  84. You are brave and wise. Thank you for posting your first letter as well as the young man’s letter. You handle the subject with maturity and empathy as well as calling out that behavior that demeans women and fails to show genuine respect of their humanity is wrong. For all you men out there reading this, you have so much value to the world when you choose to do the right thing. Understanding and following through with that responsibility takes a great deal of strength and clarity of mind, to me those two things don’t conflict with masculinity. Women and men both need to be strong, compassionate and respect themselves if we’re ever going to have harmony together.

  85. Ladies! We should dress, behave, and react in ways that show men how we want to be treated. Leaves the guess work out. Commands respect from the get-go. Builds up our man’s confidence. Win-Win for both.

    • Sounds all very well except that you appear to be excusing guys who treat women badly. ‘She dresses like a slut, so it’s ok for me to treat her like one’ – that’s not right, is it? Confidence is AN issue, but a sense of entitlement and a lack of respect are also factors, and creepy guys are just as likely to harrass a woman in a hijab as one in a short skirt and crop top so this is bull, I’m afraid.

      • Not excusing them at all. It’s just that some men will just always treat women poorly, so I think it’s also important for women to develop survival skills. Otherwise we fall into a trap of accepting their behavior and keeping them in our life. If we’re showing a man how to treat us an then so the opposite, then the answer is simple. We run. I’m afraid you’re assuming that all women don’t accept this behavior, when the truth is many do and unintentionally nurture it. Just trying to help fellow women have some techniques for teaching men how they want to be treated so they immediately recognize the need to run when the treatment is contradictory.

      • In other words, we need to value ourselves in order to recognize and run when we are not being values by men. Unfortunately, many women struggle with this.

  86. Couldn’t agree more!

    Is that an excuse? No. Treat women like humans and not opponents to be triumphed over and you might have more success with them. Don’t make taco jokes; say hello and smile. Approach with no expectation of anything more than a pleasant exchange with a fellow person just doing their best.

    And this is not unidirectional. Ladies (in this imaginary all-hetero world I’m writing in at the moment), don’t be jerks to guys that try to talk to you (assuming they are civil), whether you’re interested or not. You can politely move on without rolling your eyes, turning away, sighing in disgust, or being a generally uninterested pretentious douchface.

    SOO TRUEE!!!! 🙂

  87. Wow! Nothing like doing some honest introspection on behavior(“-“)

  88. You are very brave to post this about yourself. Being one of the women you spoke about.. I used to respect myself, and then I had a man treat me with no respect. He called me names, hurt my feelings, used me, and made derogatory comments about my body. Called my lady parts things that were disgusting and repulsive. I was broken down and believed him. I had no self worth. Your article is a little hard to read because those women you say don’t ‘respect themselves’… I was one of them. I work every day on myself to become a better person. To work on how I feel, and how I respect myself. I stopped wishing I could change. I don’t want to anymore. I finally had to realize I should love who I am.

    Not making fun of people is a treat. I recommend a bit of light reading. “How to Love a Porcupine” and take the 30-day challenge: Don’t insult anyone else or yourself for 30 days. Whenever you do (because you will mess up), you start your countdown over again. It helped me… when I was learning to respect myself again after a man had degraded me.

  89. Your insight is commendable.
    I would be lying if I didn’t say reading this made me hugely grateful I am a raging homosexual.
    I can love men without the fear of a mascu-femi power battle 🙂
    Which i’m sure doesn’t need to exist in ANY relationship with a bit of mutual respect and kindness!

  90. I have read your Blog and most of the comments, and after a few minutes of thought, here is my response. Namaste— The Devine in me, greets the Devine in you. Nothing else matters, Not sex (as to which gender), not beauty (if you look through the eyes of the Devine -all are beautiful and wondrous), not size ( be encouraging in a long term relationship for both of you to have a healthy lifestyle). Over my life, I have watched those around me be hurt because they were not even being treated as human beings, even less Children of the Devine. Fear is what generates these emotions and reactions (response implies you thought about it first) – Love is what brings a relationship to a places of trust and saftey. Will this guarantee that you will never be hurt, and will always be safe. No.. but it will go a long way in improving the quality of your relationships, even if they do not work out. If you have started with greeting the Devine…. then you allow for a love based relationship. If it does not work out, part with as much love as you can muster. It is best for them and more importantly – It is best for you.

  91. Thanks for posting this follow-up. I read your original essay and was nodding so vigorously that I thought my head might fall off. I unfortunately had “my rape” when I was 24 and still pretty new in NYC… a guy followed me into the bathroom at a bar and shoved my head into the toilet while he had his way. This was a well-dressed, good-looking guy, by the way – not someone I would call a creepy street rat. It was completely horrible, and I’ve since gotten past it… but the one thing I haven’t been able to get past is the constant feeling of being on guard while I’m out and about. Because it’s reality – you have to be.

    Your last paragraph of advice to women struck a chord with me, because I know I’ve been that girl who has blown off a guy who probably had no bad intentions. That said… I’m having a hard time coming up with an example of any time a (male) stranger has approached me and I’ve felt comfortable with it. Ever. I’m not talking about someone stopping to ask for directions or politely smiling to offer a seat on the subway or asking for a book recommendation at B&N – in those cases, I’ll always smile and be helpful. And hey – if we strike up an innocent conversation and it turns out that we have chemistry or things in common, great! But when I’m sitting and reading a book on a not-rush-hour subway platform with headphones on and a guy comes down and sits directly next to me and smiles at me, I’m immediately on the defensive. It doesn’t really matter who he is or what he looks like or even what he says to me… I don’t want to be picked up while I’m clearly keeping to myself and reading. Because as the original essay so perfectly expresses, I don’t know anything about you or what your intentions are, and I’d rather be safe than sorry. So if I’m sitting on a not-crowded platform and you come and sit down right next to me, I’m going to get up and leave and quickly walk someplace where I feel safer. My safety is more important to me than being polite, I guess.

    Point taken about being nice to guys who are just being nice… I guess it’s just hard to determine that. It seems like so often even the “nice” guys are just looking for a hookup. I have always been a nice girl to a fault… I’m probably too generous and have never had the “bitch” gene, but when it comes to men approaching me, sometimes it comes out. Part of the problem is that sometimes giving the tiniest inch is seen as an invitation of interest. Even if it’s a polite smile and acknowledgement and a blunt, “I’m sorry, I’m not interested,” so often that’s taken as a “hey, she spoke to me! I’m going to pursue this.” I guess I’m not totally sure what the solution is, but it was interesting (and a bit terrifying) to read what he wrote.

    Thanks to you for so eloquently describing the experiences that we all deal with daily as women. You have no idea how much it means to simply know that we’re not alone.

  92. Pingback: How Different Are Men and Women? Does It Matter? | rosiesaysblog

  93. bschmaeling

    Wow, from this article it seems as if you are saying that there is one thing and one thing only that drives relationship between the sexes. Prey? Really? I think you are right on when you say that there is no model of masculinity for young men today. The same can be said for women.

    Men are intimidated by women and vice-versa mainly because you are not seeing the person but the package. Nothing can make a woman feel more insecure than being looked at as a piece of meat to be devoured. Women desire relationship, and friendship is a great place to start. Communication can be tricky too, the sexes speak totally different languages. Always clarify.

    Mutual R-E-S-P-E-C-T is required for any meaningful encounter. Ditch the porn, put on hormone blocker antiperspirant and start a real conversation.

  94. Pingback: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Street Harassment, and “Real Men” | rosiesaysblog

  95. Pingback: street harassment, now with extra sad | massive hassle

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