NPF: THE GAME

I'm going to recount a tale from one of my friends on Wednesday evening. Let's call her Mary. She's in her late twenties and would be considered attractive by most observers.

Mary and one of her friends go out for the evening. They encounter a group of dudes led by, well, let's call him Tool. Tool tells the ladies that they are out drinking wildly because one of their friends (in the Dude Group) lost his job. No problem, right? Tool asks Mary to hug said friend to cheer him up. The ladies politely decline and leave. Incident over, right? Tool tried his little pickup line (creepy, albeit essentially harmless) and it didn't work; on with the evening.

Nope. Tool follows them into the bar asking them to hug his friend. They decline again. He leaves to re-join his group. Surely we're done now, right?

Not so. He comes back with his posse and Mary noticed his return when she feels Tool's hand grasping her arm. She yanks the arm away, subtly transmitting the social cue, "Do not touch me." He continues to linger and ask them to hug his friend. Mary's friend informs him that he's starting to get annoying (starting!) and he should leave. Tool then grabs Mary's forearm and tries to pull her toward him. She rips her arm away and explicitly tells him what he has failed to pick up on thus far: That's it. Leave us alone.

He tells them that he is sorry if they think hugs are rude. Her friend says, "No, you are rude. We find YOU rude," and he responds, "I think you're a bitch," as they walk away.

I have more female friends than male ones, and I hear stories like this all the time. And I never cease to be astounded at how tone deaf, clueless, and aggressive the men in these stories are. OK, granted, this is not to say women are incapable of rude behavior or that these men are representative of all men. But good god, the absolute inability to read very basic non-verbal cues, followed up by the absolute refusal to follow verbal ones, is beyond comprehension. I'm more surprised when I reflect and realize that, at age 34, I've never once been in a group of men who behaved this way. And that's not to pat myself and my friends on the back for being Great People. We're not. It's not an act of kindness and nobility to leave someone alone when they say "Please leave me alone." It's just…a basic part of human interaction? I don't even know how to state this effectively. It would be like saying "My friends are awesome because when a waiter brings us a check, we always pay it." You don't get to applaud yourself, or anyone else, for doing the bare minimum expected of you.

Granted, my friends could tell you that I am particularly easy to dissuade; if I meet a stranger at a bar, I usually break off conversation after about two minutes because I just assume that the person wants to be left alone, or I think they look bored (I'm extremely boring). If someone did something as explicit as turning their back or walking away, I…I would not hesitate to get the message. Would you? And then to think that the situation would progress (because I followed someone who was trying to avoid me) to the point that an explicit "Please go away" was necessary is beyond my experience. Again, this doesn't make me a good person. It merely makes me a person who can read basic social cues and…not act all rapey? That doesn't seem like Good. That seems like the absolute bare minimum that we can expect of the other people in the world.

I don't get it. I don't understand how some people can charge right through so many red lights. I've seen women do it too, but somehow it's just not the same – it comes off more as, I guess, "desperate" rather than scary-aggressive. Because when it happens to me I don't end up thinking "Gosh I hope I don't get raped" whereas a woman experiencing this probably thinks exactly that. I don't have to worry, "If this person grabs me, can I break their grip? How can I get out of here as quickly as possible? Can anyone here help me?" I don't feel threatened, I just feel moderately annoyed (OK, this only happened to me, like, once. But you get it.)

Clearly, social situations between single people are a sort of game, and sometimes people play games to get one another's attention. Everyone has their own little conversation starters, ice breakers, and so on. And I can't blame anyone for trying. If I'm in the mood to be left alone, or focusing on a conversation with one of my friends, it would not be reasonable to shout, "OH MY GOD, I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU FUCKING SPOKE TO ME!" if someone makes an attempt. But neither is it reasonable to refuse to give up in the attempt. Sometimes people aren't interested in talking to you. To me. To anyone. Is that so hard to accept? My self-confidence is not high, granted, but I have enough to withstand the minor rejection of someone saying "Ha. No thanks." to an effort to start a conversation. We live in a society, though, in which it would apparently be socially acceptable for me to ignore that and persist until I'm maced or escorted out of the bar.

And then, of course, I get to call the woman a bitch. For resisting my charms.

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78 Responses to “NPF: THE GAME”

  1. gwenhara Says:

    For me, as a woman, I see it as an extension of the Maxim/Axe Body Spray mantra of "Women are responsible for men's behavior because women dress a certain way or act a certain way and men can't be trusted to behave themselves." I remember when Maxim first debuted in 1999 or 2000 or whenever and on the cover was an article that said something to the effect of "When she says 'No' she doesn't mean it."

    I realize that this is an extension of many religious ideologies as well which dictate that women must dress and act a certain way so as to not easily lead men astray. It's also a popular trope of the 19th century which we have not really left behind. And of course, this mentality is popular in victim blaming, especially in cases of sexual assault and rape.

    So you see, it's not his fault for being creepy, it's the woman's fault for looking hot and being hot in his vicinity. He simply couldn't help himself in her presence and so she needed to indulge him because it was all her fault. He wanted to shame her into doing what he wanted because he simply lacked the ability to behave like a respectful adult.

    Ugh. I hate that mentality so much.

  2. c u n d gulag Says:

    Some people, guy's in particular, need to have it drummed into their heads, that if they can't accept "no" for an answer, then they shouldn't ask the question.

    But, of course, they don't "get it."

    For people with an ego and arrogance a mile wide, deep, and high, and a conscience that's the size of a subatomic particle, they can't comprehend why someone else wouldn't want to succumb to the wonders of them, and their "charms."

    I believe we have a word for people like that – and I believe that's, a "sociopath."

  3. DocAmazing Says:

    My wife was a self-defense instructor for a while. Before we were married, I had the pleasure of watching a guy in a bar hitting on her and putting his hand on her waist. She got him in a pain-compliance hold quite quickly, before I had time to walk up. Guy played cool–"Oh, I see you're with someone"–as he rubbed his undoubtedly-agonizing wrist and left.

    Seemed an appropriate response on my wife's behalf.

  4. Big Sister Says:

    Ed, you said thie incident with Mary happened in a bar. Consider the effects of alcohol On the situation. People who have had too much to drink frequently ignore cues that they would otherwise "get." Maybe the guy was just a creep. But maybe he woke up the next morning and said to himself "OMG! what a jerk-off i was last night!. That poor woman; I'll bet she was ready to call the cops."

    Alcohol is a pernicious drug. It suppresses judgement and knocks out people's abilities to evaluate their own behavior. I grew up with alcoholic parents who would say the most devastating things to me and my siblings when drunk, but would either not remember them the next morning or would come sniveling about how sorry they were.

    I am in no way trying to justify the guy's assault on your friend. I absolutely abhor this kind of thing. I am just trying to explain how I understood it. You did a lot of hand-wringing over being unable to comprehend how a person could be so obtuse and rude. Get out Occam's Razor and slash away. He was inexcusably drunk.

  5. Jimcat Says:

    I would add something here but Ed has said pretty much everything I would have said, and said it well. Being able to take "no" for an answer is part of basic social interaction, and 99.9% of the people I have known will do so without a second thought. I'm baffled as to how people get to adult age without this being a foundational part of their behavior.

  6. Clint Says:

    Emotional intelligence falls on a wide continuum just as other types of intelligence do. Add variation in personality and upbringing and you have… this.

    I don't hang out at bars (much), nor do I attend professional football games. This is why. If ever there were places to see congregations of males with that mindset, there they are. Yes, women should be able to do those things without fear of being accosted, but it has to be expected, given what I said above. It's human nature, and as much as we work to eliminate it, we'll never do so completely.

  7. Andrew Says:

    I also agree with everything Ed has said. Even when drunk, I would never behave that way. But combine copious quantities of alcohol with the fact that we live in an "If you try hard enough, and don't accept no for an answer, you can get what you want" society, and it's a recipe for situations like the one described.

  8. ladiesbane Says:

    Depending on where you live and how you were brought up, his behavior toward women might have been seen as courtly persistence rather than loutish aggression.

    But consider how the females in his native environment might have been raised: to "be sweet" on demand. Behaving in an infantile, indulgent, "cutie pie" way is seen as appropriate. And — I can't stress this enough — being negative toward men who are not actively attacking you is not only considered inappropriate, but hostile. The "Bitch!" call is often followed by, "I was only trying to be nice!" and even if his buddies' girlfriends think he went a little too far, "She didn't have to be such a bitch about it." She should have spent a long time catering to his empathy-free idiocy and quietly charmed him into moving along. She would have retained his oh-so-vital "respect" that way. As much as a guy can respect a girl who doesn't want him to touch her. After all, she took his feelings into account, and that's the mark of a REAL woman.

    I grew up negotiating those waters carefully. Men with bruised egos are dangerous. As the saying goes, men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them.

  9. fidelio Says:

    I've seen this dynamic, with variations, play out in different situations. I've seen similar things in situations where the pick-up artist thing was not likely to be in play at all, because overt expectations of sex were unlikely, and the thing I see these having in common is the expectation that Men are entitled to unlimited attention from Women, pretty much the same way that a child* (presumably, according to this worldview) entitled to unlimited attention from its mother. The apparent inability to take No and go somewhere else has a lot in common with very small children who are learning that Persistence (sometimes) Pays Off.

    I don't think I'm being unfair by saying it's an infantile behavior, either. Grown-ups need to know that they will hear No from time to time, and how to deal with that in a non-childish manner. Learning to hear No, and deal well with that is an important skill.

    *Male child, typically; female children should learn to STFU, or see if they can get what they want fom Daddy by being extra sweet and wheedling, always aware that Daddy may not have the time for babydoll just then…
    For more, see what ladiesbane had to say.

  10. Leon Says:

    Unfortunately, our society and our media/advertisers believe that men sometimes need to be persistent and that no sometimes can be turned into a yes. I use as exhibit a, this recent Audi commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wggBWRvXpg

    (Not sure if that's going to turn into a link and I'm a bit out of it to turn it into html) The 'protagonist' of this commercial takes what he wants, regardless of how clearly in the wrong he is. Oddly, apparently this is only considered incorrect behavior in liberal circles, whereas I thought it was so viscerally repulsive that there would be no debate. Seems more like a human thing to me. (whoops, NPF, right?)

    And this sort of behavior is why we constantly encourage women to 'avoid' rape, a way to put responsibility of rape in the hands of the victim. Perhaps someday it'll be part of parenting 101 to tell young sons that you can't always get what you want, and that the appropriate reaction is acceptance and learning from the experience. Nobody owes you a word, a wink, or a hug, and they are not a bitch to refuse you, you're an asshole to persist.

    Shorter: I agree.

  11. Hazy Davy Says:

    There are two possibilities:
    1) This was a learning experience for Tool, and he won't do it again.
    2) This was a discrepant experience for Tool.

    I'm pretty sure it's #2. I'm pretty sure that this is not the first time he's used this aggressive, offensive, disrespectful assault approach. I'm pretty sure it's gotten him the results he wanted, more times than not. God, I don't know why it has. But I've seen it. I've seen the "pursued" (not always women) feel that this aggressiveness on the part of the pursuer (always men) is playful, cute, confident, or endearing (as in "oh, I'm that desireable").

    He may not be socially inept. It may be that society has conditioned people to be assholes. The only way it goes away is if everyone reacts like Mary. And they don't/won't.

  12. Hazy Davy Says:

    [On preview...what ladiesbane said]

  13. sluggo Says:

    @ Ed

    Where was this? In the South or Midwest?

    I can't picture that encounter lasting that long with any of my Chicago-born female relatives. Tool would have emasculated either with words or a knee.

  14. Arslan Says:

    How much you want to bet Tool is always complaining about how women don't appreciate what a "nice gentleman" he is, because they only "go for total assholes?"

    Also, this guy is clearly not a PUA. A PUA would break contact at the slightest sign of disinterest.

  15. sluggo Says:

    I suspect that Tool has never made love to a sober woman.

  16. jazzbumpa Says:

    The thing that really disturbs me is this:

    I hear stories like this all the time.

    Assuming the stories are real, I see three possibilities.

    1 – There's a lot of ass holes out there
    2 – There's a small number of very active ass holes out there
    3 – Your female friends have had a single incident where they were involved in or observed something like this, and it was so striking/memorable/traumatic that it keeps coming up.

    But I suspect it's number 1.

    And I don't think drinking makes anyone an asshole. It lowers the social awareness and responsibility/judgment/self-control of those who are ass holes anyway, but can usually keep it more or less under wraps.

    JzB

  17. HoosierPoli Says:

    People make racist remarks in inappropriate situations because, in their experience, in the circles they travel in most of the time, they get away with that sort of shit.

    Tool has done that many times and always gotten his way. Now that he's out in the world instead of picking up drunk freshmen rushing Phi Delt, he's simply mystified at Mary's reaction.

  18. Tom Amitai Says:

    This is one of the reasons why I think medical science should be trying to come up with a drug that causes shyness, instead of trying to cure it. The other reason is that I've never been late due to a traffic jam caused by a shy pride parade.

  19. negative 1 Says:

    I wonder about what leads to that behavior, but I don't think it's quite as gender specific though as the article. You read similar behavior by women as 'desperate' because you're not physically afraid of them/intimidated by them, and many women are (and should be) of larger, intimidating men.
    I also am not rapey and nor are my friends, but I know the type. When I was in my 20s I worked in the central offices of a Fortune 5 bank, and they were there. What will scare you is that although I don't think most of these dudes would really be physically aggressive when push came to shove (pardon the pun) it is a pattern of their overall behavior. And though I'm not the shrinking sort, it gets wearisome even for another guy to be around. That said? There is definitely a female version of that behavior in the same social circles. They want you to flirt with them, not because they'll ever date you (they won't) but they can't take someone not being into them. Here's the hint – if you're not into them, you're either 'weird' or you're 'gay'.

  20. evodevo Says:

    Yes. A combination of all the above. I'd say he & his buddies have used this line, or one like it, many times and it works about 50% of the time, and if the girl isn't interested/won't comply they yell bitch and leave (or sometimes, not – she's just lucky they didn't stake out the parking lot and accost her there, only more physically). Sounds like typical frat boy or good ole boy behavior – I'd hazard a guess this took place south of the Mason-Dixon line, where males are accustomed to moving in on unattached women, and not being refused so perfunctorily. The "She asked for it" rape culture is alive and well down there and stalking is a pastime in those states because of the cultural behavior Ladiesbane and Fidelio talk about. Hear stories like that at work all the time.

  21. Major Kong Says:

    I'm so glad I'm married. I hated playing the singles game and I was never any good at it.

  22. Jim Says:

    While it has been ever thus (the awkward dance between men and women) I wonder how much the art of actual "face to face" conversation is being lost due to "social media."

    Damn kids today…..

  23. Jane Says:

    Speaking as a lady who has been the Mary in this situation, I think part of what makes these situations so awful is that women are socialized to be agreeable. This means that at least in the early stages of dealing with someone like Tool we're trying to be as "nice" as possible about blowing him off, which Tool mistakes for encouragement. I feel myself to be in a bind when dealing with misogynistic assholes: if I smile and act polite he'll mistake this for flirting and he'll be all the more difficult to get rid of; if I act cold and don't smile, he might go away faster, but might feel antagonized, which is scary, because such dudes often have an undercurrent of violence. Basically anything a woman could possibly say to a guy like this either strokes or wounds his ego, and he can always either say that you led him on at the beginning or that you were a bitch to him for no reason.

  24. Elle Says:

    I read that story with keen anticipation that something unexpected would happen. It didn't.

    Progressive, pro-feminist men are often dumbfounded or disbelieving when the scale of creepiness that women experience is described to them. They would never dream of calling a woman a cunt for not talking to them on the subway, so it can't possibly be women's daily lived experience.

    There is literally nowhere in public that women can go that isn't also populated by hostile and aggressive creepers, or their lesser cousins; men who think women are the hostesses of the world. I've lost count of the times that some dude on a train or plane has ignored me saying "I can't talk to you, because I'm trying to finish this piece of work", and continued to bloviate at length. I've left countless bars with friends, because some guy has sat down at our table, interrupting our conversation, and won't leave. I've had men I know, and men I don't, slide their hand up my leg or ass at dinner tables, on public transport, and in elevators all over the world. I've had "compliments" (which are reviews on my body, or my gender conformity, because men are the judges and I am the show calf) and admonishments to smile (because there is nothing that drives men crazy like women refusing to arrange their facial features on demand) on the street, in taxis, and on every kind of public transport everywhere. I'm half-pleased when I get to go somewhere I don't know the word for suck or fuck, because then there's some plausible deniability around exactly what the latest creepy guy is saying to me on the street.

    The notion that all of this relentless microaggression is attributable to gender-neutral assholery is nonsensical. I'll believe that the day that some 15 year old girl lounging outside a bodega looks me in the eye, spits on the ground, and tells me I have great tits.

  25. Spiffy McBang Says:

    I've been told my blind spot is in noticing anyone who's showing interest in me. When I read stories like this, I'm incredibly glad that if I have to have a social flaw, it's that.

  26. Nick Says:

    A couple people mentioned "oh he was probably just super drunk" as a reason for this. That ignores the fact that it is perfectly possible to be drunk without being a fucking douchebag. I might be more willing to approach women when I'm drunk. I might even be clueless as to their lack of interest if they're being "politely friendly" (as a couple posters have touched on above, most of the women I know tend to have a really hard time just telling a guy to go away, because they're socialized to be demure and "polite" and receptive). But if the lady walks away from me or turns back to her friends or ignores me or whatever, the possibility of continuing to harass her or even grabbing her has never entered my mind, because despite my general awkwardness I am in fact capable of basically appropriate social behavior.

  27. Sarah Says:

    A couple people mentioned "oh he was probably just super drunk" as a reason for this. That ignores the fact that it is perfectly possible to be drunk without being a fucking douchebag.

    Yes. They've just been talking about this situation on Yo is this Racist with regard to giving morons a pass for spewing racist bullshit when they get drunk. One fellow who said he was white and got blackout drunk on one occasion asked one of his friends the next day what he had said or done, and she told him he just ranted about how much he hated racists and Republicans.

    A drunk shitbag is still a shitbag while sober.

  28. guttedleafsfan Says:

    Ladies, it is even worse than you perceive, besides the regular jerks and drunks there are now "Gamer" disciples of Neil Strauss who operate only in the daytime. I think even I was Gamed once and I am ancient for godsakes.

    Sometimes it is good to be 113.

  29. Marc Says:

    UGH. The Game. The entire subculture is so creepy and menacing, even from afar.

    The fact that it's like this – movement? – is just so . . . (shudders). The websites are intriguing in a Thank God That's Not Me way, as you said, but it leaves you feeling sad that this is real and there are real people being impacted (and not in a good way)

  30. E* Says:

    Will I be booed off of the comments stage if I say that these guys can be really fun times? "Inability to read very basic non-verbal cues" = very easy to fuck with. Now, Mary may not be into this form of entertainment, but I find it makes for a great evening. Actual example:

    Toolbag [at a college party]: "Let's go somewhere quiet. I have something to tell you."
    E*: "OK" (I know -never go to a second location, but curiosity is a powerful lure)
    Toolbag: (blocks door) "Fuck me."
    E*: "Ooo, I REALLY want to. I do. But you've been drinking, so you can't give your consent. I would be raping you."
    Toolbag: "No, I'm the one who wants to fuck you."
    E*: "Right, but you can't give your consent right now because you're drunk. I don't want to be charged with rape."
    [... about 20 minutes of confused conversation, with Toolbag eventually performing several tasks to prove he is not drunk, and E* leaving]

    As to Jane's point about such dudes being scary, because they often have an undercurrent of violence… If I worry about violence against me, I'm already a victim. Besides, who's to say the woman doesn't have an undercurrent of violence too?

    You can be angered and bothered by this shit, or you can have some fun…

  31. wonderbread Says:

    This is not a matter of being "unable" to read body language and social cues. This is a matter of *ignoring* social cues because you expect to be (socially or sexually) serviced by any woman you place demands on. She should be flattered that she was chosen for his attentions! After all, women have no worth other than that conferred on them by men! He was just trying to be helpful by continuing to extend the invitation to be of use to the men multiple times! She must have missed the call to perform her duty!

  32. Xecky Gilchrist Says:

    E* – that's a pretty bad idea if the guy's got 40 pounds of muscle advantage on you, drunk or not.

  33. Monty Says:

    Aside from today being Friday, how exactly does this post even remotely fall under the NPF rubric?

  34. Tom Says:

    What's wrong with being called a bitch? The word essentially means "female person who does not like me or how I am presently acting" (when not being used as a neuter pronoun), which seems completely fair; Mary should not have taken a scintilla of umbrage.

  35. Tom Says:

    Do you expect a man to be honest with you? I don't think fear of unlikely violence is a valid justification for your sexism. Stop being "nice" and show some candour, you duplicitous bitch.

    Jane Says:
    August 16th, 2013 at 4:24 pm

  36. guttedleafsfan Says:

    Marc,

    You are so right. And the people impacted include the Gamers themselves, who pay good money for their eventual guaranteed pickups and get their moneysworth. Whatever normal social instincts they started with, they end up with deciding they will pretty soon stop "rotating the girlies" and "seduce for love." And they will find somebody worthy of their skills, and the poor chosen one will marry him.

    Ugh, indeed.

  37. john Says:

    just to inject some red state realism here, some men are behave like this because they can. this guy was likely the alpha douche of his group, none of his friends could stop him so he why would he stop? it always make me laugh when guys wring there hands over why this happens, well it happens because a decent guy didn't stop it, if you see this kind of behavior at a bar stand up and make it clear it is unacceptable. As a large guy (6'3: 200+) what exactly is a 5'4" 105lb girl supposed to do if I wont take no for an answer?

  38. J. Dryden Says:

    When I got my first real job teaching college, I was assigned to teach a course in Women's Lit. I pointed out that I might not be the ideal candidate, as I had done my graduate research in a historical period in which women were discouraged from being literate. No matter–I got the assignment. (I think they were testing me to see how much I wanted the job.)

    On my first day, I faced a class of 30+ students, all of whom were female. I sighed, and began, dryly, "So, let me tell you all about what it means to be a woman." They laughed, and I went on. "Let me be blunt: all I know about femininity I learned from two sources–reading stuff by women, and listening to them. This means that I have a pretty good personal and historical intellectual appreciation of social, religious, economic, and political influences on femininity. It also means that I do not–however much I may wish to–'get it.' I don't; I can't. Every time I've been treated badly in my life, it has always been for something I *did*–it has never been for something I *am*. Every one of you knows what the latter is like, and that's a gulf between us, and I regret that it exists. So what's going to happen here in this class is that you're gonna talk–a lot–and I'm gonna listen, hard. I'm going to ask tough questions, and you're going to think about your answers. And at the end of it, I hope that *I* will have learned as much as you. But–and I can't stress this enough–I'll never 'get it.' All I can do is trust that 'it' is very real, and that it demands attention and respect."

    I mention this lengthy speech (which went over well) not because I'm awesome (although…), but because I think that men who behave badly, and oh God are there plenty, either don't believe that 'it' exists (because they're ignorant or self-excusing wretches), or are so frustrated by the insurmountable nature of 'it' that they figure, with brutish pragmatism: Fuck it–if I'm a guy and I can't ever know, then why not steer into the skid and just reinforce the hell out of the gender differences, because God-DAMN do they work in my favor!

    Rapey behavior is so repulsive, for so many reasons, but it's also worth remembering John Mulaney's surprise at a woman's fear of him: "Oh–she's running *from* me, because in *her* eyes, I'm an *adult.* And adults rape each other. Kind of a lot." Men with evil in their hearts are, of course, the worst–but all men need to recognize that if you're close enough to a woman to grab her, and you're a stranger, trust me, there's some small part of her that wonders if tonight's the night she becomes a statistic.

    So just…Jesus, just don't. Rejection sucks, of course it does. It sucks for about 10 minutes. But the whole rest of the time–all the other minutes and hours and days and weeks and months and years– it's *way* worse to be the woman who rejected you. In short, even if a woman shoots you down, you got lucky. Because when you walk to your car tonight, it won't even cross your mind to have your keys in your hand right away so that you can be inside your car as quickly as possible.

  39. frye boots clearance Says:

    I don't think fear of unlikely violence is a valid justification for your sexism.

  40. Elle Says:

    If I worry about violence against me, I'm already a victim.

    I entirely agree, E*, that The Safety Rules (like the one you point out; don't get taken to a second location) that are drummed into most women before they hit puberty are completely ineffectual and constraining of our ability to roam the world at will.

    However, I can't get down with the idea that it's naming things violence that is problematic, rather than the violence itself. Sexism is not a kind of reverse bogeyman, that will go away if we pretend we can't see it. Individual women could recast harassment to themselves as sparky badinage, but ten times out of ten that would be a lie. I think putting on our big girl pants should involve seeing the world as it really is, and that includes acknowledging anger and "being bothered" at being treated like a second-class human as entirely reasonable.

  41. Sarah Says:

    Do you expect a man to be honest with you? I don't think fear of unlikely violence is a valid justification for your sexism. Stop being "nice" and show some candour, you duplicitous bitch.

    Dude, I'm pretty sure you meant this to be a sarcastic tone, and perhaps you said "unlikely" because you have not seen the statistics nor read the stories regarding women who get the shit beaten out of them and/or raped by men. If you're really that clueless, you might want to go check out a fascinating essay entitled "Schrödinger's Rapist."

    If you meant that in all sincerity, then I'm not sure what to say beyond, gee, I'm glad I don't know you, you insensitive asshole.

  42. Sarah Says:

    Aside from today being Friday, how exactly does this post even remotely fall under the NPF rubric?

    Our blogger host is a guy. He seems like a sincerely nice guy who respects women and honestly believes they should be treated like human beings, but still, a guy. And a lot of guys don't "get" the "personal is political and the political is personal" meme.

  43. Carrstone Says:

    Don't call yourself 'extremely boring,' Ed; there's nothing extreme about you.

  44. Dick Nixon Says:

    Call me old fashioned, but don't these guys have families that taught them to respect women?

    Geez….I was taught at a very early age by my mother and sisters that women's persons were sacrosanct. Not to be too holier than thou, but you never mauled a women, no meant no, and the thought of striking a woman was tantamount to desecrating the flag.

    And no, in my prime, I was a s persistent and horny as any slobbering American male. But damn, there are limits.

  45. grumpygradstudent Says:

    This is one of the reasons I greatly prefer online dating to the idea of trying to pick somebody up at a bar. I'm sure there's a way that men with normal social skills can convey to an unknown woman at a bar, "hey, I'm sexually/romantically interested in you. Would you care to talk to me?" in a non-creepy way, but not possessing that social know-how, I default to simply not talking to strangers. When you combined good old fashioned fear of rejection with anxiety over appearing to be creepy/rapey, it's easier for me to just try to mind my own business when I'm out in public. With online dating, you know that the people you're contacting are looking to meet somebody, and if they're not interested, they just won't respond to you. It eliminates a lot of the uncertainty and need for game playing.

    Although I know there are lots of guys on those sites who will still send unsolicited sexual messages or photos, so I guess creepsters can find a way!

  46. Arslan Says:

    I just want to add my support for those who correctly point out that being drunk really isn't an excuse. Furthermore, there comes a time in one's life when it's time to stop acting like a college student and not "get drunk" when you go out. In that sense, being 28-30+ and going out to get drunk(as in drunk enough to do something stupid) is in itself the first step to douchebaggery. If a few beers gets you drunk enough to act like Tool, then you really shouldn't be drinking at all.

  47. Sandi Says:

    Wonderbread pegged it. It's not that they don't get the cues, it's that they don't fucking care. These kinds of cretins think that they are entitled to whatever it is they are hitting on you for, or they have a bet with another cretin, or whatever. They just.don't.care what the female they are harassing wants.

    Ladies, how many of you have been accused of being 'butch', 'lesbo', 'queer' or what have you, because you turn down the dickhead's offer to buy you a drink? I was even told one night that I couldn't be married to my own husband (who was shooting darts nearby) who he had demanded I point out when I politely said 'No thanks, I'm married.'. Said guys like that didn't marry 'women like you'. WTF? But I'm good enough for your sleazy ass to hit on??? The bartender leaned over and said, 'You just made the biggest mistake of your life. You better be gone before she gets his attention.". Bastard ran, but I wonder if he would have if the bartender had been female.

  48. guttedleafsfan Says:

    Sandi, as the widow of a notable dart player (a Scottish one to boot) I loved your story.

    If that happened in our pub, where the bartender was female, the bastard would have run faster.

  49. don Says:

    Sarah – the post you recommended, "Schrödinger's Rapist", would be required reading for all middle-school students (boys and girls both) in my dream world. Actually in my real dream world it wouldn't be necessary but I'm old and my dreams are sadly reduced. In that post the author writes "… a man who ignores a woman’s NO in a non-sexual setting is more likely to ignore NO in a sexual setting, as well." I would add that to many men, ALL settings are sexual settings. Whether that's nature or nurture who gives a shit, the effect's the same.

    To Tom ("I don't think fear of unlikely violence is a valid justification for your sexism"), who Sarah also commented to – my polite (aka submissive, ingratiating) apologies if you were being ironic, but really, stop being such a straight white guy for 5 minutes. You have no idea what it feels like to evaluate every passing encounter with strange men, initially only mildly unsettling (because you're used to it), for its potential to escalate to abuse, humiliation, or physical harm (like, I don't know, rape, stabbed to death, set on fire, tied to a truck and dragged, crucified on a fence post – just little, hypothetical, once in a blue moon, maybe-maybe-not shit it's totes your fault if you let into your psyche and allow to govern your caution in the world). As a white homosexual I get to at least pretend I can switch myself off and "pass" in potentially threatening situations, but women do not enjoy that dubious privilege. I'm apparently not enjoying it as much as I like to imagine; I recall the time a truckload of teenage boys threw a beer bottle at me in a strange town, and I found myself just standing there after they roared off, wondering what part of "look at me I'm gay" I had failed to monitor and adjust. Then, of course, I got the fuck off that street as fast as I could in case they came back for more. My point, I think, is that you never, ever know when they'll come back for more. So fuck you.

    And sorry for playing the homo card. My genuine apologies if Tom turns out to be a Chechen lesbian posting from a secret attic in St Petersburg.

  50. Robert Says:

    I have become more and more aware of this lately. Manboobz.com covers it extensively, and Pharyngula also discusses it. I somehow manage not to be exposed to it in my own life, outside of infrequently overhearing a catcall on the street. Once I realized that the purpose of said catcalls was not to be flirtatious but to inflict emotional pain on the recipient, it became even more revolting. I am definitely raising my sons not to do this, or to tolerate it from their friends.

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  52. moderateindy Says:

    I am amazed by the fact that so many of you are dumbfounded by this guy's behavior. Why do so many men act like this? Yes, because they are a-holes, but mostly because such behavior is so often rewarded by women. Basically, all too often, crap like this works. I have been very fortunate in my life to have had a crap load of friends. Ever since high school I have had multiple disparate groups that I feel comfortable with, and enjoy. I am as easily at home with Jocks/fratboy types as I am with deadheads, or sci-fi nerds, or gay dudes. If you want to see really creepy and agressive, hang out with a bunch of working class black guys, I am always appalled at what that group gets away with when dealing with their female counterparts.
    Starting in college, I noticed how often the guys that acted like complete jerks would get tons of girls. This did not stop as I got older. How many women do you know will tell you that they like a "bad boy"? What amazes me is how often women respond to guys that treat them like crap with affection. And by the way, it isn't just desparate or damaged women. I have often been bewildered by the way some females that I considered to be exceptionally bright, and confident, would respond to men that were total asses. ( and yes, I recognize that this paradigm works both ways)
    If something works for a guy once, where attracting women is concerned, you can be certain he will employ it time, and time again.
    Personally, I don't employ the aggressive ass/bad boy template, it must be the deadhead in me that makes me want to be kind to everyone until they prove unworthy of that treatment. The genesis of my own personal approach with women comes out of my life as a salesmen. First, always ask for the sale. Second, eat rejection for breakfast, and don't take it personally. Most women will gladly give you a chance at at least one date, and if you get shot down by one, do you really want to waste copious amounts of time when there are plenty of other opportunities waiting?

  53. just me Says:

    Wow, what great comments to a really pertinent topic. I only wish this kind of abhorrent behaviour had only one precursor. But the historical, religious and sociological precedents are so multitudinous I think there's little chance of ever eradicating it.

    Thank goodness there are men out there like Ed and so many, many more who have posted here that encourages me to think that there may be a shift in the majority towards balanced, respectful and indeed fun interaction. Because, just because I said "No" doesn't mean I find you unattractive, unpersonable or even un-tempting (is that even a word?). But it does mean NO. And you will undoubtedly never know my reasons, they are multitudinous and NOT personal. After all, I don't even know you.

    @JDryden (and not my first time wondering) – any chance you are single??? :) *sigh* highly unlikely, the good ones so rarely are.

    But you are wrong about one thing. We don't carry our car keys in our hand to get in our car quickly. We carry them with the keys protruding between our fisted fingers so we can use them as a weapon. Which we learned in what's called ladies kickboxing classes, given by an retired UFC fighter, that we tell our friends are fitness classes. Cuz we don't want to look too paranoid about a situation where our attacker might be 6 – 12 inches taller and 100 to 150 lbs heavier. Even though statistics show this happens to 1 in 3 of us. Many before we are 15 years old. Which is why the same fighter gives my daughters karate and ju jitsu lessons. And why, I presume, his daughter is in the classes with mine.

    It's not a solution. But since there doesn't seem to be one….any guy who grabbed my arm as Mary's was would have had his broken in return. And been given a nice roundhouse kick to the face as he was going down from the pain. Too much?? I don't think so, if you get "it".

  54. mclaren Says:

    "The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right is a self-help book by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, originally published in 1995.

    "The book suggests rules that a woman should follow in order to attract and marry the man of her dreams; these rules include that a woman should be `easy to be with but hard to get.' The underlying philosophy of The Rules is that women should not aggressively pursue men, but rather ought to get the men to pursue them. (..)

    "Another criticism is that because The Rules advise rarely returning phone calls and other such hard-to-get dating methods, some men may have trouble telling the difference between a woman who is genuinely not interested (or not interested anymore) and one who is genuinely interested, thus leading to misunderstandings and stalkers; not only for women using The Rules, but any man who believes all women are playing similar games even when they are not."

    Source: Wikipedia entry for the book The Rules.

  55. Grondo Says:

    Calling that dude clueless is being way too forgiving – he totally knew he was getting told to back off and he just ignored those messages because he wanted what he wanted and no means yes and he just knew she was playing hard-to-get and on and on… I think that's why the term "douchebag" was invented.

  56. Arslan Says:

    @moderateindy

    "How many women do you know will tell you that they like a "bad boy"? What amazes me is how often women respond to guys that treat them like crap with affection."

    WARNING! NICE GUY SPOTTED!

    Look, you may have gotten older, but you're still stuck in that high school mentality. I've never had a woman tell me she likes "bad boys." Women may be attracted to such guys when they are young and immature, just as immature men are often attracted to the wrong types of girls when they are that age.

    Any girl that legitimately rewards such behavior wouldn't be worth my time.

  57. J. Dryden Says:

    The "bad boy" crap has been thoroughly debunked and revealed to be the sexist bullshit pulled by men who "play by the rules."

    Because I'd argue that it's the counter-cliche that's true–insofar as any cliche that seeks to lump in the behavior of 6+ billion individuals can be true: It's not "bad boys" that these women are attracted to–it's confidence.

    Because confidence is an attractive quality. Not just in men. In everyone. In men, in women, in carrier pigeons. Confidence–security in self–unconcern about triviality–an engagement with the life one leads–not being a fucking baby who'll need hand-holding when things get rocky–these are qualities that make a person's company attractive.

    And confidence has fuck-all to do with lounging against the flat-bed of a pickup in the liquor store parking lot, sneering at all the 'wusses' who walk by to buy their lottery tickets and Pepsid AC. Nor does it have to do with the brutal "shut up and do as I say" treatment of women. It's everything to do with a man–or a woman–who knows who s/he is and what s/he wants and who acts in a way that is consistent with those feelings, and doesn't need them validated by anyone else to feel right about it.

    Granted, such an attitude produces plenty of assholes–"I want what I want and fuck everyone who doesn't like it"–and when those assholes partner up, resentful conformists look at them and think "Wow, women really go for assholes." But they don't.* They go for the confidence, and it is entirely possible to be "nice" AND "confident," and believe me, the men and women who will be attracted to BOTH those qualities are the ones you want in your life.

    Besides which, if you're really nice, why is there always envy lurking beneath the cry of offense at the "bad boy" dynamic? Nietzsche was right about some stuff, and like him, I suspect the "nice guy"'s objection is often just a veil for "I'm secretly the kind of guy who would like to treat women like shit, but I'm also too sniveling to act on those desires, so instead I will claim to be 'nice' and blame women for falling for the kind of guy I'd really like to be." (By the way, don't take that as encouragement to make the change. Stick with being a poisonous onlooker–they suck, but at least they're non-violent, and the world doesn't need any more abusive would-be silverbacks.)

    *OK, yes, there are women–and men–who suffer from serious mental/emotional dysfunction who seek out abusive treatment–but again, that's nothing to do with the men/women who're treating them like shit–the abuser is just a convenient delivery-system for the abuse they think they deserve. A subject that is so depressing that there isn't alcohol enough to make one feel OK about it.

    @ just me: I'm deeply flattered to be considered "one of the good ones." Not sure I agree, but the rest of your diagnosis is correct.

  58. Tom Says:

    Sarah,

    The 1998 study concludes that (with suppressed uncertainties; I.e the conclusion really has no valuable predictive power — but let's let that slide for the sake of having something to talk about) 1 in 6 woman had been victims of sexual assault. Phaedra Starling misinterprets this as saying "1 in 6 woman will be victims of sexual assault"; there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that frequency of rape has been completely resilient to, say, DNA evidence being legitimized in the late 80s; or better yet, the pervasive effect that 4-5 waves of feminism has had on the country. If a sample were taken in, say, 2020 (once enough boomers and their moms have died), I'm almost certain (whatever that means) that the number will have sharply declined.

    It's a shame that so few police reports are made; would knowing that the present rates are significantly lower than sensationalist writers (dishonestly?) make them out to be quell your fears?

    ***

    Don,

    I'm not white but I reckon white men get scared just as often as the rest of us timid princesses. Does the fact that you're more likely to be killed for no reason at all than for being LGBT help you sleep at night? And did you just tell me "fuck you"? ?!

  59. Hazy Davy Says:

    Just a note to point out that the "bad boy crap" has not been debunked, in my experience.

    Two friends, both in their mid-30s, explicitly told me they were attracted to bad-boys, recently. (Now, define what "bad boy" means, and maybe we agree…but it wasn't "confidence", as much as "free spirited", I think. Tattoos, motorcycles, thrill-seeking, …)One of them would definitely not have been attracted to the guy in Ed's story. The other? I can't say without asking her, but I suspect his schtick would have worked on her. The degree to which his blind pursuit was flattering might overwhelm her sense of dignity and self-preservation.

    Asshole was an asshole because he's an asshole. And also, because it has worked, in the past.

    Does it always work? Clearly, not.
    Should it work? No.

  60. Doctor Rock Says:

    @mclaren
    Wow. Just wow. I almost dated a woman a few years back who decided to play hard to get. I told her that she was a bright, attractive woman that I might like to spend more time with, but she's not worth the artificial extra effort and sorry I don't like the games.

  61. Doctor Rock Says:

    I just realized how incredibly sexist that may have sounded. Believe me, I know the difference between outright rejection and playing hard to get, and this was the latter. Only woman who ever pulled it on me, because most women are normal and well-adjusted contrary to stereotypes.

  62. Doctor Rock Says:

    By the way, this involved a conversation about why we didn't have a second date and the implication that she was interested (we were in grad school). Weird situation all around. But yeah this wasn't in my head.

  63. Doctor Rock Says:

    @Arslan

    Ah yes the "nice guy." Who think that pussy is theirs by rights and the girls who don't spread em just because they (at least believe they are) are decent human beings and respectful to their female friends and acquaintances.

    I was nice to her! I listened to her and I didn't even get any pussy from it! Is what it boils down to.

  64. guttedleafsfan Says:

    Doctor Rock,

    You were quite right to desist from association with the lady you referenced, and I do not think you are sexist.

    Normal women indeed have no pleasure in tormenting a respectable man.

    -Lizzzy B.

  65. Arslan Says:

    I'm sorry but Tool's behavior ISN'T rewarded. Men like Tool only get by with that if they move abroad to some Third World country.

  66. Doctor Rock Says:

    @guttedleafsfan

    Thanks. I'm wary. I used to have a roommate who'd complain about women in grad school "leading him on." A real head scratcher because I knew one of the women in question (grad school again) and her body language obviously demonstrated a lack of interest. I've heard "hard to get" in some contexts as "uppity bitch who won't pay attention to me" so it's a thin line.

  67. grumpygradstudent Says:

    I think men are told by the culture and the media that, when it comes to women, effort=success, and that persistence pays off. It took me a lot longer than it should have to realize that this Hollywood vision of romance looks a lot like stalking when performed in real life. So that iconic image of John Cusack holding up the boom box outside of his true love's window on her front yard? Yeah…that would be creepy as hell if done in real life.

    Kudos to people who drum up the guts to talk to a somebody they're interested in or to ask them out. That really is scary as hell to do. But once you ask, if they say no, you leave it alone. We need to purge this whole "pursuit" fairy tale from the culture completely. Unless somebody wants you to pursue them, what seems like romance in your head will be creepy to somebody else.

    And if you happen to be a person who really does want somebody to pursue you, to sweep you off your feet or whatever….stop it, cause you're being an asshole.

  68. guttedleafsfan Says:

    Grumpy, you have a point about persistence mythologized by the culture.

    I have read numerous profiles of celebrities or business leaders who "wouldn't take no" from their eventual wives, pursuing dates after repeated refusals, proposing 5 or 6 times etc. I hope they are hyperbolizing to compliment their wives. Really hope so.

  69. guttedleafsfan Says:

    ps grumpy wouldn't our screennames meeting make a great romcom? Too bad I am a grandmother!

  70. guttedleafsfan Says:

    WHoa isn't |Harold and Maude due for a remake?

  71. grumpygradstudent Says:

    Exactly. Those sorts of myths really don't help. It may not be "romantic," but it's a helluva lot safer and less creepy to adopt a cultural narrative like the following:

    "hey, how are you! i'm interested in you! Are you interested in me?" "No, no thank you!" "Ok, have a nice day!"

    No grand gestures. No persistent pursuit. Just politeness and honesty.

  72. Robert Says:

    Of course, the meme of 'you can get what you want, if you try hard enough' may be a contributing factor. I saw a cartoon decades ago that addressed this – two women talking, one saying "So I told him, I'm not playing hard to get, you clod – I AM hard to get.'"
    Nice guys (the ones who complain about the Bad Boy syndrome, not guys who are actually nice)always seem to have a current of bitter bile about the women who are having sex, just not with them. Men who refer to women as 'females' are especially bilious, in my experience.

  73. guttedleafsfan Says:

    Robert, omg, you just described a person I thought was rare.. you mean there are more of them? He hated all women until he learned to "Game".. and then he "learned to like" some of the ones he bedded, by lying and manipulation.

    I know this type is in the minority.

  74. Robert Says:

    A good friend of mine from university once told me that the only thing she envied about gay men was that they could get laid without dealing with straight men.

    Some straight men have helped me understand what she meant.

  75. guttedleafsfan Says:

    Jeez. This is one of the most surprisingly depressing NPFs I have ever read here,even the sports ones and I'm a well, you know…. pretty able to find the silver lining eh.What to say when I am out of the game and have been lucky in my playing days. Agree with nearly everyone, especially about learning how to treat women from your family.

    My two sons learned it from their father and learned pretty good. Their two sons will learn the same. What to say that Housman didn't, get ye the sons your fathers got, and ….

    great save!

  76. tenactius Says:

    E* please don't ever do what you suggested about messing with some drunken pick artist that way. You never know when a situation might get out of hand the man might just decide to physically assault you.

  77. mayya Says:

    If I were 20 or 30 years younger, I'd be joining in the crowd trying to figure out "why" some guys "don't get it." From my advanced years (mid-50s), I can say that they DO GET IT. People who behave like that know perfectly well what they are doing. They are bullying, threatening, and hostile, and they're like that on purpose. Because they CAN be. It doesn't take some sort of special guy genius to figure out how to NOT be threatening to women. As you said yourself, that's the absolute minimum social understanding.

    I've seen so many absurdities of people trying to explain or somehow understand this. When guys my age act like assholes, younger people will make some remark about "the time they grew up in," or similar hogwash. Yes, the time we grew up in – just after the Civil Rights movements, in the height of the Women's Liberation movement, in a time when sexual harassment training was mandatory in workplaces.

    Don't make excuses for these bar guys.

    And everyone – please stop writing articles teaching "clueless" dudes how to stop acting "creepy." They're not ACTING creepy, they ARE creepy. Don't help a sociopath disguise his nature so that he can get closer to women.