sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I have dinner at this Chinese kiosk in a shopping plaza so frequently that they know to get the hot sauce and chopsticks when they see me coming. It happens to be right near my doctor's office, and for mall food it's really good (they make a mean homestyle tofu), plus the place has a big screen TV that always plays the news, so it's where I unwind and hang out for a bit before my appointment. It's usually pretty busy there, with a mix of shoppers, commuters, and dudes from a nearby homeless shelter, and eating my takeout while raging at the news has become part of my weekly routine. Occasionally, some of the more inebriated homeless dudes will cause a ruckus, but I've never felt it was in any way a less than totally safe space.

Until tonight.

As I was eating my tofu, pondering the incongruity of a story about a rich parasite getting pregnant followed by a story of 14 people dying in a factory fire in China, a man approached me. To give you an idea of the layout of the place, have a hastily scrawled drawing:


So basically there's no line of sight from the two kiosks to where I was sitting watching TV. For some reason, no one else was around—like I said, it's typically pretty busy—in fact I was pleased to have gotten the seat closest to the TV.

"Sorry to bother you while you're eating," he said, "But I saw you earlier and I think you're very attractive. Can I have your number?"

I don't know what made my creeper sense go off. It might have been the environment—no one else around, and this guy between me and any possible exit. As so many women do in these situations, I find myself second-guessing my reaction. Was it because it was a shitty night to be jogging and yet he was wearing those snap-off track pants favoured by chavs and subway masturbators? Would I have reacted differently if I'd found him hot?

Normally, a "sorry, no," would have sufficed. But I'd had a rough day at work and was feeling rattled and the usual brain-to-mouth filters just weren't working. So instead I asked him why on earth he found it appropriate to hit on women who were sitting alone in an isolated location.

He laughed. "Are you serious? Do you actually go around in fear all the time that strangers are going to rape or murder you?"

"Er," I said, "One in four women are raped in their lifetimes, so it's kinda reasonable to be nervous when strange men corner you and start hitting on you."

"In this city? Toronto is, like, the safest city!"

It went on like this. I was probably not at my most articulate, being tired and somewhat freaked out, which was fine because he wasn't a bright enough person to take a hint and fuck off. At one point I asked him how he'd feel if he were alone in a washroom and a guy twice his size said to him what he'd just said to me. (He of course said he'd be flattered. I highly doubt it.) He just kept arguing, long after it was quite apparent that a) he wasn't going to get my number, and b) he thought I was some kind of crazy paranoid rabid feminazi.

"What's wrong with you?" he kept saying.

"I just want to eat my dinner in peace," I replied.

He assured me that he hits on tons of women all the time and none of them have ever reacted like this, so he was sure the problem was with me. I suggested that possibly they were afraid, that most women have the concept of Schrödinger's Rapist somewhere in the back of their heads, and hey, it must be nice to be able to be blissfully unaware of the potential threat that you pose, but not all of us possess that kind of privilege.

He finally went away, but I'm pretty sure the guy expended about 15 minutes arguing with a woman who was in no way going to have sex with him and was only trying to eat dinner after a long day at work because he was that offended that someone might find his advances fucking creepy.

Of course, the second-guessing set in immediately. I looked behind me; there was an older lady who had crept in to eat her dinner (the guy didn't, I notice, stop to hit on her) and who had been sitting there silently for much of the conversation. I glanced at her, then back at the TV, then back at her.

"You're very wise," she said. "You just never know."

I said, to her, though I was mostly reassuring myself: "Better to risk offending him than risk endangering myself, right?"

"Right," she said.

Now, it is not my job to educate random dudes about male privilege, and I probably didn't educate this dude at all (apologies, ladies, if I accidentally created another MRA), but a few things to take from this if you're a fellow of the heterosexual persuasion:

Lesson #1: Guys, if you are going to hit on complete strangers, make sure that there's at least someone else around and you're not blocking your target's escape route.

Lesson #2: "Here's my number, call me maybe" is significantly less threatening than, "can I have your number?" I mean, it won't get you a date with me because I don't call people even when I do want to have sex with them, but with most women, at least it puts the ball in their court and gives them an escape from the conversation.

Lesson #3: If a lady is obviously uninterested, like she reacts to your advances with fear or annoyance rather than ripping her bodice and crying, "Come take me now, you pinnacle of manliness!" (or some less melodramatic variation) give up. Continuing to argue with her reaction is not actually going to make her want to have sex with you. Quite the opposite.

So, that happened. I was actually pretty shaken up by the whole thing so reassuring words wouldn't be unwelcome.

Date: 2012-12-05 01:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sad to say, he has received plenty of messages from his culture that he could argue you into wanting to have ALL THE SEX with him. If he were smarter and less creepy, he would dismiss these, of course.

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From: [identity profile] - Date: 2012-12-05 07:17 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-12-05 01:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That man was a dick and you are awesome for having the presence of mind to try to educate him instead of freezing up (not that there's anything wrong with freezing.)

Date: 2012-12-05 01:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hello fellow kittypixer....

You can thank this guy for your encounter.....

He tells men they can humiliate a woman into giving them a blow job in 15 minutes.

Also I love this woman....

The thing I think we have to learn as women is that we don't have to be nice or even polite that it is fine to tell the creepers "who the fuck are you get the fuck away from me or I am going to yell for mall security" and to say this with comfort and pride. Who gives a fuck if the creeper then hates us as long as he goes away.

You can not reason with or educate crazy people and this guy sounds like he is right up there with the best of the nuts...

Read that blog I added to get an idea of how to recognize the asshole who wrote it's followers and if you encounter one you can practice the look...or what to say that does not involve maybe hey "Ross Jeffries huh? Man that guy is a dick and a loser..."

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Date: 2012-12-05 01:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Been there, too often. Sometimes I just get so angry about checking for exits, taking the long way round because at least it's got lights, etc., etc., etc. I would have felt exactly the same damned way but wouldn't've been half as brave.

Date: 2012-12-05 02:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
From where I stand, you're totally in the right, and also awesome.

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Date: 2012-12-05 02:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Today must be International Schrödinger's Rapist Day. Seriously. What the fuck is wrong with men? And I say this as someone who likes men enough that they're one of the genders I'd consider having a long-term relationship with.

My reaction when I read that you "asked him why on earth he found it appropriate to hit on women who were sitting alone in an isolated location" was pretty much this:


I may have even cried a little because that was a beautiful, amazing reaction. I wish my brain-mouth filters were off more often in this kind of situation.

Seriously though, that guy sounds CREEPY. I doubt that you turn him into a MRA, if he's already a douchebag then it's pretty much a given that the MRA (bad) seed has been in his heart for a long time now. I actually admire the fact that you managed to tell him about figures and other logical things, I don't think I would have been able to be quite so educational. Maybe there's a remote possibility that he'll think about it eventually and change his behaviour in the long run.

Also? That old lady is completely right. You were very wise to not have engaged him. I see your point about having second-thoughts, and unfortunately it has happened to me too often in the past, but I assure you that his approach was completely messed up if you were alone and had no means to escape if he were indeed a rapist. If he was just trying to harmlessly flirt with you, he needs to get better flirting skillz that don't consist of trying to corner women so they'll give him their phone numbers. I hate the "was I too harsh?" feeling, but from my past experiences I've come to learn that trusting your gut instinct is always the right thing to do. If you turn out to be wrong, well, it's not a big loss.


All of your "lesson" points are so, so spot-on. I kind of want to print them out and stick them to the forehead of most men I know.

*hugs if you want hugs*

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From: [identity profile] - Date: 2012-12-05 12:51 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-12-05 03:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There's this weird mythology that straight men have that it was ever okay/the accepted thing/how it's done/the only way to go that you find your relationships or life partner among the crowd of random strange women around you at any given time, rather than among groups with commonality and different boundaries that are set up for longer-term interaction (or bars). They really used to tell guys to go hang out at bookstores as a good place to pick up women. Can you imagine anything less appropriate or likely to work? But that's what all the self-help books said. Find women who are strangers in some sort of captive environment where you might just possibly have something in common - a recital, a bookstore, a coffee house. Then approach....!

This was never good or reasonable and only a culture that saw this as a fun photo that deserved to be blown up and made into a huge celebratory monument could have thought so; it's going to take a couple of generations for it to be outlived. That it's already squeezed into this marginal, stupid, backward subculture of PUAs that actually charge for you to buy this idea on a CD Rom is already a good sign.

It's actually a form of battery.

Date: 2012-12-05 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I mean, that's what Dawkinsgate was about. Men aren't prepared to believe that the era of it being fine to approach strange women as they go about their business is over - in fact, never was.

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Date: 2012-12-05 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
theory: a nervous/insecure guy might hit on a woman when she's alone, because there's no-one else to witness his potential embarassing failure.

If my theory is correct, the guy will be too worried about his own pride to be thinking from the woman's point of view, so he won't realize that she could feel threatened. But that insecure guy is not much of a threat either.

The problem is distinguishing between the insecure clueless guy, and the potential rapist who also seeks a woman alone.

Date: 2012-12-05 04:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yep - and that's the problem. Insecure "nice guy" doesn't try to place himself in any other perspective but his own. If he isn't educated on this then he has no chance to understand, so [ profile] sabotabby at least gave him an opportunity to hear it at least once in his life. Whether he continues to get the message in other forms, one can only guess -- I hope so. Not in this manner, of course, I hope he posts on Reddit and some of the folks fighting the good fight there help continue to push at that privilege.

I doubt anything will happen, but the fact [ profile] sabotabby did speak up is a good thing in the end, as terrifying and awful as it was for her.

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Date: 2012-12-05 04:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have been "that guy" in the past. I look at it now and realize how utterly awful and just creepy I was. Well I've been a creep many times, and thankfully with a lot of cultivation I've put most of it behind (I would love to say all of it, but I have to be honest when I say that I still have too much shit inculcated in me and that it's a continual process of becoming). One time my friend and I hung out with these girls from a Mumia march we went to, and things were pretty cool, then one of the girls I had a crush on I asked on a date. It was clear she wasn't fully keen on it (at least I see it now), but she went on a last date with me at a japanese restaurant for lunch before she went home for summer break. I could tell she really didn't want to be there. That was probably the second clearest example of such a thing...

It took me having the opportunity to be around social justice issues to start to be aware. If I hadn't started dating Rose when I did, I don't know what I would have become. The more of us that speak out, the better.

I hope you're feeling better now. *non-threatening virtual hugs*

Date: 2012-12-05 07:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So you asked a girl out. She went out with you because she felt sorry for you. She didn't have a good time.

Dude - what the fuck does that have to do with being a creeper that thinks that approaching a woman in a restaurant and bullying her into going out with him is a good idea?

I mean seriously, fake beating up on yourself for doing something completely innocuous may not be obnoxious as being in a position that screams "I could be a rapist and I'm going to get very angry when rejected" but seriously, it's fucking stupid.

Besides that, Mumia is guilty as sin and deserves to die.

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Date: 2012-12-05 05:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You fucking rock. I'm sorry that dude bothered you, and I'm sorry it left you with those feelings. Ugh. I always replay those things over and over in my head even though I know I didn't do anything wrong.

I really want to make up cards that can be handed to dudes where they get a number but it's just a recording explaining why their behaviour was inappropriate.

Date: 2012-12-05 05:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
what a jerk. and the only response that type of jerk will accept is a "yes, of COURSE here's my number!" if you say no, they demand an explanation. if you explain, your explanation isn't good enough and they try to argue you out of it. if you say you're not interested, they whine that ~you're~ the jerk for not giving them a ~fair chance~. indeed, it is a no-win situation where they have already set it up so that if you don't do what they want you to do, then obviously you're the asshole. ugh ugh jerks. *hugs to you*
Edited Date: 2012-12-05 09:31 am (UTC)

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From: [identity profile] - Date: 2012-12-05 12:13 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-12-05 06:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Urgh. The dumb ones just go home and tell themselves bitches be cray-cray, yo. They're not bright enough to grasp the concept of privilege, never mind that they actually have it. They also seem to figure women have it SO EASY OMG, because we just have to sit back and let men do all the work of seducing and wooing, etc etc. Utter bullshit.

You're not insane for being cautious. Guy was being a jerk after that initial exchange. The smart thing to do would have been to BACK THE FUCK OFF and let you enjoy your damn meal.

Date: 2012-12-05 06:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sounds like you handled yourself well.

But don't be mean to Kate. Just because people make a big deal out of the fact that she married a rich dude who descended from kings and got knocked up doesn't mean that she's beneath contempt. Transcending class distinctions does not just mean treating poor people like human beings but also means being just as charitable to a rich pregnant woman as you would be to a poor one. Or a middle class one.

Date: 2012-12-05 07:53 am (UTC)
mad_maudlin: (chambers)
From: [personal profile] mad_maudlin
::flinches:: So sorry that happened.

Date: 2012-12-05 11:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Although I've read and enjoyed all of this post I have found it quite hard mentally to get beyond the snap-off track pants angle. He's trying to pick up women while wearing jogging bottoms, and is surprised when this venture does not meet with success. Jogging bottoms worn in a non-jogging environment screams "I find the zips and buttons on other trousers excessively challenging and secretly wish we could all go back to wearing giant Baby-Gros like when I was one. Because everything was better when I was one and just hanging off some woman's tit of the time." I know the Old bill are meant to be rubbish for dealing with sexual harrassment cases but surely a quick call to the fashion police is in order.

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From: [identity profile] - Date: 2012-12-05 12:06 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-12-05 12:15 pm (UTC)
ext_27713: An apple with a heart-shape cut into it (emotions: heart)
From: [identity profile]
i love you very much <3 <3 <3

Date: 2012-12-05 03:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh great, just what you need, right? And considering that, your response was mind-blowing. You are one strong, smart, awesome woman.

Date: 2012-12-05 06:55 pm (UTC)
the_axel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_axel
You were awesome. You did the right thing, and what he did was totally inappropriate, creepy and wrong.

I think it's likely he's a guy who has never thought about what the world looks like from a womans pair of combat boots, and got defensive when you questioned his thoughtless, entitled behaviour - 'cos the answers you got from him fit that pattern.

Equally, he could be an raperific PUA trying to wear you down.

There's no way to tell for sure.

What you said could sink and lead to him becoming a better person if he chooses to process it, which couldn't happen if you'd said "No! Fuck off & die, I'm a militant lesbian with a can of mace and I want to use it".

Also, it sounds like the old lady appreciated the way you handled yourself, so you made her world a little brighter.

Go [ profile] sabotabby! You done great!
*big hugs*

Date: 2012-12-05 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I freakin' hate that the patriarchy has convinced men that women are puzzle boxes and you just have to figure out how to get her to grudgingly go along with your plans. What's wrong with you? What's wrong with male entitlement? What's wrong with a guy who apparently doesn't know there's a serial rapist in Toronto? Because I live in a different country, on the west coast, and just by listening to my female friends in Toronto, I know that. Oh, wait, I see the difference now...

I'm glad you are safe, and I hope this guy thinks about your conversation on some level.

Date: 2012-12-05 08:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ooo, creeper. And you were absolutely right. And he probably kept arguing with you because it's another way to force you to pay attention to him. What an asshole.

And ew, snap-off track pants, no.

Date: 2012-12-05 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I do not think you should spend one half moment second-guessing yourself here. He put you in a position where you felt uncomfortable; frankly, your telling him how a woman feels in that position is doing him a favor. He responded by being even more of a giant ass. None of this is your fault.

Also, next time a woman informs him that he is a creeper, he will not be able to say that no one has told him this before.

He is a waste of skin and it would be better for the universe if he were not in it. The end.

Date: 2012-12-05 11:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ugh. Sorry you have to deal with this on top of everything else.
Edited Date: 2012-12-05 11:12 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-12-07 01:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This entry is brilliant. Thank you for writing it.

Date: 2012-12-08 05:36 am (UTC)
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (intellectual hottie (green))
From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid
I'm playing catch ups this weekend, but you are brilliant and he is a fine exampled of privileged dickwaddery.


sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)

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