Shapely Prose recently hosted a discussion of how to approach women in public, the comments on which had me thinking about a lot of things.
The comment that particularly got me was this one, which included the question: "But, if this is the case, then why don’t more women approach men?"
I wish I knew what good that was supposed to do.
Now, I don't get hassled on the subway or whatever terribly often these days. I don't know if it's the area I live in or that of the people in the vicinity I have sufficient armouring to make me not look like a good mark (between the wedding rings, the leather jacket, the frequent headphones and/or book, and the tendency to pull my hat down over my eyes and nap). But I cannot for the life of me see how more women approaching men will change what hassles I do get.
I mean, I've been over 50% of the initiation effort for every relationship I've been in other than the one that ended in attempted rape. (And that does not make me any the more comfortable with random approaches. It, in fact, makes me more aggressive about pursuing actual interests because I don't want them approaching me lest I go all woobly-minded.)
If I were doing this in the hope of fixing street harassment it would be, you know, a total, dismal failure. Because not only do nitwits on the street not know whether or not I'd tell them if I was interested in them, they do not care. They are expressing less articulate versions of this guy's argument (when they're not just trying to get a response out of a woman):
I think a lot of men will think along this line – “what’s the point of her thinking I’m a trustworthy person if we don’t have that conversation and there’s still at least the possibility of Penis tourism and, possibly, 100 pretty babies.”
If you’re interested in talking to her, but you don’t talk to her because of her assumed boundaries, and you don’t risk to be rejected, you may feel good about yourself, being the trustworthy person that you are, but you don’t get anything else for it.
And that’s where the problem is. In a very real way, I think, for him, the more rational approach would be to politely say hello and see if he’s interested, always being alert about her reactions, and withdrawing if she shows any kind of disinterest. That way, while having been interrupted, she may even get the impression that the guy was able to understand her saying no – to him. A no that was not assumed, but real.
The comments were closed at Shapely Prose before I could reply to this, and it's a hard time to formulate it. But I'm left with ... what a modern-capitalism notion of transactional analysis. Immediate profit potential over long-term gain.
I mean, there's this thousand-comment long thread about how this sort of thing means that women out in public are more likely to be closed down and unwilling to engage with people, which, as a long-term system, doesn't do well for what this guy claims to be wanting to get. But the miniscule chance of that one-in-a-lot shot at getting laid means continuing to degrade the environment such that women feel the need to be on guard in public, thereby keeping those odds nice and low.
Cannot think past end of penis, apparently.
I commented recently on not liking being approached in part because the relationship started that way ended in attempted rape? Got this response, quoted verbatim:
"It's not fair to deprive men of the ability to approach you because one raped you."
Kinda oozes sex appeal, doesn't it? Look at what I'm missing!