Friday, September 28, 2007

A Field Guide to Not Being Skeevy

Today's Tell Me About It chat is discussing how appropriate it is to approach women, and how to do so without being a total creep.

I think it all comes down to one thing: women are not public property. Men are in no way entitled to a woman's attention, conversation, or phone number.

I generally don't mind being approached. I just say a pleasant thank you and that I'm off the market, and go about my way. There are two situations that absolutely creep me out, though. The first is when a guy just ogles me without ever saying a word to me, and the second is when the guy won't take no for an answer. No matter how many times it works in the movies, persistence is not cute in real life.

So, skeevy guys, let's say you want to reform your woman-repelling, restraining order-attracting ways. Start by taking my advice on how not to be a creep.

First, don't stare at women. Do you like to be stared at? Especially don't stare at women in an enclosed space, such as the Metro. Don't stare at a woman who is traveling by herself at night. It's creepy, and the poor woman is forced to worry about whether you are going to follow her off the train.

If the woman is reading, listening to music, or otherwise engaged, don't talk to her. Assume she would rather be left alone. If she responds to your scintillating words in "uh-huhs" and avoids eye contact with you, she wants you to go away. If she explicitly asks you to leave her alone, leave her alone. Moreover, move. On the Metro, switch cars. Having a guy hang around after you have asked him to go away is really skeevy.

And, OK, rejection sucks. Nobody enjoys being rejected, and I agree that it's unfair that men do most of the approaching in our society. I imagine it's really tiring and deflates the ego. But if you're getting rejected over and over, it's probably because you're creepy.

But see it from her side. Maybe she just doesn't think you're all that cute. Or she finds her book more interesting. Or, maybe, she just feels like having some quiet time to herself. (Again, women aren't public property, and we have the right to be left in peace.) Or, you've done something to offend her.

And what are those offensive things? Directing all conversation toward the boobs. Commenting on chest, behind, or really any body part. Asking really intrusive personal questions. Examining her stomach at length, then asking repeatedly if she works out (this one really happened to me). Next time, try a simple, "Hi. How are you?" Polite, restrained, gives her a way out ("Fine, thanks, but I don't feel like chatting.")

And, last, but definitely not least, NEVER tell a woman to smile. We hate the Smile Guys. Women aren't public property. Men have no right to intrude on our personal space by commanding us to smile. We have no obligation to be smiley or ornamental or pretty. Women are just as entitled to bad moods and bad days as men are.

In fact, at last summer's National Convention of Non-Hideous Women, we passed a unanimous resolution to find all Smile Guys and stab them in the eyeballs with our eyebrow tweezers. So don't say I didn't warn you.

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