Random men speaking to you

(768 Posts)
enimmead Sun 02-Dec-12 09:38:04

I'm sure men don't randomly speak to other men in the street. Strangers. So why the hell do they feel they have to speak to random women. I don't think it's got anything to do with chatting up.

Yesterday, I saw a 20 something bloke with his mates slip in front of me on the ice. As I got out, he said "Hi love, did you see that!!!" I'm -- could be his mum-- bit older than him. Why speak to me? I just smiled but I bet he wouldn't' have said anything if I'd been male.

Just walking down the street, other side of the road bloke smiles and says "Hi love". No idea who he was.

Do blokes do this to other random blokes?

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 09:43:14

Oh, God yes, this annoys the life out of me.

I think it mainly pisses me off because I think it would be LOVELY if we DID live in a society where people randomly struck up conversations with other people - men, women, whoever.

Whether it's to do with chatting up, I don't know. It could just be a power thing, or a safety thing - like a man randomly chatting to another man could end up in a fight.

But I actually dread standing at bus stops etc alone, because men so often strike up conversations that seem innocent enough and then end up with them asking for my phone number. I wouldn't mind if it wasn't so blatant and so obviously random - they'd do it to ANY woman standing there, it's not because they're particularly interested in me.

Back2Two Sun 02-Dec-12 09:47:16

Should we ban men fom talking to women they don't know?

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 09:51:08

I don't think that's what the OP was saying Back2Two .

Good example of a straw man, though.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 02-Dec-12 09:51:32

I make a point of answering people who speak to me in the street.

I have just been to the corner shop with DS. As we came out there was an old boy outside and he said "alriiigghht darling?"
So I said, "good morning, how are you today?" In my best Mary Poppins voice. He said "err fine thanks." And then shuffled off looking at me like I was bonkers!! grin

IfYouSeeMeSayHello Sun 02-Dec-12 09:57:21

How very dare they. The audacity of a man - a man! - daring to speak to me just because I am a woman!

Really, I would be delighted. These minor interactions with other human beings are all part of the tapestry of life.

enimmead Sun 02-Dec-12 09:57:34

See - I don't randomly talk to strangers who I just happen to see. Not an "Alright" to a bloke I see. I might if I'm out walking in the country but that's just what you do on a country walk.

I wouldn't see another woman and just say something at random. I don't think blokes randomly just say something to other blokes. That does not mean I don't start up conversations but that depends on where I am.

But I just want to walk down the street without some bloke feeling they have the right to suddenly say something to me when they see me.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 09:58:43

Not what the OP is saying IfYouSeeMeSayHello .

There's a lot of deliberate misunderstanders out today.

enimmead Sun 02-Dec-12 09:59:10

if But it seems very one sided IYSWIM. Do you randomly make comments to men as you pass them in the street?

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Sun 02-Dec-12 10:01:42

It annoys me too.

Recently I was waiting for a train and drunk bloke latched on to me. Then insisted on giving me a hug goodbye. Bleugh.

digerd Sun 02-Dec-12 10:07:34

I do miss all that attention. Now at the "invisable" age. < down in the mouth face>

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 10:08:29

Do you really miss the attention digerd ? I hate it. I just want to be able to walk down the street and not feel like anyone has a right to my time.

superstarheartbreaker Sun 02-Dec-12 10:11:49

I love it when random strangers say things to me. I think a man saying a silly/nice/pleasant thing is the last bastion of chivalry. If it is grumpy or sexual that is annoying.

superstarheartbreaker Sun 02-Dec-12 10:12:59

I find the elderly are most prone to random comments; it's sweet. It's hardly a huge waste of time is it?

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 10:13:58

If anything is a straw man, and surely thats a sexist saying. It is the idea that women should be able to walk freely unhindered by random people talking to them. If however the op is objecting to the use of words like "love" or "Darling" that is different as the issue is with possible sexist language.

The issue here is people moan about lack of community or feeling safer in the streets, but then refuse to engage even in small talk with other humans. People have been socalised in to isolation, it is normal not to talk, make eye contact, take no notice of children and adults showing signs of distress in the streets. If you are geing asked for your phone number all the time that is unwelcome and would give you the feeling that perhaps you are not being valued. Why not at least take the positive of having spoken to another person and when it happens refuse politely but say you were pleased he felt you were worth talking to.

shadylane Sun 02-Dec-12 10:14:45

I love it. I find it more weird to sit opposite someone on a tube and not smile or similar. Also women talk to me all the time, probably more than men do.

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 10:16:36

Esme said "not feel like anyone has a right to my time", this is not the same as being spoken to just you are female.

Lottapianos Sun 02-Dec-12 10:16:50

Chivalry? On the feminist boards? Wowza......

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 10:17:03

How on EARTH is a straw man a sexist thing to say?

I don't WANT people to judge my "worth" before they talk to me. Isn't it telling that a poster up there ^ said that she doesn't get any attention now that she's older? Men speak to young, attractive women. It's fuck all to do with a feeling of community.

BillyBollyBallum Sun 02-Dec-12 10:17:09

Everyone talks to me, men and women. Only thing is common is that generally they are 60+.

Doesn't bother me particularly, they make an innocent remark, I reply in the time honoured fashion. Everyone's happy.

What does irritate me is young blokes doing the "smile love, it'll never happen". Not so much older blokes though when they do it. Maybe I trust their intentions more <ponders>

itsthequietones Sun 02-Dec-12 10:17:56

I think it mainly pisses me off because I think it would be LOVELY if we DID live in a society where people randomly struck up conversations with other people - men, women, whoever.

I find this so sad, I feel as though I do live in a society where I can talk to just about anyone - men, women, children, old and young. Strangers talk to me if we're in a queue, at a bar, out shopping. I'll speak to anyone. Yes occasionally I've been chatted up, but hardly ever really. Obviously I weigh up the situation first, but I find people are generally friendly.

To the OP, maybe with the incident with his friend slipping on the ice, he just found it funny and wanted to share, maybe you reminded him of someone he liked, there are many reasons why he chose to speak to you, it doesn't have to be negative or threatening.

But yes, I have also made random comments to men in passing.

I really don't understand the issue.

enimmead Sun 02-Dec-12 10:18:20

What I'm trying to say is - why does it seem to be men doing it to women? I don't seem to notice men doing it at random to other men, or women doing it to women or men. And it's not small talk - it's just a random comment as you pass them, or suddenly out of no where.

Small talk is to me what people do in a queue for example. Nothing wrong with that. I often do it myself. But that's in a particular situation. Not as I just get out of the car. Or as I walk down the street.

LynetteScavo Sun 02-Dec-12 10:20:41

No one speaks to me.

I used to attract the elderly when I was young. My friends used to say, "Oh, I met this great person at a bus stop in Dussledorf and we all went camping." This has never happens to me.

I think it's the permanent look of distaste on my face.

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Sun 02-Dec-12 10:21:45

I have no problem with it (I often do it myself) unless something about the situation makes me feel uncomfortable.

Normally, that means that a bloke will say something while surrounded by mates whereas I will be on my own.

Usually all that will be said will be "alright love" or something along those lines, but it makes me feel like he wouldn't say it if a) he wasn't surrounded by mates or b)if I wasn't alone. Which in turn makes me feel like he wanted to intimidate me or make me uncomfortable.

However I did spend a lot of time in high school being bullied so I may be oversensitive to these sort of things, but the situation I've just described definitely puts me on alert as it were.

Haggisfish Sun 02-Dec-12 10:21:49

Women do talk to women, well I do anyway, and I talk to men as well. And actually, my OH talks to other men, too, all at random - I think you are only seeing what you are looking for.

werewolvesdidit Sun 02-Dec-12 10:24:29

Well op, I'll tell you how to make it stop - get to a size 18 and permenantly have small children hanging off you (usually with one crying) and also always wear sensible shoes, dirt-proof clothing and a look of harrassment. I can guarantee no man will ever look at you again... (goes off to weep in a corner)

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 10:27:01

Women cannot be straw, female who present false misleading arguments in order to obscure the real debate are called what?

And thank you esme Men only talk to random women they want to shag is what your saying. I would love to see your evidence for that, your worth is judged by so many people in so many ways that you have no control over, so you return the compliment by wanting no man to speak to you becouse you have already judged that he only want your phone number. Would that apply to all men, women, children?

YouCanBe Sun 02-Dec-12 10:27:30

I only get this is I dress nicely.
If I keep my armour of scruff on, I get left safely alone.

(Ugh. Other people.)

YouCanBe Sun 02-Dec-12 10:27:45

If, not is.

TheFarSide Sun 02-Dec-12 10:28:36

If a man randomly says hello to you because he finds you attractive, what's the problem? There is also the possibility that the man is just being friendly.

Really, this is a depressingly misanthropic thread.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 10:30:27

The PERSON doing the argument isn't a straw man, the ARGUMENT itself is called a straw man. It is a reference to a particular book and therefore not sexist. I fear you might be doing it again, by bringing up such a ridiculous argument.

I don't have evidence beyond the anecdotal. Men talk to me in the street. Women don't. No man has ever spoken to my partner (male) in the street.

Shrug. If that's not your experience, that's great. It is my experience and the OP's.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 10:30:56

I talk to anyone,and reply with a smile if anyone talks to me.

It's nice to be nice. smile

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 10:32:35

TheFarSide I don't mind men finding me attractive, shit, even though I clearly hate men, I WANT them to find me attractive. God it's hard being a feminist.

What I don't like is the fact that so often when I make it clear I don't want to chat, they carry on regardless. It is threatening and unpleasant, to the point where, if anyone chats to me, I tend to put my guard up straight away.

It is unpleasant indeed that we live in such a society that means that anyone chatting to me instantly gets the cold shoulder, I agree. But that is not my fault, but the fault of all the men who have called me a bitch or a slag or threatened me when I didn't want to talk to them.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 10:37:25

I have to say i have never been called any of those names just because i didn't want to talk to a man.
I'm not saying for one minute that it doesn't happen just that it hasn't happened to me.
I like a chat with just about anyone,even just a friendly nod in passing might cheer someone else up.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 10:41:22

AllTheYoungDudes you are lucky then. It happens a lot less now that I have more self-confidence.

VBisme Sun 02-Dec-12 10:43:50

I walk along the street and smile at everyone who passes me, I sometimes evening say, good morning or good afternoon.

I'm new to the area and have never had a negative response to this approach. (Nor have I ever been "chatted up").

What's wrong with being friendly?

shadylane Sun 02-Dec-12 10:44:25

Wow esme I am pretty sure I've never been called a botch or a slag in the street. How unfortunate that you have. The only annoying thing I frequently get when road cycling is 'smile it might never happen'. I must look serious when concentrating in traffick

babesdontlie Sun 02-Dec-12 10:44:26

I'm with YoungDudes

I chat to anyone who wants to pass the time of day when I'm out and about doing errands or walking the dogs.

I always make a point of saying "hello" or "morning" or answering old people as I might be the only person they have spoken to that day, and that thought makes me sad.

Can't say I've seen a visible difference in the men/women ratio.

DH has previously commented that he sees women are 'drawn' to chat and be friendly to me.

What I won't acknowledge is people (men or women) who want me to join in complaining about anything (the queue/the traffic/the train being late etc), sorry, if you want to be negative, you're on your own.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 10:46:02

I love it.
Men and women oftne randomly chat to me.
And I smile and briefly chat back.

I do wonder whether men might do it more than women because, on the whole, men are not so chatty as women. So they like the social interaction they can get with some! women.

TheOriginalPan Sun 02-Dec-12 10:47:26

Well, men do make odd random chats with other blokes, ime. I know I do. Funny observations, comments about the weather (you know when it's really warmhmm etc). I'm not sure how any particular woman can judge as to when/how men do this unless they were to set up a very sophisticated monitoring system? <rarely strike up convos with women in public for reasons of sensitivity>
I'd guess that as a woman the reaction depends a lot on your previous experiences of being 'approached', if it's good or bad.

OpheliaPayneAgain Sun 02-Dec-12 10:47:33

By your words OP you are old enough to be his mother. Perhaps he was properly brought up and always has a smile and a pleasantry for old ladies grin

RumbleGreen Sun 02-Dec-12 10:54:19

I think you are only seeing what you want to see I can personally tell you men do talk to other random men. Especially in the first scenario he did something embarrassing he made light of the situation.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Sun 02-Dec-12 10:54:51

THere are two different types of chat, though. THere are the people who make a passing comment to strangers, which is OK (though can be annoying if you are deep in thought or whatever) and there are men who think they are entitled to bother you because you are out without visible signs of a male owner.

TheOriginalPan Sun 02-Dec-12 10:55:39

It could also be a regional thing. When Londoners/SE people come up North they always comment on how easy people seem to feel in chatting at bus stops or anywhere folks are meeting in public temporarily.
Try going to Ireland - you're badgered to death for details of where your mammy lives/where you work when just trying to buy a coffee.smile

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 11:01:29

VBisme I don't think anyone said there was anything wrong with being friendly, but then that's not what we're talking about, is it?

TheOriginalPan Sun 02-Dec-12 11:08:06

Esme - you said " Men speak to young, attractive women. It's fuck all to do with a feeling of community." - that just isn't true at all. Some men may only speak to young attractive women, but blanket assertions like that points to where your experience/thinking is, but isn't reflected in lots of people's experience. And is a bit insulting to portray men as shark-like operators.

colditz Sun 02-Dec-12 11:08:31

I DO live in a culture where strangers randomly talk to each other, I wouldn't have been remotely bothered by this.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 11:08:59

Well what are we talking about FromEsme?

A young man made a remark about his mate slipping on ice to an older woman,not a sexually charged remark,just a jokey aside.

Then another man says 'Hi love'.

I don't tend to say things like 'love' or 'darling' but i wouldn't read anything odd into either of these.

InSPsFanjoNoOneHearsYouScream Sun 02-Dec-12 11:15:15

Tbh if someone slipped on ice they'd know if I saw it as I would be laughing. If he said that to me I'd have "no, so you will have to do it again"

Men randomly talking to me doesn't bother me. If it's filth they are speaking then I don't appreciate it and will tell them to fuck off. But been nice and just saying hi? I don't see the issue.

I went into somewhere the other day where a man who was meant to be helping just started talking about my phone hmm That was strange tbh but he was vert chatty so he no doubt is the same no matter the sex of the person.

WillYuleDoTheFandango Sun 02-Dec-12 11:19:15

He was probably just embarrassed that you saw him and was trying to make light of it.

I talk to anyone, some people answer some don't. Lots of people (men, women, children, old people on benches) randomly strike up conversation with me too. I must have that sort of face. I like it smile

colditz Sun 02-Dec-12 11:19:26

Young men speak randomly to me all the time, and I am thirty two, haggard, and have small people attached to my every appendage.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 11:20:41

"And is a bit insulting to portray men as shark-like operators." I don't think I did that, it certainly wasn't my intention.

SPs the issue is that random men don't chat to other random men. Meaning that something else is going on. In my experience it's that men are chatting to women as some sort of come on/power thing, but am open to other suggestions, such as that men feel threatened by other men so don't talk to them. Obviously not a good thing either.

TheOriginalPan Sun 02-Dec-12 11:22:12

and this, I'm afraid Esme: "Whether it's to do with chatting up, I don't know. It could just be a power thing, or a safety thing - like a man randomly chatting to another man could end up in a fight."

Do you really think that badly of us? That's pretty extreme, don't you think?

helpyourself Sun 02-Dec-12 11:23:13

I find this so sad, I feel as though I do live in a society where I can talk to just about anyone - men, women, children, old and young. Strangers talk to me if we're in a queue, at a bar, out shopping. I'll speak to anyone. Yes occasionally I've been chatted up, but hardly ever really. Obviously I weigh up the situation first, but I find people are generally friendly.
I agree. I can't smile at the moment- stitches in my mouth, and I'm finding the world quite unfriendly. There's another thread this morning about 'cheer up, it'll never happen' comments, which I hate, they're aggressive and intrusive, but general chatter, what's the weather like and even compliments, I like.
OP I know where you coming from, but I'd find it very unempowering to live in a society where men wouldn't talk to women 'randomly' as if as a woman I couldn't a) differentiate between a passing the day comment and chat up and b) would be unable to cope with it by fending it off or shock embracing it.

ithaka Sun 02-Dec-12 11:24:26

Maybe it depends where you live? I live in a small village near a teeny city. It is very normal for strangers to say hello, comment on the weather, pass the time of day. Gender doesn't really come into it, more a sense of a shared human experience - a community feeling, if you like.

To me, there is a world of difference between a comment, exchange of civilities and the sort of wolf whistling, lewd comments that are so offensive.

It would be a shame to 'throw the baby out with the bath water' and condemn all interaction by strangers because some people make unpleasant sexist remarks. I like living somewhere where people aren't afraid to speak to strangers.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 11:24:29

What are you afraid of OriginalPan ?

Do I think badly of men? Quite the opposite. I am continually disappointed by the fact that certain of them let themselves down so often. If anything, I think more highly of them than those who think they can't control their base instincts.

What's your thinking behind why random men don't tell other men to "cheer up" or to "give us a smile". Because talking to my partner just now, he's saying "I wouldn't say it in case he smacked me in the face." Not that he'd say it to a woman either, obviously.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 11:24:48

DP talks to people too.

He is a man shock

I don't think he feels particularly threatened by other men,why would he?

CaseyShraeger Sun 02-Dec-12 11:25:47

Isn't it telling that a poster up there said that she doesn't get any attention now that she's older? Men speak to young, attractive women. It's fuck all to do with a feeling of community.^

Except that (leaving the OP's attractiveness out of it for the moment) she specifically said that she was old enough to be the first chaps mother.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 11:27:44

That's true CaseyShraeger so we're clearly seeing two different experiences here.

On the one hand the OP was spoken to, another poster is ignored.

People have different experiences shocker.

Snorbs Sun 02-Dec-12 11:28:11

the issue is that random men don't chat to other random men.

But that's simply not true, as others here have already said. Admittedly it happens more in some parts of the country/world than others. Relatively rare in London, much more common outside.

But I guarantee you, speaking as a random man, I have had random men make passing comment to me about situations such as slipping on ice and vice-versa.

You may not notice it for the same reason I don't often notice men speaking randomly to women - I'm not the one being talked to.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 11:29:46

I thought we were talking about the OP.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 11:30:28

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 11:31:04

Well, we are talking about the OP, but, as in all conversations, that then extends to wider issues.

I'm confused that anyone would think that wouldn't be the case.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 11:34:25

Now you see FromEsme,i take exception to you saying in a jokey way that people are more pissed in Scotland,DP is from Scotland and he doesn't roam about pissed talking to random strangers.

Those jokey asides just reinforce stereotypes,DP has put up with that rubbish for years.

InSPsFanjoNoOneHearsYouScream Sun 02-Dec-12 11:35:16

My brother talks to other men often. He stopped a man to ask about his car. He's 18.

My dads the same. He will chat with anyone and everyone. I think that's more to do with been Irish through as when I visit Ireland everyone talks to who ever they want.

TheOriginalPan Sun 02-Dec-12 11:35:18

Esme - I'm afraid of global warming, debt crisis, future of my dd, my friend's mental illness. Not sure why you ask. I was only highlighting your comments as they are the most extreme.

TheOriginalPan Sun 02-Dec-12 11:36:55

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 11:37:55

yea got to admit of all the random men who have spoken to me very few have been pissed, many many more are taxi drivers so I bloody hope their not pissed. I live in Scotland btw. I think given the responses that this is a personal issue not a feminist issue.

TheLightPassenger Sun 02-Dec-12 11:38:18

confused. I work in a very public location (though my job usually isn't public facing!), and am always having random people speak to me (or vice versa), both men and women. And see male employees talk randomly to other men and women. All in a spirit of camaraderie/community. Yes, I wouldn't be too chuffed at a random "Hi love", but the ice incident wouldn't have bothered me in the slightest.And when I was younger I have had random abuse hurled at me by men about my appearance - dog and ugly sad

Snorbs Sun 02-Dec-12 11:39:11

Ah, right Esme. So when you said "random men don't talk to random men", it was not that you were simply misinformed, but instead you were making a statement that you positively knew to be untrue, not least because even your own DH admits it happens.

Isn't making statements that you know not to be true simply for the sake of the argument a form of trolling?

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 11:39:42

I am Scottish. Shrug. It is indeed my experience that you get more random pissed conversations in Scotland and therefore not a stereotype in my opinion. It is ALSO a stereotype, but it is also my experience.

dwagdays Sun 02-Dec-12 11:40:52

Where I live we are all 'love' men as well which rather evens it out. I am a random chatterer and initiate conversations with men and women. Have made friends with all sorts of ages and genders. Am often chatted to, invited one guy round for tea after a random encounter that he initiated. He is a great friend now, prob dhs best friend. I think some interactions are just friendly.

The more patronizing, hostile, ingratiating are easy to spot. Do some men presume lead and ownership of conversations yes but I would prefer a world where more women did the same than one where no one chats.

I can't really see the presumption in either of the interactions cited. Having adapted to my new environment I sometimes use 'love' to children, teens, men, women and my dogs. It isn't always inappropriate.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 11:41:16

He's not my husband.

And snorbs honestly, I don't get your post, I don't see where I said something I knew to be untrue. Since I'm now being accused of trolling, I will bow out since this is going nowhere.

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 11:47:00

Locatio, location, location Esme, I live in a very busy part of Edinburgh very many boozers open all day, I am out most days, I have big "fuck me" power chair so not at all invisible, and again your experience is not mine. Nor do I recognise the stereotype of inebriated people that common in the streets.

If however you are talking about evening night time, pubs and clubs in particular or places like taxi ranks or other spots where drunk people would gather then your right.

CaseyShraeger Sun 02-Dec-12 11:48:35

Given that people have different experiences, it's not entirely appropriate to make sweeping statements like "random men don't chat to other random men" or "Men speak to young, attractive women. It's fuck all to do with a feeling of community.", though. Men do chat to other random men - we've had several of them here say that they would have expected a brief conversation in the case of the slipping-on-ice incident described by the OP. And as established by the very first post, they do talk to older women.

If we're going to move the conversation on specifically to "Cheer up, it may never happen" remarks (which may be made more by men - anecdotally, I'd imagine so, although I've had them from women as well) or to chatting up by stealth, then fine. But be clear that you're reframing the question, and be aware that as the thread didn't start off about either of those things plenty of other posters will still be discussing the question as framed by the OP.

grimbletart Sun 02-Dec-12 12:11:19

I live in a (large) village. Men and women randomly chat to whoever all the time. My trip to fetch the morning paper is constantly punctuated by "Good morning", "Alright?", "Nice day isn't it", "Bit cold" etc. Man or woman - makes no difference.

As for chatting in bus queues, ticket queues etc. why not? It passes the time. I've met really interesting people in queues grin.

All this is quite different from the e.g. building site random male to female 'chat' as in 'cheer up love, it may never happen", which is designed to embarrass, intimidate, intrude etc.

Important to realise there is a load of difference between the last comment and the ones in my first paragraph.

MMMarmite Sun 02-Dec-12 12:13:54

I love talking to strangers. It makes the day much more interesting and sociable. Obviously there are some men who talk to women in a creepy way or just indiscriminately chat up/ cat call every young woman, and clearly that is wrong. And there are times, like late at night alone at a bus stop, where the man should be particularly careful not to make a woman feel threatened. But I would hate men to feel they can never start a conversation with me.

yahnyinlondon Sun 02-Dec-12 12:25:47

I've found since having a small person with me, I get people talking to me a lot. Mainly women, but occasionally older men. They are generally very polite.

However the first time I went out without my baby to get some fresh air because I was losing the plot pick up some shopping, some random dude approached me when I was looking for the right bus stop in a high street, mumbled something at me, I was a bit confused as I was still quite sleep deprived (3 weeks after giving birth) and I with a what, sorry. He mumbled again about going to the movies ad I was just like no, sorry, not interested. He then swears at me and walks off. I guess he didn't notice my wedding rings, mothercare bag, boots bag filled with baby paraphernalia hmm

scottishmummy Sun 02-Dec-12 13:34:28

what a v odd op,why do you read sinister or peculiar motives in chit chat
people interact,chat and yes both genders swop safe anecdotes
talk about demonizing people or looking to find ulterior motives where none exist

AbigailAdams Sun 02-Dec-12 13:35:14

It's all about invading personal space even if that isn't literally. The workman shouting Cheer up love thinks it is OK to disturb you as you are walking along minding your own business.

Standing in a bus stop can be assumed that if you speak to them you are not greatly interrupting their daily business as they are stopped. It is not unreasonable for it to be a bit boring and providing they aren't doing anything else like reading or listening to iPod or whatever it probably isn't inappropriate. Same for walking along the street in a village or in the country. There aren't many people around, you presumably make eye contact first, so the person you are speaking to is expecting you to be friendly. In that scenario you probably wouldn't holler the street to some random person or stop greet someone who is walking fast with their head down, because that would be an invasion of personal space. I assumed the latter was the kind of interaction the OP was talking about.

scottishmummy Sun 02-Dec-12 13:39:40

her personal space wasn't invaded,a man fell,probably felt awkward.made comment
she's not said he persisted, it was appropriate in context of what had happened
this js peculiar and a bit sad to demonise male interaction as inappropriate

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 14:30:27

enimmead "But I just want to walk down the street without some bloke feeling they have the right to suddenly say something to me when they see me".
The trouble with this statement is most people welcome it. So a bloke is never going to know who are the few people who wont appreciate it.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 14:32:57

Getting chatted up at bus stops and asked for phone numbers.
Do you ever dress down or wear a fake wedding ring?
Im guessing you dont want to do either of those things.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 14:34:05

Really amillionyears ? I should have to PRETEND I'm married in order to not get attention?

I work in a primary school, how do you think I dress? But even if I went out in fishnets and a bra top, I still don't expect men to sleaze on me.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 14:38:51

Didnt think you would like that suggestion much! grin

But seriously it is not much to do is it?

Narked Sun 02-Dec-12 14:45:47

So she should wear a fake wedding ring as an obvious sign she's 'taken' or deliberately make herself unattractive? To avoid people propositioning her at a bus-stop?

lemonmuffin Sun 02-Dec-12 14:45:48

Dear me. Person of the opposite sex speaks to you. How utterly dreadful.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 14:48:32

Narked. Yes, if she wants to. The wedding ring alone might do it.
She sounds very bothered often by a lot of men.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 14:53:56

It's not much to do, no. But why the fucking hell should I? I'm just as happy telling them to fuck off.

I would love to live in your world where wearing a wedding ring to put men off is no big deal.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 14:57:19

and the very fact amillionyears that you thought to post a suggestion specifically because you thought it would get a rise out of me doesn't say much about you as a person.

I have no problem with men speaking to me on a personal level - like I said, any sort of hint that they are trying to chat me up and they get told I'm not interested, any further and I tell them to piss off - but I thought we were discussing this on a societal level. So what I personally may or may not do is irrelevant.

lemonmuffin Sun 02-Dec-12 14:58:51

It's not "attention" Enimmead.

It's just friendly conversation, it's what makes the world go round

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 14:59:52

Let's face it, it can be both lemonmuffin

scottishmummy Sun 02-Dec-12 15:00:17

anyhoo.its a ridiculous op, much indignation about fuck all
i have no problem with appropriate banter from either gender
its norm for people blether and chew the fat.i like to,and i have chatty weans too

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 15:05:39

FromEsme,why on earth would I want a rise out of you? confused

lemonmuffin Sun 02-Dec-12 15:12:54

Right. Let me tell you this story:

Shopping in big supermarket last week, rushing round as usual, mind on other things.

Long queue at checkout, stood there with blood pressure rising thinking about how much I've got to do still, and old lady behind me says 'I like your coat'.

'thank you' says I, and somehow from that she starts telling me about her family and her late husband who has recently died. And we carry on talking all the way through the checkout and packing the bags, right up to the entrance of the supermarket for a good 10 minutes.

And we said our goodbyes and then she says 'thank you for talking to me, it's been lovely to have a chat.

And it made me weep, all the way back to my car.

Think about that.

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 15:13:19

Ok so esme does not want chatted up, the assumption behind all this is that every male that starts a conversation randomly with a woman is only interested in a shag. Is chancing his arm, taking a punt as it were.

If this was indeed the point of every conversation more sympathy would follow the op, it raises other issues though. What if a presentable person nicely dressed, not reeking of drink, respectful and polite were to come up and just ask if you have the time or the inclination for no strings attached sex, they will pay for a proper hotel room or they would be wiling to go haves, food and or drink can and would be part of the deal if that was what was preferred.

Is that better or worse?

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 15:14:18

and the inclination that should be

germyrabbit Sun 02-Dec-12 15:16:46

i feel left out now as random men don't talk to me grin

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 15:18:08

amillionyears when someone posts "I didn't think you'd like that suggestion" with that inane grin emoticon, forgive me if I think they were looking for a rise. That's how it comes across.

Leithlurker how is it any different? I wouldn't be interested in that either.

lemonmuffin entirely different scenario to my experience.

Again, we're talking about this on a societal level. Others seem to want to talk about it on a personal level and when you have two totally different spheres you're talking about how can you resolve anything?

lemonmuffin Sun 02-Dec-12 15:20:19

Hmm, no it's not. It's about engaging with other members of society, male or female.

And sooner than you think, no one is going to want to do that with you.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 15:30:44

FromEsme. Sorry, didnt mean it like that. I can see though, how you might have thought that. Apologies.

TiggyD Sun 02-Dec-12 15:36:25

"Do blokes do this to other random blokes? "


But not everywhere. I was visiting a little village the other day to go for a walk in the surrounding hills and 4 or 5 people in the village said hello to me, including several men. It might not happen in cities or Towns, but if you get into the country or generally away from the South East you get men talking to other men randomly. Tends to be older men, but not entirely.
I've not had a man call me love, but I've had "Dear" a few times. It's a local thing where I live.

TiggyD Sun 02-Dec-12 15:38:31

I even got called "Moi Luvver" in Cornwall the other year. I didn't realise people actually said it! smile

OddBoots Sun 02-Dec-12 15:42:24

As a 30-something woman I am just as guilty of this, I ended up talking to an unknown (lost) teenage lad last week and mentally kicked myself as I found myself calling him 'sweetheart'.

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 15:43:03

It was a societal point Esme, you dont want random men tasking you for your number, maybe others do. Maybe some woman would like to ask random men or women for their numbers. Night clubs, bars, even supermarkets are places where both sexes apparently "hook" up. Your partner was random at some point esme.

From stats very many people are having random encounters initiated by both sexes, how is this achieved if not by someone chatting up someone else. My scenario was a shortened version of a pub club scenario. It is you that wishes to say that you do not want chatted up it is you that it saying all women do not want chatted up. I think given what we know about the behaviour of people that is patently untrue for a large number of people despite what you want esme.

I would then make a further point, if we are only talking about random conversation that you only suspect will lead to an attempt to get your number I am presuming you "screen" out most males who attempt to speak to you. In which case as unforgivable as being called really horrible names is, you are giving out a signal that dismisses someone's presence, they may well feel that it is you that is being rude.

MoreBeta Sun 02-Dec-12 15:44:26

I do speak to random people in the street if the occassion warrants it. Man or woman.

Its not like I am a regular chatterbox but if we are say in a situation occurs where you are thrown together with other people then striking up an conversation rather than just standing there in silence seems more sociable.

Its not hollering across the street or propositioning people though - which would be annoying and unwelcome.

HollaAtMeBaby Sun 02-Dec-12 16:11:39

This drives me crazy. I feel like a lot of men feel entitled to talk to/disturb/harass any woman they see. It's a subtle way of reminding us who has the power. If they don't get the hint when I ignore them/give them a monosyllabic reply and turn away, I find a hard stare and "I don't want to talk to you" usually does the trick. grin

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 16:16:59

lemonmuffin no-one talking to me in the street sounds like HEAVEN.

exoticfruits Sun 02-Dec-12 16:26:08

I just talk to random people- friendliness helps the world go around. You don't have to read anything into it.

digerd Sun 02-Dec-12 16:47:27

I,ve met so many talkative lovely ladies on the bus, and been told very interesting life stories, also some sad ones. Makes the journey fly by.

enimmead Sun 02-Dec-12 16:49:25

Like I said - I have no problem with small talk in queues etc. It makes the world a nicer place.

But just walking down the street and a bloke on the other side looked at me and said "Hi love". It's just something about that that made me feel uncomfortable. I happily say hi when out in the country - it's just what happens but it just seems too "out of place" on the main road.

And the young bloke He was surrounded by his 3 mates. I was in my car when he slipped. I got out a minute later and he then made the "Did you see that love " comment. Maybe he was trying to be funny but I just don't think he'd have made that comment if I'd been a bloke. It was not an attempt at conversation or smalltalk- just a statement. And the fact he was with his 3 mates did make me feel uncomfortable.

helpyourself Sun 02-Dec-12 17:09:11

It sounds as if you're extrapolating from two mildly lairy encounters way too much.
As many posters have said, strangers talk to each other, sometimes with sleezy intent, but by and large it makes the world a friendlier place.

scottishmummy Sun 02-Dec-12 17:12:01

op you're still supposing sinister content and somewhat making loose associations
IMO,nothing sinister in what the man said to you
if you feel spooked by mere proximity of 3males only one if whom made comment, well that's peculiar

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 17:13:03

Based on my experience, I've found men make comments to random women on the street a lot more than men make a comment to random men.

InSPsFanjoNoOneHearsYouScream Sun 02-Dec-12 17:14:45

There's a man who walks his dog around my area. When he sees me he shouts "hi love" if he's on the other side of the road and waves. I wave back. There's nothing sinister or creepy about it.

The 'did you see that" comment is nothing. He slipped and asked if you saw it. I'd have laughed. It's not like he shouted "get ya tits out".

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 17:17:03

No, there's nothing sinister about someone you see every day talking to you and I doubt that's what anyone on this thread is saying.

InSPsFanjoNoOneHearsYouScream Sun 02-Dec-12 17:18:31

I dont know the man. When he first ever said it I didn't find anything dodgy about it either.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 17:19:41

That's interesting, SP . What's your point?

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 17:20:01

Holla, I have seen this argument made before, that men "feel" they are "entitled" to talk to women and this is some kind of harassment. Wolf whistles, leering, making public comments, about how you look, what you are wearing, what they think about you are all harassment. Not acceptable, just like racist or homophobic behaviour language would be.

I cannot see though that a bloke saying "Hello Love" from across the other side of the street, not followed by "get your baps out for the lads" is harassment".

Enimmead, I get what you mean by the three blokes, but not that the comment which was made would worry you. Why would he not take the opportunity to embaress even further his friend who fell. It was not an invitation to talk about the Israel Palestine situation it was just a quick reply that was called for. I worry that young people, boys and girls are becoming more demonised so that even when they try and engage people with just a throw away comment it is seen as a threat. Women should be able to walk where and when they want, but fear of others is also keeping both generations and sexes apart.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 17:21:18

Trust me - when I "used to be male", I can not recall a time a bloke in the street made any kind of comment to me. Not a hi or anything like that.

But since transitioning, I have really noticed how men do make comments at random now to me. Just when I pass them. Not even trying to make conversation. Just a Hi. Or Hello, flower like I got last week.

InSPsFanjoNoOneHearsYouScream Sun 02-Dec-12 17:23:25

My point is there's nothing sinister about a man saying hi or making a comment about falling on the ice. Just as if it was a woman saying it.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 17:26:32

I'm not sure anyone's arguing that it's sinister and or threatening.

They're mostly arguing that a. it happens and b. it's annoying for some.

I'm mostly interested in the pure fact that it happens. Men talk to women in the street, where women don't generally talk to men or other women, and men don't talk to other men.

Fair enough if you either a. don't agree that that's the case or b. find nothing interesting about the fact that it does. That's fine. But there's no point in trying to argue that anyone's saying they find it sinister.

Great, you like people talking to you in the street. Personally I find it annoying. Both views are fine and both are equally valid. I resent being made out to be some sort of anti-social weirdo for not wanting to talk to people I don't know.

WithTheDude Sun 02-Dec-12 17:28:20

I agree with the op and Esme. It is so very obvious when men are doing it be arseholes. Shouting "hello love" from the other side of the street is part of street harassment. The fact that male posters don't understand that it can be intimidating for that to happen to women is the problem.

Men don't experience anywhere near the street harassment women do. Some of you may want to read up about Hollaback

Also, stereotypes based on nationality are offensive.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 17:30:24

"I'm mostly interested in the pure fact that it happens. Men talk to women in the street, where women don't generally talk to men or other women, and men don't talk to other men"

I don't even think it's talk. It's comments. Not expecting conversation. And it is based on my experience men doing it to women.

Men just don't make comments or even say hi to random men walking down the street.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 17:35:30

Can I ask why you personally dont like it.
You dont find it sinister or threatening.
Presumably you dont feel nicer for the encounter afterwards?

You do say it takes up your time
And you do say they are "judging your worth".

Am I right in thinking you think they are looking and talking to you like a piece of meat? Or have I got that wrong?

You dont have to answer that if you dont want to.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 17:36:20

My post was to FromEsme, but anyone can answer.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 17:41:48

But why is it that men don't do it to other men?

Yes - they might have conversations in certain situations but men do not make random comments to other men on the street.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 17:46:23

I would imagine that men find us women on the whole, softer than other men, less frightening.
Most men find other men, especially men larger than them, intimidating.

WithTheDude Sun 02-Dec-12 17:49:32

So they do it to women because they find us less threatening?

Do you not see the problem with that?

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 17:51:12

Kim several posters to this thread have said men do. I would go further and say that they should and I encourage people to talk to other people in the street, shop, pub, everywhere.

WithTheDude Sun 02-Dec-12 17:53:12

It's normal in parts of the US for people to talk to one another in the street. The only time i've had random men speak to me in the UK in the street has been for the purpose of being rude and aggressive.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 17:53:14

leith There is a difference between striking up a conversation in the pub and a random comment walking down the street.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 17:55:21

And maybe it is harmless but it does seem to be "one way" . It's just something that I have really noticed.

TeiTetua Sun 02-Dec-12 17:58:28

I think HollaAtMeBaby (that name??) is saying it right:

This drives me crazy. I feel like a lot of men feel entitled to talk to/disturb/harass any woman they see. It's a subtle way of reminding us who has the power.

It's bullying, sexual harassment. Even if it stays in the limits of more or less polite communication, it's a demonstration that a woman has no right to be left alone.

On the other hand, if you meet a stranger (anyone) on a lonely mountain top, you are required to exchange a few words. In the city, no.

superstarheartbreaker Sun 02-Dec-12 18:00:22

I don't really get what the big deal with being spoken to by men is. Normal behaviour surely?

perplexedpirate Sun 02-Dec-12 18:05:47

Oh dear. I'm always talking to people in the street. Men, women, small children, dogs if they'll stay still long enough...
I thought I was being sociable but obviously I'm just creeping folk out. I shall cease and desist forthwith. sadblush

piprabbit Sun 02-Dec-12 18:08:52

I've been out with DH when other men have made random comments to him. Often about sport (either based on some big current event or thinking DH supports a team or assuming the DH is South African). It's fine. DH makes a random comment back, they laugh and everyone goes on their way.
The fact that DH isn't interested in support, doesn't have a team and isn't South African has never prevented a friendly exchange.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 18:09:09

Would you say hi love to a complete stranger on the other side of the road?

piprabbit Sun 02-Dec-12 18:09:54

Isn't interested in sport blush sorry.

evilgiraffe Sun 02-Dec-12 18:16:04

I speak to - and am spoken to - by men and women alike. It has never bothered me. I find I'm more likely to have someone speak to me if I'm in a good mood and smiley - people talk to people who look friendly. I was on my own chatting to some tourists in a book shop the other day (grandad, dad, and three small boys) - it was nice, not weird in the slightest.

In what universe is conversation peculiar or threatening? I don't understand the OP at all. Life is much more pleasant if you assume people are being friendly, which is almost always the case.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 18:30:50

WithTheDude post 17.49pm.
No, I cant see the problem. You may need to elaborate.
Yes, if a man was being rude or aggressive.
But in the ops example, the man was not being rude or aggressive.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 18:32:21

TeiTetua. You dont think that the ops example was bullying or sexual harassment do you?

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 18:37:42

Teitetua. Another question if you dont mind.
I sometimes talk randomly to men on the street, in a train, bus , shop, whereever. Would that mean I then have some power over them?

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 18:47:04

Kim I would not use the word "love" in any form of greeting. The fact that some people not just men do this I have always seen as patronising. I acknowledge though that in parts of the uk it seems to be a very fixed part of local dialect which again both men and women employ equally. To know that it is meant as a sexist or sexual remark means assuming that this is the way it is intended every time it is used.

In Scotland we have the term "Hen" that used to be used a lot and in fact can still be found in some places as a form of address of exclusively females. In fact one of our most cherished Scottish icons, the "Sunday Post" has a cartoon strip that still uses the phrase. I would imagine this would drive most women wild, and I never use it for that reason. But it is an example of local dialect that could be argued as nothing more than a respectful way of addressing someone. www.dsl.ac.uk/

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 18:49:44

Jeez,are you lot still arguing about a guy who slipped on the fucking ice.

I would have laughed out load.

The young man was not being a sexist twat,just making a jokey aside to a passing person.

Say hello to the next person you pass in the street,you may make their day.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 18:52:14

And so fucking what if someone says 'hi love'.

Just so what.

At least they're being friendly.

Talk about making the world a miserable place.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 18:57:03

And I suppose your wee rant there has made the world a LESS miserable place, eh?

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 19:02:37

Bore on Esme.

You've been at it all day.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 19:02:39

My point is that men do not seem to make a comment at random to a bloke they see in the street. Not a friendly hi or anything like that. They just walk down the street.

But I have really noticed since transitioning how many more innocuous friendly hi comments I get as I pass men. Not meant in a taking the piss kind of way but just a hi love etc that I did not get before.

And I don't get the same "hi" from women I pass. Just from men.

exoticfruits Sun 02-Dec-12 19:08:14

It is a wonder some people dare open their mouths! A bit of friendly banter cheers up the day.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 19:11:22

Kim,i say hello to men and women if i pass them in the street,not in a busy street,but on the street no less.
Maybe if you said hello to passers by then they would be friendly back to others if not to you personally.

WithTheDude Sun 02-Dec-12 19:15:34

'Hen' isn't a mark of respect. It's dialect but not as a mark of respect.

exoticfruits Sun 02-Dec-12 19:16:21

One of the advantages of getting older is that I can talk to anyone without anything being read into it.

See now I live in't country. Way up north in the chillyness that is Scotland.
If I were walking down my road and a man going the other way didn't say hello I'd think he was odd! He would say hi aye to my dh too not just to a woman!
So maybe it depends on where you live!

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 02-Dec-12 19:19:58

"My point is that men do not seem to make a comment at random to a bloke they see in the street. Not a friendly hi or anything like that. They just walk down the street."

And yet men have come on here and said that they do talk to other men that they don't know on the street.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 19:20:08

I wouldn't deny it's quite nice for me to get comments like "Hi, love" as I pass a bloke smile

But it's not something that ever happened to "the old me".

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 19:20:38

Difference between talking and a comment.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 02-Dec-12 19:24:02

Where I come from you are either "darling", "love", "sweetheart", "lass" or "boy".

Some posters on here would have a field day if they ever went there.

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 19:25:19

The hen thing I agree as I said could be seen or heard even as being less than friendly, however it is all in the context abit like using the word love. Sisters and mothers I have heard saying hen to each other, as well as father to daughter.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 19:26:43

As I'm sure some of you know, I'm MTF trans. I have noticed a big difference in the way I am treated by men at a distance (before I open my big mouth) compared to the way I was treated before.

And random comments / compliments or greetings on the street by men is one of them. None of them to do with being trans.

MMMarmite Sun 02-Dec-12 19:27:01

Kim that's very interesting. Why do you think it is? Are they trying to chat you up now, are they more intimidated by men than by women, or something else?

When I went travelling alone, I struck up many many conversations with strangers on public transport, at tourist places and so on, because strangers were the only people to talk to! In those situations I thought (although have no evidence to compare it to) that being a woman worked to my advantage, because people of all genders were happy to chat back to me and didn't seem intimidated, as they might have been if randomly chatted to by a man.

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 19:28:20

In fact I have just remembered my dad would say to my sister "c'mon hen away and get yer coat on and we will get tae the miners club for the first bingo."

MMMarmite Sun 02-Dec-12 19:31:58

Well, I think one conclusion from this thread is that the geographical variation dwarfs the gender variation.

TiggyD Sun 02-Dec-12 19:32:52

"So they do it to women because they find us less threatening?"

Mostly this ^ I think.
As a young gentleman I didn't get man hellos. During the time I had long hair and wore a leather jacket I got no hellos and people would stand on the train rather than sit next to me. The older, and possibly less threatening I get, the more casual greetings/remarks I get.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 19:33:08

I didn't know that Kim.

Makes no difference anyway.smile

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 19:35:39

Long hair and leathers might be seen as a bit scary Tiggy.

madwomanintheattic Sun 02-Dec-12 19:36:15

Last winter, I slipped on a slight incline as the snow I was walking on (carrying a huge open box of small paint brushes, Christmas decorations and my car keys) had sheet ice underneath it.

I did a full-on comedy banana skin routine, ending up with both legs shooting out in front of me, the box heading skywards as my arms windmilled, and I landed unceremoniously bang splat on my arse, with paintbrushes raining down around me.

I scrambled to my feet as my fast as the ice and general deshabille would allow, and called out to the poor bloke shoveling his drive over the road (who I do not know from Adam) 'oh, my god. Did you see that?'

Was I in some way harassing him?

I talk to complete strangers in the street all the time. And they talk to me. Men and women.

Talking. Momentary links with strangers in an isolated world. I think it's necessary for the soul.

I've been groped in the street by a random. That was harassment. I'm dead against random gropers, me. People that talk to me? Yay. More of it, please.

<for ease of reference, I'm the wrong side of 40, size 18, with three kids, and a desperation about the ills of modern society. I do not include talking to strangers to be one them, whether a penis is involved or not>

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 19:40:46



inde Sun 02-Dec-12 19:41:04

Slightly off topic but has anybody else noticed that women invariably smile if they catch another woman's eye but we men rarely do. It's something a female friend commented on recently and I've noticed she is right. If I do smile under those circumstances then it would be to a woman and not another man.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 19:41:51

Likewise AllTheYoungDudes

Last time I checked, it is a chat forum, for people to chat on. No-one's forcing you to talk to me if you find me so dull.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 19:44:37

I'm not sure why men do not make random comments in the street to other men. I would say "hi" possibly to someone walking down the street and smile, but "Hi, love" just seems to add something that is not needed. I've never said love to anyone in my life, despite years of being up North. Nor called a random stranger sweetheart or petal.

And like I said, it was very rare for me to receive such comments in my old life. But it's much more common now. But only from men.

Xenia2012 Sun 02-Dec-12 19:53:10

inde, yes men expect women to be pleasing and smile an din fact often say - cheer up love if you choose not to smile. The weak smile to the powerful. There are a lot of sexism issues in the smiling thing.

Men make comments to women because they want to chat them up. I don't know how anyone on this thread can suggest it's gender neutral. It's not gender neutral at all.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 02-Dec-12 19:55:05

Evening all

inde Sun 02-Dec-12 19:57:03

I think you misread my post Xenia. I was not talking about men expecting women to smile. As I said I don't tend to smile to any strangers but I have noticed that my wife smiles at other women all the time. Should I be worried. smile

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 19:57:15

You sound like a well balanced person Esme,with a chip on both shoulders.

Henceforth i shall ignore you,as you can me.

And we'll all go about the world pretending we can't see each other.

Sounds happy doesn't it? smile

Xenia2012 Sun 02-Dec-12 19:59:02

There is certainly a lot of feminist thought about the obligation on women to smile which is not required of men. Also it is a status thing. Everyone will smile at Prince Charles on an official visit even men.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 19:59:59

Sorry Livvy ducky.

Nice evening. smile

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 20:02:19

I don't remember any women ever saying to me "Hi love" just as I was walking down the street in my male days. Sometimes a hello, but not very often.

Or asking me to smile or cheer up.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 20:02:28

AllTheYoungDudes, FromEsme has a different perspective to you.
We all come from different perspectives,and I dont see any reason why we cannot discuss this thread without personal insults.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 20:02:44

Will they Xenia?

I don't know prince Charles so i wouldn't go out of my way to speak to him.

But i might nod in passing....or even say hello.

inde Sun 02-Dec-12 20:04:33

There is certainly a lot of feminist thought about the obligation on women to smile which is not required of men. Also it is a status thing. Everyone will smile at Prince Charles on an official visit even men.

Again though I was pointing out that women seem to smile at each other. My friend pointed out that women smile at each other but men don't tend to smile at each other or to women they don't know for that matter. She never mentioned that men expect women to smile and it comes as a complete surprise to me that anyone does..

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 20:05:25

See, I can say to Xenia, that I think she is talking a load of rubbish on this occasion without insulting her!
Xenia, as I and others mentioned upthread, I talk to random men frequently.
Surely, when I do that, I am not upstaging then, am I?

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 20:06:13


Being pleasant doesn't hurt anyone.

Saying hello or making a remark isn't a threat or a come on.

Just passing the day.

ThatDudeSanta Sun 02-Dec-12 20:07:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 20:08:45

Me too Dude.

You Bastard. smile

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 20:09:37

Cripes,you are a bastard aren't you? smile

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 20:13:32


I reckon Ezzers can fight her own corner don't you lovey?

Wallison Sun 02-Dec-12 20:13:43

Oh, I get all kinds of people talking to me. Always have had - think I just must have one of those faces. I can remember going shopping one time with my mum and at one point she just looked at me in amazement and said "Have you noticed how many people talk to you?" It happens everywhere - in pubs (happened in a pub today in fact - an old boy chatting on about Yorkshires), in shops, on the street, at bus-stops, on trains, all over the place. It tends to be mostly young people or old people, hardly ever middle-aged people. But it's definitely women as well as men. Maybe they just recognise a fellow-traveller.

enimmead Sun 02-Dec-12 20:15:41

thatdude - there is a difference as has been pointed out - between perfectly normal conversation between strangers - and someone making a comment as you walk down the street.

People on here seem to be implying that just because you don't like men (and it is men) making comments - even though they seem friendly - as you pass them in the street means that you are some completely anti-social person who won't talk to anyone.

I do talk to people and make conversation. I do not make random comments to men or women as they pass me except for a possible hi. But not from across the street. I am sure a man would not say "Hi mate" to another man from across the street. But "hi love" or "hi sweetheart" is something I do not really like as I pass someone who maybe in their garden.

But I do make conversation with people.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 20:16:28

amillionyears honestly, people throwing personal insults doesn't really bother me. It just shows them up, not me.

As happens so often with any feminist discussion, people just revert to mocking, kind of bored of it now. Sure, you can have a different perspective without insinuating that there's something wrong with the other person. I can fully understand that some people like that level of contact. That's fine for them and I would never think to tell them they were wrong for liking it. I, on the other hand, don't. So, not sure why that's so wrong and why people are resorting to insinuating there's something wrong me.

Even if I DID like it, I'd still be interested in the fact that men speak more to women than they do to other men in the street. I am interested in that sort of stuff.

amillionyears I don't like people talking to me for a whole variety of reasons. I wouldn't say it's to do with feeling like a piece of meat exactly. It's hard to explain and I have been working all day, so can't really get into it.

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 20:18:08

AllTheYoungDudes I prefer "Frommers" actually, lovey.

Xenia2012 Sun 02-Dec-12 20:19:09

I find it astonishing that so many people on this thread have not been subjected to random uncalled for comments from men who are trying to chat them up. It is how it is. I am not massively bothered by it but it is something women are subjected to the world over. Now in Egypt (?) they have had to put on special women only train carriages to stop male gropers. But to suggest that the issue does not exist seems weird to me. Obviously if you're 30 stone or 60 the problem presumably dissipates.

TiggyD Sun 02-Dec-12 20:19:52

Is it me or do the people at MNHQ seem to spend all their time coughing on threads now?
Is there some kind of disease going round HQ?

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 02-Dec-12 20:22:03


Is it me or do the people at MNHQ seem to spend all their time coughing on threads now?
Is there some kind of disease going round HQ?

I do actually feel a little fluey - which I could SO do without.

I was rather clearing my throat to ask folk to behave.
Thanks awfullly

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 20:23:21

Xenia, why cant a random man talk to you?
What do you not like about it?

exoticfruits Sun 02-Dec-12 20:23:35

A good job that you don't live in places that you get called 'duck' , 'pet' or 'my lover' etc!

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 20:24:34

btw, we are not talking about groping on this thread.

Wallison Sun 02-Dec-12 20:25:06

Oh God I've certainly had unwelcome come-ons from men, both in this country and in loads of others. Everything from grabbing me, rubbing up against me, making really really lewd comments to me and (in one memorable incident) following me home, ringing my doorbell and then standing the doorway, knob out.

That is quite different to the passing the time of day type of comments and attempts at conversation though.

ThatDudeSanta Sun 02-Dec-12 20:25:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 20:25:37

"Xenia, why cant a random man talk to you?"

It's not talk - it's making a comment as you pass.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 02-Dec-12 20:26:38

"Well, I think one conclusion from this thread is that the geographical variation dwarfs the gender variation."

This certainly matches my moves from north to south of teh country.

"Men make comments to women because they want to chat them up."

Thats a rather large generalisation. Unless you know all men and there reasons for talking to women.

Back2Two Sun 02-Dec-12 20:26:57

I love feeling free to speak to strangers. Often it makes my day and I hope it might make their day when I say something in passing.

I understand that overt sexual insults or comments are beyond question offensive and intimidating. Or just plain wrong.

But, is it SO wrong for a man to speak to a woman because he does think she looks nice? I mean ...is that really criminal, abusive, asserting power and degrading women? And maybe men just chat to women a bit because it's banter. Because men are male and women are female and we are animals and animals have rituals around communication with the opposite sex and generally the male likes to try to impress the female with his bright feathers and lovely songs blah blah

Or, maybe it's just a random man being totally normal and talking. Outrageous..

enimmead Sun 02-Dec-12 20:27:12

"I do get that men make intimidating and unwanted comments to women, but the comment from the bloke in the OP wasn't. "

It's being called love by a complete stranger. I don't like it. Or being called sweetheart.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 02-Dec-12 20:27:28

Olivia did you just LOL?

Have you got a temperature? Are you feeling giddy ::headtilt::?

SomeTiggyPudding Sun 02-Dec-12 20:30:09

Get well soon Olivia.

But if you do snuff it can I have that blue background you use when you post?

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 20:30:34

It's just a word ime eninmead.

Not rude,just a word.

What if he'd said 'Hi bitch,did you see that!!'

Now that would have been rude.

But 'Hi love' isn't rude.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 20:30:43

enimead, can you describe why?
Do you feel like a piece of meat?

AllTheYoungDudes Sun 02-Dec-12 20:33:42

enimmead,you could have said to the young man whose friend slipped on the ice.

'please don't call me 'love',i don't like it'

enimmead Sun 02-Dec-12 20:36:08

From a woman, it's fine. In shops or things like that, it's fine.

But it just seems wrong from a man on the street. Love and sweetheart. It's a term that I think from a man should be between him and his partner. Not a comment made to some woman he sees on the street.

That's just me. I'm no bloke's love or sweetheart. And it is men who say it as I pass them.

enimmead Sun 02-Dec-12 20:38:11

"enimmead,you could have said to the young man whose friend slipped on the ice."

And get involved in an argument about sexism with 4 20 year old blokes?

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 20:39:56

ok.I sort of see where you are coming from.
That they are being too personal with you.

fwiw, they probably use different vocabularly to their girlfriends or nearest and dearest.

Nagoo Sun 02-Dec-12 20:43:37

Kim, please forgive me, but I have a question about people speaking more to you as a woman than a man; do you think that people speak to you more because you are happier in yourself, more open etc?

As a general point, maybe women are expected to smile and be nice, more than men. But you if you expect someone to be sour and unresponsive then you wouldn't bother speaking to them. People look to connect with a friendly face. In the OP I certainly don't think it was about power or dominance. The bloke was laughing and wanted someone to connect with the joke. Maybe if the OP had been a man he would have held back because he might perceive a man to be less friendly for whatever reason. Those reasons could equally be about power and dominance.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 20:46:25

nagoo It's not speaking more. It's making comments as I pass. Trust me, I get a lot more men saying hi, hi love etc than I got before. Men are just a lot more friendlier (if that's the right word) to women in the streets.

It has definitely been an eye opener. Lots of things have actually. smile

Nagoo Sun 02-Dec-12 20:49:20

The 'love' thing is about intent isn't it? So the woman in superdrug who says it to every customer isn't intending to cause offence or demean or whatever. You probably wouldn't be offended by her because you aren't threatened by her.

The man shouting it makes you respondin a different way, but his intent would be no more insidious that the woman in the shop. It's how you percieve him that is different.

You saw it was disrespectful, and it might have been, but I would like to think that he was just excited and wanted to connect with someone as a human, albeit in a clumsy way.

Nagoo Sun 02-Dec-12 20:51:51

I am going to completely undermine my own argument now, because when you said that, I had a flashback to the brief period of time that I was blonde.

I couldn't stand it.

kim147 Sun 02-Dec-12 20:55:29

nagoo - I'm blondish, slim and long hair. I just smile rather than say anything as that might spoil any illiusion they might have. As I pass quickly.

WithTheDude Sun 02-Dec-12 21:02:53

I think its also how much sexual harassment one has experienced in the past that can change how one reacts to it in the present. And, you can usually tell between an elderly man saying 'hello love' when you walk past him into the store. I don't like it but he's not being offensive. Thing is a lot of men use it to be offensive and intimidate women.

The assumption that women have to respond politely to every random man in the street makes it harder for women to get away from men who are trying to intimidate. Women are socialised to be nice all the time so when we react not-nicely, even to quite a credible threat, we are told we are overreacting. Women are never told to trust their instincts. And, men who think they are nice have absolutely no idea about the personal experience of the woman they are talking to and immediately assume a woman who walks away or shouts is being a bitch for the sake of being a bitch. They never think that actually that woman, that complete strange who you said "hi love" too was a victim of sexualised violence whose rapist used that exact phrase.

Men don't get just how intimidating it can be to be approached on a road by a strange man.

And, frankly, any man yelling hi love across the street at me, I would assume was a complete pillock because in no universe is that polite behaviour.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 02-Dec-12 21:11:28

YY WithTheDude.

madwomanintheattic Sun 02-Dec-12 21:14:12

I'm in two minds about 'love' and 'sweetheart' tbh. Most folk (men and women) use it as a shorthand for 'you there in the blue shirt that I do not know your name'. I don't like it used in a deliberately patronisingor phwoary manner, but these are few and far between.

I appear to have got into the habit of calling everyone 'my darling', or 'lovely'.

It's very odd, and I can only assume it crept on with age, as it's just an exhibition of general goodwill, rather than me wanting to belittle or fuck everyone.

madwomanintheattic Sun 02-Dec-12 21:14:44

<it's non gender specific. I call everyone 'my lovely'.>

WithTheDude Sun 02-Dec-12 21:18:51

I call people I know who are friends "my lovely". I wouldn't say it to a stranger.

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 21:21:49

I call people 'love' or 'sweetheart' a lot. Where I grew up people call you 'pet' and I like that a lot. It isn't gender-specific. I do agree there are plenty of non-gender-specific ways of talking to strangers that are perfectly polite and nice.

But there are also, unfortunately, plenty of gender-specific wankerish ways of speaking to strangers, IME, and I really don't think many people would be confused about the difference if faced with real examples on the street.

I have noticed that, as a youngish woman, if I call a man from round here 'sweetheart' he will often react slightly oddly. The same men will happily call me 'love', but they don't expect it back from women. I'm not sure they find it offensive (I hope not because it is more or less reflex for me), but I do notice it and find it quite interesting. I wonder if it makes them think about what they're habitually calling me?

Try it sometime: go into a busy pub, or a shop, and try to get a bloke's attention by calling him sweetheart or darling, and see how many times the bloke in question twitches a little bit, or starts trying to see if you were chatting him up.

Xenia2012 Sun 02-Dec-12 21:22:47

Chatting is totally different from what many of us mean on the thread.
For example (and this was a rare night) last week I was on the train into London. I was reading the FT, not many people on train. The man opposite said - I love your boots. In fact (and you can all laugh at this) at first I thought he had said I love your boobs. So you think - ah nutters on the train, the trains are full of them so you ignore it. I suppose I looked up.I wasn't really in the mood to chat and obviously. it was chatting up. He was reasonably sane, posh but longish blondish hair, we exchanged a few sentences. He got off 2 stops on. So that didn't feel too intimidating but it certainly wasn't just friendly chat.

Same night I walked about for 3 minutes from a hotel reception to the tube in London and first 2 Asian youths moved a bit closer and started talking and it wasn't friendly chatter, they were a bit drunk (this of course will teach me to wear high heels.. laughing... ) and before they had even finished their comments which I cannot quite remember but was certainly not a friendly chat in the street a 30 stone arab man who may have had mental health issues moved slightly closer to me pushing his hips out and rubbing his penis on the outside of his trousers toward me - about 5 feet away. I walked on quickly, left all 3 men behind and got back to my newspapers on the train. I didn't feel scared but it was one evening and it was 4 different men and it was nothing to do with friendly chatter. It was all to do about sex or power. I am not overly PC and I like men but it is definitely a feminist issue and men are not subjected to this. They may be more at risk of being stabbed of course and perhaps that is worse.

AnnoyedAtWork Sun 02-Dec-12 21:25:08

Really fucking hate it. It is all about power. Men trying to intimidate women.

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 21:38:09

xenia2012, please don't take this the wrong way, but your name is very, very similar to a long-term poster, did you know that?! I'm assuming you're new but forgive me if I am wrong.

A man saying hi isn't intimidating

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 21:43:59

re boots. See, I would have said, "yes I like them too. I bought them in xxx" or something like that.
And then seen what he had to say. But I always wear my engagement ring and wedding when out and about, so no doubt that I am married.
So, I suppose, thinking about it, everything may be different for a single woman.

yes, 2nd paragraph, totally different. But not what we were talking about on this thread.

LapsusLinguae Sun 02-Dec-12 21:44:18

LRD - I think she's done an 'Xmas' namechange? confused

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 21:45:21

Ah, ok. confused

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 21:45:22

LRD, this has to be the same poster. She posts the same.
But I am very surprised to see the slight name change. I thought she would never change.

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 21:45:57

amillion - I wear my wedding ring, I can't say it's made a blind bit of difference. But maybe you meet more observant men than me.

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 21:46:39

Sorry, it didn't even occur to me it was the same poster. Obviously I didn't read carefully enough. I just assumed a newbie who'd registered in 2012.

I am rubbish at similar names.

WithTheDude Sun 02-Dec-12 21:53:35

Wearing a wedding ring has nothing to do with it.

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 21:54:43

It's just occured to me 'a blind bit' is probably a phrase I shouldn't use. Sorry. blush

FromEsme Sun 02-Dec-12 22:02:00

SP to you a man saying hi isn't intimidating. Nor me. Not the case for everyone, unfortunately.

I don't think a man saying hi was ever the issue though.

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 22:12:13

See thats why conversations like this are so much about perceived slights and not about anything near as dire as people make out.

Blind people, people with visual impairments, disabled people in general, the majority of those that care for all those people could not, will not, and would piss themselves silly laughing at the thought that they would ever be offended by that statement LRD, in the scale of things its not even on the radar. Just like all this huffing and puffing because some women see a slight or a power play in every day activities. You want power play try going out and have people talk to anyone BUT you thats power.

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 22:14:36

leith, do you mind not talking for everyone else? You may not take offence but there's no need to be rude because I'm concerned I might have upset someone.

What an arrogant attitude you have - you're calling other people's (legitimate) feelings 'huffing and puffing' and 'perceived slights', but (with no apparent sense of irony), you're saying it's terrible when you get ignored.

Why do you deserve such special treatment, may I ask?

WithTheDude Sun 02-Dec-12 22:16:07

Except for the fact that sexual harassment and sexualised violence are very real experiences for many women who find these types of comments intimidating.

It really is depressing listening to men mansplain away women's very real thoughts as irrelevant.

amillionyears Sun 02-Dec-12 22:22:17

LRD, not sure if you think you may have upset me. You certainly havent. smile

madwomanintheattic Sun 02-Dec-12 22:24:28

Xenia, yes,. Chatting is different. But the op was just a comment made by a bloke who'd embarrassed himself. He wasn't being patronising, chatting the op up, or anything derogatory. And she was offended at the fact he had had the temerity to speak to her.

So, it could be said that the thread isn't what the op was talking about... grin

I dunno, tbh. I think she tries to post the same way as Xenia. grin the fact that a namechange is involved makes me question the authenticity a bit, lol.

It's a bit like the BBC deciding to rebrand. Unlikely...

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 22:24:53

I'm glad of that. smile

I didn't have any particular poster in mind, I just realized this is a phrase I would rather not use, and I felt bad about having used it, so thought best to acknowledge that.

exoticfruits Sun 02-Dec-12 22:31:08

OP was a bit different than chatting up. I tripped and fell into a hedge- felt a real fool (but not hurt) and felt constrained to say something to the passerby who happened to be a teenage boy. I'm sure that had I slipped on ice I would have made a passing comment to whoever was passing, regardless of gender and age- and wouldn't have imagined they would be on an Internet forum saying that the world would be a better place if everyone kept their comments to themselves!

exoticfruits Sun 02-Dec-12 22:33:43

Or maybe it is just young men who can't make comments- as a middle aged woman perhaps it is allowed?

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 22:37:13

But no-one is saying the world would be a better place if everyone kept their comments to themselves, are they? That's just a made-up argument because you don't like the one that's actually being put forward.

enimmead Sun 02-Dec-12 22:40:21

But I bring you back to the OP. It's one of many comments that are made to me predominantly by men.

He had his mates who he'd talked to. Maybe he was just trying to be friendly. But I honestly do not think he'd have said anything to me if I'd been a bloke. Why? I'd have just got out the car and carried on.

He probably was just trying to be friendly. But it's just one example of many when random men just make comments out of the blue in the street to me that women just don't do.

exoticfruits Sun 02-Dec-12 22:42:54

OP doesn't like the fact she was spoken to by a stranger. I can't see why we can't speak to strangers- he seemed perfectly friendly to me - it was a simple one off comment. Was I terrifically rude because I made a comment to a young lad when I fell in a hedge?

exoticfruits Sun 02-Dec-12 22:45:11

I do make random comments- I didn't realise, before today,that I was supposed to know people, had to worry about gender and age and if I had friends with me it was taboo because I could have spoken to them!

enimmead Sun 02-Dec-12 22:45:30

exotic I did not like being called love by a 20 year old bloke.

LRDtheFeministDude Sun 02-Dec-12 22:45:37

We can speak to strangers. hmm

The OP didn't like the fact she reckons men speak to women in a way women don't speak to men or other women, and she didn't feel comfortable with it.

Lots of other women have explained they've also felt uncomfortable with gendered interactions like this; lots of other women have said no, they don't get it and don't care.

I don't see anyone saying 'let's not bother talking to strangers, ever', so it's a bit sly to pretend that argument is being made.

CaseyShraeger Sun 02-Dec-12 22:45:52

I slipped over in the park today, then got up and made a flippant self-deprecating remark to a stranger who was passing and would have seen the fall. I'm female, he (as it happens) was male. I'd have said exactly the same if he'd been female.

exoticfruits Sun 02-Dec-12 22:50:50

It doesn't bother me.

madwomanintheattic Sun 02-Dec-12 23:57:14

So women don't talk to you in the street.

I wonder why not? They talk to me, and I talk to them.

Genuinely interested. In that sort of non sexually charged or patronising way, I wonder why women don't talk to you? Do you think it's to do with them, or you?

Are you giving off a 'don't fuck with me' air that men feel free to ride roughshod over in an ice breaking way, because they have been brought up to be braver?

I probably, on the whole, have more women that chat to me out of the blue in the street than men. One woman I could barely get rid of - I was in the queue at the grocery store, and by the time I had paid I knew where both she and her dh were from, when they were planning to go back and visit, how long they have lived here, and what she was going to have for dinner that night. Oh, and a couple of new websites for recipes.

So, I don't know. It must be something more personal, I think. My experience as a woman doesn't tally with yours in a 'just chatting or commenting' way. It does with the patronising and sexually inappropriate sit, but I see them as completely and utterly different.

If anything, I think men are far less likely to make a random comment or chat to a woman in the street for fear of being seen as a potential attacker.

FromEsme Mon 03-Dec-12 00:06:23

So now it's our fault if women don't talk to us?! Because we're obviously cold, awful harpies?

Give me a break.

madwomanintheattic Mon 03-Dec-12 01:31:21

Partly facetious, my lovely... wink

But just pointing out that some women get loads of other women talking to them, so the op's experience isn't universal. grin

MoleyMick Mon 03-Dec-12 03:48:25

I am in Australia, so that might account for a difference, but in my experience, men talk to men in the street as well as women, and women talk to both sexes too. It's just that men will say "g'day mate" to men and "g'day darl" to women. If i am with my kids, they'll say hello to the kids too, and if DH is out with them, he comes back saying some bloke at the park or shops or whatever chatted to them. It's nice. I don't see the problem. Even if you are a bit preoccupied and it interrupts you, surely it only takes seconds out of your life? It's never occurred to me to think anything of it!

WhoWhatWhereWhen Mon 03-Dec-12 04:31:04

I chat to other men all the time, It's a good way of getting to know if they want to shag me, some do some don't, I enjoy the chat either way

exoticfruits Mon 03-Dec-12 06:48:23

I wonder what age you are allowed to be call someone love? If not at 20 is it allowed by 40yrs? Do they have to be older than you? Is it allowed if they are a woman? I don't call people love etc but lots do- it is fairly harmless and not something to brood about.
He fell over, made a comment, you didn't even have to reply!
When I fell in the hedge and made a comment to the teenage boy he just gave an embarrassed smile and probably thought I was 'a mad old bat' but it doesn't mean that I can't make remarks to random people! I don't need to size them up for age and gender first!

Nagoo Mon 03-Dec-12 07:42:56

It's a good way of getting to know if they want to shag me

you might be talking about other men here, but basically that's making it explicit that when men talk to us, there is an element of sexual predation about it.

The way that makes us feel is directly dependent on how safe we feel at the time.

enimmead Mon 03-Dec-12 07:49:23

madwoman So women don't talk to you in the street.

I wonder why not? They talk to me, and I talk to them.

FFS - can't some people on here read? I am talking about making one off comments. Not talking. Walking down the street and some bloke saying "Hi, love" or "Hi sweetheart" as I walk past. Waking past a bunch of blokes and one of them saying "Hi, Love" - which is not what would happen if I walked past a group of woman.

And if a bloke walked past a group of blokes, would one of them say "Hi, mate" as they walked past? I don't think so.

Leithlurker Mon 03-Dec-12 07:57:53

LRD I can and will make sweeping statements as this whole thread has been about sweeping statements, you are seriously telling me that disabled people will be offended by you using an every day phrase which we know relates to non disables language.

Just in case you worry yourself to sleep, those that use wheelchairs still go for a walk, and those that are deaf still listen to music.

Now manplanning god forbade, but I am a man, check, I know more about this issue of unwanted and unwarranted speech from both personal and theoretical perspectives. I have been attack, abused, laughed at, spat on, pointed to, and ridiculed. I have even been sexually assaulted in a pub by a stranger, I still speak to strangers and welcome being spoken to by strangers. Ah but yes I know I am privileged,

so if you don't fucking mind keep your stupid comments and feministplanning to yourself, try and be human not a collection of ideal and political dogma.

exoticfruits Mon 03-Dec-12 08:31:27

I shall just continue to make random comments and if people don't want to be spoken to that is their problem-they are perfectly free to look straight through me and ignore. If they want to call me 'love', 'duck', 'hen' etc they can-without having to be a certain age or sex! (I don't use it myself and don't particularly like it, but I am not going to think-he is 20yrs he can't say it but the 70yr old can!!)

Leithlurker Mon 03-Dec-12 09:02:06


Xenia2012 Mon 03-Dec-12 10:02:22

There is a huge difference between being friendly to people as a lot of us are, when out and about and what many women are subjected to on a daily basis by men. The latter is an issue women all over the world have to deal with from sexual assaults on trains - not so common here as in Japan, Egypt and other places to general leering and the types of comments I described from the other night. It is a much bigger problem for women than men.

General it is not wise to go put to them jabbing a nose in their face saying - oy mate stop it nor to go back to them with something similar or say small penis because of the difference in relative strengths nor is it wise to carry a knife and threaten them with it. I suppose you could try to record it all and post it on line.

(I am I)

exoticfruits Mon 03-Dec-12 10:07:27

Slipping on the ice and making a comment is perfectly acceptable-even if you are 20yrs and male. It is a bit unfair if I can do it as a middle aged female and he can't!

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 10:10:21

Xenia2012. You dont seem quite yourself.
Are you feeling ok?

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 10:13:30

For the record, if someone said Hi love to me across the street, I would smile back and or wave., unless it was dark or he/they appeared drunk.
So even if they were meaning it rudely, I should hopefully have burst their bubble, and made them feel nicer at the same time.

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 10:14:13

By someone, I meant a man of any age.

I often chat to people in the street, or instigate a brief exchange (Everyone is 'duck' around here, male or female, and the traditional greeting goes this: Ay up, duck). I have never had random comments thrown at me of the 'Hi love' variety, unless it is going to be followed up with 'Do you know where X street is?' or similar. Maybe it depends where you live? <muses>

WithTheDude Mon 03-Dec-12 10:32:54

Do you know, I genuinely don't give a shit about whether or not some arsehole whose clearly shouting across the street at me in an abusive manner feels nicer about themselves.

It's some serious internalised misogyny to even say that.

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 10:49:47

misogyny is hatred of women?

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 10:52:14

Sometimes people do horrid things to each other, because they feel unloved themselves.
Sometimes they will stop doing those things if they are loved.

WithTheDude Mon 03-Dec-12 10:58:23

And, you've just made it women's responsibility to fix it for complete strangers.

With no thought to how it might effect individual women.

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 11:05:19

I dont expect many women to do what I do.

Society, men and women, can help each other out if they want to and are able to.

BeataNoxPotter Mon 03-Dec-12 11:06:17

Hug A Harrasser?

Can't see that catching on.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 11:07:38

leith - I 'seriously told you' no such thing and I'd thank you to stop misrepresenting me.

I simply apologized in case my phrasing might have offended someone. I also clarified that I wasn't thinking of any particular poster, I was just concerned.

That is in no way a 'sweeping statement'.

Now, to what you say: 'I know more about this issue of unwanted and unwarranted speech from both personal and theoretical perspectives. I have been attack, abused, laughed at, spat on, pointed to, and ridiculed. I have even been sexually assaulted in a pub by a stranger, I still speak to strangers and welcome being spoken to by strangers. Ah but yes I know I am privileged,

so if you don't fucking mind keep your stupid comments and feministplanning to yourself, try and be human not a collection of ideal and political dogma.'

How would it make you feel if I replied: 'ooh, you're just huffing and puffing - all this about 'unwanted speech' and other stuff - rubbish, I don't think it's a problem'.

You'd be justified to feel awful, right? Because you clearly believe quite strongly (you 'feel', I might say), that what happened to you wasn't very nice.

Yet, you're happy to belittle other people's experiences and feelings. Why do you get special treatment? Why are the awful things that you say happened to you (and I believe they did, and I believe they are awful, just so you know), somehow more deserving of our concern than what other posters describe?

It is this level of hypocritical selfishness I find very difficult to understand. And while I'm not reporting your post as I'd like it to stand so everyone can see how you speak when called on your inconsistencies, that is a vile way to address someone.

I regularly have people speak to me - random strangers making a comment about the weather, the dog/ds (if they are with me), etc. And I do the same.

Is this not just being sociable, normal, friendly?

I suspect, as has been mentioned, that it probably does depend where you live. It is certainly completely normal here. Children and teenagers also speak to me (and other adults).

inde Mon 03-Dec-12 11:23:47

I think people are unintentionally misrepresenting the meaning of amillionyears post. She meant (I think) that sometimes she wasn't sure if people were being rude but gave them the benefit of the doubt anyway.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 11:34:02

I think she meant that too. But the reason it is catching people wrong (and there's no reason amillion would have known this, I'm just saying I'm pretty sure this is what's bothering people) is that it's a fairly common sort of truism that is said when men do something nasty. 'Why did he feel so alienated from society?' 'Well, perhaps the problem is he didn't feel loved enough'.

I'm seeing these comments on my facebook pages after those awful news stories in the US and over here about men who, very tragically, killed their families and then themselves. So, it did make me think a bit.

Obviously talking to people in the street is a totally different order of activity (!!), and I can see why someone friendly will think it's best just to treat everyone as if they've perhaps been rude for some reason, and to be nice back. I don't think this is a gendered principle - if someone snaps at you bagging up your shopping and you're this sort of nice person, you'll probably tell yourself she or he is just tired or cranky, and you'll be nice back.

The reason that - for me - it becomes a bit uncomfortable is this association that practice of 'being nice to strangers' has with women. I do think women are expected to do a lot of the 'being nice' and smiling (hence 'cheer up love, give us a smile', being a comment typically made to women, because some men like to think they ought to be able to make women smile). There's a very Victorian/Edwardian idea (which my granny would have loved) that women are naturally better at adding a little social ease to situations, that they ought to be sociable and pleasant because everyone likes a smiling girl and it cheers up the men, who're naturally more gruff, what with their Masculine Natures.

Ok, we can snigger now, but I do think the vestiges of that attitude are still seen in everyday social intereaction. And I think at their extreme, they come out in these reactions to the tragedies I mentioned above, where people wonder what the woman didn't do, that her partner or family member killed her.

Sure, it's a completely extreme connection to make and I stress I'm not comparing the two situations ... but that is what amillion's phrasing happened to make me think of, with its language of 'not being loved', so I thought I'd put it out there in case it helps explain why some posters are reacting to it a bit.

Adversecalendar Mon 03-Dec-12 11:39:15

People always speak to me, men and women and I am also approached by cats on a regular basis.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 11:41:50

<makes mental note to check the gender of cats who meow at me>

Actually they all go for DH, sly bastards, they know he is a pushover.

namechangeguy Mon 03-Dec-12 11:55:12

I have a couple of questions for the OP, so that hopefully I will not make the same mistake;

1. Was it the guy's age that bothered you (would it have been as annoying if he had been over 60, or a boy)?
2. What rules should we adhere to for such social interactions (based on ages of the participants, or opposite genders, or anything else I should be aware of)? Would I, as a 40-ish bloke, be better off just not engaging at all, or in certain situations? (I am aware of the obvious, such as not shouting across distances etc.)

As for my own experiences, I have found this happens to me far more in the USA. People seem far more open, helpful and friendly when compared to the UK, and are far more willing to start a random conversation.

One last thing. In the OP's example, the guy seemed to be asking a question - 'Did you...?'. He does not appear to be talking at you, but rather engaging in social interaction.

Nagoo Mon 03-Dec-12 11:57:40

Cats know better than to call me love.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 11:59:54

I think cats must feel immensely patronized, actually.

'But I am a mighty hunter! I have vanquished many small spiders and caught the occasional cunning beetle! And yet you call me pusskins. Come the revolution, you shall be first to die ...'

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 12:01:40

inde, yes that is what I meant.

FreudiansSlipper Mon 03-Dec-12 12:02:16

I do not mind strangers talking to me but quite a few times because I have not responded in a grateful manner I have been insulted I also feel many men are oblivious to how vulnerable some women can feel and need to be a little more aware

I feel as a women I have been conditioned to always be nice, sometimes I have felt uncomfortable with attention a man is giving me but if I were to say this or ignore them I am the one often in the wrong why can I not tell a man in a polite way that he is making me feel uncomfortable by crowding me, staring, being over familiar

Xenia2012 Mon 03-Dec-12 12:05:43

Women are conditioned to be nice and also those lower in a sense than others smile at those who are above them so the requirement that women smile at people and men is about the exercise of male (or sometimes female) power.

If you are in the street and don't want the man to wolf whistle or look you over or shout cheer up love you can probably come up with some kind of reposte although it is often safer not to. As soon as you move into a business environment where someone has power to hire or fire you it is harder. Women tend to get on at work by doing the smiling thing and indeed can be criticised for work for qualities men are praised for. All fascinating stuff.

I only ever dared to approach a cat in the street once. The fucker regarded me cooing at it, let me stroke its head, then bit me with a consideration becoming of a well thought out decision. Cats are bastards.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 12:12:42


That's awful, but also, I'm afraid, quite funny in your telling of it.

TheSmallClanger Mon 03-Dec-12 12:16:30

A lot of it depends on context, same as everything else. I know what the OP is talking about, but I'm finding it really hard to pin down the context.

I do know that having some drunk bloke plonk himself down next to you and repeatedly say "y'alright love?", when you've made it clear you don't want to chat, is completely different to a cheery "good morning" from an old boy out with his dog.

Sometimes I do engage in chat when out and about, and it normally starts with a very specific comment, often relating to my dogs: "Is that a Great Dane?", "is your dog friendly?" Or it could be a tip-off that the farmer is herding sheep up there, so maybe to walk the other way, or that a particular cheese in the supermarket on offer is very nice. All of these things can lead to a pleasant casual conversation. I don't think I've ever got one out of "y'alright love?" or "where are YOU going?".

Clanger, dogs pretty much guarantee a chat, don't they? I am regularly accosted by people of all ages wanting to chat about the bastard spaniel. Teenagers tend to gravitate towards us. I'm like the Pied Piper of Lynx and Impulse.

Xenia2012 Mon 03-Dec-12 13:14:33

Depends on the chat. Two men over 60 or 70 in two consecutive weeks outside the supermarket both said to me they liked the colour of my bike! I don't know if that is a known chat up line or they just liked the colour and that was fine, whereas the various drunk, weird, mad, sexist men the other night was not fine.

Bue Mon 03-Dec-12 13:35:56

Where does the evidence come from that men don't strike up the same type of chat with men? Of course they do. And women probably chat to me at least as often as men do. When I was younger I always thought a man making small talk was going to ask for my number (conceited much?!) but that only ever happened once.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 13:38:22

My poor DH. sad

D'you know, bue, not once in all his 25 years has someone struck up a conversation with him by telling him how pretty he looked, asking him if he was going out somewhere nice tonight, or calling 'looking good!' after him.

What is he doing wrong? What do all these men you know do to get this pleasant attention?

LRD, my DH has been told he's pretty and propositioned shock Once at a bus stop, and once in a cinema. Both strangers. Both dudes. And there was the memorable Hair Sniffing Incident Of 1997. But we don't talk about that.

Xenia2012 Mon 03-Dec-12 13:48:45

At times I feel like I am in a parallel universe on this thread. Most women surely get all these chat up lines from men (I even had one man ask for sex at the end of a business meeting last year and I am not making it up - it was ridiculous. We were here. My adult son was in the house. I don't what he expected, ugly little man). I wonder how many women have ended a business meeting by asking for that?

Obviously most of the time we don't have these problems and if people are saying men have stopped this kind of thing that is great. There is a time and a place to chat women up (or men up) and men should only do it in the right place and context.

namechangeguy Mon 03-Dec-12 13:52:00

The only way to be sure that you are not going to upset someone or make them feel uncomfortable or threatened is to not make smalltalk. I am all for this. The nuances otherwise are just too complicated for me, and I wouldn't know when I am doing it wrong sad

Better safe than sorry though.

namechangeguy Mon 03-Dec-12 13:58:00

Xenia, that is a cut and dried situation, and wrong on so many levels. Some of the other examples, like the OP and the guy on the ice, have genuinely got me wondering though. It's a bit of a minefield at times, and I am looking for pointers in some of these situations.

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 14:06:44

namechangeguy, I assume you are a man.
I dont think you should not do small talk. Imagine if all the guys, and women come to that, did that. The world would be a very lonely place for everyone.
I can understand you wanting to do that, but please dont.
I would like to hazzard a guess that 90% of women at least wouldnt want that.

rubyrubyruby Mon 03-Dec-12 14:09:11

I have only read a few others posts other than the OP but I don't understand it all confused

WithTheDude Mon 03-Dec-12 14:10:57

And, I'd suspect you'd be wrong about that amillionyears.

rubyrubyruby Mon 03-Dec-12 14:12:41

namechangeguy - you can chat/make small talk with me any old time regardless of your age. I will smile and chat back to you, whether I fancy you or not! as I do anyone else - male or female.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 14:15:32

chickens - your DH must just be prettier than mine.

I have to say, while I do understand that many people, men and women, find social conventions hard to grasp, it always slightly irritates me when people take a martyred tone and declare they just can't cope with these complexities like, um, not making someone else feel uncomfortable so they won't bother. To some extent it sounds a bit like toys out of the pram to me. And I notice it's both male and female posters, so I don't think this is a particularly masculine/feminine response - just an 'I can't be arsed with the silly feminists' one.

For me, if I hear from a load of people that they're uncomfortable with x, and x is something I regularly do, that does make me think twice. Sure, I might decide all these people are silly whiners and I'll continue to do x, but I can't quite imagine myself ever taking the tone that it's somehow unreasonable for other people to be uncomfortable. Or acting as if they've somehow constrained my freedom of expression by telling me they're uncomfortable.

That would make me feel like an arrogant person (and while I'm used to that, a little more would be de trop).

namechangeguy Mon 03-Dec-12 14:16:01

Million, I don't think the world would miss my sparkling wit and repartee too much grin

It isn't something I do a lot of, really. I am quite a private person. I will only usually chat if required, e.g. if someone needs help, directions etc. But if I made a tit of myself by flying across some ice, I might save face by making a comment and not think twice about anything than my own embarrassment. This thread has got me thinking that this might disturb some people, so maybe when this happens we should just grin and wander off.

namechangeguy Mon 03-Dec-12 14:20:09

Well, as a toy-thrower, I am looking for some pointers LRD. Specifically in the case of the OP and the guy who slipped and then spoke. Would you (genuinely) help me with the complexities of that one?

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 14:20:57

I don't see why it's complex, so sorry, I'm not really sure what you're asking. confused

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 14:23:13

I do think that this is a situation where being on the net makes it much more difficult to know what's going on - no matter what your position on this one.

If I say I habitually call everyone 'sweetheart', you've no idea how that really comes across. Maybe you'd hate it - maybe you'd find it friendly and nice - maybe you'd roll your eyes and think it was affected or twee.

But I don't reckon it does any of us any harm to muse a little bit on shared experiences - why do some posters seem to have had similar experiences, while others don't get it at all?

It is interesting.

Myself, I think it's gendered (whoopee shit, no surprise there), so naturally that's how I'm talking about it.

BeataNoxPotter Mon 03-Dec-12 14:37:27

Basically, don't be a creep and you won't come across like one.

Not sure why there's so much confusion over the OP - I understand the type of male to female interaction she is talking about. The type that is designed to make you notice the man saying it, to draw you into a dialogue that's not about passing the time of day as equals.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 14:40:30

Oh, what a lovely Christmas name! smile

I agree, btw.

namechangeguy Mon 03-Dec-12 14:44:36

Okay LRD, I am not making myself very clear here. Apologies.

What I am saying is, what did the guy who slipped in the OP do wrong, and how should he have acted? Because in my eyes all he did was draw attention to his own embarrassment.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 14:48:45

Well, like I say ... I don't think it's very easy to know, over the net. I read it one way - sounds as if lots of people read it the other. Who knows? IMO it doesn't really matter, since it's happened and over - I assumed the OP was trying to start a bit of a debate about what we all think about this sort of issue, is all. Maybe I read her wrongly.

feelingdizzy Mon 03-Dec-12 14:56:12

Like almost everything in life your view of this is personal and situational.

I live in the rural west of Ireland where I have to add in extra time to go anywhere as it would be seen as incredibly rude not to pass the time of day with almost everyone.

I am generallly a chatty, outgoing and enjoy talking to people,butI have had random commments thrown at me by men,that weren't wanted.I think most women have.Also what I consider annoying is sometimes based on my mood ,whats happened that day etc.

Also in terms of relating to men I am single and dont mind men talking to me as an opener to getting to know me ,perhaps getting my number.I have also had fun conversations with men and women for the hell off it.

I enjoy my corner of the world in which regular ineraction between people is seen as the norm.I like my children growing up somewhere in which this support is seen as beneficial.I also want both my ds and dd to feel equipped to challenge people when they feel threatened or demeaned.

enimmead Mon 03-Dec-12 15:54:33

I see the ice thing is annoying some people so I'll explain. He was with 3 mates. He slipped over. I was in my car. He'd had a laugh with his mates about it. A few minutes later I got out.

"Alright love, did you see me slip?".

I just felt uncomfortable with 4 young blokes in front of me and suddenly being engaged in conversation. I don't need to justify it. I just did. So I smiled and said "Oh yes" and got on with my business.

But my point is - would he have said it to a bloke?

inde Mon 03-Dec-12 16:08:44

I can imagine they might say "did you see that mate" to some random bloke. To an extent I do see where you are coming from enimead. When I'm just going about my business I don't really want to be engaged in conversation with lads who are messing about, but it happens. On one occasion I even had a teenage girl who was passing in a mixed group gently pinch me and make a comment. She did it in a completely non aggressive way so I wasn't particularly bothered but if a male had done it to a female I would have thought it was disgusting.

exoticfruits Mon 03-Dec-12 16:50:57

I can't see why he wouldn't say it to a man- the only difference would be 'mate' instead of 'love'. It didn't need much response, 'yes' and a smile was fine and move off - which is what happened. I can't see why it needs analysing.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 16:53:08

Why, inde, out of interest?

exotic - am I reading this wrongly, or is this you saying you do actually accept there is a gendered difference?! Good for you. I agree.

But I disagree it doesn't need analaysing. If you don't fancy it, feel free, don't... others may.

exoticfruits Mon 03-Dec-12 17:08:56

I made a point of speaking to random strangers today- they all replied. I didn't think 'he is male and early 20s - can I speak to him?'
I would bet that they have all forgotten it, they are not analysing what I meant, would I have said the same to a man, should I have phrased it differently, should I have spoken in the first place? It is a wonder anyone dares open their mouth!

amillionyears Mon 03-Dec-12 17:11:36

I think men speak differently if they are talking to random women, and I think women can sometimes speak differently to random men than they would to random women. tbh, it isnt something I have given much thought to before.

In your case,op,no I dont think he would have said that to you if you were a man.
I think, in your case, that he was being friendly and having a bit of an added joke with his mates to cover up his embarassment.
I think if you had been a man, he would probably not have said anything, and been even more embarassed.

rubyrubyruby Mon 03-Dec-12 17:16:25

I find it sad that people feel 'uncomfortable' engaging in conversation with random strangers. A sad reflection of today's society.

inde Mon 03-Dec-12 17:20:28

Why would I have found it disgusting if a male did it to a female? I would hope that young males are not often going around assaulting 60+ year old grandmothers in the street to look big in front of their mates.

Rosmarin Mon 03-Dec-12 17:26:20

I had one wonderful experience in Barcelona. I was walking along the street late at night (it was still busy, mind) and I saw a man do the most enormous yawn with quite a funny expression on his face. It was so funny that I just burst out laughing and he saw me and we had a short conversation about how funny his yawn had been and I re-enacted it for him. He was just charming about it - we chuckled together for a moment - and then went our separate ways.

Back to reality, every other instance in my memory where I've had contact with unknown men in the street has made me feel uncomfortable or, when I have responded in a normal or friendly way (anything besides nasty), there's been some catch and wanting a phone number or something from me etc etc.

And otherwise, comments in the street have been harrassment. Some really nasty, ugly things. angry

I wish there were more funny yawn moments.

inde Mon 03-Dec-12 17:27:59

And I think it would have seemed more aggressive had a male done it to a female.

madwomanintheattic Mon 03-Dec-12 17:36:15

I have no idea whether he would have said it to a bloke.

I said it to a bloke, when it happened to me. I totally accept all the gendered stuff, but in this situation, I'm really struggling to see why you felt that way (I'm interested why you felt that way, but I'm struggling to grasp it. Is it because it is tied up with all the other genuinely gendered instances where a group of blokes made passing comments to a lone woman? In which case, I see your own personal context. But why does a bloke asking a woman if she saw him fall over - presumably damaging his street cred and minimizing his masculinity in one fell literal swoop, have to be looked at in this manner?)

This instance wasn't a gendered exchange. By judging it as such, we run the risk of building further barriers between the genders.

This was a person who slipped and made a comment to a passer by, in the same way that I and a few others on the thread have done. I wouldn't have cared if it was a man, woman, or alien from outer space, I was co platelet preoccupied with my own display of comedic value and my sore arse and damaged dignity. Wy would it have been any different because he was a man?

Why would his intentions have been different because you were a woman?

I'm genuinely interested that you felt uncomfortable because of the gender dynamics in this tiny exchange - and I think it says something appalling about expectations of gendered relationships in public.

Is it just because he was in a group and you felt threatened? (Even though he was one the one who had landed on his arse?)

I find locally we have a far more relaxed attitude to teenagers hanging around in groups - they are often polite and well mannered, and although I often find my expectations of conflict increase when I see them hanging around a bench, I am invariably reminded that just because they are 14 doesn't make them a danger. I smile and say hi, and they smile and say hi back. It's reasonably common for teens to be engaging and helpful in say car parks/ shopping centres. I can't help but feel they are trying to nick my shopping, but I know that's my own inherent bias after years of UK media telling me how dangerous teenager louts are. Ditto men.

madwomanintheattic Mon 03-Dec-12 17:37:39

Co platelet? This iPad has a mind of it's own...


Xenia2012 Mon 03-Dec-12 17:56:31

I do think Rosmarin's experience (not in Barcelona) but with men more generally is more typical -the woolf whistles, the shouted comments etc. I really don't think I at my age can be the only person who suffers it and of course at my age it's nothing like as much as it was but how many men will have cycled locally and get women in a car slowing down and shouting something out of the window which I had a few weeks ago, that was a couple of builders. It does not bother me hugely and I don't go to bed crying about it and sometimes it's flattering but it is definitely entirely different from what men experience.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 03-Dec-12 18:05:10

Just throwing this out there, but if the comment had been, "oh no, did you see me slip? What an idiot I am!" would it have seemed more "cover up the embarrassment" and less, "hey love, have you been paying attention to me and my actions."

bulletpoint Mon 03-Dec-12 18:12:02

I always strike up conversations with random strangers, its just nice.

I did have a funny experience years ago though, i was waiting at the drycleaners desk when in walked a man who started to ask the usual "do you live round here?", coming from work ? etc anyway i was trying to politely fob him off, in walked the drycleaner man from behind the desk with my newly drycleaned wedding dress and handed it to me, whilst Mr GetFresh gaped, "Sorry you're too late mate!" bellowed the helpful drycleaner smile.

Latara Thu 13-Dec-12 11:45:33

I think some men find some women less threatening & more approachable than other men maybe?

MoaneyMcmoanmoan Sat 15-Dec-12 06:13:56

Hark at all the posters on this thread deliberately misunderstanding and extolling the virtues of chatting to strangers on the street.

This is not what the OP meant.

I work in a health-related organisation. Sometimes we have specialists/ programs for older men. I dread those days.

It is guaranteed that if I (a woman in my 30s) encounters them or walks through the waiting room, they will want to have a chat. About something random. They will want to talk to me, smile at me and have me smile at them.
Harmless interaction you say? Perhaps. Or perhaps it IS what the OP is describing - something more innately aggressive. Needy.

I have not noticed the same interaction between them and the male members of staff. And I know they would not strike up a conversation when I am with a male colleague. Not in the same way.

Another example.
I share my office with two men. This week we have had workmen in. Guess who they talk to? Me.
Friendly? Yes. But why me? Why do they not chat to the men in the same way? And the way they talk to me - in a jokey way is different to the way they would talk to the men (which they haven't so far).
Why have they zeroed their attention on the female in the office? It is not necessarily unpleasant to chat with them. But it wouldn't hurt to examine why they feel it is necessary to do so.
Is my work less important perhaps??
I don't know.
But this is the conversation I hope the wisdom of Mumsnet can address, rather than the bizarre pro-chat thread we have now.

exoticfruits Sat 15-Dec-12 07:19:39

I think that it is largely down to personality. My brother finds that everyone chats to him, men and women-very much in the way that you describe, Moaney.

exoticfruits Sat 15-Dec-12 07:20:29

More people make remarks to me when I am with my mother.

SomersetONeil Sat 15-Dec-12 07:27:02

Oh Moaney, you're 'making a big deal out of nothing' slash 'over-thinking', blah, blah, yawn, blah.

Wait for the apologists to turn up, they'll do a better job of dismissing your experience than me. wink

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 15-Dec-12 07:45:43

I saw this in action the other day. A (petite) woman and a (taller, bulkier) man nearly bumped into each ither in the street and did that "left a bit, right a bit" dance. He made some comment, loudly, and laughed. She gave an uncomfortable smile.

Writing that encounter down, it could have been purely friendly and I have seen similar near misses which were just that. Observing the body language of the two, it wasn't. He wanted her attention and she did not want to give it and felt uncomfortable.

inde Sat 15-Dec-12 09:33:27

*I work in a health-related organisation. Sometimes we have specialists/ programs for older men. I dread those days.
It is guaranteed that if I (a woman in my 30s) encounters them or walks through the waiting room, they will want to have a chat. About something random. They will want to talk to me, smile at me and have me smile at them.
Harmless interaction you say? Perhaps. Or perhaps it IS what the OP is describing - something more innately aggressive. Needy.*

I have a part time job working with (mostly) the elderly and yes they can be needy. Getting old is not fun. They have usually led full lives where they were in full control and then are gradually reduced to relying on others and rarely travelling more than a couple of miles from their home. Sometimes I am the only person they will speak to for hours on end. A smile or a hand on their shoulder when they are upset can go a long way. It works both ways though. I used to work in a factory in horrible conditions and there is not a day goes by when I don't feel privileged to have been given this job working with these people who are almost always ever so grateful for anything you do for them.

Leithlurker Sat 15-Dec-12 09:49:31

Inde, I think you have put your finger on something important, today's society can be quite a cold and lonely place not just for the elderly but anyone who has no close family. Youngsters in particular are full of bravado and often seem to have lots of social contact. So much of it though is of a very superficial nature.

However this will be pointed to as not being what the op was about, the op seemed to suggest that it was some kind of burden of being a women that men go out there way to talk to them. Perhaps we should just stick to the script that women are the subjects of unwanted attention and only the individual women can decide if and when they may be approached.

MoaneyMcmoanmoan Sat 15-Dec-12 10:19:26

Sigh. I knew someone would come on with a variation of that Inde.

They are not very old. About retirement age 60+. And it is not a reaching-out kind of interaction they are after. It's more of a flirtatious (on their part) kind of interaction.

Why is this so hard for some people to accept?

Leithlurker Sat 15-Dec-12 10:25:31

Accept what though, that your experience is the only experience that should dictate what a reasonable response to a given situation should be? Or that every single 60 year old male wants to get inside the pants of a younger woman and thats why they talk to them?

Those are the conclusions that you are asking to be be drawn as you are supporting the op, What others have said is that they either do not recognise that your experience is the dominant one, or that they on a personal level have not got the same level of issue with the subject that you have.

inde Sat 15-Dec-12 10:33:40

Sorry if I misunderstood MM. My experience is with people older than you are talking about. Some people do prefer to interact with people of the opposite sex though especially if they are lonely. One lady I used to visit said to me that one of her friends was jealous as she hardly ever had a man visit her now and she would just like to hear a man's voice again. I think as well that the women are more pleasant to me than they are to my female colleagues and vice versa.

MoaneyMcmoanmoan Sat 15-Dec-12 10:37:35

Listen, learn and accept, rather than deny.

Let me be clear: Some men will make a beeline and seek to interact with women, whether the interaction is welcomed or not.

This is an issue. Why do they actively seek women? Is it because they believe we have to be nice? Caring? Accommodating?
I'd like to see a discussion on this.

GreatCongas Sat 15-Dec-12 10:41:50

I think I live in a different world.
My experiences are
I don't get perved at, chatted up, wolf whistled at etc I don't think I'm un attractive, am 31 with a good figure so there's none of the are you 3 billion stone or older than methusah stuff. Maybe I just look tough
I do get talked to and talk to complete strangers all the time. A complete mix of men and women (in fact hi if you were the lovely woman I met in the bakers yesterday) we say hello across the street
Dh is the same. He's come home saying 'I met this chap at the lights today and he's going to come to <hobby club>'
It may be the regional thing. I live in a small town in east anglia.

GreatCongas Sat 15-Dec-12 10:48:27

When I say I don't get... I mean in the street. And it's a long time since I went to a pub or a club (except for lunch with kids in tow)

inde Sat 15-Dec-12 10:53:40

Your post starts with listen learn and accept and then says you would like to see more discussion on this? It is quite clear the kind of discussion you want. No dissenting voices, male or female, allowed.

MoaneyMcmoanmoan Sat 15-Dec-12 11:00:08

Inde there are about 300 of 341 posts on this thread with dissenting voices.
I think the people who disagree have made their point.

I would like to see a discussion between the people who do understand/accept what the OP is experiencing.
Personally, it would be helpful and I would like to read it.

TheSecondComing Sat 15-Dec-12 11:03:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Leithlurker Sat 15-Dec-12 11:16:01

Yay for the North!

MoaneyMcmoanmoan Sat 15-Dec-12 11:24:16

<Gives up>

Leithlurker Sat 15-Dec-12 11:33:53

What if indue that what you want and what you end up doing are two different things. For example what if the OP posted and only got posts supporting her view or taking her view that bit further. In terms of seeing this as an attack on women in general, an attack with sexual intent.

On one level the op gets reassurance that she is not alone, but if it only serves to create a dominant hegemony that all men are sexist and potential attackers. How is that either valid or helpful.

Also if debate and discussion are to have any value then dissent is essential, (Klaxon Goodwins law.) Germany in the 1930's became a society that oppressed dissenting voices and soon the people became fearful of expressing dissent. This is not to say that when people all agree on something that this is as bad as being a nazi, it is to say people who come from different perspectives and traditions can agree and form common interests. However what people from different view points offer is a means to teste the original idea.

In this context the original idea has been tested and pretty much refuted by possibly an equal number of posters which would suggest that some of the issue may be with how social interaction is perceived.

namechangeguy Sat 15-Dec-12 14:00:24

In summary, some women do not like being chatted to by unknown men. Some women do. Could you all please wear something that identifies your preference? Perhaps a red santa hat for those who welcome interaction, and a green one for those who object. Then there can be no excuses, and we can punish the men who continue to defy your wishes. Maybe we could put the offenders in stocks in the High Street, and have random men come up and bend their ear incessantly for 30 minute slots, one after the other. See how they like it, eh? The bastards.

Latara Sat 15-Dec-12 14:40:10

Not sure a red santa hat is quite my style namechangeguy

IME there are 2 reasons i speak to men - a) i want friendly interraction with another human... & / OR b) I fancy them.

I would think it's the same for men; it's called 'Being Human' smile

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 15-Dec-12 15:09:25

NCG et al, some interactions have a different feel than others, even if they would sound the same if written down.

Leithlurker Sat 15-Dec-12 19:23:13

So Doctrine if "some" feel different to some people what would you suggest?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 15-Dec-12 19:28:35

Leith, I believe that both parties in the interaction DO have an awareness of which kind of interaction it is, just that the raw circumstances of it are insufficient detail.

For example, one teenager could ask another if they had their lunch money. It might be a friendly question, it might be meant in a bullying fashion.

Leithlurker Sat 15-Dec-12 19:45:29

Ok Doctrine, both people know what they want to achieve from having an unplanned and informal chat. I agree somewhat with that, however saying "Hello" or "Good Morning" or "excuse me" are all seen as a form of politeness and in themselves probably not designed to start a long conversation. However some people do initiate a conversation with those words again for many reasons, not always though with some hidden agenda. I say Good morning to you, you say it back, I say its a lovely day, you agree or disagree, I may say some other unimportant thing. I am passing the time of day I am not asking you to be emotional involved in a personal discussion about politics.

How do you know from that example before it happens that I have any other agenda? What in that example would you think was my agenda?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 15-Dec-12 20:21:22

Leith, if all you said was Hello on a winter's morning when you were walking your dog one way up the street and I was walking down the street to the shops, I wouldn't think you had an agenda other than being friendly.

If you were walking behind me the same way up an empty street in the dark and you jogged to catch me up and say Hello, I'd be much more wary of your agenda.

All you've said both times is Hello.

Leithlurker Sat 15-Dec-12 21:14:31

Exactly so what your talking about is you making a assumption that in the later instance that you would be in some danger, or that in the night time you would not want approached by me.

Two problems with that are that 1. I might be the one asking you for help as you are the only person around, 2nd your fear or mistrust is both understandable and possibly predictable by other people. It does not or will not stop people coming up to you unless you take up NCG idea of a visual (Do not talk) signchoose.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 16-Dec-12 10:32:36

Err, Leith, you gave me the example of using just one word, so that's what i did. Re needing help, the thread has been about random chats, not about requests.

However, if you came up to me in the second example then I would be feeling wary. You would have breached my boundaries and I would be looking to understand why. If you followed the Hello with " I'm sorry, I'm lost" it would explain why you had done so and my wariness would reduce.

juliex Sun 16-Dec-12 21:14:22

i get this a lot, usually chat up lines though, one said, do you know what i like about you? i said no. he said, the fact you have a c**t.

i could not believe it. anyone had that before?

garlicbaubles Sun 16-Dec-12 21:59:33

I need to read this thread when I'm less tired but, as a lifelong talker-at-bus-stops, I disagree with your general principle enim. I think random contact is normal human socialisation (look at young children) and I regret its erosion through mistrust.

Men do speak to one another randomly, and so do women. Clearly you have to make a judgement as to whether the contact is likely to be threatening - a man who turns a passing remark about the weather into a leery chat-up is invasive, so threatening, but would he be if he took more care over it and ended up politely asking for a date? Would it be wrong of a woman to do that?

Juliex, what a prat! Sure, men who act like that - and who yell comments on your appearance, etc - are doing it to demonstrate power (in their tiny minds). Everyday harassment is, I think, a different issue from social mistrust although they're linked and the harassment is a serious problem.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 16-Dec-12 22:42:26

Juliex, sorry that prat spoke to you that way. you might like to google the Everyday Sexism project for examples of similar prattishness.

juliex Sun 16-Dec-12 22:49:42

Oh, i will, thank you. It isnt the first time either, i dont wear revealing clothing or talk alot when im out, im more shy than anything, but i get builders shouting a lot more than anything quite explicit as well, they dont mind if children are around either talking about f*****g you with my c**k you dirty s**t.

is it because i am blond? seems to attract idiots i find. glad im not the only one. smile

Latara Mon 17-Dec-12 12:46:52

That sounds horrible & annoying to cope with juliex - that is deliberately intimidating behaviour from men, rather than just random chat.

I'm lucky that i haven't had that stuff aimed at me for a while, but i've been ill & think i looked ill until recently, which probably stops that behaviour.

Frans1980 Mon 17-Dec-12 18:54:21

Let's advocate for a law that bans men talking to women they don't know!

If feminists got everything they wanted the UK would be a bit like Saudi Arabia with the genders reversed!

grimbletart Mon 17-Dec-12 19:12:00

* I feel offended on all your behalf that your Head of State is not an elected person*

Well that would be an interesting world-first wouldn't it?

grimbletart Mon 17-Dec-12 19:14:19

Oops sorry - a bit of something I copied from another thread escaped and inserted itself into Feminism blush

What I meant to quote was Frans saying If feminists got everything they wanted the UK would be a bit like Saudi Arabia with the genders reversed!

And then say that would be an interesting world-first.

<I'll get my coat>

namechangeguy Mon 17-Dec-12 21:49:37

That's an interesting direction re Saudi. The only way I can see that the OP could have peace in public is if we have something like the Saudi religious police. Then women could report men (ones unknown to them) if they approached them and tried to engage in conversation. Combined with my idea re hats, I think it's a workable solution. With current government cuts, I think this is pretty unlikely though.

juliex Mon 17-Dec-12 22:14:48

Thank you for the kind comments, it is always in a crude manner as well, they have said similar to my mother and she is 65, begs belief.

sorry if this is the wrong thread, just had to let it off my chest.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 18-Dec-12 07:15:54

It's not the wrong thread juliex, don't worry.

FamilyGuy2 Tue 18-Dec-12 13:24:52

I speak to anyone as I think it greases the wheels (so to speak). I work in a predominantly male environment and often strike up a conversation with people in the kitchen, coffee queue or gym. It's how you get to know people isn't it? I'm not an extrovert (quite the opposite) but have learnt that breaking the ice pays dividends in terms of social interaction.

If I'm outside of work I'll strike up a conversation if there is cause to do so, irrespective of whether you're male or female. I think it's a pleasant way of passing the day and helps to break down the reserved nature of us English folk.

I say English as I've spent time on mainland Europe and Ireland/Wales and have found it noticably more open there than here. I don't think English people are anti-social but are harder nuts to break.

I have to say that I'd never considered the OP's POV though. I can often tell if someone isn't receptive and will usually drop it right there if I get the vibes but I have to say that most people are usually up for a bit of banter.

Latara Tue 18-Dec-12 13:36:29

I'm a Southerner & local men are a nightmare to get chatting to, they always seem to need alcohol! So i'd agree with FamilyGuy2 in some respects about English people.

Latara Tue 18-Dec-12 13:46:46

Eek, just re-read my post, i don't look that fugly or act off-putting honestly, but i think maybe that post gives that impression!

What i mean is that many Southern English men (I'm in Dorset) aged approx 25 - 45 are very shy / distant IME with anyone unless they have drunk some alcohol.

I find Northern men, Southern European / Arabic / African / Aussie men to be friendliest, also some London lads are friendly.

Southern English men who are very young (under 23) or much older than me (over 50) are easier to talk to than men in my agegroup, don't know why that is but they seem more confident.

Is it because younger lads have 'the overconfidence of youth' while middle aged-to-elderly men grow more confident with age?

garlicbaubles Tue 18-Dec-12 13:46:49

I can often tell if someone isn't receptive and will usually drop it right there if I get the vibes but I have to say that most people are usually up for a bit of banter.

Interesting in two ways, FG2. The first is about commonplace social skills - I'd say I'll drop it 99% of the time (some folks are really bad at politely letting you know they don't want to know!) and I suspect a verbal approach becomes harassment when the initiator fails to pick up on "go away" clues.

While I've met many people, of both sexes, who are deaf & blind to social signals, it seems to be a predominantly male problem. Men frequently get away with being a bit clueless when it comes to emotional intelligence; I think this isn't any kind of male-pattern brain malfunction but a symptom of entitlement.

Interestingly, too, I don't find most people are up for a bit of a chat. I find just under half Brits are, depending on the environment. I also find men are more likely to misconstrue my friendliness as a come-on (not so much now I'm old, but it's still a notable phenomenon!)

My observations are all about innate male privilege. What do you think?

garlicbaubles Tue 18-Dec-12 13:48:32

I dunno, Latara! Maybe you are so stunningly gorgeous that men in your age group are scared of you? (That would be a whole other discussion strand.)

Latara Tue 18-Dec-12 13:50:05

Either way, random men rarely speak to me here in Dorset.

Most workmen locally these days are banned from shouting at women which is actually a relief as some used to be very crude.

Latara Tue 18-Dec-12 13:51:01

garlic hehe, doubt it! It will make me feel better to think that though.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 18-Dec-12 13:57:52

FG2 I think if you are aware and picking up on signals then you are less likely to be making the encounter uncomfortable. Not everyone has that level of consideration, unfortunately.

FamilyGuy2 Tue 18-Dec-12 14:55:56

LOL @ Latara - I didn't get the wrong impression so don't worry. But you have a point. I'm early 40's so am pretty chilled about stuff nowadays. However, if you are stunningly beautiful then I would probably not strike up a random conversation for fear of you thinking I was coming on to you. Perhaps that's your problem. Like the LMFAO song except you're sexy and you don't know it ;-)


You may be right about blokes. In general I'd say we were pretty hopeless so I can totally understand how most women might not want to participate. I'm not sure I'd want to be a woman if I'm completely honest.

It's interesting you have had that experience with people. The last memorable experience I had was with a woman on a bus in Belfast. I made way for her so she could sit down and she kicked off the conversation so I obliged. We had a pleasant 5 min chat and went our separate ways. In fact thinking about it, I had a similar thing happen in a coffee queue that was taking slightly too long. I've recently started a new job and didn't know the woman but she was happy to have a natter. Since then I say hello when I pass her on site. I haven't a clue who she is or what she does but I think it's great.

I'm sorry for being thick but I'm not sure I understand what innate male privilege is. Doh.

namechangeguy Tue 18-Dec-12 16:06:02

FG2 - greetings. Sorry for butting in, but re your last question. Innate male privilege is the preposition that men assume that they have the right to do stuff based purely upon their male-ness. It assumes that we do stuff day-to-day simply because we are men, and that it's okay to do those things because we want to.

For example, in the OP, the bloke who slipped assumed that he was within his rights to chat to the OP because he is a man, she is a woman, and that women are there to listen to men's utterances, whether they wish to be engaged in conversation or not. He isn't doing it to be nice or socially interactive or to cover his embarrassment, and he would not conduct himself in a similar manner if the OP had been a woman.

digerd Tue 18-Dec-12 16:20:47

I am no longer a young woman, but I, with my innate caring nature, would automatically be concerned if a man or woman slipped, and act accordingly. I could not just ignore it no matter the age of the person.
Have noticed that when elderly women fall, it is the older woman who go to her aid and not men. When I was much younger I was shown plenty of attention, care and help from men when I was in distress. But I appreciated in those days.

digerd Tue 18-Dec-12 16:22:15

ps insert "it" in last sentence.

namechangeguy Tue 18-Dec-12 17:12:50

Typo - for my last sentence, it should have ended '....he would not conduct himself in a similar manner if the OP had been a man.'

enimmead Tue 18-Dec-12 17:18:55

It's obvious some people on here have not read all the comments I made about the "incident".

Yes - he slipped. He was fine, with his 3 mates whilst I was in my car. They were still faffing out around the car as I got out a few minutes later. Then he made the comment "Did you see that, love?" - a couple of things I've already said - I hate being called love and I just was not in the mood to engage in small talk with 4 young lads. I am absolutely certain he would not have said the same thing had I been a middle aged man in the car.

It is different from just talking to someone in a queue - a point I have made repeatedly on here. But people still seem to think I am against men talking to you.

FamilyGuy2 Tue 18-Dec-12 19:46:17


Please accept my apologies for the misinterpretation. As there were around 380 messages I just read the first and last 'x' number of pages and then posted my opinion. In fairness the first page definitely comes across as you not liking men talking to you. I'm not arguing the point but possibly trying to dig myself out of a hole ;-)

If it's any consolation I would never call a female stranger 'love' or 'darling' but am guilty of calling male strangers 'mate'. I guess I must be more sensitive to offending women than men!


Many thanks for the clarification and no worries for butting in :-)

I may be very naieve but I've never heard of that before and am shocked that such a thing exists in this country. I'm not just saying that because I've edged my way into a feminism message board but am genuinely shocked that any man in the western world would presume to have rights of action due to their sex. I do have some very good 2nd generation asian male friends and it's clear that some residual male privilege exists. Whether this is part of their culture or the way they are I don't know but there's no way I'd treat my wife or any other woman like they do.

If I'm completely honest my only consideration when interacting with others is whether I think I'm imposing or may impose. Sex doesn't come into it and I certainly wouldn't engage a woman in conversation because of some innate male privilege.

Leithlurker Tue 18-Dec-12 21:26:57

Emin: What you have stated and what has been disputed are the same things. You say random comments in that situation were based on some kind of sexist behaviour. Others have disputed that it was both a random and sexist example. That is the issue and it matters not how often you repeat your view, it is clearly disputed and rejected by a number of your peers.

namechangeguy Tue 18-Dec-12 22:12:58

Enimead, it seems obvious to me that you were annoyed because they were men. That is the one definite incidence of sexism I can see in the whole sorry tale. We can only guess at the motivation of the guy who had the temerity to chat to you - he may have been being an arse or he may have been simply attempting to be pleasant.

You don't want to give him the benefit of the doubt - fine, that is up to you. But to assume he must have been trying to demean you simply because he was a man - well, if that isn't a stereotype, I don't know what is. I mean, how can you be absolutely 'certain' he wouldn't have said it to me? And that was your word, not mine - 'certain'. You can't, it's just a prejudice on your part that a man has to act in this way.

enimmead Tue 18-Dec-12 22:13:19

And agreed with by others.

So we shall just have to agree to disagree.

enimmead Tue 18-Dec-12 22:19:34

"But to assume he must have been trying to demean you simply because he was a man - well, if that isn't a stereotype"

I did not use the word "demean" - I simply suggested that I am pretty certain that if I had been a bloke in that car and got out a few minutes after the incident, I would have been ignored rather than having had to engage with 4 young lads.

Sorry if that made me feel uncomfortable for not particularly enjoying that conversation. It would be nice to just walk down the street without a bloke calling out "Hi love" from the other side or telling me to "cheer up,love" as I got tonight down the take away tonight.

Pardon me if I just get annoyed with all the unwanted attention. I must have something wrong with me.

namechangeguy Tue 18-Dec-12 22:29:47

I am not going to drag this out after this post, but I'd still like to know how you can be certain. You have said so several times. You don't have to answer if you don't want to though. It's just my curiosity.

garlicbaubles Tue 18-Dec-12 22:33:50

I'm surprised this has kicked off confused

There's no way on earth a young man would have called an older man "Love", is there? Right there, that's sexist and intrusive.

In the exact scenario OP described, he wouldn't have said "Mate", either. "Hey, mate, did you see my slide & recover?" Eh? Maybe if the guy was a nine-year-old kid but, even then, to a stranger? Nah.

When Ennimead told her story, my first thought was that the kid had labelled her a Mum-alike. It makes the most sense (to me) - he'd made a bit of a prat of himself and wanted to show off? Not an obvious display of sexual attraction, but a different kind of labelling.

The fact that the two men participating in this thread don't see OP's point about entitlement is, itself, a demonstration of privilege. The bloke called a woman's attention to himself, in clear expectation of a positive response. You don't find that odd.

It's not unusual, of course, but try a bit of walking in someone else's shoes. Let's say I - all 57 lardy years of me - slithered on ice beside your car. I'm OK, I'm back on my way by the time you get out. You check your wallet, hide the satnav, lock your door and I turn round to look at you, grinning. "Hey, handsome," I say, "Did you see my slip?!"
Does that seem perfectly normal to you?

FamilyGuy2 Tue 18-Dec-12 22:42:00

I don't think you have much wrong with you. You clearly have a dislike for one liners which contain certain undesirable words/phrases. Human interaction is a tricky one IHMO and whilst some don't mind, others like yourself do.

I wouldn't say that this was all one sided though. I've had one liners thrown at me by women (not chat up lines) so don't believe there are any dubious undertones.

garlicbaubles Tue 18-Dec-12 22:56:03

FG2, do you understand that incessant, unasked-for attention is harassment? One of the joys of being middle-aged is that I don't have men constantly shouting stuff at me. Well, it happened in the summer (I must look all right from behind) so I amused myself by predicting the second response as they passed and saw the elderly truth wink

Now and again, a TV company or a magazine dresses a man up as a woman and lets him try it out for a couple of days. Without exception they are horrified by the endless calling. Yet it's there for everyone to see & hear, day in, day out.

FamilyGuy2 Wed 19-Dec-12 00:05:14


Yes I would have to concede that it could be a form of harassment but that's a harsh term. The definition of harassment is 'aggressive pressure or intimidation' and I would argue that a brief transient 'love' or other phrase is neither described. It may be unwanted and you may not like it but for it to be harassment it would have to be from a single person persisting in giving you unwanted attention. You say incessant but this, presumably, would be from many different men, which I would not strictly say was harassment.

I'm not advocating such behaviour or denying that it may be a problem for many women but don't really know what you can do about it, especially in our lifetime. Attitudes change and I'm sure such imposition will eventually die out but let's not forget that some women actually like the attention so perpetuates the behaviour.

Going back to the op I honestly don't know if you can make the connection. It certainly wasn't as clear cut as a wolf whistle or the classic workman's outburst but a more subtle affair.

One thing I do know is that, whilst I do not harass women, I will continue to say hello to anyone male or female that I pass in the street, gym, supermarket etc. personally I think it'd be a sad day if we all said nothing at all for fear of causing offence. Do you not think so yourself, or would you prefer a London style silence and no eye contact?

madwomanintheattic Wed 19-Dec-12 05:44:25

Blimey, is this still rambling on?

Did anyone ever decide if I was exhibiting female privilege by calling out to the bloke on the other side of the road after my own slip on the ice? Poor innocent chap shovelling snow and me not letting him carry on with business and trying to draw attention to myself.

<shrugs and wanders off>

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 19-Dec-12 06:30:56

FG2, you might be interested in this article about privilege:

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 19-Dec-12 06:34:49

FG2, this is another interesting article which illustrates garlic's point:

By the way, I don't think anyone on here has ever said a straightforward "Hello" and nothing else would be seen as intrusive.

BelfastBloke Wed 19-Dec-12 07:03:34

Yeah, it's still rambling on.

Enimmead is still "absolutely certain he would not have said the same thing had I been a middle aged man in the car."

Despite many, many posters sharing their experiences of how we don't all read situations the same way.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 19-Dec-12 07:20:08

BB and MW, I accept Enim's interpretation; you do not. Fine.

But the thread is about lots of other things as well as the specific OP, other people have shared their own experiences, including Juliex. Hardly rambling on.

Xenia Wed 19-Dec-12 07:24:27

FG, it is constant for many of us. To suggest it does not exist is very unfair. You might not chat women up but if women make even just one trip like say I or my daughters might make from home into a work meeting including some walking and a train t he chances are (more with my daughters than me now) that men will make comments. It doesn't particularly bother me but it's sexist. It's about male attraction to women. the UK is actually much better for it than say Italy and indeed some continental women miss it here in the UK as there is less of it but it certainly exists. I am not sure it will ever stop as long as men and women are still around but it is certainly worth pointing out to men in general (although not wise on the streets) that it is sexist.

Here is another example that surely even the men onthe thread cannot deny is sexist... Xenia, not exactly still in her 20s, cycling - last 3 times on two of those times construction workers in a van slow down open a window and shout out or woolf whistle. They were not warning me about a flat tyre... How many times has Belfast B or FamilyGuy been out cycling and women have slowed down a car and whistled at them?

FamilyGuy2 Wed 19-Dec-12 08:50:30

Xenia you are right and I was not suggesting that it does not exist. Indeed it is sexist but as a newbie look at this from the outside, am finding it difficult to make the connection with the information given from the OP.

That's not denial or wanting to brush over it but just looking at the text analytically and as neutrally as I possibly can (for a man!).

From a male perspective all I can say (and I'm not trying to make myself out to be a saint) is that my not being that way is one step to improving the situation. I don't like it any more than you but sadly some men love that kind of stuff so I can only apologise for those of us that indulge and make you feel uncomfortable.

Unfortunately (most) men are hard wired to find women sexually attractive and whilst I don't wolf whistle am guilty of thinking 'phwoar' in my mind if I find a woman attractive. Is that still sexist? I guess it may be.

It's like a religious man having impure thoughts but not acting upon them. Is he any more/less evil just because his restraint is greater than the man who chooses to act? The thought/desire is still there.

I think I've just talked myself into believing that all men are evil. Doh.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 19-Dec-12 08:57:51

FG2 the other thing you can do is call other men on it. If one of your friends tells you about them wolf whistling a female cyclist, a comment like, "I wonder if that made her uncomfortable" would help.

larrygrylls Wed 19-Dec-12 09:01:05

Men are expected to make the first move to women. This may well change over time but, at the moment, the majority of women still expect men to speak to them first.

Now, of course, walking on the street is not the same as being in a bar. On the other hand, the idea that there is something sexist because a man calls out to a woman is wrong. It is no more "sexist" than a woman wanting to be chatted up by a man. Both sexes have different expectations (and there are also clearly exceptions, a lot of whom are on this board) but that does not make one set of expectations more "privileged" than the other. Inappropriate language or persisting after being ignored is, of course, rude and sexist.

I also think that those sensitive to the fact notice when men chat to them and probably forget when they have been chatted to by another woman or when they have seen a man chat to another man. It is confirmation bias in action.

It is funny that, since I have had children, lots of people chat to me in the street when I am with them, both women and men. It makes for a far nicer sense of community than walking in one's own little bubble. And as for the poster who claims that no one has a right to "her time", talk about a view of being "privileged"!

garlicbaubles Wed 19-Dec-12 09:42:29

There's always somebody trying to conflate everyday sexism with courtship. What a pleasant surprise it's you this time, Larry grin

FG2, fancying someone isn't wrong. Like all grown-ups, you're expected to know whether acting on that feeling is appropriate, and what actions would be acceptable.

We have courtship rituals (as an anthropologist might say!) and we all know what they are. Invasive behaviours like grabbing at someone, humiliating them, calling attention to their physical characteristics, demanding their attention and so on are hardly likely to win you a new friend are they?

Men don't do that stuff because they want you to like them, they do it because they feel entitled ... to make you feel bad. OK, that's rarely the explicit intention but what is? If a guy in a van shouts "Nice legs!" at me, what does he hope to achieve? Nothing, he'd say, it's just a laugh, it's a compliment if anything. But he doesn't know who the fuck I am; no-one appointed him the Simon Cowell of random women's legs, and I certainly didn't run up to his van yelling "How do my legs look in this?"

It's very unlikely he set out to piss me off but, equally, he's not doing it as a favour. To him it's not very different from admiring the scenery. Which means I'm scenery to him - but scenery he can shout at, in the assumption it will hear him. He doesn't care how the scenery feels about being yelled at; he just feels like yelling, so that's okay. And if I told him, helpfully, that his behaviour's offensive he would get a bit annoyed. He'd probably say I didn't appreciate being appreciated, men can't help looking at nice legs, etc, etc. In short, he would respond as you might expect a shouter to respond if the scenery told him to keep his opinions to himself. The scenery's opinion doesn't matter, does it? Scenery doesn't have views, it is the view! It should expect to be looked at and pleased if you show your appreciation. It's not like it's a person, is it ...

garlicbaubles Wed 19-Dec-12 09:50:47

the idea that there is something sexist because a man calls out to a woman is wrong.

Have you asked OP what she found disturbing about this little incident? I'm assuming it's not that "a man called out" to her or she'd be in a state of apoplexy most of the time. Yet you have chosen to belittle her by trying to make her post seem ridiculous.

larrygrylls Wed 19-Dec-12 10:16:10


"Did you see that" and "nice legs" are two completely different statements. Not me doing the conflating here. As for "hi love", it is completely harmless. Annoying, maybe, but harmless.

I was addressed as "son" or "sonny" and also "love" by older women for many years. They are just meaningless words, products of people's upbringing. To assume that they denote privilege is oversensitivity to the max. Privilege is believing that someone speaking to you is trespassing on your ever-so-precious time and that you are far too haut to tolerate the conversation of someone en bas.

inde Wed 19-Dec-12 10:28:12

Have you asked OP what she found disturbing about this little incident? I'm assuming it's not that "a man called out" to her or she'd be in a state of apoplexy most of the time. Yet you have chosen to belittle her by trying to make her post seem ridiculous.

I sympathise with Enimead because when I'm out and about and I encounter youths or young men messing about I don't want to be drawn into their world. Unless I choose to of course.
Was their behaviour sexist though? In my opinion if enimead had been male they might well have made the same comment but saying mate instead of love. So not really sexist IMO unless we are discussing the difference between "mate" and "love".
OTOH would young females have acted the same way. I think it is highly unlikely so perhaps from that pov it is sexist behaviour. In the case earlier where I received uninvited attention from a female it was in a mixed group. I wonder if a group of just females would have acted the same way?

FamilyGuy2 Wed 19-Dec-12 13:03:09


Thanks for the link smile, it made for interesting reading and helped clear things up a little. I have to say that I'm well aware of equality but not of white male privilege.

Therefore I googled the topic and found the statement, "I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege". I guess that puts me in my place lol.

FWIW I accept that this exists but it's a non event for me AFAIC. My ignorance may make me privileged but it only works if you conciously think you are entitled to certain actions/events due to your sex/colour.

For sure there are other external privileges that are out of my control but this is largely dependent on general attitudes (which are changable and vary with cultures) so it is difficult to apply a single rule to fit all.

Thus statements like, "why do men think they can" and "men do stuff because they feel entitled" does not work for me at all because only some men operate that way. I don't (along with may others) so why do I fit under the same umbrella?

kim147 Wed 19-Dec-12 13:20:06

As I said before on this thread, I'm in no doubt men make more comments to random women in the street when you compare similiar situations with men and men or women making comments to men as they pass.

Sexist? Just male behaviour? Annoying - well it can be.

namechangeguy Wed 19-Dec-12 13:20:37

Ah, FamilyGuy - you've done it now. This will be like Bastogne. Put your tin hat on...grin

kim147 Wed 19-Dec-12 13:31:23

namechangeguy smile

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 19-Dec-12 13:40:14

Random people talk to me all the time. On the bus, street, trains, in cafes, restaurants, hotels and shops. I have even had strangers come up and give me money "to buy some sweets for the wee lad".

I love it and wouldn't have it any other way. My old boss, horrified at my exposure to strangers' ramblings, would insist that I travelled 1st class. What happened was that rich strangers would talk to me.

I must have that kind of face.grin

FamilyGuy2 Wed 19-Dec-12 13:40:41

LOL @ namechangeguy

I'm not trying to be confrontational in any way but am going to put on the flamesuit all the same!

Ironically I'm more of a feminist than my wife but that's another story wink

Imadesantablush Wed 19-Dec-12 13:49:32

not read whole thread just first few posts so may be completely off track now but maybe some men do still have that chat to anyone persona and its some women that have become so uppity its seen as odd to make a comment to a stranger, I feel that attitude has contributed to the stand-offish society we live in

Shoesme Wed 19-Dec-12 15:31:59

I’m male and I find more men will say hello, smile at me, strike up a conversation with me etc than women will. I hope that doesn’t say anything about me :/

I wouldn’t make a comment to a woman though or strike up a conversation at a bus stop just in case she did think I was trying it on, which is a shame.

Shoesme Wed 19-Dec-12 15:43:24

What does annoy me though, is when it's early morning and i do not want to talk to anyone and there's one person who just wants to talk to everyone. It'll start with a comment on the weather, i'll reply to be polite, they'll take a step closer, they'll say something else, i'll reply to be polite, they'll take a step closer and this sequence repeats until they are standing next me and we're having a full blown conversation. Grrrr.

garlicbaubles Wed 19-Dec-12 16:21:10

Shoesme - Nothing to do with feminism, but you're probably maintaining too much eye contact. Give them a full blast just as you finish speaking, then turn your gaze away. If they're stepping in close to you, you're either on a train full of aggressive nutcases or have very relaxed, open body language. Try the arm across the chest and the traditional 'cold shoulder'. Are you British? I got into endless loops with Brazilians before I cottoned on that their eye-contact rules are practically the opposite of ours. Every trite conversation felt like an intense exchange of burning significance!

You can always just stop answering. Have a google of "social strokes" - more than three each is taking the piss in most situations.

garlicbaubles Wed 19-Dec-12 16:36:12

Therefore I googled the topic and found the statement, "I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege". I guess that puts me in my place lol.

Well, kudos for taking that on board smile
Deep breath, here goes ...

it only works if you conciously think you are entitled to certain actions/events due to your sex/colour.

The opposite, actually. The "innateness" of white, male privilege is that white men have been taught from birth that the world is their playground. The extent of this varies by such things as class, wealth and ability but, within any group of peers by those criteria, the white men will be the more 'entitled'.

It's easiest to see male privilege in action through minor giveaways - people sitting on the train, for example. How many men sit with their legs splayed and elbows out? How many women? See, the men get first dibs on seating space; women make themselves into tidy little space-savers. Coming in from the cold to a room with a real fire, who stands in front of the fireplace with legs akimbo? If you can be arsed, try counting the number of times men interrupt women, and vice versa, in a small social group or at a meeting. Loads of researchers have done this scientifically: it's easy to find their reports.

There's masses of little stuff like this. I find it fascinating ... not least because, as a negotiator, it served me well to consciously challenge the unspoken status quo at times.

FamilyGuy2 Wed 19-Dec-12 17:19:22

Thanks Garlic for not chewing me up and spitting me out wink

In my quest to understand I read P McIntosh's 'White Privilege' and obviously her checklist. It was all very interesting but I really don't know. I'm on the fence with it TBH.

I'm still of the opinion that it only works if you live a life where you are not particularly mindful of others. To me there are two parts to this. Those aspects that you can control and those you can't.

If you go about your business autonomously then I concede that this theory applies but I (as do many other people) constantly question the status quo and whether our actions are an imposition to others, or seek to demean/lessen their existence. If so then I don't do what I may have been planning to. Naturally I'm no saint so often impose on others but in the main I try not to.

The other part of it seems to be an intrinsic aspect of being white, which is out of my control. Whether this really exists I do not know as I am not white. What I can say however is that I read P McIntosh's article and in almost every case I could not agree with the statement given. Of course I'm an incredibly small sample but as an ethnic minority in a predominently white society I have never felt at a disadvantage. This is possibly why I love the UK so much and what it has given me as a non white Brit.

My parents were 1st generation immigrants back in the 60's and I grew up in a family earning in the bottom 5%. I'm now earning in the top 5% so cannot say that I have been disadvantaged in relation to my peers. I don't think I'm particularly driven or pushy but have suceeded as a non white Brit. Thus it's difficult to take all this on board but am trying to give it due respect.

In terms of the examples you give I will look out for these next time I'm out and about. I can't say I've ever noticed but in truth I've not looked either.

You're right though, from a social perspective it is very facinating smile

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Wed 19-Dec-12 20:20:23

Random women speaking to you as well. Men and women.


amillionyears Wed 19-Dec-12 20:38:05

I am thinking that what feels acceptable in a relatively safe area,crime wise, would not feel as safe in a far more crime ridden area.

namechangeguy Wed 19-Dec-12 21:24:56

Interesting perspective you have re ethnicity, FG. I am white but my wife is black. We live in a predominantly white area. I often wonder whether she has suffered prejudice to any great extent. She always says no when I ask her. She gets on with her life, her job, and says she has never encountered anything beyond the odd name at primary school. I do think she has benefitted in many respects from being very pretty/attractive, but she has never lacked male attention - and never complained about it grin. Your outlook sounds very much like hers.

This whole privilege thing is a central tenet of feminism. In fact, many non-white feminists argue that much of the feminism you and I see as British males is defined largely by white, chattering class women who are rather absorbed in their own agendas, which leads to marginalization of issues that people who are women and not white are subjected to. Privilege is not just confined to us men.

FamilyGuy2 Wed 19-Dec-12 22:40:54


Thanks smile. I posted on another forum (dadsnet) about male privilege as I'm almost certain that it does not exist in any meaningful way in my industry. However, positive discrimination has become the norm nowadays so is potentially why I've been unaware. I would be very interested in how feminists view positive discrimination as it would seem to address some of the issues that I've read about. Personally I don't like it but that's my opinion.

Regarding your wife, it sounds like she's been fortunate and like me only suffered racism at school. Maybe it's because I've always been fully integrated and have never been part of an ethnic community? It's always good to hear positive experiences though so am genuinely happy for her smile

This whole issue is a complex one and seems to operate on many levels. Now 'white female privilege' is an interesting situation indeed so would also be interested in how white feminists deal with that hmm.

Incidentally I read an article on the BBC about a black British woman that had to change her name to an English one so she could get an interview over a white female. Is this what you call white female privilege?

madwomanintheattic Thu 20-Dec-12 01:26:13

I missed the middle bit, doctrine. I just read the last few posts when it popped up on active - I guess it had just been cyclical and ended up with the same discussion points again.

Fwiw, I'm not denying that men can use their privilege to make inappropriate comments / yell/ wolf whistle. Just that, well, yeah, I disagree that this was what was happening in the op, and that I feel that it is quite sad that this is the way it was heard. Which, I think, says more about the receipt than the intention of the comment. And that's fine, too. It's culturally horrific that an innocent passing comment should be interpreted as an example of an inappropriate gendered approach.

larrygrylls Thu 20-Dec-12 08:47:16

It is funny that most men who yell and wolf whistle are not very well educated. There is not a single Cambridge co alumunus that I know who would engage in behaviour like that, or any professional man. Most of the women on this board are educated to a very high level. So, the reality here is that the women are probably net/net more "privileged" than the men that they are complaining about, even were I to accept the precept that within a particular social stratus the men have "privilege". Education and class (for want of a better word) way outweigh sex in terms of "privilege" in the western world.

Does not make the behaviour acceptable but does make the explanation in terms of "privilege" a little more dubious.

stubbornstains Thu 20-Dec-12 09:16:05

For anybody who thinks that men talking at you in the street is innocuous, and thinks that all you need to do if you don't like it is to politely tell them you're not in the mood for talking- have you actually tried that?

Because I have. "Sorry, but I really don't feel like having a conversation right now".

And that's where the nastiness starts. "Who do you fucking think you are?" "You moody little cow!""OK, OK, I was only TRYING TO BE FUCKING FRIENDLY! (said in the most aggressive tone imaginable)".

Because, you see, when you do this, you have broken the rules. The unspoken rules that say a woman should always be available, unthreatening and responsive whenever approached.

amillionyears Thu 20-Dec-12 09:32:09

I wouldnt tell them I am not in the mood for talking. That would sound rude to me. They would not know what mood you happen to be in that day.
The ones that have done it to me were being friendly, maybe a little bit bored, and maybe trying to look a bit bigger in front of their mates.
Dont think they were trying to chat me up, not sure.

I would just smile, if I was not in the mood.

namechangeguy Thu 20-Dec-12 09:42:09

Stubbornstains - are you saying that all men live by these rules, or just the angry little men you are alluding to in your examples? Do you think there is a rule-book we are all given at birth?

larrygrylls Thu 20-Dec-12 09:52:08


How would you feel if you said "nice day" to a decent looking chap with a toddler (for instance) and he replied "Sorry, but...." as you replied to a man?

I think that people have become confused about good social etiquette with strangers, full stop. It also differs depending on location, upbringing etc. I remember, aged 19, going for a walk on the Yorkshire Dales with a uni friend. She was saying "good morning" and "nice day" to all the people that passed. I, coming from London, assumed that she knew them all and she confirmed that by making up clever stories about where she knew them all from, before laughing at my "London ways" later.

Is it really good manners not to speak to anyone in the street? Personally, I think it is everyday interactions that make life interesting. The best way of dealing with it if you are not in the mood, though, is to smile, reply briefly and then apologise and say you are a bit busy and then look intently at your phone (or something).

FamilyGuy2 Thu 20-Dec-12 10:16:24

[cynical mode]
No larrygrylls, that would not be acceptable because 'all' men do is talk to women so they have to suffer our utterances.
[/cynical mode]

Sarcasm aside though, you made a good point earlier that most of the women here are very well educated. I've no doubt that to rationalise feminism requires a good level of intellect as it's a complex subject matter.

However, as a newbie to both mumsnet and feminism I am struggling to grasp how so many educated women are making huge sweeping statements that imply that 'all' men are the same. Not some, or most, or even pockets of men and I don't quite understand why.

It has been said that a person that does not alter his opinion is like standing water. I believe this to be true. There are large numbers of men that are making considerable effort to change their attitudes, so that we do not stagnate, but I do not see this being acknowledged by the comments on here.

I'm not expecting to see gratitude or anything but just some acceptance that men aren't all the same.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 11:17:20

On threads like this I feel weirdly compelled to keep repeating that I am white, female, well educated and am a talker-to-strangers. But I have no difficulty understanding the feminist problem of inappropriate contact.

Your posts above are interesting, FG2 and NCG. You touch on the issue of intersectionality. I tend to leave this alone, while recognising its importance - trying to evaluate relative disadvantage is a whole profession! "Female" is my only major disadvantage, so I only feel qualified to note that women get a worse deal in any described sector. I'm now just beginning to suffer "elderly" and "disabled", which is as frightening as it is interesting!

I'm in favour of positive discrimination. The reason I'm so sure about this is that I've lived through half a century of changing colour and gender prejudice. I'm glad that anti-discrimination laws help to remove barriers but there is insufficient 'leading from the top'. It's kind of natural for people to appoint people like themselves to trusted positions. Here are some pictures:
Apple board of directors
Microsoft board of directors
Billionaire CEOs
World's Most Powerful people (At least a black man & a white woman top this one ...)

So ... Back on topic, I agree that Enim's OP might be a less than obvious example of annoyingly sexist interruption but certainly recognise the phenomenon. Dismissing ill-tempered space invaders as angry little men can feel satisfying, Larry, but we're talking about a very large sector of society. I will tell people to go away - with increasing assertiveness / decreasing 'politeness' - and men will get angry. Often. It's not a rare event.

If I said "Cold, isn't it?" to some passing bloke with a kid, and he ignored me or grunted or said go away, I would obviously respect his wish not to engage. The world's full of men who do not afford this respect to women. Absolutely full of them! And it is wearing.

Have you seen this? "Another post about rape" It's worth a read. Her main point:
"If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways. And we should not be surprised when they behave these ways during attempted or completed rapes."

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 11:22:54

FG2, we can't say "some" men or "most" men or "43%" of men every time. On this board, it's convenient to assume the word refers to the majority of men - the body of citizens which is male. It sometimes becomes necessary to note that "some" (etc) men don't fit the generalisation.

Of course there are feminist men and feminism-supporting men. There are a hell of a lot of un-feminist and anti-feminist women, too. For this reason, I prefer to use the term patriarchy. But there's always someone who'll come along and reduce that to "men", thus re-starting the same complaint.

amillionyears Thu 20-Dec-12 11:28:19

garlic,re your example of saying "Cold, isnt it" to some passing bloke with a kid.
He then ignores you etc.

But you have already said it.
And yes, you may think twice about saying it again, if you see the same bloke again.
But he may be in a different mood the next time. But I agree, if you have done it say twice to the same bloke, and met with the same response twice, you may not do it again.

But, would you expect him to think bad of you in the first instance.
In fact, are you saying you shouldnt do it at all, to anyone, ever again?

Heroine Thu 20-Dec-12 11:38:35

They are being nice, but being nice is a way of getting through your defences and even if they are a nice guy, they are still male and have the potential to rape, so its reasonable to consider that these friendly advances are, psychologically speaking, the early 'tests' made to see if you are confident, or freaked out and subservient.

I think its best just to say 'good morning' or smile and be polite, or perhaps laugh a little to show that you are comfortable and not in a fear state ready to be assaulted.

amillionyears Thu 20-Dec-12 11:43:45

I think differently to you Heroine.
Where I live, I dont know of anyone who has been raped.
In fact, I do not know anyone personally who has been raped.
Thinking about it, a parent with a young person probably a little younger than my children, did tell me a couple of years ago, that she thought her daughter may have been raped, when her daughter was very drunk. But the daughter isnt sure, so the mum isnt sure.
That is the only one I personally know about.
So I have a problem with seeing all guys as potential rapists.

Heroine Thu 20-Dec-12 11:52:58

Sorry.. i was being sarcastic - In reality I am astonished at the 'lets explain my social phobia as being a problem with men and their sinister objectives' relentless negative interpretations placed on simple human interactions by the kind of feminist I hate - the man-hating, fake intellectualisting of negative emotions into man-blaming.

What all the posters seem to be experiencing here is less about male domination and aggressive exploitation of privilege and more about personal paranoia over-intellectualised to 'mean' something that in reality is nothing more than what it is, someone had someone in their eyeline, felt jolly and interacted. You do realise that in the world England is laughable for its abject fear and anxiety caused by a simple nod in the street by someone you haven't actually interacted with yet.

Its utterly ridiculous that socially paralysed women are leaching their own paranoia into a debate in order to extend it into 'everything men do and everything men think' its ridiculous.

I have seen many men say 'oops mate' or 'bloody hell its wet' or 'heavy door that' etc etc. I am sure that all the people these comments were made to didn't go home and agonise about the amount of gay men who came on to them that day and do they ooze gay slagness just by being on the street.

Honestly if people like the OP are leading the debate on social interactions, then no wonder we are turning into drones who go to supermarkets and shop with 300 people we don't even make eye contact with. Welcome to a paranoid dystopia of the fearful shaking woman nervous of social interaction - was this the objective of feminism you intended?

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 11:59:34

No, amillion, I must have explained myself poorly.

I was replying to Larry's post where he said How would you feel if you said "nice day" to a decent looking chap with a toddler (for instance) and he replied "Sorry, but...." as you replied to a man?

I would take him at his word and leave him alone.
But the world is full of men who do not respect a woman's right to be unfriendly.

And the reason I keep repeating that I'm a talker-to-strangers is that I'm never saying you shouldn't talk to strangers grin

If you respect other people's rights, there's no reason to be disheartened by a 50% knock-back rate (my average, at a guess.)

But an awful lot of men do not respect a woman's right not to engage with them.

Thinking about it, I can conjure up a male-to-male example. It happens in pubs. Some geezer, T (for twerp), says something a bit crap to D (for decent). Maybe he suggests D wouldn't mind giving that a go, meaning the barmaid. D ignores him. Twerp goes "I'm talking to you!"
"Yes, I didn't like the way you spoke about the barmaid," says D.
"Why, what's wrong with you?" goes T, and rants.
Or it could be about a football team, or The Coloureds, or whatever. Basically, Bloke T has zero tolerance for being disagreed with.

It happens to all of us at times. What most men don't realise is the tedious frequency with which it happens to women, and how threatening it can be.

A few years ago I had to be rescued by a bunch of nearby Ds in a bar, because the T who'd been talking to my friends had ignored all their increasingly strong hints to bugger off. I told him it had been nice to meet him and that, but we'd like him to go away now. He lost it.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 12:05:22

Before I wade out to the shops, I'll post this link again:

grimbletart Thu 20-Dec-12 12:15:17

I'm now just beginning to suffer "elderly" and "disabled", which is as frightening as it is interesting!

I'm also now a old bat and it is interesting to see the change that age makes, both in male advances and female responses (am generalising wildly so forgive that please).

When I was young there was all the crap that goes with it - am thinking of building site remarks, obvious chat up that doesn't stop when you politely make it clear that you are not in the market or even when you firmly make it clear - classic male entitlement responses e.g. "stuck up cow" etc. and much worse. I never found it difficult to differentiate between those sort of men (aka wankers), and the making of friendly conversation in queues, at bus stops etc., which I was always happy to indulge in: it passes the time and a laugh and smile can help make a stranger's day if they are feeling down or lonely.

The benefits of being a crone is that you generally lose the male entitlement crap and it is a huge relief and about the only plus I can think of to getting older. That, and you care less about these sorts of things - and if you do care you have no hesitation in saying you are brassed off about it. grin

Mind you as a youngster I would always challenge building site crap, walking towards the men who did it and giving them a very succinct piece of my mind. It was amazing how they backed off and the 'leader' then became the butt of the other men's derision, which was deeply satisfying. grin I strongly believe women should stand up to men like these and challenge them (which is NOT absolving men of the need to stop being arseholes BTW).

But, in general a friendly hi, good morning, nice day, how are you love? type conversation does, I find oil the wheels of society, and even if one is not feeling terribly sociable it can help lift your - and their - mood whether it is men or women.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 12:20:57

YYYYY, grimble!

FamilyGuy2 Thu 20-Dec-12 13:00:39


Thank you for your last post. It has brought some balance, if not to this discussion, to my own mind smile


Thanks again for your input, it's much appreciated. I find it interesting that you agree with positive discrimination. Whilst I see what you're saying about the people at the top, feel that it does not address equality. Thus by promoting favour to one sex, it detracts from another. I thought this would go against feminism as it stands for the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. I'm not criticising your opinion but just find it interesting.

Regarding the use of the term 'some' I understand what you're saying but think it's lazy. It's the difference between writing:

"why do men...." and "why do some men....."

Call me pedantic but it makes the difference between sounding like misandrists and a balanced human beings. As an outsider it gives the impression that 'some' feminists on here have no interest in striving for balance but just hate men full stop.

But anyway, from my very brief spell on here I have come to the realisation that women have clearly been on the receiving end of a lot of unwanted and obtrusive attention. I understand this and sympathise. However, irrespective of frequency, how does one know whether a person is genuinely engaging in an innocent exchange or exercising their supposed privilege?

I grant that any human exchange is an imposition in that it is done to elicit a response. However, the crux is in the intrinsic nature of the exchange. But how does one really know?

I guess some are obvious but I would tend to agree with Heroine in that a large proportion are utterly meaningless, innocent exchanges.

Thanks for the link too. I'm glad that sexism works both ways and it is evident on this board too. I realise it seems one sided (towards women) but us men often take the 'men are hopeless at x,y,z' on the chin. It's like when my wife goes away with her friends for a long weekend and her mates say, "how are you going to cope on your own? you'll starve". It goes over my head given I spent many years looking after myself perfectly well but we are supposed to be hopless creatures lol.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 13:39:55

True enough but I think you'll find the vast majority of feminists abhor "men are useless lol" type comments. We're acutely aware of gender stereotypes!

I don't seem to be at all successful in making my point about the sheer, everyday normality of men's boundary-crashing behaviours to women. I won't be painted as some sort of antisocial twat who can't tell the difference between an ordinary, friendly approach and an insult. Neither will I devote even more hours to my attempts at explanation. Sometimes you just can't get people to see/hear what they don't want to.

There are plenty of threads on Mumsnet dealing with what feminism's about, and I am really happy to join in. I always think of the nine readers to every poster, some of whom might welcome a bit of a "Feminism 101" discussion. On this thread, for the moment, I think I've tried hard enough. I've also covered why I'm not specifying which proportion of men I'm referring to each time I use the collective noun. I have total confidence that everybody here understands that.
By 'everybody' I mean "the majority of readers whom I anticipate being interested in this thread" wink

stubbornstains Thu 20-Dec-12 14:05:37

How would you feel if you said "nice day" to a decent looking chap with a toddler (for instance) and he replied "Sorry, but...." as you replied to a man?

I'd think "Oh well". And leave him alone. (By the by, why do you say "decent-looking"? I think you're giving yourself away a bit there).

But I wouldn't respond to an innocuous "nice day" by saying "Sorry, but I'm not in the mood for a conversation. The conversations I'm replying to go on rather like this:

Random bloke: Nice day isn't it?

Me: Yep.

RB: I said nice day isn't it?

Me: silence:

RB (moving closer, threatening body language): I'm trying to talk to you! What's wrong with you? I just came and said "Nice day isn't it?"

Me: Sorry, but I'm not in the mood for a conversation.

RB: What's fucking wrong with you? You moody cow! I was just trying to be FUCKING FRIENDLY! (stomps off swearing)

stubbornstains Thu 20-Dec-12 14:06:22

Referring to, not replying to.

inde Thu 20-Dec-12 14:06:50

The problem is though Garlicbaubles that this thread covers a whole load of interactions, from a man just smiling at a woman to wolf whistling and worse. Any man reading this thread would struggle to see where a line is being crossed. Every woman is different and as we can see here what some women see as everyday interaction some see as men being needy or exercising some sort of male privilege.
Another problem is that some women actually like male attention. Women's attitudes are just as varied as men's. I've heard women say that "I like a man who will flirt with me". These are married women who have no intention of being unfaithful but just like the attention. I couldn't flirt with a stranger to save my life so I am never going to upset any women who don't like this attention.

namechangeguy Thu 20-Dec-12 14:08:01

Garlicb - I don't seem to be at all successful in making my point about the sheer, everyday normality of men's boundary-crashing behaviours to women.

I don't think that anyone here would deny that some people can be crass and unthoughtful towards others, and we all know what arses some men can be towards women. I would say, in my limited experience, that if a bloke is an arse towards women, he will be an arse to other men to, though not necessarily the same way.

I think many of us are struggling though with the OP's example. It becomes difficult to see what to do about your own behaviour when you can't see what exactly somebody did wrong in a particular case. The guy slipping over is a million miles away from some of the other extreme examples subsequently posted. So, we all know Enimead was upset - but we can't work out why, or what we could do in his shoes other than just not talk to her at all. And we don't know how to extrapolate this to any future situation we might find ourselves in.

Bakingtins Thu 20-Dec-12 14:10:37

"Hi love" oooh, the sheer effrontery of it. How very dare he??


Queenmarigold Thu 20-Dec-12 14:11:54

I get random pensioners - men and women.

I try not to make eye contact and scuttle off ASAP.

inde Thu 20-Dec-12 14:12:29

I had better clarify that I know outright sexist behaviour is crossing a line. I'm referring to milder social interaction that some in this thread see as offensive.

stubbornstains Thu 20-Dec-12 14:14:14

*But an awful lot of men do not respect a woman's right not to engage with them.

It happens to all of us at times. What most men don't realise is the tedious frequency with which it happens to women, and how threatening it can be.*


larrygrylls Thu 20-Dec-12 14:16:08


He persisted when you clearly indicated that you were not interested. That is plain rude and unpleasant. The conversation that you mention in this post is completely different from: "nice day", "sorry, but I am not in the mood for conversation". And invading personal space is also intimidatory.

"Decent looking" as in one who looks like a decent kind of friendly chap, not physically good looking.


I think using "men" or "the patriarchy" to signify some men is a bit disingenuous. It is a bit like a man beginning a sentence "women" and following up with some sexist generalisations and then, when challenged, claiming he did not mean all women, just a significant minority. It really is not hard to add "some", "most" or "a few" depending on what you are trying to say. It completely changes the tone of a post and makes it far less accusatory to a general audience including men.

AvonCallingBarksdale Thu 20-Dec-12 14:19:27

First off, I haven't RTT, just the first and last pages.

But... seriously, what's wrong with people chatting to other people? I say hello/morning/afternoon whatever, to many people, most of whom I don't know. Random men and women pass greetings to me. What's wrong with that confused. I may be missing something here, or perhaps I'm too vacuous to "get it". (wonders back to Chat and AIBU)

AvonCallingBarksdale Thu 20-Dec-12 14:20:41

Oh, and what Inde says ^^

enimmead Thu 20-Dec-12 14:25:29

<Wishes people would read thread rather than just jumping in>

The one thing that you can't get across is the whole context, tone, mannerisms - you only get what was said.

I've said enough on this thread and tried to explain how I felt.

AvonCallingBarksdale Thu 20-Dec-12 14:30:40

No, I know it's annoying when people don't read the thread, but the reality is that I just don't have time to read 18 pages. I suppose the question is whether you think that should preclude people from contributing or not.

stubbornstains Thu 20-Dec-12 14:31:36

I think a key difference is whether someone is talking to you or at you. And whether they are paying any attention to your response at all.

enimmead Thu 20-Dec-12 14:35:07

There were lots of points. clarifications, discussions, exploration of the issues - just coming in at the end with a simple statement is a bit like not listening to a debate, missing exactly what I and others were saying and then making a contribution without having heard what has been said.

namechangeguy Thu 20-Dec-12 14:36:00

Your whole crux, Enimead, seems to be that you were treated differently because you are a woman. That may be true. However, those of us are struggling with your predicament cannot see why or how you reached this conclusion. You have certainty, but I cannot see why.

namechangeguy Thu 20-Dec-12 14:36:54

And I have read it all.

AvonCallingBarksdale Thu 20-Dec-12 14:37:56

OK. Fair enough, clearly picked the wrong thread. I'll be off.

stubbornstains Thu 20-Dec-12 14:38:02

kim147 made about 25 posts all saying the same thing, all of which were completely ignored. And what she said was that she has been a man, and she has been a woman, and that as a woman she is treated differently.

enimmead Thu 20-Dec-12 14:38:52

Because in my male days, I know no man would have spoken to me like that. And ignored me usually as I walked down the street.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 14:39:02

Larry - I think using "men" or "the patriarchy" to signify some men is a bit disingenuous. It is a bit like a man beginning a sentence "women"

You want me to say "some patriarchies"? Really? grin grin

stubbornstains Thu 20-Dec-12 14:42:18

Mmm...apologies Kim, perhaps I should have said "she has been a man and she is now a woman". I didn't want to imply that nowadays you are, I don't know, an octopus or something.....grin

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 14:44:08

Seriously, you can't get better evidence than TWO people having seen it from both genders' pov. I referred to magazines & TV shows who cross-dress a man, which also invariably find the same problem, and was likewise ignored.

But, hey, we really should pay more attention to men telling us how wrong we are about what happens when you're a woman [sigh]

... A quick nudge to our male contributors: Men telling women how wrong they are about experiences of being a woman is a shining example of 'male privilege'.

grin and hmm

namechangeguy Thu 20-Dec-12 14:45:07

Well, after 18 days and 19 pages, a rather important fact. Amazing. Is this what is known as drip feeding?

enimmead Thu 20-Dec-12 14:46:35

Maybe I didn't really want to let that fact out.

inde Thu 20-Dec-12 14:53:37

OK. Fair enough, clearly picked the wrong thread. I'll be off.

I doubt that anybody would expect you to read every post in every thread that you contribute to "AvonCallingBarksdale". Your contribution is just as valued in this thread as any other thread.

FamilyGuy2 Thu 20-Dec-12 14:59:31


IMHO you have been very sucessfull in explaining the sheer, everyday normality of men's boundary-crashing behaviours ver well and I apologise if I've not acknowledged that in my replies.

I do not think you are anti social so have not judged you at all. If anything you have been more than social/courteous in helping me (a total stranger) understand a bit more about an unknown subject. My questions haven't been aimed at you directly but more theoretically (kind of devils advocate if you like) so apologies again if it has appeared that I've been digging at your personal judgement.

As with NCG though it is the subtler stuff that I'm grappling with and how this fits in with the concept of privilege.

inde Thu 20-Dec-12 15:03:59

... A quick nudge to our male contributors: Men telling women how wrong they are about experiences of being a woman is a shining example of 'male privilege'.

There are as many women who disagree as well. Why is it that many women who do not usually contribute to the feminism forums say that you are not describing their lives. I interact with women from all walks of life in my job and socialise with female friends and workmates and I have never known one to mention the tedious frequency that men make sexist approaches to them while they are just going about their business.

inde Thu 20-Dec-12 15:08:25

Again though i am highlighting the difference between normal interactions and more sexist remarks etc.
To me the main difference isn't so much what you say, it is the intent. In other words whether the interaction is to make the other person feel better or worse.

namechangeguy Thu 20-Dec-12 15:12:03

But it is absolutely crucial to the conversation we are having. It is still your personal experience, but you have seen it from both perspectives and you have a valid comparison.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 15:13:19

Ah, you've never known one to mention it? Speaking from my own experience, only feminists mention it. And women of my age, who often remark on the reduction in daily harassment (some miss it, most welcome the freedom). And women talking amongst themselves, who tend only to mention it when some bloke's been a particular wazzock.

I have gone into work, more than once, after being molested or wanked over or attacked on the Tube, and not mentioned it. That's leaving out the fifty to a hundred minor infractions during a normal day in those years!

Would you go round advertising that you were vulnerable, scared, or "haven't got a sense of humour"? Well, maybe you would but I didn't and neither did my friends & colleagues.

I'm unclear about your gender, inde. If you're female, does this crap really never happen to you?

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 15:17:41

... I did mean to mention, in my last post, that it's so very commonplace it barely seems worth mentioning except when particularly bad. You wouldn't mention it like you wouldn't mention the three-year-old potholes in your road, the way the lift door sticks and has always stuck, the damp weather, etc.

inde Thu 20-Dec-12 15:30:25

I am male garlicbaubles. I'm sorry if I hadn't made that clear. I usually do. I'm sorry about the swine who mistreat you on the tube etc. If this thread were about that though I would be just as disgusted as everyone else. I think there is a large difference between that and smiles and saying hello or even young males messing about who didn't seem to want to cause offence.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 15:42:40

It's not always about intent, inde. When I were a lass, people used to shout "Hey, Nigger!" at black men to get their attention. They used to ask black women if it was true that niggers were more 'well endowed' than white men. They'd go up to mixed-race children to pinch their skin, squash their noses and tease out their curls. When it was cold, they'd say to black people how it must be difficult for them, coming from Africa (even when they'd been born on the same Birmingham street.) They would say things like "You're well spoken for a black." They'd walk behind big mammas, making jokes about their bums. And more. Much, much more.

Do you feel okay about all that? It was done in good humour, really it was.

FamilyGuy2 Thu 20-Dec-12 15:50:52


On page 13:

^I see the ice thing is annoying some people so I'll explain. He was with 3 mates. He slipped over. I was in my car. He'd had a laugh with his mates about it. A few minutes later I got out.

"Alright love, did you see me slip?".

I just felt uncomfortable with 4 young blokes in front of me and suddenly being engaged in conversation. I don't need to justify it. I just did. So I smiled and said "Oh yes" and got on with my business.

But my point is - would he have said it to a bloke? ^

and above:

Because in my male days, I know no man would have spoken to me like that. And ignored me usually as I walked down the street.

I'm at a loss for words

But ultimately, whilst valid I think your experience (like mine as an ethnic minority) is too small a sample size to draw any firm conclusions.

Presumably this is why you've had to ask the question on a public forum i.e. to confirm your beliefs.

However, it is clear to me after reading most of this thread now, that you are still unwilling to see any other side. Thus it would have been more appropriate to make a statement than pose a question.

IMHO the answer is simple. Yes and No.

inde Thu 20-Dec-12 16:00:54

I was talking more about normal interactions between strangers garlicbaubles. The examples you give are not normal interactions and the person making them would have to be thick to think they were. I admit though I hadn't thought that post very well and there is more to it than intent. Although I would say a persons motivation for speaking to the other person should be taken into account. I would imagine for example that it is possible for a man to flirt with a woman purely to make her feel good about herself. When I interact with strangers I always hope that leave them feeling happier.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 16:57:02

This is just mad. Which examples are not normal interactions, inde? The racist examples I gave were very normal indeed at the time. I didn't mention the racist assaults, graffiti and other crimes which were all to frequent, because I was trying to illustrate "benevolent" bigotry in a way you might comprehend. The assaults & graffiti would be equivalents of the assaults I (and most other regular woman commuters) suffered on the Tube and mentioned above.
Let's carry on with equivalents, shall we?

Shouting "Hey, Nigger!" - Shouting "Hey, Blondie!" or "Oi, Sexy!"
Before you pronounce that too trivial to mention, let me ask how often strangers call at you by some physical characteristic of yours. When did it last happen to you? What did they yell, and how did you respond?

Asking whether it was true that niggers were more 'well endowed - Making sexual remarks, sleazy hints, etc. Telling women they have amazing breasts or that skirt shows their arse off really well.
Do you know what it's like to be treated as if your main point of interest is whether you're fuckable? And for people to discuss this in front of you - or with you - as though they assume you accept this point of view?

prodding mixed-race children - Leaving aside the way people feel entitled to handle pregnant women or their children, criticise their parenting, etc ... Men prod women all the time. I doubt if a day went by when I wasn't handled by at least a few men I didn't know. I've gritted my teeth when they 'guided' me through a doorway by the small of my back or my waist; when they 'owned' me by putting an arm round my shoulders as someone else approached; when they patted my bum, hand or head.
Before you trivialise this - how many of the above did you do to another man this week, and how many were done to you by strangers of either sex?

Talking about coming from Africa, when they were born in the same street - Sociologists call this 'othering': making out the 'other' is more different from the speaker than they really are. It's a bit of a minefield in gender politics, as women clearly are different from men - but it happens when, for example, people assume women are better at cookery than men and worse at driving, or women talk a lot more.

Making jokes about their bums. - Don't need to equate that one!

The perpetrators of these small indignities; this 'othering'; mean no harm but they do it, all the same.

inde Thu 20-Dec-12 17:13:36

Perhaps I am explaining myself badly. I meant that nobody would see those examples as anything other than insulting. What we are discussing in this thread ranges from minor things like smiling at a health professional to saying "hello love" or the op's example of youths saying "did you see that love".
Not quite in the same league as the examples you are giving which I would hope would get unanimous condemnation from forum users.

digerd Thu 20-Dec-12 17:24:30

A few years ago, my neighbour who is 15 years older than me, said " You disappear when you turn sideways." Her tone of voice was was slightly sneering. I just happened to be very slim for my age and was wearing a very tight and young-looking pair of trousers. In fact I did look 20 years younger then. I just took it that she was a bit jealous. It was her tone of voice that had the intent.
Now the other day, I was crossing the road and thought I knew the old man opposite, who was shuffling along. I being middle-aged + and my eyes have a disease, I was staring at him trying to get him into focus. When I told him, he said " Oh, I thought I had struck it lucky" in a sweet way, and I laughed and it made my day.

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 17:33:38

I think it's a distraction to get bogged down in whether Enimmead "should" have felt the kid's behaviour was intrusive. She said she does; that's the end of that.

The issue she raised, however, is the one we're discussing - whether people (men in particular) feel over-entitled to cross women's personal boundaries. I'm saying yes they do, in countless tiny ways as well as the bigger ways that are covered by law. I'm saying 'everyday sexism' belittles women, putting them at an almost perpetual disadvantage.

It strikes me as a reasonable test of sexism to consider whether the same thing happens habitually between heterosexual men.

I don't know whether OP's ice story would have happened if she were a man. She, though, is in the privileged position of knowing both sides and she says it would not. I do know I wouldn't turn round to some bloke and say "Hey, darling, did you see that?" Actually - if I had done, what would your thoughts be?

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 17:44:52

Yeah, Digerd, I do everyday flirting. (I've toned it down due to my age, but fully intend to turn it back on full beam when I'm properly old!) I have no idea why posters are getting the impression I'm some sort of antisocial sourpuss.

I do cheery, everyday flirting.
I do not:
Touch people I don't know except on the arms (or for a practical reason, obv.)
Make personal remarks except to compliment a choice of accessory or something.
Allude to sex unless it's the topic of discussion.
Single people out for their physical characteristics.
Crowd people out, physically or verbally.

There are very many men who do all the above to women but not to other men.

I am guilty of over-using endearments. Most of my circle(s) do it but, since relocating, I've noticed it makes others edgy so I avoid it round here. Same with social kissing.

digerd Thu 20-Dec-12 18:00:03

Ditto with me on the Don't List. I have never been into social kissing - but like to kiss and cuddle my little dogs. Never called someone love, but like it when it's said to me.

inde Thu 20-Dec-12 18:08:29

if I had done, what would your thoughts be?

I actually said up thread Garlic that I had a young girl not only make a comment to me when passing but she also gently pinched me. I don't want to give the full details because I told a few people about it at the time and don't want to be outed if they are a forum user.
In actual fact I was a lot less bothered by it than I would have expected. She didn't do it in a way that was threatening at all and wasn't trying to belittle me. Which is really what I meant in an earlier post about taking someone's intentions into account.

inde Thu 20-Dec-12 18:12:53

I'm showing my age by calling her a young girl. She was 17-19.

digerd Thu 20-Dec-12 18:14:27

What I do hate from my male neighbour, my brother, and cowboy builders, is the putting you down as they know better than you. Any criticism/worry is all in a woman's mind/imagination, or we are moaning minnies. But we are 90% right or as another older woman said 99.9% right !! That phrase " Now you listen to me", or " Don't worry about it, I know what I am doing". And "Trust me". How I have had to learn, since I lost my gorgeous, kind and trustworthy DH 16 years ago. He was a real gentleman < sigh>

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 20-Dec-12 18:18:15

YY to your 17:33 post, garlic.

SomersetONeil Thu 20-Dec-12 18:30:43

I was reminded of this thread yesterday.

I'm in my late 30s now and usually have a couple of small children in tow, so my degree of 'invisibility' to the pass-remarkable sorts of men who comment, leer, whistle, or worse has gone down considerably over the years.

Yesterday I biked into town, it was a beautiful day - very warm, even first thing in the morning. I was wearing bike shirts and a fitted t-shirt. I was unencumbered by children.

The contrast from the usual going about my day was unbelievably stark. At first I was cheered by the nice interactions that a beautiful summer's day brings out in people, feeling the bonhomie of the world and enjoying being out in it without kids.

But it wasn't long before I was suddenly having all sorts of old, familiar feelings of anxiety. The sorts of feelings I'd pretty much forgotten about, but as I recalled, used to make up a notable part of my life when I was younger, and out and about.

That feeling when you spot 3 or more men in, say, hi-vis jackets in the distance - in your path, that you know you have to walk past. They stop what they're doing, position themselves for a better view - and if you're !lucky' that's all they do - give you a group appreciative look as you walk past. If not so 'lucky' you'll get a few comments as well. You have to smile and acknowledge them and play along, because if you don't, as a lone women in ratio to multiple men, the potential situation is even more anxiety-causing than it already was.

Just for the record, I'm not an anxious type. grin at the thought. I'm confident, not shy in social situations, and at ease with my place in the world. But these interactions are - unpleasant, to say the least.

They cause me to feel uneasy and just-want-to-get-it-over-with - and I'm so glad that for the most part, they're over with in my life. Yet today was such an eye-opener to how much less frequently it happens to me now, and how much more I just used to have to put up with it when I was younger.

Each interaction on its own is utterly insignificant. Absolutely insignificant from the point of view of the individual men. But when combined with several other happenings, it combines to make an annoying, unpleasant, unwelcome overall picture. It's virtually impossible to explain this to people (most - there, I said 'most'! - men) who are not on the drip-drip-drip continual receiving end of it.

namechangeguy Thu 20-Dec-12 18:44:00

That situation just repeated by Somerset - is it a function of the men's IQ, their upbringing, or something else? What makes it second nature to some men and not others? Class, upbringing, education?

A consistent theme seems to be builders, manual workers, van drivers etc. If we assume these chaps did less well at school, is it a sign of poor education/low intelligence? Would you have such trepidation if you saw three middle-aged men in suits outside a bank, for instance?

FamilyGuy2 Thu 20-Dec-12 18:45:01

"The issue she raised, however, is the one we're discussing - whether people (men in particular) feel over-entitled to cross women's personal boundaries. I'm saying yes they do, in countless tiny ways as well as the bigger ways that are covered by law. I'm saying 'everyday sexism' belittles women, putting them at an almost perpetual disadvantage."

There is no discussion about crossing personal boundaries. If it causes offence to you then it is a clear imposition.

The difficulty IMHO is the statement that some men 'feel' over entitled about it. I would bet that if you asked 100 men I very much doubt most feel it is their entitlement to touch a woman in any form. Most 'decent' men would be mortified if they thought an innocent touch caused so much offence. I would say it most likely happens unconciously or due to their personality. Some people are very tactile (my wife is one such person) and some are not.

But where does one draw the line? You mention that you only touch on the arm but that's your personal limit. I might object to being touched full stop, in which case you would have crossed my personal boundary and offended me. What about the shoulder, back or hand? We all have varying boundaries, which makes it extremely difficult.

I appreciate your main point is sexually oriented contact and in this case I would say that most would find it unacceptable. No questions asked but like others here we are not debating innapropriate behaviour. It's the subtler stuff and in this respect I think it's slightly tenuous to connect over entitlement to sexism to perpetual disadvantage.

There are many parallels between racism and sexism, both being oppression of some kind. Thus these concepts, now I've read up a little, aren't too dissimilar. I fully respect your views and am not saying you're any way wrong but I am genuinely struggling with this.

PlaySchool Thu 20-Dec-12 18:46:58

I don't mind anything friendly or polite. However, I hate comments like "Give us a smile love" or "smile! It might never happen."

Obviously, I walk around looking thoroughly miserable smile

digerd Thu 20-Dec-12 19:18:41

I remember that happening to me when I was shopping in a down pour when I was 17 and a man suddenly said " Cheer up love". I was upset because I didn't want to be looking miserable and didn't think I did. - all about my image in those days. Now I don't care < so much> as nobody looks at me anyway. Did get beeped by a van this morning in the rain, face hidden under my umbrella - still thought it strange?

digerd Thu 20-Dec-12 19:30:08

Talking and putting women down - belittling them- is sexism - or to put it another way- asserting their male dominence. Applies to those who feel the need to!!

namechangeguy Thu 20-Dec-12 19:48:40

I remember the first time I heard the phrase 'Cheer up, it might never happen.' A girl said it to me in 6th form at school. That was about 30 years ago, and I have never forgotten it, or the girl who said it. It seemed so odd then, and it still does.

Xenia Thu 20-Dec-12 19:58:26

There is an obligation on women to smile which is rarely imposed on men and also general studies show that people of both genders tend to laugh at the jokes of those above him - if Prince Charles told a joke and no one about him laughed even though it weren't funny that would not be likely to happen.

The question for women in general is do you want to use that tool - charm , smiling, flirting, flattery or do you want to opt out of it. You can live a life including that or without it, both perfectly well.

digerd Thu 20-Dec-12 20:01:35

It all depends on how she said it - her tone of voice and facial expression. With concern or otherwise. I remember it as the man trying to cheer me up as I looked so miserable .

stubbornstains Thu 20-Dec-12 20:07:11

Wow, I'm agreeing with Xenia on this thread! shock grin

Social smiling is the human equivalent of a dog rolling over to expose its belly to a more powerful dog.

I'm aware I smile ingratiatingly too much when nervous- it's a habit I'm trying to kick.

Xenia Thu 20-Dec-12 20:38:27

If you watch videos or pay for training on how to show your power there are all kinds of things you can do whatever your gender from taking up space in the room, not deferring to others, not touching your hair, not smiling all the time etc. It is certainly something you can be trained in if you want to bother.

digerd Thu 20-Dec-12 21:05:47

Smiling at people is ingratiating yourself, like a dog rolling over in submission?
I smile at people if they smile at me as a matter of courtesy. It would be rude not to. male or female.

FestiviaBlueberry Thu 20-Dec-12 21:23:06

Namechangeguy boundaries aren't set in stone are they.

I had a builder in my house the other day. A friend of a friend. He was talking to me about some potential work and 3 times he touched me on the arm.

At work, if my boss or colleagues touch me on the arm, I don't mind - don't even notice probably, it's not sexual, it's not threatening, it's ... nothing really, just someone touching me. Not even worth noticing. In a supermarket, someone might touch my back while guiding me towards an aisle and I prob wouldn't mind.

Sth about this guy creeped me out though. Something to do with him being in my house alone with me and not knowing me (first time we'd ever chatted) and overstepping those physical boundaries. He may just be tactile, but so what? The fact that I didn't respond positively the first time, should have stopped him the second time but the fact that he went on to do it the third time, made me decide that there's no way I'm hiring him or having him in my house ever again. I doubt if he'd have touched a man in that way, however tactile he may be.

And yet at work, if someone touched me four times, I wouldn't notice, much less be offended.

So my boundaries differ according to the person, context and situation I'm in. And how tactile someone is, how friendly, how pushy etc., in a normal person also differ according to their context.

The context with men and women, is that men as a group have power over women as a group. The power to rape and call it consensual sex and usually be believed, the power to operate within social norms which have been written and defined by men, the power to take for granted that their perception of an event, is the correct one because that's what movies, TV, books, shows etc. tell us all.

nailak Thu 20-Dec-12 21:29:13

i do talk to random women in the street, on the bus etc,

Xenia Thu 20-Dec-12 22:07:38

namech, we don't make it up. I showed a plumber a couple of years ago whilst I was up a ladder where the tank was and for some reason he had to put both hands on my sides.

I agree that builders etc are more blatant but it happens in offices with men earning £200k - £1m a year. I had an ex MP at the end of a business meeting ask me if I wanted sex. Where he thought we were going to do it considering my son was in the house and I would not fancy him in a month of Sundays I do not know.

Builders are subject to employment policies these days such as not to wool whistle on sites and they are much better than they were. Most employees have sex harrassment guidelines at work. It is much better than it used to be but it has certainly not disappeared. In a sense the more women put up with it the more men think it's fine or don't even notice that what they've done is wrong or objectionable.

Perhaps all women on this thread tomorrow should do two tasks - if they meet a man who isn't smiling day "give us a smile" and if they see a man who looks fit whistle at him... I suspect most of us would not really want to. If someone is looking you and down in that way you can certainly reciprocate and look them up and down as if they are fresh male meat you have the right to take I suppose although that might not be safe.

amillionyears Thu 20-Dec-12 22:28:55

Xenia, you have posted before on MN that you use flattery.

amillionyears Thu 20-Dec-12 22:31:42

Actually , thinking about it, it could have been flirting.

SomersetONeil Thu 20-Dec-12 22:32:34

Men also, very simply, have physical power. Most men are bigger than most women. And that is anxiety-causing on a very basic level. Especially when you're outnumbered.

I'm 5'9" so not exactly small. In fact, I'm often one of the tallest people in any given group. But I still feel intimidated in a situation that has my hackles and spider senses rising. How much worse must it be for smaller women?

This is something I try to reiterate on these types of threads. Most men simply don't know what it feels like to default be the physically weaker person in such a situation. It's a huge disadvantage. It's downright scary a lot of the time.

This is why so many women play along and be polite even when they're secretly thinking the man is a buffoon - because of our own personal safety. It just is not worth escalating a situation because we know we'd come off worse.

This /\/\ is where privileged and entitlement come in to play. Men don't even have to consider this in their exchanges with the opposite sex. Women have to consider it all the time. One man's off-the-cuff exchange is another woman's discomfort and anxiety. Nice...

amillionyears Thu 20-Dec-12 22:38:25

I agree with most of what you say.
But you are wrong in saying men dont even have to consider it.
They may not with women, but they certainly do with men.

In fact, they consider it a great deal.
Smaller men, are, on the whole, scared of bigger men.
And , I would say, scared, on probably a daily level.

SomersetONeil Thu 20-Dec-12 22:54:23

I didn't say that they don't have to consider it at all though, did I? I specifically said they don't have to consider it in their exchanges with the opposite sex. Which is what this is being dismissed as by people who can't see the problem...

In any case, if some men are able to empathise with the situation, then it's even more odd that they would carry on doing it...

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 23:07:09

Massive generalisation warning ...

Do you think this is why small men are often more obnoxious to women? I wonder if they see it (even unconsciously) as an opportunity to be the dominator for a change.

My dad was an appalling sexist bully; he was short. I'm not talking about him in particular, just men I've worked with and encountered socially, but my perception might be coloured by him; I'm not sure.

One of the best things about being my age is how much more effective my hard stare is now grin

garlicbaubles Thu 20-Dec-12 23:11:49

This is why so many women play along and be polite even when they're secretly thinking the man is a buffoon - because of our own personal safety. It just is not worth escalating a situation because we know we'd come off worse.

I've never thought about this before - and it might be a purely personal hangover from childhood - but I've always been more confident "talking down" a big, aggressive man than a smaller one. During one of the less sophisticated periods of my youth, I was the bouncer at a very rough nightclub. I could charm knives and guns off the local gangsters, but would instinctively enlist a big guy to help me with a stroppy little man.

Peterpan101 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:48:18

Just skipping from the original post with a belly full of wine....

I like saying "good morning" (and other such trivia) to complete strangers in secluded situations/late at night (i am a big man and like to put people at ease)...

This has embarrassed ex partners in the past with a: "why did you say that/do you know them" comment.....

I hope Ive not offended!!??

FamilyGuy22 Thu 20-Dec-12 23:56:56

LOL Peterpan101

Are you being obtuse ? wink

If you are a big man then you certainly are not putting SomersetONeil at ease.

Heroine Fri 21-Dec-12 00:00:13

Hey! You know that men are daft brutish and crap at conversation don't you (well a lot of men) couldn't it be that some men who like open emotional conversation are just seeking a connection and women are better at giving it?

Heroine Fri 21-Dec-12 00:04:50

By the way the 'short man' and the 'incessantly talking back' syndrome are all expressions of fear - a hard man knows (according to my embarrassing internet research blush that when a guy says 'yeah who are you' or keeps arguing beyond reason he is basically saying 'shiiiit I'm SCARED but if I keep talking you will think I'm not' Short guys in fight mode surounded by tall women they can't hit and big bouncers are more scared - hence more back chat and argument - a good bouncer will look away, step back and give space and smile.. but not in a patronising 'laugh at the hobbit' way. the trick is to look subservient to the rage.

Of course if someone is in a 'small stature small dick' rage then he needs to feel pain or inflict pain before he stops. It only takes a slap you know! smile

Peterpan101 Fri 21-Dec-12 00:06:10


I can never understand not being happy/able to walk where I want at night.....but I can see the hesitation in others faces when they are presented with a large stranger.

Peterpan101 Fri 21-Dec-12 00:09:22

Completely agree...I have said some very silly things when presented with a pretty face at the last moment. Its a development from pulling pigtails...

SomersetONeil Fri 21-Dec-12 00:11:06

Yeah, that's sort of what I was alluding to garlic - which means it's even more about power, control, entitlement, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

My Dad tells a story that was a bit of an eye-opener for him. He was walking home from work one evening when he spotted our neighbour's daughter about 50 metres ahead of him, also walking home. She'd have been aged maybe about 12 or 13 at the time. It was twilight, so getting dark. Far enough away for her not to know who the person was behind her.

He instinctively sped up to overtake her, because he assumed she'd be scared of the man 'following' her. He's 6'3". The more he sped up, the more she did too, looking over her shoulder. He suddenly realised she must've thought he was trying to catch up to her and was more scared because of that. He was trying to help the situation, but was making it worse. He stopped and waited until she'd gone before continuing. He says it was a real eye-opener as to a situation he would take for granted, but that must be quite fraught for the majority of women.

Heroine Fri 21-Dec-12 00:16:55

who do you think did the service to the 12-13 year old in that story?

The man who had read stories and saw her as threatened?
The girl who had read the same stories and was scared out of her wits
the people who had written and perpetuated the stories of women being under threat all the time?

Peterpan101 Fri 21-Dec-12 00:17:49

I cross the street if walking behind someone....its sad really that I feel I need to.

Walking towards someone face to face doesn't seem to cause such anxiety??

SomersetONeil Fri 21-Dec-12 00:22:17

Well, I was going to put a caveat in saying that logically we know women are statistically in far more danger in their own homes than they are on the street at twilight, but I didn't.

I guess I should have.

Heroine Fri 21-Dec-12 00:28:17

It also true that men are more than three times likely to be killed, five times likely to be maimed and ten times more likely to be attacked than women.

Peterpan101 Fri 21-Dec-12 00:30:23

Is that because they tend not to back down and 'disarm' situations as well as women?...

Heroine Fri 21-Dec-12 00:35:06

I don't think so, I think its because men are seen as disposable, unemotional - inhuman even and that violence against them is disregarded as something men are expected to endure - I think that's sad, that fathers being killed on nights out is seen as acceptable, where a women having her bum felt inappropriately is seen as more shocking.

It, sadly, is an expression of how women are seen as the protected, vulnerable victim part of humanity. Something I just won't subscribe to.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 00:39:52

You all make good points. Peter, when I was a tourist guide it was certainly true that men got injured more frequently - and more badly - by muggers. The consulate issued loads of warnings not to "have a go back" but most visiting men seemed to lack the confidence (or common sense!) to just hand over a bit of cash.

The club owner preferred female bouncers for the exact reason you stated.

This ties in with your post, too, Heroine. I think women are counter-productively scared by OTT warnings. Many, also, don't know that the best thing to do if you think you're being followed is turn round and face the person behind you.

When men have asked me what to do when walking behind a woman on an otherwise empty street, I've advised crossing the road. It is sad that it should be so but the main thing is to minimise anxiety. Obv, if you know her, the thing to do is call her name!

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 00:42:13

xposted with your last, Heroine. I disagree. Who on earth thinks that people being killed is acceptable?!

Peterpan101 Fri 21-Dec-12 00:45:33

There are biological factors at work....I had an overpowering protective instinct with my pregnant ex wife that I had to come to control (I talked about this with many friends and they had similar feelings).

Some men want to protect....its instinct.

Peterpan101 Fri 21-Dec-12 00:51:07

I'd agree...

Walking towards some one on a dark night doesn't cause as much anxiety from what I see.....(or its shorter duration).....but from what I see it seems to have less effect!?

From a man on man scenario it is the same....turn around and face up to the threat. They'll avert their eyes and walk off.

larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 09:01:02

I think in all everyday interactions the devil is in the detail. Some people are very good at reading social situations and some are not. Those who are can read the subconscious signals someone is sending out and respond to them appropriately will not overstep boundaries. There is also a whole spectrum of offensive actions, many of which have been mentioned on this thread. Some are intimidating and grossly offensive and need dealing with. Others are a little annoying but I feel a normal person would just shrug them off and get on with their lives.

It is not a good test of sexism whether an individual would do the same actions in a same sex situation. Acknowledging and acting differently to someone of the opposite sex is normal. A better test might be whether a woman would do the same to a man in the same situation.

Also, the idea of whether something is offensive can be decided simply on whether someone has been offended is also not right. Some people are egregiously over sensitive and can be offended by what most would consider as merely friendly.

There has to be a happy medium where men can address women (even strangers) in a friendly way without the woman taking offence. Equally, some men need to learn to respect boundaries and clearly many still don't. I do think that a lot of those builders, manual labourers etc are trying to assert a privilege which even they don't really believe they still have, hence the hopeful nature of their approach and the aggression when it is rebuffed by a far more intelligent woman.

amillionyears Fri 21-Dec-12 09:18:05

I think I agree with everything you have just posted.

"A better test might be whether a woman would do the same to a man in the same situation".
I thought that brought us right back to the op.
But actually her question, weeks ago, was do blokes do this to other random blokes.
Am I am not sure that was completely answered?

Peterpan101 Fri 21-Dec-12 09:38:21

Men tend not to say "Hi love" to each other of course! But in situations where they feel they need (consciously or not) to disarm the situation, us men do occasionally say "Hi", "Good morning", "alright lads", etc to strangers in the street.

The more social the man the more he may talk to strangers. "Hi love" is a tad personal for my taste but I have friends who would use that phrase without 2nd thought.

I hope that answers the op?

larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 09:52:25

I think there is a slight issue with men speaking randomly to other men. And certainly you would not address a man as "love" (personally, I don't know anyone who would address a woman that way either).

On the other hand, if I am out with my young children and see another man in the same situation, I would probably make some friendly remark to him.

SarahWarahWoo Fri 21-Dec-12 10:27:08

and Merry Christmas to you.......

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 11:00:23

Not entirely clear how a young man, playing around with mates, who has slipped and recovered, needs to disarm a situation with an older woman getting out of her car? Was she wielding an ice pick?

This is all very peculiar. A whole slew of women come on to talk about everyday sexism. We discuss how enervating, belittling and sometimes threatening we find this relentless onslaught of mostly minor intrusions. We link to a website documenting such incidents, which contains thousands of stories and has attracted sympathetic news coverage ....

... and still people put a large amount of effort into telling us we have misunderstood, we're being oversensitive and we create the problem ourselves confused Ever heard of victim-blaming? It looks quite like this. Instead of insisting that what happens, doesn't happen, how about listening to thousands of women?

"The devil's in the detail." Not really. If you don't do it to men, don't do it to women.

Thinking about whether your fellow pedestrian on a dark street might be nervous doesn't have to be a gendered consideration - it shouldn't be, should it? More men than women suffer random attacks in those circumstances. Considerate alertness can be a life-saver for anyone, if the risk exists.

If you wouldn't grab a male's waist or bum while they're up a ladder, don't do it to women.

If you treat men as though they can get through a doorway without your hand on their back, treat women the same way.

If you don't stare at men's bodies, don't stare at women's. (NB: Staring is not 'looking'. You look at women's and men's bodies; staring is rude.)

If you don't assume male customers are ignorant or suckers, don't assume female customers are.

Only hug a woman when you would hug a man. (Partners excepted, that's a sexual relationship.)

Use the same endearments to women that you do to men. (Partners excepted.)

Gender equality. Doesn't hurt.

larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 11:04:41


Gender equality does not mean gender blind.

If men treat women the same as women treat men, that is equality. It does not follow that a man needs to treat another man the same way, nor a woman another woman.

namechangeguy Fri 21-Dec-12 11:10:26

I think both men and women on this thread have been confused by certain aspects of the OP. I don't think the questions or disagreements have solely been from men. Therefore, I don't think the discourse on here has been sexist, or victim blaming, or asserting male privilege. If we didn't care about making mistakes ourselves, I doubt we (i.e. the men here) would have been bothered over 22 pages.

And if the guy in the OP had said it to me, and I had thought nothing of it, that doesn't mean it wouldn't have upset Enimead. So the idea that 'only do to women what you would do to men' still wouldn't have prevented Enimead getting upset.

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 21-Dec-12 11:14:26

Larry, you've never lived in Leeds [thinks back fondly to seeing 15 stone male bus driver addressing 15 stone male brickie as "love"].

Somerset - your earlier post about being physically weaker reminded me of a very interesting conversation I had about 20 years ago with a good male friend. A mutual friend came out and my friend (from a conservative, Catholic background in southern Germany) found himself rather taken aback by this. We had a long conversation - was this homophobia, or could he find a more reasonable response to the situation if we talked it through? Eventually we came round to the idea that what was really freaking him out was the fact that (despite any evidence that mutual friend was interested in him, and in fact evidence to the contrary - friend had come out because he'd started a relationship and wanted to be open about it) here was someone who could potentially be sexually interested in him and be physically overpowered by him. I pointed out that this is a situation women have had to grow up dealing with, and have had to try to develop twat/decent man- radar (which of course is not 100%, but most of us have it to some extent). It led me to speculate that perhaps this is why straight women in general seem to be less likely to be homophobic towards lesbians than straight men are towards gay men (I stress this is a statistical thing - you get homophobic women, and most men are not homophobic - but for instance, the level of acceptance of gay men and gay women in football is markedly different - there are no out male premiership players, whereas I've played in women's Sunday league teams where the majority of team members were gay).

Bit of a digression, but I guess I'm trying to illustrate the point that something that's part of the background noise of everyday life for women (in this case unwanted sexual advances, or attempts to "put you in your place" for simply being female) are events that are unusual, noticeable and comment worthy for men. (Disclosure - I'm white, and quite prepared to accept that people from ethnic minority backgrounds may well have to negotiate similar racist background noise in their everyday lives which my circumstances make me unaware of).

Also, I think almost all of us are very good at distinguishing between a respectful sexual advance from someone prepared to take a knock-back and an entitled one from a twat who won't take no for an answer. I also think it's disingenuous to think that all twattish behaviour stems from people who simply aren't good at reading social signals. A lot of it is perpetrated by a mercifully small minority of people who know exactly what they're doing - stubborn's example above of the conversation which progressed from "nice day.. yes ...[avoid eye contact hope he'll take the hint].. what's the matter don't you want to talk to me ... frigid bitch" is actually a man who is being deliberated aggressive and deliberately overstep boundaries. (Incidentally, he may be a misogynist who only does this to women, or he may be a misogynist and also be a sociopath to both sexes and do the equivalent to men - "are you looking at me... no [frantically avoid eye contact] ... what, you think you're hard, do you ... do you want to have a go.")

TheFarSide Fri 21-Dec-12 11:16:42

Also, Garlic, treating people differently doesn't necessary equate to treating them less favourably.

Most people know how to behave. With those people who lack social skills, perhaps we need to learn how to deal with them gracefully rather than insist that the whole world abides by a set of joyless rules.

In fact, Larrygrylls has put it perfectly.

kim147 Fri 21-Dec-12 11:18:39

All I can say is that men are more likely to make "random" comments to me now compared to my male days. I get more "Hi love" comments as I pass men - especially say workers outside a house - whereas I would never get a "Hi mate" as I passed workers in a similar situation.

At the same time, when I was male, it would be unlikely that a woman would make a random comment to me as I pass them (apart from when I was in a queue). And it is rare that I get comments made to me by women now as I walk down the street.

But men do seem to comment more to me now than ever did in "the old days".

Just my perspective.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 11:20:52

Gender neutral does not mean gender blind either, Larry.

Gendered endearments, for example: If I call one of my male friends darling, he's likely to call me mate. The arty ones call everybody darling, mind you.

The rest of your statement appears to mean the same as what I wrote!

Who said a man "needs" to treat a man the same way? Although, for those rather slow of comprehension, I'd recommend doing that for a week. If you don't get punched and your male acquaintances haven't backed away carefully, you're probably on the right track grin

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 21-Dec-12 11:25:17

Farside - putting the onus on women to adjust their behaviour (be gracious, smile a lot, put up with being belittled) to accommodate a subset of men seen as socially inadequate is wrong because I think it's a mistake to see them as socially inadequate - some may be, but most are behaving this way because they think it's fun to insult women, and don't think women are people worthy of equal consideration (I'm not thinking of someone saying "nice day, love", which I do tend to interpret as a harmless encounter, but rather of some random stranger saying "nice tits, love" - this is not social ineptitude, nor is it a genuine attempt to engage an attractive stranger in a conversation which might lead somewhere - it's a deliberate attempt to discomfort and belittle the person on the receiving end).

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 11:26:39

Love your post, Lurcio. YY to straight men needing to be told they don't need to be any more scared in a gay bar than a woman in a straight bar! This used to be a frequent source of astonishment to the chaps in my workplace.

And everything else you wrote smile

namechangeguy Fri 21-Dec-12 11:28:06

Kim - how has you behaviour changed in this respect, before and after becoming a woman (apologies if that is wrongly phrased)?

Walkingcups Fri 21-Dec-12 11:34:26

It irks me when men feel obliged to pay you a looks-based compliment and then expect you to be pleased. The other day I was having a lovely conversation with a very nice man when he felt the need to bang on about how pretty I was. I'm not at all pretty which is probably why he felt the need to tell me I was.

Of course you have to act all flattered cos if you don't you seem ungrateful and he was obviously trying to be nice in the way he knew how - but why ruin a nice conversation with unnecessary, embarrassing and slightly sleazy remarks? I can't imagine telling a random guy mid conversation that he was oh so handsome. It would just seem odd.

kim147 Fri 21-Dec-12 11:35:03

I was never that kind of male in the first place TBH. I've had my eyes opened to stuff on here to the way men (as a class!!) are perceived to behave. I am a lot more aware of how people talk without listening and making assumptions about the other people - saying that, I don't think that's an exclusively male thing (sister - looking at you).

I've not changed personality too much - I don't think you can. I'm certainly a lot more conscious walking round - but that's probably for other reasons - and groups of men (and teenage girls) panic me as I walk near them. But getting much better at that.

But there are things that I am still wary of - last week, I was out at my works do and was the first in the bar. So I was sat waiting (it was the first time I'd ever been really glammed up) and felt very conscious waiting. Only got 1 drunk bloke coming up to me, touching my hand and trying to chat me up.

I've definitely noticed the different way men speak to you (before they sometimes click).

Walkingcups Fri 21-Dec-12 11:39:05

"Kim - how has you behaviour changed in this respect, before and after becoming a woman (apologies if that is wrongly phrased)?"

Lol at namechangeguy! How many different ways are there to walk down a street?!!

TheFarSide Fri 21-Dec-12 11:44:03

I understand your point Lurcio, but I was talking about people and wasn't suggesting only women should adjust their behaviour. Learning to deal with all the weird people out there is a life skill for both sexes. I also think that if women start laying down rules as to how we want men to behave, we are possibly falling into the same trap of expecting men to adjust their behaviour.

TheFarSide Fri 21-Dec-12 11:52:38

And I mean expecting all men to adjust their behaviour to some ideal norm that would in fact be impossible to define.

kim147 Fri 21-Dec-12 11:52:40

" I also think that if women start laying down rules as to how we want men to behave, we are possibly falling into the same trap of expecting men to adjust their behaviour. "

Which might be a good thing sometimes.

www.everydaysexism.com/ A real eye opener. And I know quite a few males who behave like this.

Walkingcups Fri 21-Dec-12 11:53:17

"I also think that if women start laying down rules as to how we want men to behave, we are possibly falling into the same trap of expecting men to adjust their behaviour."

That's just silly the two aren't the same. Women can't stop being women. Men can stop calling out though.

FamilyGuy22 Fri 21-Dec-12 12:02:01


With respect to intimidation etc. you are right that men don't often think about exchanges of this type (unless it is borderline harassment) but that is not to say we do not understand. As I mentioned previously I am an ethnic minority in a predominantly white country (apologies about slight change of username - IT boob). I am of average height (5'10") and built like David Beckham, except with more muscle (~70kg). My wife thinks I'm buff because I love to work out but in reality I'm smaller than most western men, who are roughly 10-30kgs heavier. Thus I'm akin to a lightweight in the company of mid-heavy weights. Many of the things feminists believe to disadvantage them can also be applied to ethnic minorities, such as jobs, promotions, pay, stereotypes etc. Granted I am still a male but if I'm waking past a group of heavy set, white skin heads at any time of day then I can well imagine what it is like for a woman to have their senses rising. I grew up in a white community and although fully integrated was looked at and still am. Children find me facinating on the playground and women look at me, sometimes sexually (they may fancy a bit of foreign blood!) but others may be thinking, "why don't you go the fcuk home where you belong". Like you I can easily feel disadvantaged and vulnerable and can only imagine this is why so many foreigners live in communities. Personally I don't like the idea of communities but not living in one brings about other issues.

But it doesn't end there for me.

The internet is a great place, full of information/education. However, it is also a place that can frighten ethnic minorities. The BBC published the recent census results on their website and I read the hundreds of comments left by members of the public. It's enough to make a grown man cry, reading page upon page of comments from adults saying that people like me should fcuk off so that white brits can have all their jobs back or feel like they're living in England again; instead of some foreign mutation of what this place 'should' be. These are people that are potentially on here, down the street, who I work with, male and female so I get it from both sides. I see images on the TV of pro-white Brit campaigners and BNP members who visit towns 'educating' the public. These are sometimes heavy set white skinheads that could flatten a guy like me.

You may feel 'vulnerable' but I'll see your 'vulnerable' and raise you 'unwelcome in your own home'.

The only difference is I have chosen not to let myself feel weaker, more vulnerable, less employable, or worry about my personal safety. I will not let myself feel disadvantaged as I don't feel any thing other than equal. Equality starts with me, how I treat my wife/kids/others and how I feel about myself.

I completely respect your views but as feminists you are letting yourself feel a lesser being and IMHO that's not right. How can you ever expect the feminist movement to achieve 'true' equality if you feel intimidated by men? Assuming we reached the ultimate feminist goal, would you still feel intimidated by groups of men, due to their physicality?

namechangeguy Fri 21-Dec-12 12:10:05

Lol at namechangeguy! How many different ways are there to walk down a street?!!

Walkingcups, thanks for the lol, but it wasn't a joke. Kim understood exactly what I was asking, so you keep chortling to yourself.

Walkingcups Fri 21-Dec-12 12:18:19

I may be a feminist but I was brought up in a patriarchy and I battle daily with feelings of inferiority. I'd snap out of it if I could but that's easier said than done.

As for the physical threat it's not just that most men could potentially overwhelm you if they wanted, it's that we live in a "can't blame a man for trying" type culture which fuels the problem.

I'm sorry for your experiences btw. I'm glad you've found a way to overcome it but no one is invincible when faced with blind prejudice and superior strength.

Walkingcups Fri 21-Dec-12 12:20:32

Sorry namechangeguy but let's face it, you do have previous. it's an honest mistake.
And yes, your posts do make me chortle.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 12:20:57

Many of the things feminists believe to disadvantage them can also be applied to ethnic minorities

YY, FG2, and worse for ethnic minorities in many ways. I did the Peggy McIntosh questionnaire after you mentioned it, and scored about half. I also kept in mind how I would answer if I weren't white and, as you said, scored close to none sad

I am in favour of more overt feminism and agree - to a limited extent - that women would serve themselves better by making more 'demands' and fewer 'requests'. My opinions on this have caused raging arguments here ... much as my generation of black people (and their parents) raged about Black Power. It's tricky, for an oppressed group, to negotiate the path between effective change and daily survival. Everybody compromises. The darker-skinned, the female, the elderly, the disabled and otherwise disadvantaged tend to compromise more than most.

In the light of your post there, I imagine you can see what I meant by 'white male privilege'. It's as though the default human is a healthy, white man in his prime. What suits him is what's "normal". Everything else is slightly unreasonable. This thread, imo, illustrates the theory.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 12:23:18

Of course there are 'male' ways and 'female' ways to walk!

namechangeguy Fri 21-Dec-12 12:27:31

Previous what? Kim has a fairly unique perspective on this matter. I can't comment on your 'previous', as I don't know who you are.

FamilyGuy22 Fri 21-Dec-12 13:12:18


I wonder if you've misinterpreted me slightly with the Peggy McIntosh thing. When I did the white male test I found that, in most cases, it did not exist strongly for me. To the point of me feeling like it did not apply. I accept it exists but I have had an extremely positive experience in this country. I consider myself to be very fortunate.

In general I dislike discussing race as I've been lucky enough to have never been abused in any significant way (yet!). It makes people twichy (just like feminism eh wink). In fact I make a point of not using the race card and abhor it in others who do. I just wanted to highlight my perspective so you didn't think we (men) are incapable of empathising. Of course we will never know how it feels exactly (as we're not women) but don't believe equality is about us/them. It's a problem we all face but this will be the last time I mention my ethnicity as it's otherwise irrelevant.

I'm not sure if you read my post in your other thread but I am frustrated at women for not being stronger. I've often stuggled with the abuser/victim thing and who is at fault, the man for being a domineering/controlling/belittling bastard or the woman for allowing herself to be compromised. It's also difficult to draw the line regarding protection. In some ways I agree with Heroine that men should not view women as being in need of protection. However it's a balancing act when your other thread (about men shafting SAHM's) highlights the very need to ensure that women are adequately protected.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 13:26:24

Have replied to your other post, after a fashion FG2. I'm not sure I understand what you're saying about the McIntosh test, but never mind. I thought your post at 12:02 did demonstrate similarities between colour prejudice and sexism ... are you, instead, saying you prefer to act as though the prejudice doesn't exist? If so, you'd certainly have a lot in common with feminism-bashers wink

Xenia Fri 21-Dec-12 13:26:34

I am very strong in all kinds of areas. The difficulty is in so many situations you just cannot easily object. I am not talking about violence but unwelcome attention on a low level constant basis (and yes I accept it is probably there against non whites too).

Say everytime you walk into your station the same two shop worker men who own the cafe look you and every other woman up and down from top to bottom day after day. Now looks don't kill and it doesn't really cause trauma in most people but how should one react? Should you get a group of women together to stand next to them and look them up and down? Should yo ugo up to them and -poke a finger in their face and say - oh mate, what you're looking at - how date you loojk at me like that? Should you give back as good as you get and look knowingly at his crotch and make lewd suggestions?

Or the men whistling at you as you cycle - you get off and photograph them and put the details on you tube or have the police track their number plate?
I am just looking at how men on the thread think is the best way for women to make it clear to men who over step the mark to stop those men and ensure those men don't think it's absolutely fine to behave like that. We are very lucky that it is casual sexism that is most common here. One of the leader items in today's Times is about all the trouble in India. Delhi has more rapes than any other city on the whole planet.

carocaro Fri 21-Dec-12 13:36:49

OP - But was it funny when he slipped on the ice? And the 'hi love' maybe he thougt he knew you, but was mistaken.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 13:48:13

your other thread (about men shafting SAHM's) highlights the very need to ensure that women are adequately protected.

It highlights a lot more than that, actually. The problem applies to the primary carer, whether male or female. The fact that the problem exists is due to the relative value our societies place on 'home work' compared to 'business'. Capitalism assumes a serving class which, in the context of family life, would be the SAHP. Capitalism values the serving classes less than the 'business' classes; they are assumed to be more easily replaceable/disposable. (I should point out that I'm fundamentally a capitalist.) There've been several strong posts around this issue on t'other thread.

Another part of this problem is that the vast majority of SAHPs are women. Thus, this issue affects mostly women.

Taking a wider perspective on it, we note that societies tend to expect women to fill this role - automatically adopting a low-value, disposable role from the capitalist point of view. If we ask whether women are seen default members of the serving classes, we note that women's CVs are being binned as they attempt to return to the workforce, and other problems raised on the thread.

From there you get into very big questions about socio-economic systems, the material costs of prejudice and loads of other stuff! The matter of parenting is absolutely central to feminism. I certainly don't expect a resolution to it, but very much wanted to raise it in such a way that we could look both at how the problem might be diminished - for women and for all parents - and where feminism might look for future improvements, politically and economically.

I've had to write this quite quickly so it might come out garbled. Hope not.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 13:50:04

Good post, Xenia.

FamilyGuy22 Fri 21-Dec-12 13:51:17


LOL never mind about McIntosh smile and thanks for the response on your other thread.

No, I don’t make out it doesn’t exist but there’s only so much you can do to effect change in others. Thus, change starts with me and in many ways I think that’s a good start. I may only be a small entity but change will only happen if I treat others with equal respect and promote this behaviour in my children.

Anyway I'm off work now so may check back later. If not then best wishes to all and thanks for the debate. I think I've learnt more in the past week than I have all year smile

Xenia Fri 21-Dec-12 13:58:37

I don't want to derail the thread but we know my answer to the servant issue - make sure you are not muggins mum at home and go out there, have fun, out earn men and leave them to wash their own shirts and babies.

On male behaviour most men are pretty good and most women also don't tend to touch the bottom of junior male colleagues at work and the like. We are much better in the UK than we were 30 years ago.

I think it's good if women and men can talk about the issues and learn what makes each other uncomfortable. If women don't smile and are assertive over an issue at work I want them treated the same as men are in the same situation.

Also I am not suggesting charm has no place in men and women. We tend to keep customers if we're reasonably nice to them and that applies as much to men as women. Some men and women are no personal skills at all.

Another example man on train I wrote about a couple of weeks ago... said I like your boots.. I thought he'd said I like your boobs (laughing as i type this....) so was careful not at first to reply (you get a lot of nutters on the tube so it's best not to get talking), then realised he meant my boots. I don't think that's sexually neutral. If I had said to him - I like your boots it would have been weird. Mind you I said to a lady I liked her pink hair yesterday in a shop. I think it's usually pretty clear when men are pushing at what is acceptable. Also someone wanted to see my book last year - what are you reading? Why shoudl I be obliged to show him? It was nothing embarrassing but I didn't want to have to tell him. I kept the cover pushed right down and did not reply to him.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 14:07:30

Hah. Agreed, Xenia. I see a lot of value in "your answer" as it happens, but ...
... oops, derailed the thread wink

amillionyears Fri 21-Dec-12 14:26:56

FamilyGuy22 post 12.02
re last paragraph.
I agree.
I realise, from what you have written, that I feel stonger than men.
Always have done I think.
I have always been around men who have protected me physically. And the trade off is I feel mentally very strong. And most times in life, a good mental state can overcome most dangers. And, I feel a womans good mental state is not a match for a mans normal mental state, iyswim. [that may be sexist in reverse!]
Plus, I am a Christian, so I know that God is looking after me.

larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 15:12:28


"Also someone wanted to see my book last year - what are you reading? Why shoudl I be obliged to show him?"

You are under no obligation to show him but humans are social beings as opposed to cats, for instance, who are quite happy to be solitary all the time. Of course, if you live a busy life, strangers talking to you can feel intrusive when you just want to be left alone. The corollary of this is the lonely old people, living alone and dying alone, with no neighbours or anyone in the community giving a damn until they smell something rather odd, which turns out to be some old person's body in advanced state of decay.

Everything has its pluses and minuses. Personally I feel that occasionally being intruded upon and annoyed is worth it to feel some sense of community and fellowship with others of my own species.

Xenia Fri 21-Dec-12 15:19:53

It was done in a male power over woman way though and he kept kneedling away to know. Instead of just stopping he persisted, go on tell me etc etc. He was also slightly unkempt but even if it werea really good looking single stranger I think it passes a line to ask what you're reading. It's like peering on to someone's blackberry to read their emails who is sitting next to you on a train.

Can any man match this one? I was in my 20s. on a train at 11.45pm two men get into the carriage, one of those trains with 6 person small compartments you used to get. The older one gets out his penis and a porn mag.... I am just a normal person and yet even just going through some of this stuff none of which has ever traumatised me illustrates how common this kind of thing is for women. It is not just the public masturbation but the kind of choice to exercise power. What I did was totally ignore it. I probably should have moved carriages but sometimes that makes the potentially violent person realise you have noticed them and so it's less safe. Or placed next to a known man with a "sex problem" at a work dinner, probably was set up by the seat planner. Man had reputation. All evening I could not quite work out if he were fiddlig with the table cloth or hovering his hand over my knee. He was so experienced at it he could do it in a way that you never quite felt he had touched you at all. I left before the pudding. Later i learned he'd retired and sought treatment for sex addiction.

Happily I can recount that I just went to the bank and i was not molested or approached once although it is mayhem out there given the Christmas period. So busy.

chibi Fri 21-Dec-12 15:32:04

the two most recent incidents for me were:

walking towards a man who waited till he was right in front of me to hiss niiiiiiiiiiice while making eye contact. we were both alone, so it could only have been at me

suddenly crossing paths with a man at night in a pretty quiet area that borders on an industrial estate. he apologised for startling me (fine) and then added how it was such a shame to startle such a pretty lady. (then i felt suddenly aware of how quiet it was and how alone we were. not fine)

neither of these represent genuine attempts to reach out to another person, or building a sense of community, and me not being impressed or thrilled about them does not mean i will be an elderly isolate who dies alone.

amillionyears Fri 21-Dec-12 15:43:48

Most of the posters on here live in a much higher crime area than I do.
Do you carry around personal alarms?
And I think there is 1 sort of pepper spray that is legal in the UK?

larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 15:49:22

I think we have to distinguish between persistent and aggressive conversation, where someone will not take no for an answer and conversational openers which are not rude and where someone desists once he realises his attention is not desired. The former is obviously a big no/no, the latter I would argue is a positive. Equally, saying anything to a woman on a deserted street at night is clearly scary, in fact it is decent to give any woman a wide berth at night on an empty street.


It does not work so directly. It won't necessarily be you who will become an "elderly isolate". If you create a culture of people living in a bubble, then those without close family local to them and those who drop out of society for one reason or another will have zero human interaction. You cannot refute the corellation merely because you are confident it won't be you personally who is a victim.

Xenia Fri 21-Dec-12 15:56:11

Some of the most lonely people are married actually. If women would marry men 10 years younger they would be less likely to die alone as men die younger than women. So if you want to ensure you aren't alone when you're older marry a younger man.

Some people also prefer their own company. Huge increase in single person households. I have never lived alone. I joke i will be 95 before I get the chance and even 12 hours alone in this house happens about once every year only.

larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 16:00:04


Busy people always crave time alone. I think that shows a real incomprehension of what loneliness is.

Why do you always give these trite answers, Xenia? Firstly, age of death is equalising, especially in the environment which you inhabit. Secondly, the variance in the statistical distribution and the difference of the two means makes your point all but irrelevant.

However, I take your point about loneliness within couples. That is because the UK is a very solitary society. We couple up to produce children and then live in a little family bubble, not even involving extended family a lot of the time. A society with lots of friends and conversations across generations and even with strangers within the same community is a healthy one.

chibi Fri 21-Dec-12 16:00:11


with the hisser,i ignored.

the industrial estate guy, i laughed nervously and said oh no, no bother at all, ha ha while walking away.

what were your responses, larry, when things like this happened to you?

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 16:02:21

Larry - I think we have to distinguish between persistent and aggressive conversation ... and conversational openers which are not rude

Did you really just write that in reply to two posters who'd described purposely threatening (illegal, in one case) behaviours?

... and then go on to wield the threat of a lonely, isolated society?

... almost as if you think women should jolly up to creepy remarks from strangers, in case everybody ends up rotting alone?

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 16:02:53

what were your responses, larry, when things like this happened to you?

Good question.

larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 16:03:02


I can only think of one occasion in my life when I received unwanted attention from a woman (gf of much older family member when I was late teens). I tried my best to ignore her fondling my crotch when I was giving them both a lift home.

Hated it at the time but got over it pretty quickly and had zero affect on my view of womankind.

Another time a girl pinched my bottom in a club. I was actually quite flattered by that so I suppose it is different...

larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 16:04:33

But women DO presume on men sometimes. Please don't pretend it never happens, although I am sure the frequency is much less. And they use what you would term "privilege" (age in the case I described) to do what they want.

It is not solely a one way street.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 16:07:49

Nobody pretended it doesn't happen. Nobody even pretended anyone's pretending it doesn't, except you.

You are relating two instances of harassment, a long time ago, which you still remember as they were unusual for you.

Women are relating one or two out of hundreds, so many that we've already said we only remember the very bad ones.

Compare and contrast.

larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 16:14:25


That was not the subject of this thread. This thread is about low level conversational approaches, not harrassment and whether they are acceptable or not.

Some posters have chosen to give examples of what was clearly harrassment. Fair enough but adds nothing to the ACTUAL subject of this thread.

chibi Fri 21-Dec-12 16:27:30

low level conversational approaches can be harassment, that's the thing, and it happens regularly to women. with my two most recent example, mr hiss was clearly out of order, but what about friendly apologetic mr whatalovelylady guy - he even gave me a compliment! regardless of his intent, it came across as potentially threatening.

it doesn't have to be scary, it can merely be annoying. i have never heard of a man being told by some random, cheer up mate,it might never happen,or give us a smile, mate.

the idea that we all of us men and women recieve such treatment is disingenuos, likewise pretending that such attention is men wanting to make ffriendly chitchat that women are being oversensitive about.

larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 16:39:12


That is where I would disagree with you. Of course I cannot comment on the specific instances that you mention. They may well have been harrassment. However, if someone has their harrassment radar on such a low setting that ANY conversational approach in any circumstances is considered harrassment, that is THEIR problem and not someone making a polite and non threatening conversational opener.

As can be seen from this thread, the majority of women posting find that polite and non threatening conversation from strangers is a positive and brightens up their day.

And as for it being merely "annoying", well your annoyance is not the arbiter of what is polite or decent behaviour within society. There has to be some general guideline that men can follow and it clearly is not to ignore everyone all the time, whatever your personal preference.

chibi Fri 21-Dec-12 16:46:49

how about this for general guidance:

visualise saying whatever you are about to say to an 18 stone dude built like a brick shithouse. if it still seems appropriate,go for it.

TheFarSide Fri 21-Dec-12 16:49:18

Maybe I'm lucky, but I've arrived at the age of 50 without low level conversational approaches from men happening to me on a regular basis confused.

chibi Fri 21-Dec-12 16:50:05

i also am wondering how these are conversational openers when the . man unleashing such delights is walking away after delivering his bon mot. perhaps i should be chasing after him and inquiring after the health of his parakeet or something.

my inability to understand these as genuine attempts at a human connection will no doubt see me dying alone, perhaps being eaten by one of my 43355 cats

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 17:13:30

how about this for general guidance:

visualise saying whatever you are about to say to an 18 stone dude built like a brick shithouse. if it still seems appropriate,go for it.

Looks like good advice!

Larry, if you really are as inept as your posts are suggesting, I recommend following Chibi's guideline before some woman's partner wallops you for your low-level conversational approach.

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 17:14:24

(Or the woman herself, of course, if she's not been disarmed by your verbal prowess.)

TheFarSide Fri 21-Dec-12 17:37:40

Not a good idea to resort to personal insults Garlic. I find Larry's posts pretty reasonable to be honest.

Heroine Fri 21-Dec-12 17:39:28


larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 18:09:25

What should I have said to the middle aged lady who said to me today, a propos of nothing: "I never know what coffee to buy".

"I know what you lot are like, next you will be inapecting the contents of my boxer shorts" or how about a haughty "I am not in the mood for conversation, kindly go away". Personally, although I was not particularly in the mood, I discussed coffee. But there you go, I am an ill educated man, unaware of the annoying and harassing subscript of an approach from a stranger of the opposite sex.

kim147 Fri 21-Dec-12 18:14:00

No male seems to have answered this basic question:

I walk past a group of men, maybe in a pub or doing work in the garden. I get a "Hello, love" as I walk by.

I did not get that in my old life. I did not get that when I walk past a group of women (in either life).

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 21-Dec-12 18:22:28

Applauds chibi.

chibi Fri 21-Dec-12 18:29:05

the pleasure one gets from deliberately misunderstanding posts is clearly a rarefied one,and one which eludes me

one to ponder during my death thoes as an elderly woman with no community, alone in the atomised anti social future

Xenia Fri 21-Dec-12 18:47:59

It is obviously hard for some men to understand what we mean here. I don't mind people chatting to me. There is a different kind of chatting which is all about men wanting sex or to exercise power which is not just chatting at all and nor would I call it harrassment. It is trying to get off with a stranger. It is not about chatting about how blue the flowers are. It is about wanting to get inside your knickers or to make you feel embarrassed.

I think the guideline of would you say it to an 18 stone man and you can see whether the approach is okay or not. I even notice a difference if I have my 2 fairly pretty daughters with me (20s). The help we get if we're on holiday, suitcases, men offering to do things, help out. It is very very different than if I am with my sons or on my own and it's all about men liking pretty girls which of course is not surprising and of course you can use it by sending the daughter and not the son to the desk to get something done.

We have had loads of different examples on the thread from public masturbation of men on trains to someone just saying hello or cheer up love. Someone making genuinely normal conversation they would just as likely be making if I were 85 with a stick is absolutely fine. The ex MP who asked me for sex after a business meeting - it woudl be have been absolutely fine as we're both single if he had said at the end of the meeting would you like to go out to dinner some time. I didn't find him attractive and I would hvae said no but the comment isd okay although after a meeting it's not that usual. Instead the asking for sex was just ridiculous but some people do that all the time and ask 100 people and 1 agreed. It is certainly a technique been known to work.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 21-Dec-12 19:05:21

I agree about a different kind of chatting, Xenia. It is possible to tell, of course it is.

Why are some so reluctant to accept that the recipient of the approach will use lots of factors to judge that approach and, since they are actually there in the situation, reading all the verbal and non-verbal cues, they are the most likely to be right?

Xenia Fri 21-Dec-12 19:08:21

I'm not massive PC on the issue and it would be very dull if people never flirted, but the thread alone reveals some men just go far too far. Also some people are too sensitive but on the whole most women know they are subjected to more than men are. I would accept that men in countries which are racist and are of a different race or caste or religion probably are subjected to fairly similar things too.

FamilyGuy22 Fri 21-Dec-12 19:11:50

FWIW I didn't find Larry's comment to be inept at all.


I would not refer to another man as 'love' but 'mate' is often used, whereas I would never use the word 'love' to any woman (except when making cockney impressions to my wife blush.

However, I have been referred to as 'pet', 'honey' and 'sweetie' by women before. In fairness I think these are more friendly terms as opposed to what you ladies are talking about.

I have been around a bit (in a nice way lol) and female interaction with strangers varies throughout the country. 'Tarra love' is a classic Liverpudlian phrase and women use that on men a fair bit IME. Women use 'you alright love' in Yorks too IME.

Re: the OP there is no hetrosexual man that would pass a sexual oriented comment to another bloke unless it was a clear joke. Examples are asking another man to dance/tango if passing a narrow path and you do the akward left/right attempt at passing and simultaneously shift in the same directions.

If we're talking regular random comments then I make them a lot to other blokes and get a lot back too. But again I realise this isn't what we're talking about.

larrygrylls Fri 21-Dec-12 19:44:16


This thread was decidedly not about either chatting up or harassment. Read the OP. It was about whether a man could open a random conversation with a woman.

Those using the 18 stone intimidating bloke as their benchmark firstly ignore the fact that there might be legitimate differences between same sex conversations and other sex conversations and are, secondly, trying to intimate that no conversation is appropriate, without openly stating it. If that is your belief, why not just say it?

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 19:46:17

trying to intimate that no conversation is appropriate

What does this mean?

garlicbaubles Fri 21-Dec-12 19:55:27

When you're ready to clarify, Larry, I'm also very interested to know what the legitimate differences might be.
When the middle-aged lady said "I never know what coffee to buy", how did you reply?
How would you have replied if a middle-aged man said "I never know what coffee to buy"?

Could you please provide further examples of ordinary conversations that differ according the gender of the person you're speaking with?

Thank you.

SomersetONeil Fri 21-Dec-12 20:27:03

So really, what it boils down to after nearly 600 posts is that, unless the behaviour is clearly and easily identifiable (to men) as actual over-the-line harassment, we should just...

- smile / engage socially so as to foster community spirit / not die alone
- put up with it
- and above all - give the man the benefit of doubt that his intentions are honourable and decent.


FamilyGuy22 Fri 21-Dec-12 20:29:45

The OP is above but to requote the OP explanation on p13

I see the ice thing is annoying some people so I'll explain. He was with 3 mates. He slipped over. I was in my car. He'd had a laugh with his mates about it. A few minutes later I got out.

"Alright love, did you see me slip?".

I just felt uncomfortable with 4 young blokes in front of me and suddenly being engaged in conversation. I don't need to justify it. I just did. So I smiled and said "Oh yes" and got on with my business.

But my point is - would he have said it to a bloke?

I don't think any man here is disputing that innapropriate sexist exchange is unacceptable. I am also happy to grant the OP that she is correct in her interpretation too.

However, I (as I'm sure every other man here) am finding it incredibly difficult to phrase the question, "Alright love, did you see me slip?" in a manner that suggests:

1) Power over a woman
2) Over entitlement over a woman
3) Sexism (other than the word 'love')
4) A request/demand for a sexual encounter
5) Getting off with a female stranger

The question has two parts, 'Alright love' and 'did you see me slip?'

The only part that is female oriented is 'Alright love' as I'm sure any person would agree that asking, 'did you see me slip?' could easily be posed to a human being of any shape, size, sex or sexual orientation.

What seems totally insane to me is that any man would say what he said in an attempt to exert his male privilege. It's possible but as a regular guy it seems totally implausible. Surely any woman can appreciate this.

It's possible he meant, 'yeah I'd really like to slip inside you too' or 'you saw me slip and embarrass myself bitch' or some other intonation that suggested some other emotional oppression.

It would be really useful if one of the ladies would suggest how the above question could have been phrased so as to show the clear excercising of this guys male privilege.

Is it possible that the guy's question was completely innocent but that the presence of 4 guys coupled with the question was intimidating?

I get that groups of males can be intimidating from the past few pages of discussion but am really trying to understand how his question was wrong in any way.

GiveMeSomeSpace Fri 21-Dec-12 21:01:36

Best quote of this whole thread is from the OP:

But I just want to walk down the street without some bloke feeling they have the right to suddenly say something to me when they see me

Really demonstrates how warped this thread is. May God strike us down for thinking that we, as men, have rights.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 21-Dec-12 21:02:44


Enim has never suggested that the man who said it was trying to fuck her, in fact she has made it clear that she was a fair bit older and so she did not see it as a sexual advance. Her contention is that the man in question felt it necessary to draw her attention to him in a way she believes he wouldn't have done had she been male.

In your list, though please note that wasn't hers, the closest would be (2), though it is entitlement not "over-entitlement" (I don't know what over-entitlement is). The man in question felt fairly sure that OP both would have been paying attention to what the active male had just done and that he was entitled to ask her opinion on it.

Her original question was "do blokes do this to other blokes?" if not, why not? Could it be because they don't assume another male (iie an equal) would be paying them the attention they expect from any female? Could it be because if they did, the bloke would give them a WTF? My time is valuable, why are you assuming I noticed you? response.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 21-Dec-12 21:04:05

GiveMe, what is the right that you want as a man that you feel OP is trying to take away from you? Bonus points for an answer that doesn't infringe any of her rights.

kim147 Fri 21-Dec-12 21:05:07

"Her original question was "do blokes do this to other blokes?" if not, why not? Could it be because they don't assume another male (iie an equal) would be paying them the attention they expect from any female? Could it be because if they did, the bloke would give them a WTF? My time is valuable, why are you assuming I noticed you? response. "

Which is a point I have made time and time again.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 21-Dec-12 21:07:22

Indeed you have, Kim!

GiveMeSomeSpace Fri 21-Dec-12 21:19:33

Yes. Blokes do this to other blokes. A lot of us, men and women, geniunely enjoy socialising with people. Even random people. Personally it makes my day brighter. It makes my wife's day brighter. It makes my daughters' day brighter.

kim147 Fri 21-Dec-12 21:22:11

giveme So why do I get a "hi love" when I walk past a bunch of men - when I never got a "Hi mate" walking past a bunch of men in "my male days"?

inde Fri 21-Dec-12 21:23:07

We are really going round in circles now. I think if it had been me getting out of the car instead of enimead the young lads may well have made a comment to me. Substituting love for mate. It sounds to me as if he made it out of embarrassment.

As for where conversation crosses a line, well what one person finds objectionable another wouldn't. Some thins probably wouldn't be considered objectionable but anyone but the most unsociable. some things would be found objectionable by any reasonable person. And in between, well.......

kim147 Fri 21-Dec-12 21:27:44

OK - I'll keep it simple. Men who I do n