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Understanding how 'positive' attention is still unwelcomed.

(250 Posts)
msrisotto Wed 24-Oct-12 08:25:23

This has been on my mind recently because I have realised that I don't trust men I don't know. I've been brought up not to (Stranger Danger! Mum always said if you get lost, approach a woman not a man etc) and my experiences with strange (as in strangers) men have been was hard to explain which is why I didn't post until now, when I saw this post on Jezebel which actually explains it well.

Now, as usual for these kind of posts, I have to qualify what i'm about to say with - i'm not boasting or saying i'm ever so attractive [Samantha Brick].
So recently I gave some directions to a bloke in a car, when I was finished, he said "You look fantastic by the way", I put my head down and walked off. The other day in Wenzels, 2 builder blokes stared at me and one said Hi, I ignored it, looked the other way and left with my purchase. I was wondering about why and came to the conclusion that I must just be shy or weird but I think the article explains it much better than I can. I'm not shy. When I was single, I welcomed attention in bars and nightclubs as they were appropriate situations to be meeting new people in a meat market kind of a way! Plus I was with my friends. But when i'm just trying to get on with my life, it's not worth engaging.

I dunno, this is a kind of outpouring of poorly formed thoughts that have been swirling round in my head over the last few weeks. If anyone has any thoughts, please come and talk to me about it!

EmmelineGoulden Wed 24-Oct-12 08:31:49

Oh so true Risotto. That article does seem to illustrates it well.

Hullygully Wed 24-Oct-12 08:39:25

Yy. The media contributes massively too. All those films made by men where women hang about the freezers in supermarkets hoping to be hit on. All that you never know when Mr Right might happen by bollocks.

amillionyears Wed 24-Oct-12 08:47:05

"positive" attention is unwelcome sometimes.
Personally, if I got wolf whistled for example,I would be pleased
But no, the example in the link of the coffee shop people,that would be unwelcome.
Also,charity chuggers or whatever they are called,unwelcome.
I cant say I mind people busking in the street though,though I guess some people do mind that.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 24-Oct-12 09:40:42

That's a good article.

I think what I find uncomfortable is that because of stuff like what hully describes, I feel as if, if I get cat called or whatever, it must be because they think I'm trying to pull. It's not flattering, it just makes me wonder if I look especially desperate today!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 24-Oct-12 09:45:47

That is good.

"they're not doing it to be kind, they're doing it because they want something from you."

This is the crux of the matter, I think.

namechangeguy Wed 24-Oct-12 09:59:40

It is a difficult concept for men to get their heads around when you look at the examples that the OP experienced. I don't see harassment in either case, but perhaps that is the problem smile. Could somebody explain it to me? Not the stuff in the article about repeated, rebuffed attempts - I get that.

MrsArchieTheInventor Wed 24-Oct-12 10:01:04

Where is the line between a compliment and harrassment?

Hullygully Wed 24-Oct-12 10:04:24

1. "You look fantastic by the way"

When you have been interracting with someone on a two human being basis and are suddenly reminded of your "femaleness" and how you are constantly subjected to being judged on appearance and become uncomfortable and self-conscious, instead of one PERSON helping another PERSON. And ESPECIALLY in the context described it is intrusive and ravingly inappropriate.

2. Two builders saying "Hi" er...I hope you can work this one out.

amillionyears Wed 24-Oct-12 10:05:34

Sometimes it is down to the individual.
For me,wolf whistling,great
Opening car doors,great
Others would see this in another light.

amillionyears Wed 24-Oct-12 10:06:34

I was responding to the namechange and Mrs Archie posts

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 24-Oct-12 10:06:59

NCG when the guy receiving directions told OP she looked fantastic, why did he say that? Would he have said that to a man? If not, why not?

My feeling is that no he wouldn't - he would have said "cheers mate that is really kind" or "cool t-shirt, I like quiksilver too". The fact he said "you look fantastic" is almost certainly saying "I am attracted to you." the interaction between them was an exchange of facts. In that context, gender should have been irrelevant.

What would your feelings be if a guy who was much stronger/taller/heavier than you said "you look fantastic" in a similar situation. Double any uncomfortable feeling you get as even if he was bigger, you'd probably be more evenly matched for strength than the average man and the average woman.

greenhill Wed 24-Oct-12 10:19:52

I get the odd wolf whistle, even when I am pushing my toddler in a pushchair. I have long hair and am slim, but don't particularly think it is directed at 'me' it is directed at 'a woman walking on her own' i.e. without a man.

IMO a wolf whistle is not intended in an aggressively sexual sort of way, after all most men doing this are in a trade vehicle, so are moving at speed, rather than kerb crawling; sometimes they are just bored and hope to get someone to smile at them, rather than snarl. It is normally an unthinking act, unfortunately it can be unsettling for lots of the women experiencing it, whereas there will always be a few teenagers who will snigger about it, so a positive reaction means that it is repeated.

Like hullygully I think there are too many wistful 'romantic' comedies about women just hoping to be picked up by a random stranger, which can then legitimise stalker style behaviour. Even though jealousy /possessiveness should be a big red warning sign to everyone, it is considered to be part of the 'romantic package' in mainstream films and sitcoms.

namechangeguy Wed 24-Oct-12 10:19:56

Hully, are you making a sweeping generalisation about builders there, purely because they are builders? Are they all the same?? My my.....

Snatch, I have no doubt at all that the guy in the car was - and I am looking for an appropriate phrase here - looking to see if there was mutual interest. As there wasn't, I read it as though he drove off. Perhaps he could have been a little more subtle, but I don't read any malice in his attempt.

People meet their partners in a myriad of different places, under different circumstances. It isn't always in a nightclub or a pub.

Snatch, that made me laugh! Firstly, why wouldn't a gay man say that to another man? It is entirely possible. If it was said to me, I honestly think I would burst out laughing. I'd far rather that than 'what the f* are you looking at!?'

I am not trying to trivialise the OP's uncomfortable feelings. I am trying to understand what made her feel like that in the first place. It is surely because she, as an individual didn't like it. It isn't because all women would feel exactly the same in the same situation, is it?

greenhill Wed 24-Oct-12 10:23:36

Sorry missed out the word always from a wolf whistle is not always intended in an aggressively sexual sort of way.

Hullygully Wed 24-Oct-12 10:27:38

Um, the fact they are builders is immaterial, that says more about your assumptions than mine. Substitute two "anything"

One woman in a shop. Two male "anything" staring, then addressing.

Does that help?

Hullygully Wed 24-Oct-12 10:28:14

Can you REALLY not see that while there might not be "malice" it is just plain inappropriate?

greenhill Wed 24-Oct-12 10:28:32

namechangeguy I'm sure that hullygully was using the term builder because they are usually the type of workmen that are out on the streets. After all an office worker would be in an office, so not out on the street, unless he was trying to get that metaphorical Starbucks coffee and schmoozing up to someone trying to interest them in his god package wink

Hullygully Wed 24-Oct-12 10:29:36

I used "builder" becasue the op did and ncg wanted explanations.

That simple.

colditz Wed 24-Oct-12 10:30:08

I think it's because a strange heterosexual woman or gay man would not finish a conversation with "you look fantastic, by the way". So it's a sexual approach, which has arisen from a completely non sexual situation. And the train of thought that follows, for me, is " what on earth did I do to make him think I was sexually interested in him? I thought I was just giving directions!"

kim147 Wed 24-Oct-12 10:30:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

colditz Wed 24-Oct-12 10:32:53

I sometimes wonder ..... If we replaced all the gendered words with "person", would it force an attitude shift? If someone had to say "I like that person's arse", would it forcibly remind them that they are indeed a person, not a vehicle for a nice arse.

greenhill Wed 24-Oct-12 10:33:58

msrisotto as I said in my earlier post, I think the attention is unsettling because you are on your own, whereas the two builders, were together. Also giving the man directions turned from being a random act of helpfulness stranger to stranger, into a man chancing his luck with a solitary woman. It changed the nature of the random encounter.

UltraBOF Wed 24-Oct-12 10:36:38

I haven't read the link yet (will do though), but this reminds of another thing: "Smile, love!" angry

How fucking rude would I sound if I commanded make strangers I just happened to be passing to "Cheer up!"? Women do NOT say this to men, nor to other women, but for some reason men get to say it to women whenever they like. And the only acceptable response is to do as they say, otherwise you are breaking the unwritten contract.

Random folk in the street are not there for anybody's edification or amusement- so don't interrupt them to instruct them to perform some social nicety for you for no other bloody reason than you feel entitled.

dreamingbohemian Wed 24-Oct-12 10:36:40

NCG, so in your mind, this kind of conversation would be totally rational:

Man: Can you tell me where Acre Lane is?

Woman: Sure, take a left at the next light.

Man: Thanks. Hey would you go out with me sometime?

I mean, that's how you're interpreting 'You look fantastic' -- that the guy is interested and hoping the woman is too.

But from my point of view, that's just bonkers. I've said less than ten words to the guy. He doesn't know if I'm married, have kids, am mental. He is just expressing his opinion based purely on my looks, or really just on the fact that I'm a breathing female. And that is why it's annoying. It's shallow and dehumanising. And unlike you, I suspect, woman have to deal with it all the damn time.

<have not read article, sorry if repeating arguments>

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