I am writing because I have had to recently re-enter the dating world after a few years of reprieve, and I am not too happy with what I am seeing. I feel an obligation to be polite to men that would seek my company, even if they are being too pushy for my liking. If I am out dancing with my friends, and a guys asks me to dance, I usually will say yes, but I have also found it necessary as of late to also say, “I will dance with you, but please don’t try to grab me.” (Which doesn’t always work.)
Last night I had the pleasure of receiving too much attention from two rather persistent dirtbags. At the beginning of the night they seemed nice, seemed to mean well, and I didn’t want to offend either of them, so I agreed to dance with them (this wasn’t simultaneous, danced with one, then the other approached, danced with him). Cut to end of night as I am politely declining an invitation home, politely declining to give out my number, explaining that my ex-boyfriend is also at the club and that I do not want to offend him, and basically very firmly but politely saying NO, NO, NO. I guess the politeness means, “I don’t really mean no, please keep harassing me.” In the end, I had to be the bitch. I had to basically say fuck off. And it pissed me off. I shouldn’t have to be a bitch. I should be able to say “thanks, but no thanks,” and have that be the end of it. I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO ASK MY EX-BOYFRIEND TO ESCORT ME OUTSIDE TO A CAB.
I mean, it’s hard enough for us to try to be social together (we have many many common friends, and it’s been four months so we are trying to make this platonic thing work), let alone when I have to use him to police would-be suitors (or harassers, as it were). Anyway, just a rant, and an inquiry as to if other harpies have encountered this. Is it impossible to be polite when it comes to rejecting advances? Should I not even try to save the boys’ egos anymore, should I just go straight to bitch? Why don’t men fucking listen when ladies talk?
-Bitchy in Boston *
Why don’t men fucking listen when ladies talk?
Ahhh…that is a question for the ages, and one which we—and probably all of you, too—spend an inordinate amount of time fuming over. The short answer is: Men don’t listen because we live in a patriarchial world and the Patriarchy has always taught that men’s opinions/wants/needs are more important than ours. You can apply that universal truth to many, many experiences, including why some dudes are grabby assholes in dance clubs. I think any woman who’s spent any time in a dance club or bar will have had the same experience you’re describing; it’s a common hazard at places where there’s a lot of free-flowing alcohol and testosterone.
But on to your question: Is it impossible to be polite when it comes to rejecting advances?
No, it is not impossible. But sometimes the only effective rejection is an impolite one, and you shouldn’t feel bad if you have to resort to it.
My rule is to reject politely but unequivocally the first time: No, thank you. I’m good/I don’t want to dance/I’d rather not give you my number. For most men, this will be sufficient. Most men are decent people and dislike rejection. They aren’t inclined to pursue someone who’s said she’s not interested. If a man gets grabby while dancing, I just give him the bitch face and move away. If he persists, I walk off the dance floor. He can’t grab me if I’m not there.
I’ll be less polite the second time: No, I’m not going to dance/drink that/give you my phone number. This is accompanied by a cold, hard stare.
If he persists, it’s time to Be A Bitch. At this point, you’ve made it clear—not once, but twice—that his attentions are not welcome. And he has not respected your No. That is a bad, bad sign. You are under no further obligation to be nice—in fact, being a bitch may be necessary for your own safety.
Try this, and feel free to yell: I said no twice already! Did you hear me? Now back the fuck off! Don’t touch me! Get away from me!
You may remember that my Be A Bitch posts started when I had A Very Disturbing Conversation with a friend who was being groped in a most unwelcome way by a guy she was dating, but she didn’t want to smack him or to tell him to get the fuck away because she was worried he’d think she was a bitch. She just couldn’t bring herself to be impolite, even though she was being sexually assaulted. Fuck that. Unwelcome advances—especially physical ones—are when it’s most important to be a bitch.
Most guys will back off before you have get out the Bitchzooka, but the ones who don’t are the ones who require the Bitchzooka. In fact, you’re doing Womanity a service by unleashing it, because I can guarantee if the dude is bothering/pressuring/pawing/being disgusting to you, he’s done it to plenty of other women, and maybe—just maybe—the Bitchzooka will make him think twice before doing it again. And if he grabs you and won’t let go, or paws your breasts or your crotch, it’s entirely appropriate to scream bloody murder, slap, punch, shove or knee him in the groin.
Being a bitch may deter dirtbags enough that you won’t have to rely on your ex to defend you, but having someone walk you to a cab or your car is still a good idea. Bouncers will often do this. Or you can go with a group of girlfriends and make a pact to arrive and leave together. The most important thing is to be safe, so if your instincts tell you a guy is trouble—even after you’ve been a bitch to him—don’t take any chances.
* I have to say, this letter reminded me of one of my favorite Flight of the Conchords songs: “Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor.”