Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When flirting becomes harassment.

I was in a store on Monday, minding my own business waiting in the long line to make my tampon purchase when a guy (that wasn't in line) walks up to me and says, "Excuse me but what time is it?" I smiled and told him the time after checking it on my cell phone. He smiled and replied, "Wrong. It's Starbucks time. May I buy you some coffee once we're done here?"

I told him that I had a boyfriend but thanked him for the offer anyway. He sighed and replied, "Dammit. There must be no single women left in the world because that's the exact response I always get, if I don't just get ignored." He wasn't upset. He was still being polite and cheerful.

I chuckled and told him I really did have a boyfriend and I also told him that I don't drink coffee in the middle of the afternoon when it's almost 100 degrees outside. He laughed and said I wasn't the girl for him if I didn't like a nice hot cup of coffee in the middle of the day. I just laughed and didn't say anything else. He thanked me for not being rude and then told me good luck in life before smiling one more time and walking out of the store, without having purchased anything, lol.

That was my interesting event that happened Monday. I must say, I've had plenty of people use ridiculous pick-up lines before. I get some guys think they work, some guys know how cheesy they are but use them as an ice breaking opener, some use them to try and be funny; there are tons of reasons behind them. They never worked on me, though. I was always more impressed by someone just walking up and saying hello and asking how my day was going or something like that. Anyway, this dude gets points for being the first guy out of many to use that line on me. I've never had even a similar line used on me before. I suspect it's one he probably uses when he sees the opportunity but still, it was new to me.

I know some women get offended by random men walking up and flirting with them but as long as they're nice, I don't mind it. It's a nice little confidence boost or it's good for an amusing story and a chuckle later on. I don't mind guys whistling at me as I walk by either as long as they're just whistling at me and not trying to follow me anywhere.

If they're obnoxious about it? Hell now. Some time last weekend, I was out walking about and went into a book store. I had a guy see me walk by and he called out to me. I didn't know him, I didn't stop. He got mad that I didn't stop and followed me into the store, caught up with me and wanted to let me know he had been trying to get my attention and that it was "fucked up" to not stop and talk to him. I let him know I wasn't interested but that didn't matter. I don't have to stand there and listen to some random stranger talk if I don't want to and I won't. Which I told him. A security guard had been paying attention and interrupted when the dude started getting louder because I had pissed him off by telling him off. He asked me if I knew the guy, I said I had never seen him before and he followed me into the store. He told the security guy he had just wanted to say hello but I had been rude, blah blah blah. Security guard told him to leave me alone or the police would be called. He mumbled out an apology and took off out of the store.

I was in a club once last year with my boyfriend and had to go use the restroom, which was on the other side of the building and upstairs. I headed to the elevator because the stairs were roped off for some reason, I think because some were broken but I can't remember, it was too long ago. Anyway, I had a guy try to hit on me while I stood waiting for the elevator to come so I could go up and do my business. This guy was sitting at a table by the elevator with a friend. He was probably 6'2" and around 250+ pounds, so he had me on both counts there. He was being obnoxious, belligerent and when I denied his rude advances that were more like commands, he verbally threatened me because I wouldn't come over and talk to him. As soon as he stood up out of his chair telling me I'd be sorry if I didn't bring my little ass over there to talk to him, I headed back off in the direction of my boyfriend. Whom was pissed as fuck and escorted me back to the elevator. The guy that had been hitting on me/threatening me started to say something until he saw my boyfriend standing with me and then he shut up and turned away from us. My boyfriend (at 6'8" and 300 pounds) can be a rather imposing man. Plus with his shaggy hair and beard plus the general scowl he wears when he's pissed off and wants to knock someone through a wall, he just doesn't look like someone to be messed with. We came back downstairs and decided to go out on the patio out back so my boyfriend could smoke. This dude actually followed us out there and tried to keep talking to me but he was much nicer and not at all obnoxious this time. Which turned into him very nicely spilling out an apology about how he didn't want to flirt on me, he had just wanted to say hello and see how my night was going and he's sorry if he freaked me out because that's not what he meant to do. You don't tell someone you're going to make them sorry for not coming over to talk to you. You don't tell someone you don't give a fuck if they're not interested, bring their ass over anyway. The shit he said to me and the way he said it, you don't talk to people like that period. Had my boyfriend not been there, I doubt I would have gotten that "apology" which was just his way of making sure he didn't get his ass kicked I'm guessing. I haven't been to a club since that incident and not because of that but more so because I can't afford to go to clubs, lol. Also, I don't like dealing with that kind of bullshit so I'm not going to anymore. The only time I go to clubs is when my boyfriend goes with me anyway. That's not for protective purposes, either. That's because I don't have many female friends to go dancing with and I'm more of a bar person anyway. I digress.

My point is, when people act like that guy at the club and the guy at the book store, I don't like that because that's not flirting. That's harassing someone. Following someone into a store because they didn't want to talk to you is ridiculous. That dude's behavior in the club was ridiculous. Acting that way isn't necessary. Sometimes simple flirtation can cross the line into harassment, too. It doesn't always start as harassment. It's ironic because I have people tell me I shouldn't say anything negative because if I let them hit on me, no matter how obnoxious or wrong the way they're going about it is, they'll get tired of me not being interested and move on. I should just smile, be polite and let them say whatever they want. Um, no. I'm not rude to them. I politely yet very firmly let them know whatever it is I want to say. You can be nice and polite and still be firm in what you're saying. I don't believe in lying or making up some bullshit and I'm damn sure not going to stand there smiling at someone who is harassing me either. I'm a very blunt and straight forward person and that holds true in these types of situations.

The majority of the time, guys will just move on. Sometimes, not so much and those are the times that piss me off. I still don't act foolish, though. I don't start yelling or cussing at them. I don't start trash talking or belittling them in any way because that's not the way to go. No sense in helping a bad situation get worse and that's all acting like that does. Don't tolerate it either, though. No one has the right to talk to someone that way or act that way towards someone. If someone if making you uncomfortable, don't take it from them because that's just showing them that it's okay. I have a hard time with stuff like this because I'm such a strong willed person and I tend to forget not everyone is like me. If something bothers me, I'm saying so. I'm not afraid of consequences and for that I have people that worry about me being "reckless" because they think I don't maintain a delicate enough balance to keep myself out of trouble. I do a pretty good job I think. I've got a lot of common sense and for such a temperamental person, I'm really rather level headed when I need to be.

There's a line between flirting and harassing and I think in some ways, it can be subjective based on how a person feels about certain things. Someone on Twitter was annoyed with me for being amused over Starbucks Time Guy because she felt he was harassing me. She also felt my being amused and taking his goofy flirtation in a positive way was damaging. I didn't take it as harassment at all. I know some people who agree with that person, however. That's fine and people are free to feel the way they want to about certain things. I think when a person is making unwanted advances after you've let them know you're not interested in them is harassment. Being verbally abusive and/or verbally threatening or physically abusive is harassment. Crossing physically boundaries when you've been told not to is harassment. Carrying on in any manner that's offensive or makes the person uncomfortable after you've been told to stop or been told you're making them uncomfortable is harassment. Striking up a conversation with a stranger using a cheesy pick up line, though? To me, that's not being harassed.

This post ended up WAY longer than I had intended it to be. I actually only meant to write about the Starbucks time guy and call it a day but obviously, my fingers and my mind had other plans. So sorry it's a lot of rambling and not more articulately put together as I didn't intend to write about all of this. Please feel free to share any thoughts or opinions you have, I'd love to hear them. I just ask that you please be respectful. :)

Happy Wednesday!

Please leave a comment? :)


Andrew Deighton said...

Just read your post for today I agree starbucks guy was okay, but bookstore and club guy for sure are not very good men, and give decent men like me a bad name. I speaking from a mans perspective loves it when a woman flirts and let's me know I'm hot, but I guess it's different for women cos women usually won't go as far as bookstore and club guy, and women don't generally hit on guys to that extent. As for a strange woman hittting on me, if I'm in a relationship or not, I'm gonna bounce around like tigger all day but that's just me. Us guys love that kind of attention. But I accept women have to deal with some arseholes.

Jim Young said...

Kudos to the guy with the Starbucks line. That was bold, and yet not insulting. The other guys that seemed to think they had a right to bully you should be thrashed to within an inch of consciousness. I'm not a violent person until someone innocent has been threatened. Then I just want to make the aggressor realize their mistake. There is no reason to threaten or insult anyone much less a stranger and far less a woman when you're a man. (I'm assuming they were both physically larger than you and could have caused you harm) I'm glad you've had these incidents turn out well, and I totally agree with you.

Another Suburban Mom said...

The Starbucks guy was cute but the bar guy deserved a quick kick to the man bits.

Charlene said...

We wonder why these girls get killed when the last place they are seen is a public place. This is 2010 and still women have to be careful some random stranger will focus on them for no apparent reason and threaten them.

I've never experienced what you describe but if I did, I'd probably never leave the house!

The Panserbjørne said...

I've only been hit on by a girl at a club once, and it was a surreal experience. Under different circumstances it could have been quite interesting -- she was blonde and hot. The problem was that she was so drunk she could hardly stand up and wouldn't taken no for an answer. It was...bizarre. I could definitely see in that moment how women could get thoroughly fed up with the various approaches they get thrown at them every day.

Tolerance and respect. Such a little thing. Why is it so many people seem to have a problem with it? Sad, really.

-- PB

BTExpress said...

All three of these guys have a lot to learn about how to strike up a conversation with women. Not very long ago four women were sitting next to me at bar where I was eating dinner. I heard them toast one of them happy birthday. So I wished her too. Next thing I know we are all talking and they are buying me shots. So I buy a round and the woman sitting next to me told me it was her turn to buy me a shot and started flirting with me. Not wanting to get myself in trouble, I politely bid them farwell.

My being pleasant, humorous and non aggressive works for me. Complements work wonders too. Because it certainly isn't my hot body or handsome face. LOL

Eliot said...

Women who always see a little flirting, no matter how innocuous, as harassment ruin things for everyone. Another Suburban Mom was spot-on in her comment.

Maggie said...

I tend to be on the sensitive side if only because I really don't like any strangers, male or female, bothering me. But I could tolerate the first round of flirtatious comments. The problem is that some people interpret that as playing hard to get and the obnoxious level increases the more I try to get away.

Anonymous said...

this is a perfect example of the in crowd drama going on currently. this is a legit post about something all of these women bitch , rant about and stand up for yet not a single one of them will see this post, comment it or promote it on twitter because youre not one of their fellow twats in arms which is shameful.

im so sorry you have to deal with this kind of crap because no one should have to!!! i cant believe the audacity some people have and how some men think this is an acceptable way to conduct themselves and more so i cant believe a woman alive would put up with this! outrageous.

furhermore, going along with it on any level can be seen as you being interested so its always best to squash it from the get go because then you could just be seen as playing coy and that could further complicate things. still no one should have to deal with this and people need to learn that just because they decide they want to talk or flirt it doesnt mean you have to reciprocate or show interest in them. kudos on your post and keep being you because YOU are fabulous.

Mizz Minx Thing said...

WOW @ Club Guy. I am glad you were with your boyfriend and didn't have to get club security or police involved. That could have been ugly.

I agree with you, there is a line between flirting and being harassed. Some guys don't realize that. Some do and just don't care. You should not have to deal with that. I am SO GLAD in this moment that I've never had anyone take that approach with me before. I just get obnoxious guys who think they are funny when they are not but never anyone who threatened me or was verbally abusive. That is not acceptable. People need to stand up more and speak out against these types of things.

Great post. I always enjoy what you share. Most of the time... I just can't make myself care about sports for anything. ;D

Sarah said...

There is definitely a fine line sometimes. Sometimes it's flirting that moves into full on harassment, too.

Anonymous said...

wow youre def lucky those situations didnt end up worse off bc they had potential to go BAD. it confuses me what people think is ok sometimes. ~shrug~ this is why i dont go out much. i hate having to deal with people in general lol.

PandaDementia said...

While I'm super confused about why the first Anonymous decided to bring complaints about the "in" crowd here, where it had absolutely no place, here's my comment to you, Ash:
Hellz yeah! There's a HUGE difference between flirting & harassment. The Starbucks Time Guy was cute & non-aggressive, whereas the other 2 dudes were assholes and VERY aggressive. It sounds like their egos were so damn fragile they had to try to gain some of it back by trying to intimidate you. What jackasses.
Anyways, great post as always! :)

Ginger said...

Panda- Why mention it? Everyone else has ignored it. You could do the same.

I am appalled at the Club Guy. Sounds like he's so insecure in himself that he feels a need to be threatening and aggressive to try and get a girl's attention. Sad. Seems he might have a bit of a temper and perhaps be controlling as well.

Also astounded about Book Store Guy. I had a male one time follow me into the mall and follow me around from a distance. I eventually tired of it and informed security. He disappeared. I admit, I was anxious when heading out to my car since he had followed me in from outside and could have seen where I had parked my car.

I dislike people who think someone even looking at them is harassment but people are free to feel how they want. People who act aggressively or violently or in a manner that makes someone uncomfortable? NO. However, if the person doesn't let the person know their actions are not welcome and not appropriate, they may not realize the way they're acting isn't okay. The two guys in your post should know better. That is just wrong. BUT if someone is flirting with someone else and the person being flirted with is uncomfortable with it but says nothing? It's not the flirters fault. SPEAK UP people. Nothing ever changed with silence.

PandaDementia said...

Ginger - Just as you could have ignored my mentioning it. I guess that makes us even?