I’m not sure I understand this. If they’re being rude then sure, they can fuck right off. But if someone politely says hello and wants to talk because you look interesting or something, I don’t see why anyone should take offense. I’ve had lovely chats with strangers at bus stops and this makes it feel like others want to lump those people in with the construction workers that yell “shake that ass” when I pass.
Very sorry if I’m misinterpreting this.
If a stranger is not engaged in an activity and they generally look receptive to meeting people (for example they are making eye contact with those around them), then yeah, totes okay to start a conversation. (And if they do not respond to the conversation-starter, then that person needs to drop it and move on without further comment)
This illustration is showing someone who is engaged in an activity, not doing anything to be social (in fact, they are being anti-social by being absorbed in their work and wearing headphones), and most especially they are not making eye contact. These are signs that this person has no interest in talking with anyone else, even if that person really, really wants to meet them.
I get men doing this to me all. the. time. They may think they’re being “polite” but it is honestly really rude, especially when they insist on sticking around even after I will not respond to them and militantly will not make eye contact. Sometimes they’ll keep calling after me even after I silently get up and move seats. Their tone of voice may not be threatening, but their actions are completely disrespecting the fact that I am clearly already engaged in an anti-social activity that does not involve interacting with other people and they are displaying their sense of entitlement to have access to me by insisting on interrupting. This behavior isn’t necessarily to the same extreme as construction workers that catcall, but it is still in the same category of behavior— that category being: Regardless of whether you are interested in me or not, I have decided you will interact with me because I desire it.
Why don’t I just tell these men to go away? Because I’m afraid actively engaging with them will set them off, make them become overtly aggressive. They already do not respect me enough to leave me alone when I am engaged in my own, anti-social activity (reading or drawing), they already feel entitled to my attention and time simply because they find me attractive, I don’t want to test how deeply their entitlement/potential-misogyny runs by speaking back to them with something they don’t want to hear. If I directly tell them to leave me alone (reject them), maybe they’ll simply call me a bitch or maybe they’ll threaten me or maybe they’ll follow and attack me— it’s not a gamble I want to take a chance on. The only way for me to not provoke them is to keep my trap shut, not make eye contact, and get away from them as soon as I can.
I’m reblogging this again after reading some of the responses, because I want to address some of the bullshit that’s been flying in response to what Erika wrote.
Being out in public does not make a person a public commodity.
Let me repeat that one more time, with italics, just in case it didn’t quite stick:
Being out in public does not make a person a public commodity.
Look, there are times when it’s okay to approach a stranger in public. But there is a world of difference between starting a casual conversation with the person waiting next to you in line and demanding the attention of someone who is clearly occupied with their own work/play/whatever. One is friendly. The other is invasive and often threatening, because it communicates to the other party that you do not give a flying fuck about their obvious boundaries and preferences. And the onus is on you to learn the difference.
When you go into a public space, you are implicitly agreeing to a certain social compact. Being universally friendly and open to conversation is not part of that compact—but respecting other people’s boundaries is. And if you don’t understand or are unwilling to honor that? You’re the one who needs to stay the fuck home.
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