I am the first person to explode into a feminist ball of flames at the first instance of misogyny, sexual harassment or a man imposing his dominance over a woman in any way. I have flipped many a bird in response to catcalling and held my own in countless debates concerning female equality.
You know it, and I know it -- men can be really gross sometimes. They can be creepy, entitled and just the WORST toward women.
However... not all men are horrible. Really. I would even venture as far as suggesting that some guys are nice -- respectful, even. It would be not only unfair, but also completely illogical to claim that 50 percent of the entire population was rude and perverted.
Regardless of that fact, there are bitter women everywhere willing to swear that all men are assh*les who only want to swan-dive into vaginas and ignore text messages. The flaw in this logic is that PEOPLE are assh*les. Not just men. And honestly, I feel bad for them.
Well, some of them.
I truly sympathize with the single guys who simply want to go out, flirt with girls and maybe get a number or two, with no predatory intentions involved. I'm talking about the shy guys who get nervous and need beer muscles to risk public rejection.
One universal truth is that we all want to create connections (whether emotional or sexual), get attention and meet people who find us so enthralling that they swallow their nerves for a chance to strike up a conversation.
To keep things simple, we'll limit this discussion of sexually-charged interaction to one location -- the bar. It's the archetypal place where people gather to hang with old friends, make new friends and look for opportunities to rub their genitals on someone else's genitals.
If you're in a bar, you have signed an implicit societal contract to enter a social situation and socialize with other carbon-based beings. Right? Of course I'm right. Nobody sane enters a dark, loud, crowded space just to be ignored.
If I, for one, am showing my belly button after 10 pm, it's because I want attention, and lots of it.
This is why it's so hard for me to digest the way women respond to men who approach them. Every woman has either been a witness to or a perpetrator of the classic icy-blank stare and silent turn of her back when a guy asks to buy her a drink. Occasionally this sharp pivot is accompanied by an eye roll and scoff. Lovely.
I get that unsolicited objectifying comments are a dime a dozen for girls and can easily wear us down to an exhausted, defensive and intolerant pulp. I get it, because I've felt it, too.
But sh*t is it stomach-churning to watch an innocent guy who is attempting to hit on a woman the right way get iced out just because she decided in 12 nanoseconds that she is not attracted to him.
Maybe his approach is off or his game is weak, but to respond to a harmless greeting with your back goes against any grain of common courtesy. It's just rude.
Before sitting down to write this, I brought up the subject of cold female rejection to multiple single, straight, heteronormative male friends. Each time I broached the subject, I was greeted with a familiar heavy sigh, which communicated a mixture of instant recognition and frustration.
One of my close guy friends who understood both sides clarified, “There's a difference between turning someone down and being mean.” Respect and rejection are not mutually exclusive.
I used to be this girl. I would ignore or walk away from any guy I wasn't physically attracted to who spoke to me. This was the result of a regular barrage of sickening catcalling on the streets of New York, which was so frustrating that I started to take my anger out on all men.
It took me years to reach the epiphany that I was being a jerk and frankly a big ol' narcissist by assuming every living man who made eye contact wanted to penetrate me.
Recently I made a resolution to simply be nicer. Handling negativity with more negativity is tiring and not the most effective solution to improving the male and female dynamic. Maybe I could change the attitudes of a few men by showing them some humanity and improve the way they viewed women.
Not too long ago, I went out to a local bar that is notorious for housing cheap beer and horny boys. Beer muscles plus testosterone equal plenty of male attention, so naturally my friends and I were approached.
I tried something new. Instead of turning away from guys I wasn't interested in, I asked them how their night was going. I responded to “Hey” with “Hi, I'm Courtney.” Funny how simple life can be when you stop acting like a dick.
At first I expected my friendly attitude to be perceived as interest -- sometimes it was, and sometimes it wasn't. When given a chance, a guy and I would make obligatory small talk before cracking jokes or even having our friend groups intersect.
Often, the night would end without even a number exchanged. It was innocent and refreshing socializing at its finest, without the mean-girl shell. I felt much more like myself and way more comfortable with this vibe.
I would be lying if I said the majority of men who approached me didn't ask to buy me a drink or for my number. This is typical, but my reaction became atypical.
One guy in particular -- let's call him Eddie -- may have had the worst game I've ever seen in my life. He walked up and begged me to take a picture with him, gushing that I "must be a supermodel." (Eye roll.) Without a doubt, he had tried that line at least a dozen times that night and been ignored every time.
But instead of awkwardly grimacing and walking away like my old self would, I smiled and said, “That's really sweet and I appreciate it, but not right now. I hope you have a great night, though!”
Surprise washed over Eddie's face before he broke out into a smile. Clearly, I had been the first girl to give him five seconds of her time.
He said, “You know what, you're really sweet. I hope you and your friends have fun, and I hope your family had a great holiday.” He then walked back to the group of buddies who were watching and undoubtedly expecting him to get the boot.
When I was leaving the bar at the end of the night, Eddie came up to me again and said, “You're so nice, I really do hope you had a great night.”
He was just an awkward guy failing at getting laid, but he still gave it a go and approached girls anyway.
I left that exchange with the polar-opposite feeling of having shut someone down in a rude way. That positive and relaxed feeling was coupled with the relief of meeting someone who was extremely friendly in return.
This is only one example of how actions based on empathy began to attract more positive and respectful attitudes. Interestingly enough, the guys I was actually interested in seemed more comfortable introducing themselves, because they could see that I wasn't rude or standoffish.
I will never sympathize with men who ogle and shout out at women like we're cows at a county fair. They are gross and deserve to get their balls caught in zippers. Polite, normal guys, however... I'm sorry those idiots make you look bad.
Continue to be nice! Kind personalities are magnetic, and have the potential to completely change the way we treat and see each other. Also, I hope you get laid.