Alright, alright, alright.
I haven’t posted much since my move to the Bay, but I’m back. And I’m feeling kind of sassy today. I was going to just let it go, but it’s been over 2 weeks now and STILL my facebook friends and groups across the world keep reposting this article. “Stop Saying “I Have a Boyfriend” to Deflect Unwanted Attention.” No offense to Ms. Ebenhardt, I see where she was going with it; but the call to all of us to stop saying whatever the hell we need to say to stay safe when we’re walking home from the grocery store in our slutty yoga pants with a big “please harass me” across our foreheads, is quite frankly, absurd.* The real message should be “Stop asking if I have a boyfriend to determine whether I’m free game for unwanted attention!”
I was in full agreement with her, -especially when she wrote, “The idea that a woman should only be left alone if she is “taken” or “spoken for” (terms that make my brain twitch) completely removes the level of respect that should be expected toward that woman. It completely removes the agency of the woman, her ability to speak for herself and make her own decisions regarding when and where the conversation begins or ends.” I was all, amen!
But then, this happened: “And the worst part of the whole situation is that we’re doing this to ourselves.”
No. Full stop. And all of my lovely friends who reposted this article, I want you to really hear this. The fact that some guy feels so entitled to your time, attention, body, or whatever else, that only “ownership” by another man may deflect his attention is absolutely not. your. fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not the thousands of other women who have used that phrase’s fault. It is his refusal to see you as fully human and capable of making decisions that are right for you simply because they are right for you. And it’s not your job to teach him.
Especially not when it’s 11 pm and you’re in the club trying to have a good time with your friends & show off those sweet Beyonce moves you learned on youtube.
This is your time to relax and have fun and laugh and experience life and engage in consensual flirtation–not your responsibility to fix his fucked up views on women.
Also, for those who are doubting me; I have tried “I’m not interested.” Sometimes I still use it.
Does it often work? no. Did the men I said it to “learn their lesson?” eh…maybe like 1 in 10. Did it require way more time to explain than I cared to give? undoubtedly yes. Did it make me feel safer? no, not always…sometimes I regretted it immediately.
I’ve also used “I have a boyfriend” “I’m on call & I have to run because I’m superwoman,” eye rolls, “bitch face” (aka mean-mugging), look at a friend & secretly call for backup, “I’m married” and I felt great about all of them. no regrets.
So what should you do when someone tries to start a conversation with you//get your attention//harasses you on the street/subway/dance floor/coffee shop/airplane/etc?
1. Say something. or don’t. Because it’s your choice to respond however you see fit. Just choose whichever feels safest and most comfortable to you.
2. Remember that you’re not responsible for changing another person’s words or behaviors; and that in this moment you are doing the very best you can.
3. Continue on with whatever you were doing. You deserve to claim space to just “do you”
*Bonus* Be a good ally when you witness it happening to a friend or someone around you. Ask if they want you to walk/dance/talk with them until the person leaves; interrupt shitty behavior; make eye contact to let the person receiving the unwanted attention know you’ve got their back.