If you’ve ever come across the #EverydaySexism hashtag or Twitter campagns like Hollaback, you’ll know that street harassment is a major problem for a lot of women. (If you’ve ever been a woman, you likely know this too.) In some neighborhoods, women can barely go outside without having catcalls, whistles, and come-ons thrown at them.
An obvious goal would be to try and eliminate street harassment entirely. Here’s another strategy: teaching men how to politely approach women in public without being a creep. On Sunday night, Redditor blackthought managed to crowdsource some surprisingly useful advice for men.
A lot of the comments seem pretty obvious: be well-groomed and clean; don’t yell at women out of your car window (“No Scrubs”). And, as the most upvoted thread points out, it’s probably a good idea to practice talking to strangers in general so you don’t come off as tongue-tied.
The main problem: Some guys genuinely do not understand what constitutes creepy behavior when you’re talking to a woman who’s never met you before. One female redditor described an incident where a guy followed her home on his bike, only to explain that he was making sure she got home safe. You may know you’re not a serial killer, but the person you’re following home is going to prepare for the worst.
“It's not always so much what you say, it's how you accept whatever answer you're given,” writes Redditor mindjyobizness.
If you go up to a girl and say, ‘Hey, you look interesting, I'd love to get to know you,’ and she acts uncomfortable, then you go all, ‘AWW COME ON GURL I'M JUST PLAYIN' WHY YOU BEIN' SO COLD,’ then it’s creepy and horrible.
Some people got more specific. “Last week a guy approached me and asked if I was into butt fingering,” writes Gingergurl63. “Do not approach girls and ask them if they're into butt fingering.”
Some women just aren’t going to be receptive to your advances, no matter what. Explained beepborpimajorp:
I don't care if the most attractive man on earth approaches me when I'm standing in line at Target and comments on the book I’m holding. I'm there to buy tampons and leave, pretty much.
The thread has inspired almost 7,000 comments so far, ranging from detailed instructions to shared experiences of how to avoid seeming creepy when you’re accidentally walking home the same way as a lone woman at night. Still, one of the best has got to be this extremely specific scenario laid out by waitingforcakeday.
The main thing is that he wears the sword on his back; waist sheathing is out. When he approaches me, he doesn't smile, but tells me that I am in danger - that we will have to flee. He scoops me up and carries me - CARRIES ME - up a ladder on the side of a building (he is so strong he has to climb with just one hand). At the top we look down and 12-14 goons are climbing up after us. He gently sets me aside and pulls the sword from his back - wait - I didn't see it before but he has TWO swords - and he starts slashing the goons. He takes me back to his place, which is on Park Avenue, and f**ks me senseless.
And also - he would have to be well groomed, of course.
And that he has one of those trumpet horns from Lord of the Rings that he just sort of slings over his shoulder.
Apparently the Lord of the Rings trumpet horn is very important. Try to keep that in mind for later, guys.
Photo via renee_mcgurk/Flickr