The next time you get hit on, do this
Ladies. We need to have a serious talk.
The next time I hear about a girlfriend of mine getting hit on and them not knowing how to get out of the situation, I’m going to breathe fire on the man who is making them feel uncomfortable.
First, let me tell you a story about why it’s so important to forget about these stupid rules of being ‘nice’ and ‘polite’ when you’re uncomfortable and how to set boundaries like a queen.
It was the summer of 2009 and I was living in LA in a frat house with my girlfriend. (The fact that I was living in a frat house? Let’s talk about that in another email).
There was this one guy who lived a couple of doors down from us who was borderline creepy, to say the least. He was just socially awkward, and for whatever reason, my roommate liked him. Which meant that he would hang out in the room with us sometimes, or randomly come in to say hello.
Then, there was one night when he was drunk and being obnoxious and kept pounding on our door. My girlfriend could not for the life of her tell him to go away. I had no stake in the matter except protecting us, so I unleashed my inner Godzilla. (Which basically meant I told him to get the fuck away, as loud as I could).
Suffice to say, it worked.
But why is it that OVER AND OVER I hear from women all over that when a guy hits on them at Whole Foods, at work, or on the train that they just can’t find the words to say: Leave me alone?
And by the way, this isn’t a rip on guys. Not all guys are like this. I love men who adore and respect women. But some dudes, do NOT get it. Even my fiance knows this, and has had to deal with them.
So instead of being ‘polite’ I say things like:
“Please leave me alone”
“Please stop talking to me”
“I don’t feel like talking right now”
“Thanks, but I’m not interested”
Or, like a few months ago when a guy followed me out from Whole Foods, I turned around and screamed: “Get away from me!” so everyone on the street would hear. My inner tiger was out and that guy backed the hell away.
This is IMPORTANT!
Because guess what? If you do not say clearly to a man what you need or want–even if it’s telling him to get away–you are effectively saying: “You’re bothering me, but it’s okay. You can continue to do so, even if I’m uncomfortable.”
Guess what? No one has the right to make you uncomfortable. You choose it when you don’t stand up for your safety.
Kind of like when I walk down the street and a random guy says: “Excuse me? Excuse me, beautiful? Oh you’re just going to ignore me?”
You bet your ass I’m going to ignore you. Do we have a contract that says you deserve my time, my attention? I don’t think so.
But why is this so HARD to do?
Oh, all sorts of maddening reasons. For one, we are conditioned as little girls to BE NICE. I want to take that phrase and burn it in a giant fire. Being nice does NOT mean letting yourself be disrespected.
For two, we are taught to not rock the boat or hurt other people’s feelings. But which is more important? Your safety, or a stranger’s feelings? They are adults. They will get over it.
It’s like when I was at a gas station with my boyfriend and this group of guys hit our car and thought they could just get away with it when my boyfriend confronted them and they denied it. I popped my head outside of that car and chewed them the hell out New York style.
I’m not saying you need to be an aggressive, crazy woman. I AM saying that you need to know how to use and harness the warrior part of you who is there to protect your ass when you need it. People will definitely think you’re a bitch. People will definitely be scared. But there is a time to use it, and there are OTHER ways to do it right, especially in contexts like work or with people who are friends where you can’t be all Godzilla all the time.
My Biggest Regret
Last year, I was taking trapeze lessons at the Circus Center here in San Francisco. I had gone there a few times, and noticed that their coaches were a little ‘off’, but I continued doing the lessons because I loved learning trapeze. But the last time I went there, I swore to never go again.
There was a new coach I hadn’t worked with before, and right when I was up on the ledge about to jump, he started hitting on me. I deftly avoided it and just laughed because I was so scared on a god damn ledge I didn’t want him to screw up. But he was doing this to every woman in our class and no one seemed to care.
Then, at the end of the lesson on my last jump, I had an issue with my legs. And I said: “I had a hard time opening them” during my jump. And he said: “Oh, you have a hard time opening your legs? I have trouble believing that.”
AND NO ONE SAID ANYTHING.
I looked at him with dagger eyes. In the moment, for the first time, I didn’t know what to say. Because I had seen everyone else joking with him and no one calling him out on his behavior, I laughed it off. But after the class, I realized how profoundly upset I was. Even though he came up to me and apologized because I was the only woman NOT responding to him in a fun, flirty way, I went home and cried and vowed that shit was not going to happen again.
NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO MAKE YOU FEEL BAD.
I don’t give a shit who is sitting on the sidelines and letting it happen as if they were watching a cartoon. This is what women deal with ALL THE TIME, and it’s like, no one gets it. First, I’m going to kill those people. Second, we’re going to find a better way to handle these situations.
So I want to hear from you: What’s your biggest challenge with these uncomfortable situations? What do you wish you could say or do when they happen?
I’m all ears.