On this episode of Stuff Mom Never Told You, Anney and Samantha discuss the difficulty of rejecting men. A listener wrote in to tell them a story about dating someone she didn’t even like just so her married boss would stop harassing her at work. Anney and Samantha talk about different tactics they’ve had to employ – most of which will sound very familiar to pretty much every woman – to let a guy down easily so they wouldn’t have to deal with the fallout, which can include everything from being yelled at, stalked, attacked, or even murdered. When women give an outright “no” to a man, men either don’t accept the answer and continue to push, or get offended, which could escalate to violence or harassment. “It happens more often than you think,” Samantha says.
This kind of escalation leads to women coming up with techniques and tactics to extract themselves from uncomfortable situations. Both Anney and Samantha have lied about having a boyfriend or husband before, sometimes even wearing fake engagement rings or wedding bands to avoid being asked out in the first place. But this doesn’t always work; Anney recalls being told, “He shouldn’t have let you out alone,” as if she were a pet or a belonging. Once, Samantha was sitting on her partner’s lap at a bar, and was still harassed by a guy. Even having same-sex tendencies doesn’t always deter them: Anney, who’s bisexual, would tell guys at college that she was a lesbian, only to have them demand she “prove it” by kissing some random girl. Both even had men watch and follow them at bars or parties to see who they interacted with and how, making them so uncomfortable they had to leave. Dancing can be dangerous, too – both women have had to body-block men from grinding up on their friends or themselves in a club, going so far as coming up with 15-minute check-ins so they know their friends will drag them away from any unwanted attention. “It’s a protective measure that we have to think about before we go out,” Samantha says.
These interactions happen often with total strangers, but sometimes the harassment comes from someone you know or have to spend time with, such as the case with the listener’s boss. Samantha once had to reject the maintenance man at her apartment complex, which scared her because not only did he know who she was and where she lived, he even had a key to her apartment. They discuss other stories: a woman who was attacked because a man she rejected broke into her apartment, or another woman who was pulled over for speeding, only to discover that the police officer had actually been stalking her and only pulled her over to ask her out.
What does it say about our culture that women have to build and utilize these little devices to protect mens’ feelings, and therefore their own safety? What has society been saying to men to make them feel it’s appropriate to chase or pursue women, regardless of their interest level? Listen to the episode for this great discussion on Stuff Mom Never Told You.
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