Feminist Friday: On Not Hitting on People

There has been quite a bit of discussion, at least on my part of the internet, on why hitting on people is not necessarily welcome. This is an issue that seems to cause a lot of misunderstanding, so I’m glad that it’s getting some attention and cross talk. I’m sharing some excerpts of my favorites that have come across my radar this week.

From Miri: “Why You Shouldn’t Tell That Random Girl on the Street that She’s Hot

Okay. Before I say what I’m going to say, here are some things I’m NOT saying:

Finding a random woman attractive makes you a Bad Person.

Wanting to tell her she’s attractive makes you a Bad Person.

Every time you compliment a random woman on her appearance, it makes her uncomfortable/scared.

Every time you compliment a random woman on her appearance, that is harassment.

Here’s what I AM going to say:

If you find yourself really invested in the idea of complimenting random women on the street, you should do some serious soul-searching and figure out why that idea appeals to you so much.

It may very well be possible to compliment a woman you don’t know on her appearance in an appropriate way.

But, if you choose to compliment a random woman on her appearance, you run a high risk of making her uncomfortable/scared, even if she doesn’t show any outward signs of it. Are you willing to take that chance?

If you choose to compliment a random woman on her appearance, you may be harassing her.


Meanwhile, Chuck Wendig’s advice for hitting on the ladies?



Gents, don’t hit on women.

I know, now you’re saying, “BUT THAT’S HOW I GET MY PENIS TOUCHED,” and maybe you think that’s true. I realize there’s a certain mode of dating advice that suggests men must show confidence and be clear and forthright with their attraction. But “confidence” is a whole lot different than “aggression,” and hitting on someone is a whole lot more like the latter than the former. Note that verb: hitting — itself the language of violence, like you’re walking up and just bashing her about the head and neck with your sexual desire, like you’re clubbing a seal.


Talk to them. Connect with them on a human level. They’re not a socket for your plug. You’re a person. They’re a person. Go form an emotional-social tether before you go clumsily trying to bed them. I’m not saying every encounter has to end in marriage. Hey, you wanna just hook-up and find other people who just wanna hook-up, well, dang, I hope you two crazy kids find a way to slap your parts together, whatever those parts might be. Just the same, the way we find those people is by connecting. And being human. And recognizing that they’re human too. And not just treating them like prey animals who owe you a pound of flesh for your hunting efforts.


And Ferrett Steinmetz talks first talks about free coffee as harassment, and then a follow up post about how to hit on women:

The overall reaction from men is a whiny, “But I’m being nice!” No, sir, you are not.  You’re buying a coffee to try to get in her pants. The whole “What a nice guy I am!” aspect makes it easier for you to approach an intimidating situation, but let’s not romanticize this moment.  You’re not paying a compliment to that old, unattractive woman, or sharing your love of Terry Pratchett books with that dude over there.  You’re trying to buy five minutes of a cute woman’s time via a combination of guilt and gift-giving.  Jeez, what a prince you are!


The odds are good that she’s not going to respond well. And if you keep bugging women just because they happen to be within eyesight, then you send the none-too-subtle message that “A woman showing up in public means that she’s fair game.”  Which means she’s not a person, but an antelope in a game preserve.


And even if you’re really nice about it, recognize that hundreds of men have done this before, and this may not go over well.  If she rejects you coldly, she is not a bitch.  That’s on you, chum.  You took a shot, knowing full well you might irritate her, and lo you got exactly what you deserved.  Don’t tell yourself the story that “I was just trying to buy her a present!” because you were not.  You were bothering a woman in a clear attempt to get something from her.


And not only does it make people uncomfortable, it can cost your business customers. A few months ago, I was filling up a low-pressure tire with air. A guy from the tire shop across the street was buying a soda inside, came out and offered unsolicited help (I do, in fact, know how to track tire pressure and fill a tire, thank you), and then proceeded to flirt so aggressively, including trying to get my number, that he put me off from ever patronizing the store where he works. When I purchased some new tires a few weeks later, I definitely did not go to the place nearby, because why would I want to spend my money at a business that had an employee that was going to make me uncomfortable?


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