Stop Hitting on Me.

I’ve been unsure of how to approach this topic. But I think it must be said.

Just because I am a young woman and I am alone does not give you permission to start hitting on me. I don’t want your attention. I just want a cup of coffee. I just want to pick up frozen yogurt for my mom. I just want you to be polite, take my money, and give me whatever it is I came there to buy. I don’t want you to start asking me about my life. You don’t know me. I don’t know you. When I try to shoot you down nicely and tell you, “I’m just getting frozen yogurt for my mom,” I don’t need you to then quiz me about why I don’t like frozen yogurt.

Someone somewhere came up with this phrase that goes something like, “When a man says no, that’s the end of the discussion. When a woman says no, it’ the beginning of a negotiation.” No, I do not want you to sit next to me. No, do not try to come up with a compromise. No, you cannot come in, we are closed. No, do not try to reason that you’ll only be a few minutes. Funny that when my male coworker tells you we’re closed, you leave immediately.

As women, we’re subliminally taught to be polite under duress. Because if we say no, or reject any sort of advance even if we do it kindly, we’re labeled a bitch. We don’t want you to join us when we’re eating alone? Bitch. We don’t want you to buy us a drink? Bitch. We don’t feel flattered when you catcall us on the street? Bitch. And the thing is, we have no way of knowing which one of you is going to snap and attack us. I’M NOT SAYING THAT ALL MEN ARE PREDATORS AND THAT AS WOMEN WE SHOULD ALL BE AFRAID. I’m just saying that a young woman walking down the street, simply by being female, is more likely to be harassed than a man. It’s not fair but it’s something we’ve come to accept.

But it’s not enough for some men. Sometimes we just want to go out with our girlfriends have a girls’ night out. We do not want you to come up to us, drunk out of your mind, and try to get us to invite you into our group. When I had a boyfriend, it didn’t matter, men still did what they wanted anyway, but now that I’m single it’s like men (not ALL MEN) feel they have the right to blatantly hit on me. Did I ask you to buy me a drink? Did I come up to you and interact with you? No. Did I try to be polite and say “no” without hurting your feelings? Yes. So now what am I supposed to do? Curse you out? Then what? Do I need to be worried that you’re going to be a total asshole?

When it comes to bars or parties I can understand a little more why you would come up to me. After all, you’re at a bar or a party to mingle. To meet people and have fun and so forth. But when I’m running errands? You really need to make your moves on me when I’m in sweatpants, with unwashed hair, and in a hurry to just get on with my day? Do you really think that I’m going to drop everything and ask you to go out? No. I don’t want your attention. I want my sandwich.

Now. Sometimes I love attention from men. But when it’s respectful and when I clearly indicate that I want it. Guys, here is how you tell if a girl is interested: if she makes direct eye contact with you, smiles, and asks you questions, then she probably wouldn’t mind getting to know you. (If you’re British and you’re in America, you’re pretty much given an automatic green light. This is a half-joke.) If she’s mumbling, looking down, closing off her space to you, and gives short answers, she wants you to leave. She’s just been conditioned to think that she can’t say, “Get the fuck away from me.” There are LOTS OF WOMEN, I KNOW, WHO CAN SAY THAT. And who have every right. But I’m just not one of them. I can’t. I have to to think of myself first. I can’t worry that you, strange man in a bar, is going to flip out when I reject you harshly.

I had a stalker once. It wasn’t pleasant.

Basically, here’s what I’m saying. I do not hate men. I just hate being hit on when I clearly do not want to be hit on. And I think men probably feel that way too. It’s just harder when you’re a woman sometimes. Maybe that’s something I’m not supposed to say.

My “no” is not a negotiation.

Above: “Mystery” (Erik von Markovik) from The Pickup Artist. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons under GNU Free Documentation License.

This post was reprinted with permission from Apocalypstick.


  1. It's every person's right to be able to approach someone in public and start a conversation. You've swung too far one way in saying that people shouldn't hit on someone in their everyday routine. That's the price you pay when you enter a public sphere.

    However, you are correct in saying that every person also has the right to reject the offer of conversation, or reject the come-ons. After the first rejection, the person who wants to start up the conversation needs to respect the other person's request and back off.

    • What amendment to the Constitution states that men have a "right" to hit on anyone they please simply because that person "entered the public sphere?" Puhhhhhh-lease.

      • Totally agree. Men are frequently breachers of women's boundaries. How about if we went up to them and immediately tried to engage them on the level of their financials? Just sayin.

    • Julian Morrison says:

      You are treating other people as means to your ends. Right of the bat, you fail completely at civility, empathy, and relationships. What kind of a lover would you be, if your view is "you can't stop me, it's my right"? I shudder to think.

    • David Benson says:

      Having a right to do something doesn't always make it appropriate. Is anyone here is calling for a law to make it illegal to approach a stranger? What we're talking about is why men believe it's okay to approach any woman just because she dared to show herself in public, with the expectation that she either be flattered or have to just deal with it politely. Why is the expectation on women to be polite? Why don't men have to be polite and respect boundaries?

      • Totally agree. It makes me want to wear a burka. Women spend a lot of time stressing over trying to come up with "reasons why I don't want to 'date' you or "how I'm going to fend off your next advance". This has a lot to do with the way women are socialized – always be nice. This socialization is probably why men think it's OK to just stride on up and breach privacy (because we are usually unfailingly nice), and then finally, when women are just so tired of this game year in and year out, and decide to be honest (No thanks, I'm not interested), they perceive us as bitches.

    • Ana banana says:

      No screw u. I can go in public and don’t fucking speak to me if u do invade my space I’ll ignore u if u continue I’ll beat ur ass. Nuff said

    • BS. No one has a right to interrupt someone in public space and use it as an opportunity to come onto them, subtly or overtly. It’s objectifying and completely unacceptable. You’ve “drunk the Koolaid” if you believe otherwise.

    • No one has a right to intrude upon me in public. I am 71 and I am fed up with unwanted male attention. The answer is NO. I said NO.

  2. jenincanada says:

    This is a really well written, well thought out and delivered article. Thank you for posting something that should be so obvious but ISN'T.

    • Laura Plummer says:

      I don't think it was particularly well written or "well thought out." In fact, it came across as severe, self-righteous, and yet subtly insecure. The writer's experience gets very little sympathy from me, when juxtaposed to articles about women in the Congo being raped in front of (and sometimes by) their fathers, brothers, sons. The egregiousness of her situation pales in comparison to the women in Afghanistan who've undergone acid burnings or had their noses cut off. Here is a privileged, presumably White American woman, and because her life lacks any real sense of depravity or imminent danger, she is creating drama. Do I condone stalking behaviors or sexual harassment from EITHER sex? Of course not. But what a comfortable world you must live in if the only thing you can think to complain about is that too many men find you attractive.

      • It's not a complaint that too many men find women attractive. It's the presumption of ownership and "right" to do with women as they please. It is MUCH subtler in America than in the Congo or Afghanistan – I didn't see anyone arguing that it was to the same extremes, but there is a delay with posting, so if that argument has been made in the last few minutes/hours, I stand corrected. Does it pale in comparison to acid burnings or noses being cut off? My 12-yr-old son would say, "DUH!" So, one might ask, where's the connection? It is the SAME sense of ownership and "right" of men over women that allows what happens in each of these locations to happen.

        • Further, before we start assuming that violence against women is what we are fighting against in Afghanistan (because of the delays, I admit I'm jumping ahead a bit because I've heard this argument so many times, I know what this conversation eventually leads to), let's all please save the time by first remembering a few things:

          • 1) the American government was long in bed with the Taliban during some of the worst acts against women in the Middle East and did not a single thing about it when it would have been so easy to do AND stopping any crime against women is STILL not even a minor priority of the U.S. in those wars and why would it be when it isn't a priority HERE? 2) the rates of rape alone in the U.S. are high enough to consider any American woman at risk of "imminent danger", yes even 'privileged, presumably White American women", though – statistically speaking – less so than under-privileged, American women of color, the danger still exists for all who possess a vagina and

          • 3) we haven't even begun to discuss domestic violence – perpetrated by the 'good' guys that make it past the 'hitting on' stage and gain trust just long enough to start literally 'hitting on' the woman they supposedly love…please check those rates before we start discussing how the fathers, brothers, sons, boyfriends, husbands, police, government and judicial system of America treat their oh-so-protected and oh-so-treated-equally American women. Brings a whole new meaning to "stop hitting on me." Those who live in glass countries shouldn't throw stones.

        • twinkle says:

          Absolutely agree

      • You have posed a false dichotomy. No one is saying that women don’t have it worse in other parts of the world. Of course they do. But that doesn’t mean that focusing on different feminist issues is somehow mutually-exclusive. We can certainly protest the plight of women being treated worse than dirt in the Middle East AND at the same time raise awareness of the everyday sexual harassment that goes on in the Western world.

    • Like Laura Plummer, I don't find this to be particularly well-written. It lacks specific examples from which both men and women could learn or at least understand the complaint (i.e. what construes "hitting on"?), and it reads mostly as a frustrated rant. Circular and too vague to really make the point well.

  3. As someone who almost never gets attention from guys, unwanted OR wanted, pardon me if I'm less than sympathetic to this plight. ;-p

    Yes, I can see how it'd be annoying for a drunk guy in a bar to try to insinuate himself into your girls' night out. But are you so sure the guy behind the counter at the frozen yogurt place is hitting on you and not just being friendly, or a little flirty? (You didn't provide examples of what was said, so it's hard to judge from here.) If his income is dependent on the counter tip jar, perhaps he's just trying to get a few extra coins. Likewise, some people are just more chatty than others; I engage with retail service people of both sexes and chat – doesn't mean either of us is hitting on the other.

    Just a couple thoughts.

    • Here's one for you – buying ice at a convenience store (no tip jar, never met the man before), clerk says, "So, do you have a boyfriend?" Fairly-Obvious-Lesbian replies, "That's not really any of your business, but I have absolutely no interest in having one. Just the ice, please." Clerk replies, "Because I would be your boyfriend." Fairly-Obvious-Lesbian replies, "You planning on getting a sex change operation or can I just get my ice like I asked for nicely?"

      • And another example: at the LESBIAN bar, strange man starts a conversation with Fairly-Obvious-Lesbian about the fabulous chicken breast he cooked earlier in the evening, suddenly says, "Speaking of fabulous breasts, you've got a pretty nice set yourself." Two Fairly-Obvious-Lesbians simulanteously reply, "THAT'S INAPPROPRIATE!" Strange man replies, "WHOA! I didn't mean to piss off your old lady." Two Fairly-Obvious-Lesbians simulanteously again reply, "THAT'S INAPPROPRIATE!" Strange man tries to introduce us to his wife and invites us to join them at Taco Bell. Seriously, you are not missing much, Rebekah – consider the lack of attention from guys a blessing.

        • Thank you, Danielle, for providing specific examples. That's the kind of thing I would have liked to see in the full post above. The author doesn't specify what she defines as "being hit on", so it's hard to judge how … well, valid, for lack of a better word … her rant is.

    • I am the kind of person who completely avoids being flirty. I’m not an unfriendly person, but I don’t like giving the impression that I want anything more than conversation. The ‘drunk guy in a bar to try to insinuate himself into your girls’ night out’ is so much easier to handle – Just like he doesn’t particularly care who he goes home with, you don’t care about being polite in telling him to piss off. And I realise I sound like a bitch saying that, but that’s the whole point of this article.

      I used to work in a pub where you’re expected to just smile and be polite, but some of the things the men would say to me is far too vile to repeat here… And then they would come in on a Sunday afternoon with their wife and children. If you told them to piss off you would have no customers.

      I went to San Francisco (which I realise now is full of fucking nutters) for summer 2009, and after traveling about 9 hours from LA we arrived off the Greyhound coach at 5am in the morning to an empty city. Feeling very lost and British and tired, my friend and I were looking at our map and a man approached us, asked were we going, pointed in the opposite direction of our hostel and said that he would take us there. We then said, thanks but we’ll be fine, and he asked us to give him a kiss on the cheek to which we obviously turned down and started to walk off. He shouted ‘fuckin bitches’ and followed us. We managed to flag a taxi and get away from him, but I didn’t much like San Francisco after that.

  4. Your post reminds me of a piece that appeared on the blog "Shapely Prose" called "Schroedinger's rapist," that also deals with this topic:

  5. I agree with Ms. Rose, and thank you for articulating this problem so well. The point that Ms. Rose was trying to make, Destra, is that although it may be someone's RIGHT to hit on someone, it does not make it okay. And some people take their "right" too far. AND, it puts us in the position of having to deal with saying "no" or anything at all. Like Ms. Rose said, I just want my sandwich, and I don't have to worry about someone getting pissed off and calling me a bitch because they have the "right" to hit on me and I exercise my "right" to reject them.

    • I am very confused about this assumed "right' to hit on others. It does not exist.

      • And another example – some strange dude walking down the street hollers through Fairly-Obvious-Lesbian's open car window while stuck at a red light, "Hey, can I get your number?" Fairly-Obvious-Lesbian replies, "No." Some strange dude's replies, "Bitch!" Fairly-Obvious-Lesbian replies, "Well, since I'm such a bitch, aren't you lucky I didn't give you my number! Think of all the troubles I just saved you from!"

        • First off, note that I'm not saying he was in the right to call you a bitch – you're correct; that was completely uncalled for. But that's also his problem. He's the jerk, who required no further comment from you after your "no". Continuing to engage him is like swatting a misbehaving puppy; he got attention (even if it was negative), which is what he wanted. Why give him the satisfaction of knowing he irritated you?

          But seriously, wow. You have extremely high expectations for a straight guy's "gaydar", if you expect him to be able to read that from the sidewalk when you're sitting in your car (I'm assuming you were alone in the car and giving him no cues via interaction with a female passenger and your car doesn't have "Hi, I'm a lesbian" painted down the side of it, since you didn't say otherwise).

          I'm not saying he had a right to do what he did! It just seems, from your repeated use of the phrase "Fairly-Obvious-Lesbian", like you have a bee in your bonnet about guys approaching you when they should "obviously be able to tell that I'm a lesbian and therefore shouldn't hit on me" (I grant you had a point in the lesbian bar example you mentioned previously). No, actually, guys are clueless.

          Heck, I'm female, straight, and honestly usually can't tell anything about my conversational partner's orientation for a few minutes unless they introduce themselves with "Hi, I'm [name] and I'm [straight/bi/gay]" (which most people don't). Granted, maybe my perception for such things is colored by my own orientation and limited exposure to the LGBT community during my early years. But it's also just not how I look at people in initial contact – I don't go in assuming the person is straight (or gay or bi or whatever); I'm more concerned with "do I like his/her overall personality? Is s/he interesting to talk to?" and that sort of thing. Orientation doesn't cross my mind …. well, until it comes up, at which point it's lodged in my mental database for that person in the same way as their name, favorite color, birthdate, or whatever (in other words; not something that really makes an impact on me, just another bit of data about them, if that makes sense).

          So: I can't really read that in people, but nor do I look for it or care. Am I disappointed when I realize the cute guy I was talking to has a boyfriend? Sure. But hey; I made a new friend, at least. 😉

          • I can see your point somewhat (especially that guys are clueless), however, as you agree – being in a group of women at a lesbian bar should be a fairly obvious sign that comparing my "pretty nice set" to pieces of meat wouldn't be received well. As far as the guy on the street, while I admit I don't have "I'm a lesbian" painted down the side of my car, I DO have SEVERAL bumperstickers that indicate he wouldn't be getting my phone number (I did say "Fairly Obvious Lesbian" for a reason). I try to make it as easy as possible for creeps to know they will not be received well, if they choose to take this as an invitation to harass me, I'm not going to cut them any slack for their stupidity and just take their crap and silently accept their insults.

  6. leaveittopsmith says:

    I agree with this article completely. Just because I am alone does not mean that I want someone to talk to me. I recognize that some people are just trying to be friendly, but sometimes you just don't feel like it. That does not make you a bitch, it just makes you normal.

  7. Thank you for writing this. After a guy followed me around a mall for a half hour when I said I wasn’t interested, I finally told him to get away from me and got called a bitch.

    The really sad thing about this is that there are a lot of great guys out there who genuinely just want to chat and who are perfectly. Unfortunatley, I’ve just had so many bad experiences with what you just described that I find myself closing everyone off.

    Anyways, thanks for writing this. It’s something that’s bothered me for a long time now and I’ve found it’s a very hard topic to bring up with other people.

  8. yoteech2002 says:

    I do not think anyone has a "right" to annoy another person just b/c both are in the public sphere. It is far more common for women to have to deal with unwanted and uninvited attention from men than it is in reverse. Of course there are exceptions in human behavior.
    One can distinguish friendly behavior from "hitting on" behavior. The first is usually welcome and of short duration. The second is sticky, gluey and deserving of a "fu*% off" response. Unfortunately for women we can be in danger just because some ignorant a*#hole thinks his desires are somehow our responsibility and can respond to us with violence either verbal or physical. Wake up, guys. You are the problem and you often deserve to be told NO whether you like it or not.

  9. I'm loving reading these comments! Thanks for responding everyone! And BTW you can call me Almie or Apocalypstick.

  10. yoteech2002 says:

    I just read the kateharding link in Kat R.'s post. Excellent expression to men of how women may feel and why…Highly recommend it for all men and women to read.

  11. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Destra, the OP was not saying that nobody has a right to approach anyone and start a conversation. She was saying that when a clear response is given that the person being approached is not interested, people should let it drop. Which you appear to agree with, so I'm not sure what the point of your comment was. Stop creating straw feminists.

  12. Yea it is so hard being a woman and being inherently attractive to the opposite sex for the simple fact that we exist. We should have more laws and regulations on just who can hit on us, how they do so and when.

    It’s tough being a woman, much more than being a man.

    • When my boyfriend walks down the street, and someone says, "How you doin'?" it means, "Hi." They exchange words and walk away.

      When I walk down the street without him, and someone says "How you doin'?" it means "I'd hit that." They follow it up with comments, "Nice tits." "I like your ass." "Got a number?" "Where you goin'? Can I come?" And there's always the classic asshole who follows me down the street yelling that he'd like to get in my pants and exactly how it would feel (for him) to do so. Loudly. If I ignore, they yell, "Bitch!" If I make eye contact, they think I "appreciate" it and amp it up. This occurs no matter where I am, what I'm doing, or what I'm wearing. It happens at least twice a month – just enough so that I can never quite forget that I don't have the same right that my boyfriend does to be anonymous in public. As though my presence is an invitation for harassment. Recently, I had a man sidle up to me on the bus, put his arm around me and tickle my shoulder, while whispering dirty limericks in my ear.

      Damn straight it's harder to be a woman in public.

  13. I’m a man, and I have to say I wish that there weren’t men that are such complete jerks; it makes us all look bad when I really think most of us aren’t (of course I realize this is a selfish perspective — I understand that women who are actually subject to the harassment have it much worse; being personally harassed is a lot worse than looking bad as a member of a group).

    If I approach a woman, it’s only if I’m pretty sure the approach will be welcome (generally there are only a few social settings/events where I tend to have this belief, and even then only under certain conditions). If it turns out I’m wrong and she declines my company or acts uninterested, I back off. If for some reason I’m thick-headed and don’t get the message, a direct “no” is always very clear, and I’d back off with even more haste. It seems like common sense, like basic norms of social interaction. And if it hurts my feelings, so be it — sometimes rejection hurts. That doesn’t mean I should take it out on the person that rejected me. Are there really such a high percentage of men that lack this (kind of basic) social understanding, or is it just that those that do lack it are such a pain in the ass (and/or scary or potentially dangerous)?

    Regarding approaching people doing errands and the such, I imagine that’s almost never appropriate (i.e. I can’t image ever being pretty sure an approach in this case would be welcome — which is my criteria for approaching someone). I don’t understand why someone would think this is okay. Again, it must be a complete failure to grasp basic social norms. Which again, I find it hard to believe that a such a large percentage of men don’t grasp.

    Of course not being subject to such harassment myself, my personal experiences surely under-estimate the number of such men that exist.

    Also, generally I do think approaching strangers in public *is* a personal right, but it’s one that should be exercised with care and with respect for social conventions (not to mention respect for actual people). It is unfortunate that this right is abused.

    • thanks for the imput of a man who wishes "that there weren't men that are such complete jerks".
      just to clarify, though, I do not think it is as much the setting as the approach that differs between compliments, flirting and harasment.
      For example i could be in the grocery store adn if a guy gives me a quick smile or witty comment and I am receptive, then by all means ask me out.
      or i could be in a club and a guy stares at me, tries to buy me a drink even though i decline, tries to kiss me repeatedly even though i say i am not interested and try to push him away. — to say i do not appreciate it is an understatement.
      when you care about the way i feel and how i react to your attention, your actions probably wont leave me feeling too upset

    • Thank you. Very well-said. Sometimes a person just wants to do what they need to do and go back home without being bothered by others who are habitually inappropriate and intrusive in their dealings with other people.
      I appreciate a casual hello and how are you from people in the neighborhood. It’s nice to be familiar with the people who work in the area. Sometimes talking to a person who is at the next table at Wendy’s etc. is nice if you allow each other their personal space and the ability to eat their meal in peace. Sometimes you can make a new friend or acquaintance. Showing respect, allows all the freedom to have their own personal space while feeling a sense of belonging within our community. We have to respect other peoples boundaries especially when they tell us or show us by their demeanor that they would like their privacy. Ironically when we do so, instead of being rejected we are more likely to be accepted or invited into the lives of people we would like to know better. This applies in all areas of life whether we are in a store, out for a drink with friends, a club, etc. Sad to say many men are taught that a woman’s use of the word no is something they have to override, because she can’t possibly be rejecting that particular man. Some believe they have to conquer her as if she were his conquest. As archaic as this sounds, some men feel she would really want him if she allowed him into her life. He just has to insist upon and persist until she yields to him. Then she will see what she would have missed out on. Men have to be willing to be educated on this matter and understand that they have to respect a woman’s wishes at face value and leave her alone when she says she is not interested. If she was interested she would let you know. Word of advice -respect her as a person -respect her word. Be a gentleman with manners and walk away.

  14. This article makes me incredibly angry. Why? Because in presumably attempting to assert agency, Ms. Rose decides it’s okay to strip agency from other people. Do I understand that being a woman and being randomly approached by people, occasionally when they’re drunk off their faces and unpredictable, can be variously: annoying/scary/fraught? Of course I do, I’ve been on the receiving end of those encounters, and I’ve been raped.

    However, the article then manages to diverge into, having-her-cake-and-eating-it-too territory. Oh, SOMETIMES, you WANT the attention. How is anyone supposed to know when that is? Men aren’t psychic. Are some of them overly persistent? Yeah. But none of them are gifted with the prescience to know that because they happen to find you attractive when you’re in sweatpants, even if you don’t think you’re attractive at that time, that means they should stay the hell away from you.

    Being harassed is very different from flirtation, but you’ve made them equivalent here, Ms. Rose, and that is wrong.

    • What are you – a lawyer? I mean really. Doing errands in sweatpants is an entirely different situation than being dolled-up and going to a club. She is hardly complaining about the latter. Read Jonathan's response above, will you?

    • What are you talking about? She clearly states when women don’t want attention and when they do. Did you even read the entire post?

    • Respect her word. Observe her demeanor. Learn to understand that no does not mean maybe later. There are times when we all like attention and other times when we do not. All people are entitled to this. It’s not an issue about having her cake and eating it. It’s about varying circumstances and being appropriate at that moment. Respect is so important. Few people would be violated if we would honor another person. If you were running late, had to catch a train, would you be happy with me if I decided you should stop and have a lengthy chat because I would like to do so at that moment.? Should I be insulted if you told me it is not a good time for you? That you are late for work or to pick your child up from daycare, etc. We are all entitled to appropriate interaction and personal privacy.

    • The line between mutual flirtation and harassment should be quite clear to the average adult with normal intelligence. We’re not expecting men to be psychic; we merely expect them to show a modicum of common sense. Following a woman for 30 minutes while catcalling her and making sexual overtures, in spite of her objections, should be something of an obvious social faux-pas, no?

  15. LOVE this: “I don’t want your attention. I want my sandwich.”

    This post is an honest, sincere and accurate depiction of how women feel. I would add that the annoyance we feel when random males approach us with “do you have a boyfriend” when we are simply attempting to buy a soda, stems from the automatic assumption that women are public property to a greater extent than men. The Schroedinger’s rapist analogy is perfectly accurate: there’s always an implied potential “Bitch!” comment when we reject the attention in question. In addition to a potential attack. I’ve had men follow me home from bus stops, etc. Maybe the worst situation I was in was when a cab driver started hitting on me — after I had specifically called the cab to get AWAY from that sort of thing. It’s SCARY, and I second the observation that you are not missing much when you don’t get male attention. Now that I’m older it’s one less source of stress and trauma in my life. I resent the idea that I would need a “guard dog” male to feel safe walking down the street and I’m glad I’m more invisible now.

  16. Thank you for this essay. I think yoteech2002 is right on with her demand that men wake up and see the need to begin their own revolution. The male ego is well overdue for renovation. I'm sorry you're so fragile. When I dismiss you because I simply want to order a sandwich, I'm not attacking your worth as a male. I'm not questioning your value in the gene pool. I'm not piddling on your masculinity. I just want to order my veggie wrap without feeling like a prey animal. While there are certainly still problems seeking feminist solutions in our culture, it won't be until hyper-masculinity and testosterone-charged agression, those constantly vigilant guardians of the the glass male ego, are temperd that we can perhaps all learn to get along like civilized human beings.

    • OH god, "prey animal" really sums up how it feels to be in this situation. Is it any wonder after a time if we start snarling?

  17. my boyfriend and I wrote this sketch to take a dig at "Pick up Artists" (specifically "Mystery"):

  18. Learn these simple words "I'm not talking to you." Its straight forward, to the point, and normally shocks the other person into shutting up.

  19. Dominique Millette says:

    This reminds me of so many incidents, but the most fairly-recent that comes to mind is when I was at Wreck Beach in Van about three years ago. I'm used to Hanlan's Point, which is mostly frequented by gay men so I never get attention I don't want. However, in Van the beach is fairly het. I was minding my own business just enjoying the sun and waves and this creepy old guy starts talking to me. I tried to brush him off by telling him I wanted to be alone and just walk by myself. No dice. He followed me. Kept talking. That is just not cool, *especially* at a nude beach. Any habitués should know you absolutely do *not* intrude on anyone's private space at a nude beach when they have clearly told you to go away. It's about five times as rude as at a normal beach. I had to leave just to get rid of him. I was pissed.

  20. none of these posts illustrate a measuring system for when a women "wants to be hit on". If the proposed argument is "some times I don't want to be hit on, and when you do it its rude." then the answer that would seem to logically lead to a social compromise is "how do I know when you want to be hit on and when you don't?" As human beings, we all rely on verbal communication to relay messages, body language may be a sometimes useful inference agent but there is very little solidity most non verbal messages. In order to appease by your proposed guidelines it seems I am required to be able to tell weather you are interested in being hit on, having casual conversation, or being left alone entirely all without asking you a question. In short, how do I do that?

  21. THANK YOU. THANK YOU FOR PUTTING IT SO WELL. I'm not really yelling I just like caps a lot.

    But yes. I feel like the fact that no matter where I go, how gross I look, how mundane an errand I just want to get through, every time a random guy hits on me — and is pushy about it, oh my goodness, why are they so pushy just FUCK OFF ALREADY — it's another notch confirming the idea that to most guys (a handful of good ones excepted) we're just walking vaginas. It's ok to hit on women endlessly and in all circumstances, because that's what here for, so why wouldn't serving me frozen yogurt be a green light for potential penetration? Hand me a condom with my napkin while you're at it. Douche.

  22. So could any of the ladies here give some alternatives then for single men wanting a girlfriend? I mean, i would love to be in a relationship but you are saying basically that we men are evil if we find women attractive and approach them.

    And please don’t reply with the “just wait and it will magically happen” recommendation.

    • But that’s not what anyone is saying. At all.

      How do you meet other guy friends? You probably talk to them in class, or at activities, or at sports, or at art events you both enjoy, and you get to know them.

      You meet women the same way. If you try approaching them as people, instead of going for the three-second “you look hot so I’m going to approach you on the street” method, you might end up with a girlfriend.

      Otherwise, you can ask your friends to introduce you to their (female) friends. You can go to events where people are looking for potential partners, like speed dating events or clubs. Etc.

    • I don’t find you evil if you think I’m attractive and approach me.

      If, however, your idea of doing so is to shout “Hey baby, I’d like to fuck you up the ass” out your car window, I may not think you’re evil but I will think you’re a giant douchecanoe. (And yes, that, in so many words, has happened.)

      Personally? “Hello” works pretty well, at least my husband thinks so.

    • The other day I was on the train, reading a book. A guy who had been staring at me from across the train for five minutes sat down next to me and asked what I was reading. (Plenty of other people were reading on that train, so I don’t think he was just generally curious about subway literature choices). I’m in a serious relationship–I’ve been living with my boyfriend for six years now. I wasn’t interested in having a conversation, I just wanted to read my book and get to work. I gave the guy a series of monosyllabic answers to his questions about my book, all the while wishing he’d just f-ing ask me out already so I could tell him I was in a relationship and wasn’t interested; I didn’t want to say “I’m not interested in having a conversation” because I was trying to let him down gently, and I was trying to avoid embodying some kind of frigid bitch archetype. But the monosyllabic responses didn’t work. He wasn’t picking up on it. He kept trying, and it just got more and more frustrating. His assumption that he had a right to my time, even though I was not responding to him in an enthusiastic way, was incredibly irritating.

      Perhaps if you think a girl out in the world is cute, and you decide to try to get to know her–walk up and make your intentions clear right off the bat, in as respectful a way as possible. If she responds positively, great. If she doesn’t, it’s time for you to respect her privacy and leave her the alone. Don’t keep trying–she can tell you’re trying, and she doesn’t find it cute–and don’t ask her why she’s being so unfriendly. She’s being unfriendly because she’s trying to read, and you interrupted.

  23. Guys go out there and hit on as many women as you want. Some might like it some might not. Don’t waste time living up to our modern societies soul suppressing taboos. Not all women are confident enough in themselves to show signs of interest even if they are interested. “Seize the day” -Dead poets society. It’s your job as a man to approach women and talk to them its out evolutionary goal. By all means use common sense though,respect people’s boundaries, after all life is one big gray area. What might attract one woman might not another. There are women out there that would love you to approach them and strike up a conversation.

    • “Not all women are confident enough in themselves to show signs of interest even if they are interested.” = RAPEY. Jesus.
      No means no. It doesn’t mean she’s playing hard to get. It means she finds you unattractive and wants you to go away. I’m sorry you’re too insecure to accept this.

  24. I think the comments clarify what the article does not. On the other hand, seems to be too much black and white conversation about this topic. Define “hitting on”…if “being hit on” is a guy approaching a girl in a coffee shop asking what she’s drinking and the purpose is to engage her in conversation because he’s attracted to her–then this article is nonsense. That happens both ways and it’s part of the courtship that humans engage in. If you don’t like it, politely smile and dismiss the conversation. But don’t complain as if someone has just ruined your day because they used your drink as a conversation starter. If “being hit on” is defined as some of the examples in previous comments…guy approaches with the “you got a man…want one” attitude–then yes, that is ridiculous and men should be a little more sophisticated than that.
    Whether you are “dolled up” or in sweats, you can’t possibly expect people to avoid talking to you. Reacting to reasonable flirting with a “get the hell away from me” attitude is irrational.
    I’d also like to say something regarding a commentor on here who keeps referring to the “obvious lesbian” examples. I’ll give you the opposite problem I ran into several years ago. I am a straight male. I was in a bar and a gay guy hit on me (he asked if I was with anyone and then told me I had a nice ass). My reaction was to tell him I was straight but thanks for the compliment. But according to your thinking, I should have yelled that I was obviously not gay like him and to get the fuck away from me. I don’t agree with that thinking and it seems to contribute more a hostile and unfriendly enviroment than just simply smiling, responding, and moving on.

  25. Interesting to note the comments from the guy who was in a bar and was hit on from a gay guy “several years ago”. I wonder if his reaction would remain quite as unhostile and friendly if he was to be hit on by a gay guy “every” time he entered a bar, or would this straight males way of thinking begin to change somewhat. Just a thought…

  26. It very well may be “more difficult” to be a woman in public! I’m a very respectful guy and have noticed a few things over my dating/flirting life. Two points: Firstly, don’t you think that this distinction has a counterpart in male experience? That is, I can well appreciate the irritation or fear some women have about such attention, but of course we men are (partially) directed by the social environment that harshly judges us negatively if we don’t date a lot or at least receive positive attention from women. This shame, which comes from women shooting us down (the norm, for me at least), is personal, painful, and deeply affecting to any man. This social pressure is something women only deal with in a vastly lessened degree, if at all. Interesting that this is completely left out of the article, which seems to come from a sort of female-centric (or men’s-perspective-is-dismissable) tunnel vision. Secondly, don’t you think this whole discussion misses how the weight of the responsibility to be the one who must ASK (the social aggressor as it were) is fraught with high probabilities of clumsiness/miscalculation/trial-and-error? As men, we never get any worth while instruction on how to best flirt or attempt a “hook-up”, and there are a large number of women who clearly invite highly aggressive, alpha-male kinds of initial contact (as is obvious almost everywhere). When we are young and learning who we are and finding our comfort-zones, men are pressured very hard to ask ask ask ask and just find a way through women’s social “defenses” or shyness or what-have-you (every woman is different). “Success” for us allows us to feel real, alive, worthy, and not an abject failure; Getting shot down (which, Ladies, is the norm for us!) leads to ostracism and worthlessness of a sort you might find very surprising and tortuous had you the opportunity to experience even once in turn. So, I take your point in the article, but you’re laboring under a myopia this is somehow just a monological, male stupidity, when in fact it should not be surprising that it is a product of the confusing, hazy zone of male-female mutual fascination/miscommunication.

    • This gets me so angry!! It happens most days I find on public transport. I don’t know why. While I’m waiting on a bus the ugliest freaks will ask me something like what time it is and because I am nice person and reply they’ll assume I’m flirting with them and hit on me. It’s horrible. It’s never the good looking ones. The good looking ones take the hint and don’t approach unless you give them a signal. It’s annoying because first of all I’m in a relationship 7 years, I’m 25 but look 19 and men think I’m vulnerable if I’m on my own. For all they know I could be married with 3 kids. I’ve started to become a complete bitch. I am not answering anyone anymore on fear of giving them the wrong signal. I put my earphones in while in public which is something I hate doing because I like listening to my own thoughts but ear phones make you less approachable. I also now wear sunglasses even on the subway because it makes you look disinterested in talking. I’m usually open and friendly but those two charecteristics with prettiness and nice dress sense tend to mean you’re up for anything with any man. I also dress very fashionable and have an unusual hairstyle. I’m an artist and i dress colourful but it’s not for attention. This tends to make me stand out. Most of my plainer looking friends can walk home after a night out without feeling unsafe. I do not. I did it for the first time the other day and got hit on 6 times by 6 different groups of men. Yes groups of men. All ugly, badly dressed and drunk. Because I was on my own I look like an easy target. I felt really unsafe and self conscious. Ill pay the 20$ for a registered cab to get me home safe because I would hate to endure that again. One of my friends who is 4 months pregnant but isn’t showing gets hit on all the time. She doesn’t dress overly sexy but men seem to hit on her when she’s on her own. She stayed out with our friends and I a few weeks ago and god love her she had to go home late on her own. We went for dinner and ended up staying in a patio until 2am chatting. She wasn’t drinking obviously. She ended up having to take a bus home at the time everyone was leaving the clubs. She said she constantly got hit on the whole way home on the bus. It’s unnerving to think that a grown mother to be cannot simply take the bus home.

  27. Rebecca says:

    First off, lovely article. Yes, we do take the polite route at first, but many men believe they can “negotiate” their way into us being interested.

    I’m not being a bitch. I’m not interested for the following reasons: you’re unattractive, I’m involved with someone, you’re creepy, or hey — I’m just not interested. It’s ok. Get over it. You’re not doing me a favor by hitting on me and there’s no reason why I should be “flattered” to have your lame ass hitting on me. Learn to read body language.

    Second, I like how all the people trying to argue your point are male.

    Apparently they missed the “my no is non-negotiable.”

  28. chatte noire says:

    I stumbled across this article right after I got hit on as I was walking to work at 7:30 in the morning (and I’m not a morning person). The guy must have seen me coming from a block away and swooped in; I couldn’t shake him (even though I thought I was safe after getting coffee). I like guys, but I don’t like it when random people I don’t know hit on me on the street and ask me where I live and how they can find me. I just find that terrifying.

    I only shook the guy when I ran into my classroom and found students inside. Thank you for being there, students.

  29. Jennifer says:

    I used to be a lot more attractive then I am now. In some ways, I don’t miss it. I was harassed nearly every time I left the house, often multiple times a day.

    I have been followed down the road by men in their car, cut off in the street by men who circled around the block, flashed, surrounded by a group of men who made sexual remarks towards me and then got in my face and screamed at me because I tried to ignore them, grabbed/fondled, offered money for sex ( While dress VERY conservatively) and literally stalked.

    That’s just the scary stuff that I can remember off the top of my head. But in a way, the everyday incidences were way worse because they were non-stop. I know that eventually it made me ultra defensive so that I didn’t want to talk to any men who I didn’t already know, even if they weren’t hitting on me. I know that may make me come off as rude, but I’ve stopped caring. Once, a male co-worker who I really respected and just really liked as a friend had never flirted with me with when out of nowhere leaned over and whispered he would like to see me in a wet T-shirt contest (someone had mentioned wet t-shirt contest in the office). He was 40 years older than me and it made me so sad, I felt like I lost a friend.

    I don’t wear make-up or get fixed up often and this has greatly reduced the harassment. But just the other day I went to the mini mart and the checker told me I have DSL and then when I had no reaction, he had the nerve to ask me if I knew what it meant.

  30. I’ve known for years how many women feel this way – female friends told me, cued me into how much they had to put up with this kind of stuff, and it opened my eyes. I try not to look at, speak to, or otherwise interact with any woman I don’t already know. Sometimes – without making it too obviously I’m doing it on purpose – I purposely look away, start walking in another direction, etc. when I see an attractive woman by herself just because I know it’s a pretty good guess that’s she’s secretly hoping that me, and every other man in the area will just leave her alone. I like women and want them to have what they want – so I like knowing that by avoiding them, I’m actually making them more comfortable. If I do have to interact with a woman I don’t know, I try to make it as businesslike as possible – not unpleasant, but not friendly either – just businesslike. Of course, living like this makes it more difficult to meet women I’d like to get to know so I eventually just decided to give up on dating and relationships – I think it’s better this way. Sometimes it does actually get my self-esteem down a little when I reflect on the fact that the greatest gift that I can give a woman is to have nothing to do with her, not look at her, not talk to her, not even say hello…but I like women and respect women and so it means something to me to give them what they want: to be left alone! (By the way, this is not a sarcastic response – I really do live this way. It’s not what I would choose – after all, who doesn’t *want* to be *wanted?* – but it’s the right thing to do, and I’d rather *do the right thing* than the easy thing.)

  31. YES. I understand that people have a right to address you and talk to you but at the same time, sometimes (ok, most of the time) I just want to be left alone. I do however like it when guys talk to me like I’m a real human being. Be genuine, none of these cheesy one liners or cliche “compliments.” I also think another reason being hit on rubs me the wrong way is because these men want one thing and I always feel insulted by this realization. I’m not just someone you can use for your own satisfaction.

  32. I understand what you are trying to say, but first of all-there is a difference between getting hit on at a supermarket and at a club. Yes, when I go to a grocery store in my hoodie and yoga pants, I don’t want someone bothering me, asking questions, and trying to covertly flirt (my recent one was “oh, do you make those Lemon bars often? I love those” )-its annoying and low class. Bars are a totally different thing. It is an unspoken rule that men and women go to bars and clubs to mingle, which is made much easier when there is alcohol involved. You wrote about drunk men that want to mingle as if they were some foreign species invading the planet Earth. Alcohol turns people into pigs, men AND women. I have seen women act totally classless and loose, and you should blame THEM for men approaching so blatantly. Also, men wouldn’t use cheese awful pick up lines if women didn’t fall for them (they make me vomit, but some women buy into them). However, men have feelings and esteem issues just like women, and telling a man to “fuck off and die” is a little overboard (especially if a woman is drinking and dancing on a bar, showing off her cleavage). If a man is really intoxicated and is making a fool of himself, I realize that its the alcohol speaking (shouldn’t have drank so much, but still) and just stare or walk away. If it is someone who is genuinely interested, I let them know that I have a man already. If they don’t get it, then I am not so nice and walk away. But one thing to remember-there wouldn’t be manwhores that bother women in the streets, bars, restaurants, etc if they weren’t women that fall for that behavior and get flattered.

  33. As an openly gay woman, I find this sort of thing especially annoying. Men come up and hit on me and my girlfriend when we are out on dates, and I just can’t stand it. I’m really done with trying to be polite when this happens. What gives them the right to interrupt our night out? He wouldn’t be polite if I walked up and hit on his girlfriend while they were on a date, now would he?

  34. I enjoyed the article but made on small change in my mind while reading it, I swapped out him for her, and her for him. I googled, “how to stop women from hitting on me” and this page popped up in the results and decided to give it a glance.

    I then read some of the comments and again reversed gender roles. I thought to myself while reading these revised (in my head) comments, “Yes! Exactly this!”

    I’m considered handsome and the things I’ve heard womyn say to me is very similar to what has been shared in the article and comment section. Regardless of gender, NO MEANS NO.

    If a person lets on that they are interested in me, and I ignore them or flat out say no, that is a definite sign that I am uninterested. For some people, men and womyn, coming to terms with the fact that someone you find attractive isn’t in to you seems to be very difficult.

    In the end, I guess I’m just typing this to vent. I don’t think my comment will change Humyn Biology, nor do I wish to change it. I think if I could change one thing about myself, it’d be my face. I wish I had an average face that people look at and then never give a second thought to.

  35. On one hand there is nothing wrong with a man trying to chat you up when you are out and about as long as they clue in to disinterest without becoming angry or violent about it. After all is is hard to know how to approach someone you are interested in and flubs/awkwardness sometimes occur. The problem is that once a guy starts flirting or trying to hit on you, women don’t know at times if we can safely shut it down without being harassed further, called names or a whole a shit show that includes being followed or assaulted. We just don’t know what’s next after we say no. And it is tiresome to worry about.

  36. I hate it after you say your not interested, or turn them down nicely they still try to press you into giving them your number and even rudely saying if your say 30 for example. The guy asks why are you still single, and then say I just want to know you. And when you tell them again ‘I’m not interested right now’ and walk away the guy continues to follow you, and then says ‘so your interested in women huh!’ with an attitude just to provoke you to turn around.
    Its like I’ve turned you down twice what more hints do you need, and then to go and say in front of others again more loudly ‘so your into women then?’ Its like who gives a guy the right first off to ask such a rude disrespectful question, and just to embarrass you because you turned them down like wtheck.
    Secondly pulling something like that on any women after she’s turn you down is outright disrespectful, she doesn’t know you, and that turns women off. Pulling that shows your not a man but a desperate sick ó for you to stup to such a degrading tactic! ‘Take A Hint!’

  37. the simple fact of the matter is that women get hit on in bars. no matter what. I will be reading an article on my iPhone waiting on a friend, completely devoid of eye contact, and some idiot will nonetheless hit on me. last time someone came up and told me to tell them about myself. huh? i’m sitting here reading, asshole. why is the impetus on me when you clearly disturbed me. men need to learn BODY LANGUAGE. am I looking at you? am I smiling? if not, fuck off. simple. don’t make me say it. because I will.

  38. twinkle says:

    I am a well educated mature woman of independent means.I currently live in Spain but I am British and live where there are many British people . I have to say I am disappointed that in the 21st century in the western free democratic world it is impossible for a woman to go out and sit and watch live music on their own without attracting either unwanted male attention or couples making remarks or acting like you must be looking for a man.If you can’t get a girl friend to go with you you had better stay at home.If you always go with a girlfriend people start whispering maybe you are a lesbian.And if you go for a coffee alone you better take a book or get absorbed in your I phone or tablet.No way can you sit quietly and look at the scenery or the sea.Even if you are involved in a group activity like a walking group or similar you are considered fair game .But as for a bar watching live music forget it.Sad isn’t it.You are automatically either a weirdo or looking for a man.You can’t be just a music lover.Or people think you need to sit with them as you must be lonely.What’s wrong with being single? Leave people alone and give them their space!

  39. Stephen Swail says:

    This is completely ridiculous. As a man I have the right to talk to people if I want, it’s not illegal, and as long as I’m being gentlemanly, there’s nothing wrong with it.

    • can you read? Its about the jerks, and basic civil respect for people’s space and time. It’s not about your rights as a man. would you want someone (let’s say a salesperson, to keep it neutral, but the concept is the same) to continue to badger you after you’ve politely said no, have given short answers, and have other things to do with your day? I don’t think so.

      It’s not a street market, this is a world with real people who have agendas and lives that literally have nothing to do with other strangers around them. So unless they return engagement, they have a right to not want to fucking talk to you.

    • And if I dont want anyone talking to me, that’s my right too. Fuck…we close ourselves off and are clearly not interested in human contact and you “its my right to talk to people” fuckers come along being weird. Men cant handle seeing an attractive woman without assuming we are interested in them. If you notice, attractive men almost always wait for a cue (eye contact, smiling, body cues) before approaching you. Its the ugly dum ass ones that see an attractive woman and begin to prey on her like a fucking animal. Omg…die already. How about this as a general rule: if a woman will not make eye contact with you or even acknowledge your presence leave her alone. If she gives short responses, chances are she wants the conversation to end. If she looks scared, go away. If she looks at you with disgust, go away. If she gets up, turns away from you leave her alone. If she verbally tells you she is in a relationship she is in fact NOT looking for friends. If she walks away DO NOT follow her. You creepy fucks scare us more than anything. Harrassment from men started around 12 years old, I have no tolerance for men that assume they can talk to us any kind of way. I AM NOT HERE FOR YOU. I feel gross when men look at me and make sounds or whisper nasty things. Its not okay. Its caused me to become cold. Im only nice at work and Ive gotten harrassed there as well. Im a tall, pretty, fashionable woman. Its hard to walk anywhere without someone being sexually agressive. Im normally in work attire. Doesnt matter what I wear some man, somewhere cant control his mouth. Ive decided to check them. Firmly say that is not okay. If your approach is respectful, so is my decline. If you are rude I will check you. Im tired of being nice and feeling gross after.

  40. Reading some of these posts from women is depressing. One of the reasons why I have long since stopped approaching women — even talking to them in general — is because of all of the dick heads out there.

    I won’t even give the women eye contact.

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