Quotes OTD: Self-Proclaimed Good Guy Who Simply Won’t Take No For An Answer

This is now eons old in internet time, but I love it anyway. It’s from one of the massive threads over at Shapely Prose where women spoke about why shouldn’t be guilted into “just being nice” to men who intrusively ignore their widely understood social signals of being busy/involved/uninterested as they are going about their day commuting, walking in a park, sitting in a cafe/bar or whatever.

Kate Harding:

But why on earth would you keep following a woman who’s turned you down twice, when, according to you, you don’t want to be seen as a harasser?

I can only assume it’s because that’s the key point — they don’t want to be perceived as harassers, but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to give up their god-given right to completely ignore women’s boundaries. So they somehow convince themselves that Bad Harasser Guy and Self-Proclaimed Good Guy Who Simply Won’t Take No For An Answer are two very different entities. Which just… gah. The mind boggles.

Sweet Machine’s response:

I can only assume it’s because that’s the key point — they don’t want to be perceived as harassers, but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to give up their god-given right to completely ignore women’s boundaries.

Of course! Just like it’s so much worse to be called a racist than it is to be subject to racism.

Dudes assuming that their need to intrude is more important than a woman’s need to be left alone is a constant feature of Breathing While Female. Those men who feel it’s more important that they get some attention than that women feel safe and respected are reinforcing the rape culture‘s message that what women want doesn’t matter, and the fact that they perhaps may not intend to make women feel unsafe and disrespected is irrelevant – that is the effect.

I’ve seen some reactions around the net about how the “Schrödinger’s Rapist” concept of respecting women’s boundaries means prioritising women’s wants over men’s wants and how that proves that feminists really are feminazis etc etc. These complaints miss a crucial aspect of any human interaction, not just a male/female interaction – when there are two people, and one of them WANTS [X] with the other person, but the second person DOES NOT WANT [X], then the person who DOES NOT WANT [X] is the one whose wants prevail.

You want your best buddy to go to the pub with you? But he’s got other stuff to do without you? Guess what – his want not to go outweighs your want to go there with him. You want him to go to the cinema with you? The laundromat? Next-door where those attractive women live? A road trip? HE DOESN’T OWE YOU HIS COMPANY ON THINGS THAT ONLY YOU WANT TO DO. If you refuse to take no for an answer, you are being creepy, and if you get aggressive you are being a bully.

In any other social situation, especially with friends and relatives, most people can see that refusing to take no for an answer is rude, selfish and very much some degree of coercion, force, intimidation, bullying etc etc. When it’s man/man and woman/woman social situations, most people would surely agree that acting that way with a stranger would be even more rude and selfish.

But when a woman dares to be unresponsive to a strange man wanting to talk to her when she just wants to be left alone? If she ignores him or (the horror) verbalises her wish to be left alone? Apparently she couldn’t possibly have a good enough reason, the stuck-up bitch, and for him to refuse to take her no for an answer is nothing more than standing up for his rights to female attention.

The other trope rejecting the “Schrödinger’s Rapist” concept is that how dare these uppity feminazis make it all about sex when it’s probably just a lonely guy who wants to talk? FAIL. Many social habits reinforce rape culture without being directly about sex. Basically any of the bewilderingly many cultural traditions which treat women’s time/needs as less valuable/important than men’s time/needs supports the idea that women’s purpose is to support/sustain/entertain men, and that is the foundational assumption that underlies rape culture.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, Life, violence

Tags: , , ,

24 replies

  1. What’s especially curious to me about the pushback on the Schrödinger’s Rapist post is that some of it came from gents who claim to be feminist allies, and apparently somehow missed that the expectation that women accommodate the wants of strange men feeds into rape culture. It’s things like this which leave me scratching my head and wondering how I can possibly hope to reach allies, if they cannot connect the dots on something which seems so…clear.
    .-= meloukhia´s last blog ..Thursday Night Post =-.

  2. how dare these uppity feminazis make it all about sex when it’s probably just a lonely guy who wants to talk?
    Right. It’s a mighty big coincidence that even in areas with people of all ages, sexes, and phenotypes milling about, these friendly/lonely guys always seem to want to strike up impromptu conversations with women who don’t happen to be accompanied by another male at the time. Go talk to that old man sitting over there by himself you’re so lonely/friendly. He probably makes better conversation than I do. Or stroll up and start some friendly chit-chat when I’m hanging out with my male friends. Funny how that never happens.

  3. Yes, this. So much this. It really doesn’t make sense to me. If you’re trying to prove you’re not an arsehole, refusing to take no for an answer is not the way to do it. It’s like the guy who asked me for directions, then followed me home when I said I didn’t know. He kept yelling at me “I’m not trying to make you scared or anything!I’m not trying to scare you!” If you don’t want to scare me then stop following me and stop shouting at me.

  4. I’m still struggling with the news that there are people out there writing refutations of the original post. How can you refute “if somebody doesn’t want to talk to you, leave them alone”? Don’t we teach toddlers this?

    • But orlando, if teh wimminz don’t feel obliged to talk nicely to strangers intruding on them during their commute, they’ll never realise what really NiceGuyTMs they are, and millions of pairs of soul-mates will never ever connect, and this will be a great tragedy and the death of all True Romance !!!11!!1!
      Possibly the best response to some guy who said “but if my dad had never spoken to my mum on the train I would never have been born!” was along the lines of “and my parents would never have met if it hadn’t been for WW2 – that doesn’t make WW2 a good thing”.

  5. Tigtog: We should make it into a T-Shirt!

  6. Can’t you shorten that to “No MEANS No, arsehole!”

  7. Tigtog:
    I’d wear that!

  8. How about “No means YOU, asshole. Yes, you. Right now. I said no. “

    • If the message is to simplified to just ” NO means NO” or similar, it runs the risk of being reduced to just a sexual consent message, since that phrase has become such a strong branding.
      Not sure how to phrase the message to make it more about personal boundaries generally, not just sexual activity.

  9. Well, the problem is, there’s the underlying belief that women are just sex personified.
    And I had an encounter with someone I thought was reasonable who of course took offense at the notion that women had boundaries that men should respect.

  10. Well, the problem is, there’s the underlying belief that women are just sex personified.

    I think we’re agreeing furiously, I just think that the message should be clearer that it’s not just sexual advances that women don’t want.
    Maybe this? Probably better as a DeMotivator poster than as a T-shirt.
    http://www.funnymyspacetshirts.com/funny-tshirt/tshirt.swfMySpace T-Shirts
    I do NOT want *to talk right now.*But YOU’re one of the good guys?*REALLY? *Good guys take NO for an answer.

  11. Hm. Needs to be pithier, I really think. Let’s face it, people won’t read that far. I like the color, though. I like Kate Harding’s phrase: “Then why are you still talking?” Something like that.
    I’m not really thinking straight right now; too feverish. But I want something that’s an unavoidable smack, that cuts right to the point. The whole key to it is guys going, “But I’m NOT TRYING TO CREEP YOU OUT OR ANYTHING because I’m NOT ONE OF THOSE GUYS even though I play one on TV,” or some such shit, where their denial means way more to them to anything about you. You’re just supposed to be a….mirror….so they can admire themselves in you, sort of.

  12. Oh, I know it needs to be pithier. I just can’t make it so and still convey the essentials accurately – the perpetual rhetorical challenge, I guess.

  13. Something like ”I said NO, arsehole” or ”Nice Guys take NO for an answer” would be pithy, but lacks the message that this includes personal boundaries.
    ARGH the fact that we even have to specify that ‘no’ applies to personal boundaries is just… ARGH!!

      • Maybe what it needs is the My Entitlement to Female Attention Outweighs Your Lack of Interest or Sense of Safety Bingo Card.
        Some sample squares:
        * What the hell is wrong with you, all I want to do is talk!
        *If only you’d talk with me you’d realise what a nice guy I am
        * You think you’re too good for me, do you? Bitch!

  14. Oh, what about, altered from the original post: My right to peace trumps your desire to talk to me?
    Love the picture by the way. Reminds me of all the times I’ve wanted to “hulk out” at someone. Kitty Smash!!

  15. Something like “I said NO, arsehole”
    Don’t bother, I’m busy?

  16. More bingo suggestions:
    “You looked lonely, I’m just doing you a favour”
    “But maybe we were meant to be together”

  17. For the bingo: “But you are very pretty”. At 17 I couldn’t understand why that was being presented as a valid reason for ME to want to go for coffee with HIM, the stranger next to me on a train. If he’d said “But I’m very pretty” it might have made more sense (though still wouldn’t have worked).

  18. More for the bingo: “But if you don’tgive me a chance, how can you know you wont like me?” For starters, your constant refusal to take no for an answer.

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