A Lesson in Graciously Turning Down a Man

In the past few weeks there has been a lot of coverage in the media about men and catcalling. It kicked off when Doree Lewak wrote a piece in the New York Post claiming that she finds catcalls from men flattering.  This was met with a forceful response by feminists, who argued that catcalls are degrading and offensive.

I happen to side with the feminists on this one—catcalling is vulgar and obnoxious, and should be shamed the way we shame smokers. Yet there’s another component to the verbal war between the sexes that has been ignored: the way women reject men. Younger women seem to have lost the ability to graciously turn down a man who politely and non-aggressively shows an interest in them.

We’ve all seen it—at bars, in clubs, at parties. A dude screws up the nerve to take that long walk across the room and ask a woman for her number or out for a date. For classy and polite ladies, the reply is a simple no-thank-you. Something like: “Thank you, I appreciate the interest, but I’m seeing someone right now.” Or: “I’m flattered, but I have some other things I’m focusing on now.” Yet for too many women, raised like the boorish catcallers, without the verbal social skills that allow for pleasant interaction, graciousness is just too much to ask for.

The results can be brutal to observe. Women giggle derisively, or hide behind a more punitive friend who dishes get-the-hell-out-of-here abuse at the man, or the girls-night-out group-laugh right in the guy’s face. In her book Self-Made Man, journalist Norah Vincent lived life for eighteen months as a man. She discovered a new empathy for guys, most acutely in one scene where she is in a bar and approaches a woman for a date. Vincent found women “ever ready to criticize men for being emotionally distant yet clearly preferring men who meet stereotypical images of strength and virility.” She was also appalled at how cruel women could be when even a well-mannered man approached them for a date.

So by all means, let’s end the catcalling. It’s Neanderthal behavior in a 21st century world. But when and if men do manage to civilize themselves a bit more, let’s have equal graciousness and civility on the other side. You might even tell the would-be suitor that what he did took a fair bit of courage.

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53 responses to “A Lesson in Graciously Turning Down a Man

  1. One question, though: Is a plain “No, thanks” OK? Or must she have a specific reason for turning him down, e.g. “I have a boyfriend” or “I’m focusing on other things right now?”

    1. There doesn’t have to be a reason given, but it is part of the “dance” to provide one. He knows it may be fake, you know he knows it may be fake, but it spares the obvious realization that you don’t find him attractive. Not strictly necessary, but polite.

  2. I’m thinking, Mark, that you should go have a look at the response article and comments on Jez. Particularly the comment suggesting that you might, instead, have written a piece explaining to men how they can accept a gracious turndown. I believe it went something like, “Hint: it should not involve calling her a fat c***.”

    Whyyyyy would the ladies make such comments? *Because these are the kinds of responses we get when we turn men down politely, which you seem to think has never occurred to us to try before.*

    Research, Mark. I know, it’s only a blog, but do some research.

    1. Amy, thanks for demonstrating how your statement “there are too many awful dudes”, also applies to women.

  3. Hmm, last time I politely turned someone down by saying “Sorry, currently I’m in a relationship” I got “Well f*** you then, c***.” Maybe your advice would make sense if we actually lived in a world where the type of guy who catcalls and bothers random women, was the same type of guy who could graciously take being turned down, but alas, we don’t.

  4. Hey Mark, maybe you should have had an actual conversation with actual women about this issue before writing your article. Do you know what happens to women who politely but firmly turn down men? Well, I will tell you.

    If we lean too polite, the men don’t let up. They ask why we don’t want to talk to them, they ask us if we are dating or married or if we are lesbians. They say they just want to talk for a few minutes, why can’t we talk for a few minutes? They repeatedly badger us for a phone number; “if you’re not married, why can’t I get your number?” They say. Simply saying “no, thank you” is not good enough. Too many men simply don’t care that you don’t want to talk to them. I have been hit on and talked to by countless men over the course of my lifetime, and I can think of ONE instance where the man went away nicely when I politely declined him. I remember it very well. It stands out in my mind because he is the only one.

    On the other hand, If we are still direct, but have more brisk tone, even if we still say “Thank you”, suddenly the man is angry. Every woman I know has had an experience where a man who wanted their number suddenly got very scary: yelling, cursing, threatening, even following the woman who turned him down to continue his tirade against the one who dared to deny him.

    So yeah, sometimes when men come up to us, depending on our personalities, we will titter nervously because we are afraid of what reaction we will provoke if we are direct. Some of us are harsh, hoping to convey to the man that he can’t or shouldn’t mess with us, because we have been messed with too many times. Some of us rely on our group of friends to keep us safe, seeking safety in numbers and not responding individually. It’s not because we are Ill-bred, it is because men have taught us hard lessons: that we should be afraid, that our wishes will not be respected not matter how nicely we try to couch them, that we will be blamed for being “boorish” no matter what we do.

    All this is beside the point though, really. This article demands that if we, as women, are to have your support in our quest to go from one building to another safely and without harassment, we have to act the way you want. You don’t want us to have an attitude that you find unattractive. You don’t want us to act in a way that we find safer, you want us to instead to grateful for the attentions of any man, and to be certain to flatter his ego even if we never wanted to talk to him in the first place. You want us to act for the ease of the men who want to talk to us, not for ourselves. You want us to trade this submissive, self-effacing behavior for your support against catcalling. If you were any kind of decent person that would not be a trade you would ask us to make.

  5. You’ve got to be kidding me. I always try to turn down men ‘graciously’, I’d say about 50-60% of the time (depending on the environment) I get called a whore or a c*** or a b**** in return, or end up on the receiving end of a diatribe about how horrible women are, or get followed by the dude begging me to give him a chance. Sometimes on a night out when I’ve already dealt with 5 or 6 of these guys I my patience might wear thin and I get a bit snippy at the next one. Sorry not sorry. Tell your bros to accept rejection graciously rather than imploring us to have an infinite well of patience.

  6. Amy – That is relevant to this how? Stop taking Jezebel’s clickbait furor as serious social commentary. For every serious minded piece there are 5 on that site knocking straw men.

    1. Nice try, Drew! Yes, I’m sure this comment section’s populated by fake women making up stories. Are you one of those guys who also insists that when a woman files a rape complaint, she’s making it up or seeking revenge or for no reason at all trying to ruin the guy’s life?

  7. I remember 20 years ago, I was traveling through Boston, and the friends I was staying with invited me to a Quaker country dance in Lexington. It was a good time, though I was a complete novice and, awkwardly, the only lady not wearing a skirt.

    After about an hour I was tired out and I took a chair. A man came up to me and pleasantly asked if I would like to dance, and I smiled back and said thanks, but I was sitting this dance out. His whole manner changed to hostility and offense. He angrily asked me why I’d even come if I wasn’t going to dance, and walked off.

    I was stunned. Had I been rude? Did I commit some breach of country dance etiquette by choosing a wallflower seat over dancing with this stranger? My (male) friends were appalled by this guy’s insecurity when I told them about it on the drive home.

    Every woman I know has a similar story, many of them as tame as mine, some of them a lot scarier. Every woman receives unsolicited attention while doing a quick danger analysis. Some women get angry, because they are sick of it. Some are terrified, because they’ve had reason to be. Some are just tired, and do not have the energy to work up a fake smile to soothe the feelings of a stranger.

  8. It isn’t that women are turning men down in cruel ways or being awful about it every time some dude gets up the courage to ask that girl at the end of the bar out; it’s that a lot of men don’t know how to graciously accept being turned down. They get turned down and suddenly that girl they were so interested in, that they had to screw up their courage to approach in the first place, is a ‘slut’ or a ‘b****’ or a ‘fat c***’ who should have been completely flattered that he approached her in the first place.

    This doesn’t take into account that the woman probably had to turn down several other guys throughout the course of the day/ night and possibly just wanted to hang out, be it by herself or with her friends, and relax a little. This doesn’t take into account the idea that some guys seem to think these women owe them something just because they managed to go talk to her like a human being for five seconds (which, of course, changed as soon as the turn-down was issued). Nor does it address the men who turn down girls who approach them and act like jackasses because the girl was ‘too fat’ or ‘horse-faced’ or somehow otherwise failed to meet their standards for a girl they’d want to be approached by, and the fact that it will never be said that men who turn down women should, perhaps, be kinder and gentler about it. No, instead women are told to be nicer about it (and don’t even get me started on some guys who will take a kind turn-down as some kind of signal to just try harder), because Gods forbid the guy’s poor ego gets bruised.

    Placing the responsibility for ending catcalling on women by telling them to modify their own behavior is not helping, Mark. Not at all.

  9. I have turned men down with “no thank you” politely. In response I was called a b****, slut and fat. So, maybe instead of telling women how to behave, train your fellow men not to abuse and catcall women so that any approach is regarded as threatening to us, resulting in fear and rudeness.

  10. You… are an idiot. You seriously think that most women don’t know how to graciously turn down a man? You’re kidding, right? This has got to be a joke, like I’m still hoping the piece about loving catcalls is.

  11. I’m pretty sure you haven’t been approached by many men. And I am pretty sure you know absolutely nothing about how it feels to be a woman approached be a random man. I have, my friends have, and we all know this one thing: when a man approaches, there is no telling how it will end. So it often makes us nervous, particularly when we are not interested.

    Many men will not take no for an answer, many men will turn hostile and insulting. And there is no telling which ones will be psychos. I have had some very scary encounters. You think maybe, maybe womena have tried all kinds of ways to turn a man down without getting into trouble? And being nice is less and less of an option – it is often the worst way to respond because men (and remember WE CAN NOT KNOW WHICH ONES so we have to go with better safe than sorry) will not respect a nice, polite “no”. On the other hand, being assertive and clear will also earn you abuse. Being rude will earn you abuse. Sometimes I do feel like just hiding, sometimes I try to smile and avoid the attention, because I can’t get a reading of the situation. We are damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

    I just think you should assume less, and be a bit less condescending towards women’s strategies and reactions..

  12. Well don’t we all feel so much better now that this vexing problem has been mansplained so eloquently…except…uh…women have tried this for centuries. Guess what? It often results in just as much abuse as would a suggestion that the male in question just piss off. No matter how polite the rejection, no matter how delicately we phrase it so as to spare somebody’s feelings, women are always aware that there is *still* not only a good chance we’re going to be on the receiving end of vicious hostility, we risk violence. So no, dude: this isn’t a solution. How about you just stop giving us helpful hints on things you clearly know nothing about? That’d be great.

    1. Oddly enough, that doesn’t seem to be working for any of the actual women posting here. Perhaps it’s time to take your head out of the sand when it comes to how men treat women when the women say they aren’t interested — any way they say they aren’t interested.

  13. Gosh, why didn’t I think of that? Oh wait, I have been super polite and kind and….
    A. Got called an ugly b****
    B. Got shoved
    C. Got screamed at…. I was 15 for this one. The gentleman had to be in his 30s although I wasn’t a good judge of age then.

    Gee….why don ‘t you work on the MALE of the species rather than telling me to try something so stupidly simple that every woman out there has tried it.

  14. How about we teach men to accept a “No thanks” with some grace, instead of hearing “No” as an invitation to chase their prey down the street insisting that she is a b**** or a whore or — even worse — persistently repeating the request for a phone number/date/sex?

  15. Frankie, next time before you write a dumbass manslpainy screed like this, I recommend reading on Schrodinger’s rapist. I promise, it will be very illuminating!

  16. The last time I graciously refused a mans advances he called me a b**** and a c***. He then proceeded to tell me that he was going to track down my family to let them know what a piece of sh** they raised and parked outside my job for the next two hours watching me through the glass windows. I had to ask my manager to call the police. I’m willing to bet that every woman that you will ever meet has a story similar to mine. Women don’t need to learn to be nicer. Men need to learn to respect women’s choices.

  17. Yeah, here’s how often this happens, Mark — so often *we forget most of the time it happens because it happens all the time*. It’s like bad weather, guys being horrible and/or endlessly persistent when you turn them down nicely. Do you remember that time it rained in 2009? How many days the roads were icy? Yeah, like that.

    I’ve had one guy after me for OVER TEN YEARS. Will not f***ing take no for an answer. Oh, and to make it even better? He can get me fired. (Chorus of jackasses: So quit, don’t put up with that. Right, because I should have to screw with my career because yet another guy who can’t take a polite rejection makes my work life unpleasant. Also because there’s just so many jobs draped around all over the greenery, and wth, it’s not like I need the job in the first place.)

    The more comments on this I read, Mark, the more I wonder whether you’ve left your house since you were eight, and whether you talk to any actual women, ever. I mean beyond any you might be trying to hit on….

    ah. That’s what this is about, isn’t it. A woman turned you down and you felt bad, so you thought you’d write a blamey column talking about how mean women are when they turn men down.

    (slow clap)

  18. Oh. The next column you shouldn’t write, now that we have a pretty fair idea why you wrote this one:

    Women should just understand that men have ego-related needs, and accommodate those needs. Just give, ffs. And if they refuse to be understanding and kind like God intended, and instead are selfish enough not to spend AT LEAST SOME OF THEIR TIME pleasing Mark, I mean men, I mean is that too f***ing much to ask, then, well, they shouldn’t be surprised when men react poorly and lash out, I mean for god’s sake how much effort does it take, you c***. Oh and don’t catcall women, that’s degrading.

  19. Seriously, Mr. Judge, what planet are you even from? Did you think that being gracious never occurs to women? Did you actually try asking real women what happens to them when they say things like “I’m flattered, but no thank you. Hey, have a great evening, OK?” Example: I was out at my regular bar with a friend who did some modeling and her roommate who was a former Miss Teen USA finalist. A guy we’d never seen there asked each of them to come home with him and they very sweetly and kindly told him no thanks. (They had learned very young how to do exactly what this guy is trying to teach women -because adult men had been trying to pick them up since at or before puberty. Think about how that must feel for a 12 year old girl. ) I will never forget the mask of rage on this guys face. He hissed at them “you b*****s are so f***ing ugly”, called them c***s, and threatened to cut them. He then disappeared. One of the bouncers walked us all to our cars after that​. And this happens All. The. Time. I have told guys I was engaged or married but that I appreciated the compliment – and been called a stuck up b***h, a whore (? I just turned a man down!), and ugly. Has it occurred to you that every time a strange man approaches us, we are evaluating the situation to see if we are safe? And that maybe a woman is being rude to send a strong message not to mess with her?

  20. This is seriously one of the most oblivious things I’ve read in a long time. Have you ever actually spoken to a woman, Mark? Because if you had, maybe you would realize that turning down a man is one of the scariest things that we have to do and many of us deal with it on a daily basis. Some men are harmless and will accept a no, walk away, and leave you alone. But those men are pretty few and far between. The kind of man who is going to be aggressive enough to approach a woman is typically the kind of man who is going to get angry because he feels threatened by a woman’s rejection. Men often get hostile and verbally abusive when they hear something as tame as, “No thank you” or “I’m seeing someone.” They’ll call a woman horrible names and say things like, “You’re not even that hot anyway.” And that’s actually a preferable outcome when you realize how many women turn a man down only to be physically threatened or assaulted. I, and plenty of women I know, have been chased down the street by a man who can not take no for an answer. I have been grabbed by a man who does not want me to leave because the fact that I have a boyfriend and am not willing to cheat on him insults this man. Even if I had been rude to that man, which I was not, that is NO EXCUSE for treating me that way.

    Here’s the thing that you don’t seem to understand: It should not be up to women to police men’s behavior. If you are an adult, you are more than capable of controlling your own actions. Women are taught from birth that if they don’t want to get raped or assaulted, they have to behave in certain ways or avoid dressing in certain ways or not go out at certain times of day. If a woman is assaulted, the conversation invariably becomes about whether or not she was leading the man on or whether she was being too slutty and inviting it. The question needs to be, “What on earth can we do to make men realize that they are not entitled to treat women this way?” Instead, it’s up to us to determine whether or not a man has the potential to harm us and to steer clear. But if we point this out, we are man-hating feminazis promoting misandrist stereotypes. No matter what we do, we can’t win.

    Women should not be rude to men when turning the down because, hey, it’s rude and that’s not okay. But women rudely turning men down is absolutely not the root or the cause of the problem and suggesting otherwise only gives creeps permission to keep behaving like creeps. No matter how rude a woman is to you, it is NEVER okay to verbally or physically assault her. If a woman says no, that should be the end of the conversation. Period. Instead of expecting women to police men’s behavior, how about teaching men to police themselves? How about teaching them how to approach an attractive woman in a way that is not physically threatening? How about teaching them that if she says no, it’s not a threat to their masculinity? How about teaching them that if she says no, it’s not okay to threaten or harm her? How about teaching them that they aren’t entitled to a woman’s attention or a woman’s body? How about teaching men to treat women like equals instead of objects put on this earth to make you happy and to get you off? How about we start there and see where it gets you?

  21. Here’s a fun fact: did you know that being too polite often signals to the man harassing me that I need to be convinced, that I’m playing hard to get, or that I am too timid to fight back? If I want to be left alone, I need to either be firm-to-the-point-of-rudeness or be in the presence of a larger man. Do you have any idea how much that sucks?

  22. I have been reprimanded by my sister over and over because every time I very politely turn down a man who is hitting on me, almost every single (let’s say 99%) time it ends up with a guy trying to persuade me to continue to talk to him. It results in about 10 minutes of me having to find every polite way to turn him down until my sister, who has a lot more courage than I do, interjects with a varied form of “go away, she’s not interested.” That results in the guy calling my sister a b****, c***, ugly, etc.

    So, please do give women more suggestions like this one…

    Sarcasm aside, if you are on the side of feminism, how about encouraging women to react to a stranger’s advances however which way they please because it is their right?

    1. You know what? The problem is in your response right there. If it’s your right to reject however you see fit, then it’s also the guy’s right to respond to said rejection however he sees fit? I’m not siding with the rudeness so many women have experienced, but I am proving a point.

  23. I suggest you spend some time reading the tumblr blog “When Women Refuse”. Maybe then you’ll understand why most of us don’t feel as if we’re safe “graciously” turning men down.

  24. I just read the headline again. It is mindboggingly condescending. How about if I graciously turn down your attempt to educate me on a subject where my experience is vastly larger than yours, where my preferences and choices are the only ones that count?

    Will you back down or will you insist on being right (my experience and choices be damned) much like the men who approach me and can’t take no for an answer, instead pushing further and further because THEY decided for themselves how I should feel and act towards them.

  25. Daughter is smart as a whip and drop-dead gorgeous. Most of the guys who approached her were either boring or boors. While she was matriculating, she apparently acquired a bit of a reputation as a “man-eater”. <>. Now that she is an attorney, she has a built-in social filter that filters out many of the undesirables.

    1. Don’t kid yourself. She doesn’t have a “built in social filter”, she has to waste her time and energy dealing with jerks who don’t want to hear no, and it’s a burden her male colleagues don’t have to carry. It’s also a burden that leaves her in danger, because as tough as you might like to think your little girl is, an angry, resentful, refused man can deal out a lot of hurt and often does. Have a look at the whenwomenrefuse tumblr for many, many examples of how that can go.

      tl;dr – her toughness is not a trophy for you. It’s a sign of fucked-up male behavior that’s regarded as normal and acceptable, and it leaves her walking around with a baseline level of fear and tension you’ll never know.

      1. What’s it a sign of that you haven’t the intelligence or the vocabulary to get your point across without resorting to potty-mouth expressions?

        1. It’s a sign that the problem is serious enough and the treatment of it on this site dismissive enough that Mark’s take, and this daddy’s refusal to look his daughter’s situation dead in the eye, both deserve a fountain of profanity.

  26. Mark, I want you to try something, for the sake of science. I want you to make a profile on a free dating website. Ask a moderately attractive female friend for a photo to use for this profile. Politely turn down every man (and the odd occasional woman) who contacts you. Rate and record their responses.

    Should be illuminating.

  27. Let’s be a little creative, shall we?

    If you’re alone or are with a group of female friends in a place where creeps congregate, consider male creepy behavior as part of the price for being a “liberated” woman. Your liberation has eroded what respect men used to have for women. Deal with it.

    If you’re in your working environment and are harassed by a customer, call the police, immediately; alternatively you can tell the harasser that if you gave out your phone number you’d have to tell your husband, who happens to be an excellent marksman. I don’t usually recommend lying — but when it comes to personal safety, all bets are off.

    1. I call bullshit. Nobody should have to accept the threat of sexual violence in exchange for the freedom to walk about like a normal human being. And I shouldn’t have to lie, either.

      Theoretically, a simple “No, thanks” should be enough, but more often than not, I’m pestered as to exactly WHY I’m not interested. “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Are you married?” etc. – as if my reasons actually matter. It’s a breath of fresh air when a man actually responds graciously to my “No, thanks.” It’s so rare I can actually count those instances on one hand.

      1. You know, Laura, I am not happy at all with your reply to me. First of all, you illustrate by your choice of words that you have no respect at all for me or my view point; apparently, it is not deemed desirable among your set to even approximate a refined sensibility when discussing with a stranger a difference of opinion.

        I question your brazen defense of positioning yourself in an environment where coarse behavior among men is de rigueur and then demanding that these men who approach you behave as gentlemen.

        The fault is with you. The world is a decidedly decadent and degenerate place, yet you, out of some loyalty to the liberal — and feminist — proposition that there are no rights and wrongs, merely preferences and choices, expect that you will be treated like a lady when surrounded by wolves.

        1. Shandia,
          Reading through all of these comments i am wondering about the situations some of these women are choosing to put themselves in as well. Certainly no excuse for men to physically or verbally assault women but if i was looking for a relaxing night out with friends i wouldn’t go to a bar where i know men routinely act this way. A bit like working at hooters then ecpecting men not to look.

        2. No, people refusing to take seriously everything you have just read about what happens when women turn men down nicely — that doesn’t deserve “a refined sensibility”. A guy deciding that respectful treatment of women should be contingent on their following his advice? Likewise, deserves nothing but crude gestures. And the media platform supporting him deserves exposure and examination.

        3. I am curious, though: What environments do you suppose I’m frequenting where I should expect “coarse behavior” from men? I never knew I had such an exciting life!

  28. Catcalling and the rejection of advances are not equivalent behaviors…
    In both cases, as described, women are being approached by strangers with behavior they did not want or ask for in any way. If a women is not looking at you and smiling, DO NOT GO OVER THERE!

    Perhaps women aren’t saying they are “flattered” because they don’t feel flattered
    Perhaps women aren’t saying that they “appreciate it” because they don’t appreciate it
    Perhaps women are cold because they don’t want to encourage strangers to interrupt them without any indication of mutual interest

    Why should we pretend to be grateful for something that we don’t like or want? So that you keep doing it??

    How polite were you the last time a complete stranger interrupted your conversation to ask for your personal information? What’s your name? What are you doing later? What’s your phone number? Do you live around here?

    And, to confirm, the last time I politely declined a dance, I received a tirade about how boring I must be. I got off easy that night.

  29. Incidentally, why is Templeton funding misogyny? I thought their mission was to be all polite-polite to sit religion up on the stage next to science. But the sexism and misogyny, I hadn’t realized that was part of their purview.

  30. Mark, requesting polite interactions between women and well intended men is not a lot to ask. Don’t worry, the whole world’s not crazy.

    1. See reply below about “well-intended men”. There are too many men like the ones the women above describe for us to know what your intentions are when you approach us. You guys, I’m afraid, are going to have to be the ones to solve that problem, since the badly-behaved guys don’t seem inclined to take any advice from women.

      Until you good guys do some good and substantial work on that problem, this is what you have to live with. Your Neville Chamberlain days are over. I’d suggest starting with online threats and hateful speech against women: lead a fight to get police to take this problem seriously and act, rather than blustering about free speech. The goal: If you threaten someone’s safety online, or you post privacy-violating photos, the cops will be at your door in short order and you’ll be going to real, not virtual, jail. Make that happen, start cleaning up the pool, and I think you’ll see women relaxing and maybe treating you more nicely, rather than wondering how awful you’ll turn out to be.

  31. I have to say that in my lifetime, being polite has worked most of the time for me. There are the few men who just won’t take no for an answer and I’ve certainly had to be a lot more firm and even rude. And some of you may not agree but some of my male friends have even intervened to get the point across. I find the common denominator to be too much alcohol. These things usually happen in social settings where people are consuming alcohol and acting like idiots. No excuses, just the facts. On the flip side, I have also seen many women act like complete jerks when someone approaches them. I think the point of the article was to say cat-calling and vulgarity is inexcusable but when a man politely approaches you, try to be polite back. Not too much to ask. The article was not about the obviously too aggressive men some of the commenters are taking about.

    1. Ah. Given that there are so many of these obviously too aggressive men — what is it, 1 in 5 don’t just restrict the aggression to horrible nastiness, but actually beat their girlfriends/wives? — maybe the non-aggressive ones would like to be more obvious, so that we can tell who they are *before* they transform from “like to buy you a drink” to hate-frothing obscenity-spouting dangerloons because the woman said no thanks.

      Like maybe there’s a badge you can earn by being a consistently decent human being who doesn’t do things like that. Then we’d know. Without that? Sorry, man, there are too many awful dudes out there for us to be able to know you’re not one of them.

      The other thing Mark can do is to stop talking about what women should do, and start pushing other guys to behave like human beings. If that becomes a normal thing, then women won’t have to default to “this guy will probably not know how to take no for an answer civilly”.

  32. One of my major memories from turning down a nice, polite approach from a young man was when I was around 16. I said no thank you, I’m not interested. After that, he got all of his little posse of friends to bully me relentlessly. They used to hang out outside the shops up the road from my house, and every time I walked by (which was often, initially), I would have a range of insults thrown at me, from him and around ten other young man, with abuse ranging from slut/slag/cunt/skank to the more colourful ones about the assumed size and smell of my vagina. Sometimes they’d follow me for a while, shouting insults at me from a few metres behind.

    It stopped me from going out a lit, and caused me great distress – this went on, consistently, for about three years – including at teen disco things and social events that we’d all be at, until we all left the schools we were in, which were beside each other. Perhaps I wasn’t gracious enough to the poor guy.

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