I have been told repeatedly by people like my mother and my grandmother that I should be “polite”…
Paula
1

Ugh. I’m sorry you had that experience. That’s the kind of thing that happens to women so frequently that I assume all men must be aware of it happening… but no. They’re not. Because it doesn’t happen to them.

I asked my husband about this last night. “Do you get interrupted by people (men/women/anyone) who want to talk to you when you have your headphones on, your laptop or book out, are disengaged from the social stuff going on around you?”

He shook his head.

“Like, it doesn’t happen OFTEN or it doesn’t happen EVER?”

He shrugged. “I don’t think it’s ever happened, really,” he said. “I didn’t know that was a thing.”

Yeah. It does. All the time.

And then there’s the part after, the part you experienced, when if you a) ignore or b) politely decline the interaction, you get the wrath of the patriarchy rained down upon you.

I suspect that the men commenting on this piece wouldn’t scream/curse/rant at/follow a woman who declined a conversation. Which is why they think the suggestion of “politely declining” is a novel, good one. As if that hadn’t occurred to us. As if we hadn’t tried it a million times.