To the Old Guy Trying to Pick Me Up…Don’t
A glimpse at the kind of sh*t women deal with every day
I’m 35. I shouldn’t have to deal with bullies anymore. But I do, all the time, just like woman across the globe do. We pretend it doesn’t happen; it doesn’t matter; it isn’t that big of a deal. But it is.
“Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. One essential prerequisite is the perception by the bully of an imbalance of social or physical power.”
What kind of bullies am I talking about? Dominant males with big egos. You know who you are. You habitually toss out insults to women, but try to veil them as compliments. You demand our attention and interrupt us whenever you feel like it. You think you are smarter than us, more successful than us, more powerful than us. And you want to point that out as quickly as possible when you meet us.
The Scene of the Crime:
I’m sitting at a cafe minding my own business. I’m not wearing anything suggestive. I’m not wearing makeup. My hair is in a floppy ponytail. My eyes are focused on my laptop. I need to make a decision, so I look up from my screen and stare off into the distance for a second to think.
A terribly unattractive, creepy old man happens to be sitting at the next table over playing chess. He thinks I was looking at him. I wasn’t. He flashes me a coy smile. I ignore him and look back down at my screen. (Translation — “I don’t want to talk to you”). But he doesn’t give up so easily.
Him: Do you play chess? (super-lame attempt at a pickup line)
Me: No. (I don’t look up…another sign I don’t want to talk to you)
Him: Chess is a highly intellectual game. I just won this round. (I suppose he is trying to impress me with his vast knowledge of board games. He doesn’t.)
Me: Oh. (I try to sound as uninterested as possible and start working again. More clear signals I don’t want to talk to you.)
This is where he crossed the line. He should have left me alone. But he didn’t. He kept pushing it. And then he insulted me, three times.
Insult #1, He assumes he is smarter than me
Him: Chess is my favorite way to relax after a hard day’s work. (He emphasizes how smart he is and that HE has a very important job).
Me: So you like sitting around looking pensive? (He can’t tell I’m making fun of him.)
Him: Wow, where did you learn the word “pensive”?
Me: I don’t know…(eye roll)… by being alive?
Him: But “pensive” is such a smart word? (Clearly he thinks women only have basic vocabularies, or this wouldn’t impress him.)
Me: Maybe I’m smart enough to play chess too…(Hopefully he’ll finally get the hint if I am condescending? He doesn’t.)
I think I’ve made it pretty clear at this point that I don’t want to talk to him with my short answers, eye rolls, not looking up from my screen and unfriendly tone. But none of this deters him. He walks over and looks at my laptop screen.
Insult #2, He assumes he is more accomplished than me
Him: What are you studying? Do you have a test coming up? (He thinks I’m an unemployed student because I have a laptop.)
Me: I’m not studying. I’m working. (eye roll)
Him: Wow, you have a job? (He’s clearly impressed, as if I’m the first woman he’s ever met that has one).
Me: Yep. (even bigger eye roll)
Him: Really, what do you do?
Me: I’m a professor at a university and own my own web development business. (His mind explodes).
You’d think that he would walk away at this point with his tail between his legs, or at least demonstrate a tad of respect for me. But no. He has to save face and try another way to dominate the situation.
Insult #3, He wants to be my boss
Him: Maybe I can hire you to fix my website. I need to upload some pictures and don’t have the time to do it myself. (Seriously? That’s what you think I do? Upload pictures?).
Me: No, thanks. (As if I would want to work with you???)
He looks shocked that I said “no.” Finally stumped and with no moves left, he walks away defeated.
Thank God! He’s gone. Now I can finally get back to work learning new vocabulary words and copying and pasting pictures…