(Not) Taking A Hint

Holly over at The Pervocracy has developed a game of sorts to play on OkCupid that demonstrates the subtlety of rape culture. The game goes like this:

Get A Guy To Stop Talking To You Game!

Here’s how you play:

-Have an OkCupid account with a reasonably appealing picture and profile, identifying yourself as a straight woman.

-Log on to the IM system, and wait for a guy to message you. Doesn’t take long, generally.

-Talk to him in good faith long enough to determine what sort of guy he is. If he seems like a cool and attractive guy, ask him out or arrange to talk again. If he’s not your type, let him down easy. If letting him down easy doesn’t work, play the game.

-The game has only two rules:
1) Promptly reply to all of his IMs. Within a couple minutes at the most, preferably instantly, write something back to whatever he says.
2) Try, without hitting “ignore” or logging off or ceasing your responses, to get him to stop talking to you.

-Within the framework of “keep replying,” you can say anything. You can make yourself sound bugfuck insane or hilariously bitchy–usually both! You can tell stories about being dangerously obsessed with all your previous partners or speculate how tiny the guy’s penis is. You can whip out racist jokes, confessions that you never bathe, and direct insults against the guy and everything he cares about. You can even tell the guy that you’re playing this game! And you can most certainly say every variation on “No, I’m not interested, please stop talking to me.”

-The game can go on for hours, and I usually run out of time and have to hit “ignore” or shut down IM before I win. My win rate is definitely well under 50%.

However, I have noticed that even if you don’t reply, oftentimes men will still not go away. I went on one date with a guy, and was kind of nice about blowing him off afterwards, yet 5 months later, I still get random texts from him. After the first few times I told him I wasn’t available for a second date, I just stopped responding. But it’s like he didn’t get the hint that me making excuses not to meet up again and not responding to him for 5 months meant that I was not interested. I showed interest by going on that one date with him, so I must still be interested, even though I never showed interest beyond that one date.

Or today, I signed onto OkC and got an IM on the chat from a guy that I talked to exactly twice on Yahoo. He was pushy and weirdly emotional, and so I blocked him. I had also given him my BBM at some point, which I blocked him on as well. It has been over 6 months since we have talked at all. Today, the messages said, “Hey, stranger! I never see you on yahoo anymore, and you never respond to my BBMs! What’s going on?” What’s going on is that I haven’t responded to you in over 6 months and that means get the fucking hint. But no. I didn’t respond to his IM, yet he then sent, “So when are we going to hang out?” Well, regardless of the fact that I now live in Boston, the answer would be NEVER anyway.

Another blog post that I read recently demonstrated this same thing:

The date….right. Well, we grab a drink. Me:Stella Artois. Him:PBR. I kid you not. In a very short amount of time, I now confirm my attraction to older men whether it’s good for me or not. This is just NOT working. He’s still talking about college,beer pong and flip cup. No thank you. I politely remove myself and head home. Terrible date? No. Just not for me.

Two days after our date I receive a text late at night from a number I don’t recognize. “I would def hook up”. This must be a wrong number. I ask who it is. It’s not a wrong number. He asks if I’m “down”. In a strange way I suppose I can take this as a compliment but I politely explain that right now, I’m not looking for that but I think that at his age he should concentrate on having some fun. Just not with me. I thought it was a nice way of letting him down. Didn’t matter. He then proceeds to tell me that he’s sure I’m frisky every now and then and that he can solve that problem. […] At this point I needed to get to bed so I just ignored his next few texts.

This went on for days. He even got a little dirty with me via texts. […] He was relentless! I admire the persistence but at 23 you MUST know a pretty young girl looking to answer your prayers. Right? I eventually ran out of ways to let him down. He wasn’t taking no for an answer and I wasn’t giving in. […] Finally, after many failed attempts at declining every advance, he finally got the message and left me alone.

What makes a guy think that, after a woman has told them multiple times that they are not interested, they have the right to keep pushing? What makes them think that if they just keep trying, that they’ll eventually break a woman down and she’ll give in to their advances? This is the same line of thinking that results in many “gray rapes:” If I just keep asking, she’ll eventually say yes. And how many times does a girl eventually give in? I know I have. Hell, I know I’ve even agreed to go on a date with a guy because he wouldn’t leave me the fuck alone. As Holly puts it:

…this is what they call “rape culture.” The acting crazy/mean is just fucking around, but the shocking part is how my stated wishes don’t count for shit. It’s truly amazing how many times I can say, in so many words, “stop talking to me,” and yet as long as I keep responding the guy will never do what I explicitly asked him to. (And if I merely act very uncomfortable and chilly and reluctant but don’t actually say no… forget it, that never stops anyone.) As long as I stay “in the room” with him, it doesn’t matter how many times I say in clear blunt words to leave me alone, he never will.

In fact, thinking back on it, that’s how I ended up agreeing to give The Redneck a chance. He was persistent in asking me out for months, and so I finally agreed to go on a date with him. And he turned out to be a rapist. Coincidence? Probably not so much.

When someone tells you they are not interested, don’t keep pushing. She said that she wasn’t interested, and that means stop. Not keep pushing until you break her down. Take a hint, back off.

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  1. NelfyNo Gravatar
    Posted August 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I was on the trolley once, going home from school later in the day, it was already dark out, so I would say around 7ish. I had my headphones in and was staring out the window, tired after a long day at school. This guy who got on at the same trolley stop as me starts talking to me, *despite* the fact that he saw my headphones/ipod. I took out one of the plugs, he asked me if I went to the school that is right at the trolley stop. I say yes, put my plug back in and proceed to stare out the window. He keeps talking. I take my plug out again and he asks me something else, I don’t remember. I don’t remember if I replied or not, but then, to make the point that I didn’t want to talk even clearer, I took out my books and started doing homework – still listening to music! Still, the guy keeps talking to me. At some point, tired of this bull, I tell him that I’m doing homework and put my plugs back in. He waves his hands in front of my face – how rude can you get!?! – and asks me why I don’t want to talk to him and why I don’t want to be friends. He also said that there was no reason why I have to be rude to him – um, excuse me, I’m trying to mind my own business while you can’t stop talking to me, who’s the one who’s rude. Anywho, I told him I wasn’t interested in talking to him/getting to know him/… He said ‘I can change that’. WTF? Told him that I didn’t think so. This guy was AT LEAST 15 years my senior and I look young, so for all he knew I could have only been 17. Even after I was rude to him and told him that I didn’t want to talk to him, wasn’t interested,… he still kept going!! I in no way even showed the slightest teeniest tinyest bit of interest in even talking to him (not that showing interest and then changing your mind after you get to know a guy makes harassment any better), yet he kept going. I was slightly worried/scared because he got off at the same stop as I did, but I knew that there would be a trolley cop around so I watched for what he was doing/where he was going and when I saw him walk in the other direction I half-way ran home. I was really shaken up when I came home and didn’t sleep well for at least a few nights.

    I don’t think that it is acceptable in any way that I have to feel unsafe, worry about myprivacy/ safety, and just generally get really grossed out and have all this negative energy just because a guy thinks I should like him. I have never, ever, experienced anything like this in Austria and I think it’s a problem that is very American. Boys get raised differently here, I think. In Austria, most guys respect it when a girl says no – whenever a guy tried to talk to me at bars/discos/… and I clearly didn’t show interest, they always left to find some other chick. Usually, I tend to turn guys off, maybe because I am inherently not attracted to them. My friends always used to joke that most guys just instinctively know that I’m gay and super-feminist and therefore won’t even talk to me. And I really, really like it that way. I like talking to guys I know/meet in a casual setting when they don’t want to get into my pants. But I don’t want to get hit on.

    Anyways, I still feel very upset about what happened that night. For a while I was worried that I would see him again, as I took the trolley at the same time every week. I don’t want those kinds of things to impact me, but they do. I don’t see how any person with half a brain can think it’s ok to harrass someone after they said no.

    What happened to me probably seems little in comparison to what other women have experienced, but it was bad enough for me.

    • MegNo Gravatar
      Posted August 5, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      I, too, have had instances where guys just won’t take the hint–and they always, ALWAYS turn it on me. I’m being “rude” or “bitchy.”

      Drives me fucking insane.

  2. twgNo Gravatar
    Posted August 6, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    One time a couple years ago, I was waiting for the bus back to Southie. I had earphones on so I couldn’t hear anything, and this guy came up and started talking to me, same thing. He was youngish, looked relatively normal, but like … WTF. Later that year, in the summer, I was laying out in Copley Square — just in my work clothes, but reclined on my back on a towel. I was also on the phone with my father, and this same dude came up and started up again almost like maybe he was hearing answers or something. I mean, I was on the phone, guy. I packed my shit up, still on the phone and got the hell out of there. Oblivious like that = sociopath, as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t need any of that.

  3. JoJoNo Gravatar
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    I think the problem with pushy men is 2 things: 1) they get the message, through movies, TV, etc., that to fight for the girl is romantic, that we’ll feel flattered by their persistence and 2) a lot of us women don’t give a clear “I’m NOT interested” but instead try to be ‘nice’ & ‘polite’ & say things that are less final & less to the point but won’t hurt their feelings, or we just ignore them. Like in your example, Britni, you didn’t say that you had told the guy you weren’t interested, you just thought that he should have taken the hint. The women that I have known are notorious for expecting people, and men especially, to read their thoughts.
    It’s disgusting when a man gets a clear NO and stillcontinues to pursue, but I think a lot of times, wo
    En expect men just to get the hint, instead of telling them outright.

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