I have a problem. Not that one. No, not that one either.
Okay Jesus stop guessing, just submit a list of my problems via email, dammit. Last time I take you into my confidence.
No, I have a different sort of problem. Picture this:
Me, walking back to my work vehicle at a rest area along the freeway.
Also me, seeing a man whose path I will intersect on the sidewalk.
Also also me, moving more out of the way and looking everywhere else. Fucking anywhere else. I looked into the distance at the temporarily green hills. I gazed upon the barren rice fields. I watched the starlings in the trees, fighting and singing and flitting about.
Me, giving every indication possible that I in no way wanted to have a conversation with the strange man at the rest area. And still.
“Nice that spring’s finally here, right?”
AYUP SIR YOU FORCED ME INTO THE TALKINGNESS DIDN’T YOU?
The fuck was the value of that conversation? But now we’re having it, ships passing in the night screaming about the weather at each other.
I think that’s how that saying goes. Anyways.
This is a pattern of behavior I’ve notices amongst, well, men. Sorry dudes. I’ll hear your protests but only submitted in hand-written triplicate on carbon copy paper that smells just right.
When I finally recognized it, it struck me as so odd. So entitled. So willfully ignorant of another human being’s body language.
But Gov! you say. How harmful could it be to remark on the loveliness of the weather with a fellow weather-enjoying human? Maybe you could see it for the kind gesture it is if you stopped being such a cold-hearted bitch!
First of all, I’ll never stop. Second, this clearly isn't about the weather. This is about a pattern of behavior that boils down to demanding acknowledgement from the opposite sex because... well, just because, as far as I can tell.
Me, putting a bag of soccer balls into my truck.
Also me, studiously ignoring the men working on the landscaping next door.
“Oh no, a soccer player!” I hear yelled over at me.
And what do I do?
What do you think I did? I ignore it because not only is it desperate, not only is it obnoxious, but also, what do you even say in response? “Ayup. You got me. These are in fact soccer balls, and I am stunned by your powers of observation.”
So long as I don’t respond, he can feel like an idiot and we can both pretend like I didn’t hear and I won’t be forced into an unwanted human interaction.
So he drops it and goes about his business and I HAHAHAHA who am I kidding?
“You guys are sure doing a lot of work to that house,” he shouts at my back next.
Sigh. And now it’s obvious Sir Brilliant Conversations isn’t going to just go back to his own damn business.
Again, a man has demanded I, merely a woman who should be thankful for his kindness and attention, talk to him.
Why even care? These are small incidents but they’re indicative of much greater, much deeper-rooted problems. It sounds petty. I know. I know it sounds petty. But this behavior can’t just be written off as being social or being kind. Dudes don’t do this to each other. Men do it to women, and it only spirals out from there.
Up close, it’s a small transgression. Harmless, if obnoxious. Men seeing women, women who are actively censoring their behavior to convey no interest or desire to interact, and putting them in a socially awkward position anyway. Society dictates I return a kindness, right? Answering “Nice weather, huh?” with a “Fuck off, shitstain” is a little bit frowned upon. Yet it takes a person who was trying to just go through their day uninterrupted and suddenly there’s this other person who has interjected themselves into that day, demanded they be acknowledged, and they’ve done so in such a way that they’re in the right. They were being polite and friendly.
But what men need to understand is that when you do that, not only are you being a dick, you’re forcing a woman to evaluate you as a threat.
I’ll say that again.
If I’m avoiding talking to you and you demand my attention, I am now eyeing you as a potential threat.
A trustworthy human reads body language and doesn’t start unnecessary and, to be frank, fucking idiotic conversations with strangers. A trustworthy man sees a woman alone and respects her avoidance of him.
Men who become problems start with this behavior. They start with friendly and I was just being polite. No. Polite is not doing this. Because the really bad ones? It ramps up from this point.
I ignored a man doing this in a gas station once. He put his arm around me when I tried to check out.
We ignore men and they hurl words like “What, you’re too good to talk to me, you ugly bitch?” at us.
They get in our space. They put their hands on us. Sometimes, they hurt women. Sometimes, they kill women.
Maybe the weather was nice, Rest Stop Dude, but now I have to look at you and wonder if you’re going to follow me back to my car.
Not to mention, maybe I just didn’t want to talk, yet apparently your desire to remark on the weather to a stranger supersedes that.
So now, The Mens reading this, you’re probably wondering: Have I done this? Willfully or not? And how do I avoid doing it in the future?
I can’t answer the first part, but I got you covered on the second. There was a video that popped up recently of a person on safari, in a Jeep, with a cheetah in the back seat. He doesn’t move, doesn’t make eye contact, and most definitely doesn’t interrupt that cheetah’s very good day with bullshit small talk about spring weather.
Women are the cheetah. Next time you pass by a woman who isn’t looking at you, who is finding every way possible to distract herself so she doesn’t slip up and make eye contact, remember this cheetah. Because we’ve had enough of this bullshit and are likely to start mauling people who force us to talk to them.