Posted by: Stella Glass
I just saw Coco’s post below reacting to our experience in the coffee shop and don’t think it could have been said any better. It is endlessly frustrating to have to deal with this types of intrusions be it in a bar, a store or on the subway. I have ranted to my poor boyfriend more times than I care to mention about how angry it makes me that waiting for him or a friend to meet me at a bar becomes an anxiety inducing experience because many men assume that a woman on her own is really only just waiting for some guy to talk to her.
I understand that because of societal norms and prescribed gender roles that men are very often put in the position of having to make the first move. If they see someone they are interested in talking to, it’s kind of on them to act first. This is fine and I can think of many instances where a guy respectfully tried to engage in conversation and respectfully left me alone when I made it clear I wasn’t interested. Unfortunately these men have been the minority. Negative experiences have run the gamut from a persistently annoying and chatty conversation invader to incidents that devolve into drunken outbursts and name calling. Because only a “dyke bitch” would refuse the advances of Bud-Light drinking, foul breathed hedge fund retard wearing a button-down shirt from Structure. Most astounding of all is that women are supposed to take this as some sort of compliment, as the catcallers in front of the Rite Aid on 7th Avenue seem perpetually offended when I respond to their kissing noises and comments about my legs by rolling my eyes and continuing on my way, instead instead of smiling and taking my dress off.
About a month ago, while at a bar in my neighborhood, a guy tried to strike up a conversation while my boyfriend was attempting to get drinks from the very slow-moving bartender. My one-word answers to this guy’s questions and refusal to make eye contact with him didn’t deter his attempts to chat me up at all. Only when my boyfriend returned to our table did the guy stand up, apologise to my boyfriend and try to shake his hand. “Why the fuck is he apologising to you?,” I spat when he had finally left the table. “I’m the one who had to listen to him run his mouth for ten minutes. ”
In a way, I felt sort of bad for the guy in the cafe today. As Coco said, there is chance that he just wanted to be friendly. However, politness does count. He didnt lead with “I couldn’t help but overhear” or “I’m sorry to interrupt but…” he just more or less said “‘S’it okay for me to eavesdrop? Here’s what I think.” And yes, I’m sure he didn’t mean any harm or disrespect, but there is a certain level of cocky bravado that one has to have to insert himself into two strange young women’s clearly work-related conversation in that way. You need a pretty good anecdote, frame of reference or connection to the subject at hand to justify that kind of intrusion which not only interrupts people, but leaves them with the uncomfortable sense of being watched. Offering your vaguely formed, ridiculously obvious and poorly expressed “insights” about someone else’s conversation, sadly, does not suffice.