WHAT MAKES GIRLS HATE THE COLD-APPROACH SO MUCH?
For the most part, men need to approach women if they hope to be successful - this is partly women's fault (as a whole) and partly their own fault (due to the aggressive tactics of some pursuers which I will explore later). But in spite of this, cold-approaching is something that you will face an endless barage of complaints from women about on the internet, especially GAG:
'Catcalling is not complimenting!'
'One of my catcalling experiences unfortunately was negative where a guy slowed down his car and shouted at me out off his window'
'(most) girls do not want a group of boys whilsting and saying "nice ass" or "nice tits" thats not the way to approach someone or get their attention.'
'No matter how decently I dress, I always get catcalled. I'm a college student and I always make my way around by taking the bus.'
And then there are the goddamn awful pick-up lines used that make women hate getting approached in the street and mess things up for the guys that are genuine:
'If I could rearrange the alphabet, I'd put you between F and CK'
'Are you free tonight or is it gonna cost me?'
'Lets play house...you can be the door so I can slam you all I want!'
'Hey baby, there's a party in your mouth and everybody's coming'
So what makes women hate the cold approach so much? It's the harassment (verbal and physical) as well as stalking that are (unfortunately for both women AND men) a part and parcel of stopping a beautiful woman on the street. To paraphrase a user on this site, she said the following: hostility towards cold-calling is understandable. Overblown perhaps, but understandable. I'm not going to deny it's understandable. But let's look at the 'overblown' elements.
Before we get started, let's be clear what is meant by harassment and stalking. The legal definitions are influenced by the online legal dictionary as well as the United Kingdom Protection from Harassment Act of 1997 (PHA). These are subtly different, perhaps from that of the US but we can probably agree for the sake of sanity that the differences will not be so profound as to mark a huge difference between public perception of street harassment between the two countries - both modernised western civilisation and social democracies. Let's continue:
Harassment: "systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands."
Harassment is unwanted and repeated behaviour which causes the victim alarm or distress: behaviour which the offender knows, or ought to know constitutes harassment of another. (PHA, section 2)
Stalking: "repeatedly following and harassing another person"
Examples: following a person with ill intent; aggressively contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means; loitering; watching or spying on a person without their permission. (PHA, section 2a)
Putting People in Fear of Violent Offences: A course of conduct - harassment or stalking - which causes another to fear that violence will be used against them. In this case, the defendent ought to know this course of conduct will cause any other rationally thinking individual to fear that violence will be used against them or cause another serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on his or her usual day-to-day activities.
SO WHY DO OFFENDERS GET AWAY WITH IT SO MUCH?
Simple. Aside from legal failures to investigate, arrest and prosecute, it is the subjective nature and blurred lines of these definitions that causes complications. For example, just because a victim is caused alarm or distress does not mean their response was justified or that somebody else could possibly know that this was likely to be the unintended consequence of their behaviour. Even if they did know that this would be the consequence of said behaviour, does it mean that they should change their everyday behaviour just to accomodate the behaviour of one, or more than one unusually erratic human beings? Also, how can one say objectively what it is that the offendent 'ought' to know might cause alarm or distress to another human being? What constitutes a 'rationally thinking individual' that is supposed to be able to know of and be able to define said courses of conduct? In short, what is considered 'reasonable', 'justifiable', 'obligatory' behaviour etc. differs from one person to the next.
But no perfect solution exists when we defining legal terminology and definitions exist for very obvious reasons - to assist a sophisticated process of law which prevents people with ill intent from either deliberately or negligently causing harm to other people (emotionally or physically) without consequence. So this is where the 'legal game' comes into play. The prosecutor must prove that the defendent has pursued a course of conduct which causes another to fear that violence will be used against them. For the defendent must prove that he is innocent of attempting to 'put people in fear of violent offences', he most demonstrate that he pursued the alleged course of aggressive conduct under one of the following conditions:
- for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime (e.g. an undercover policeman stopping two suspects in order to search for drugs could be perceived as 'aggression' when seen by public eyes without knowing the full context)
- under any enactment or rule of law
- to protect the physical body or property of themselves or any other person
The process by which this is determined is subjective at every stage: it begins with the policeman who makes the decision to make the arrest; it ends with the jury who draw a conclusion from the logic, evidence and their own intuition and moral values, and the middle men in all of this are the authorities who decide whether or not a case should be brought to court. In short, thousands of years of evolution have brought westerners a relatively sophisticated system of law which is democratically governed, though it is far from infallible.
This video has become very popular, especially among feminists who want to prove what it is like as a woman to be cold-approached, cat-called and generally harassed on the streets. However, it has also become somewhat controversial because although some of the behaviour used showed aggressive tendencies ("Somebody's acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more!", *somebody silently walked beside her for four minutes*, "Hey look it there, I just saw one thousand dollars", "You don't wanna talk? Is it because I'm ugly? We can't be friends or nothing?", ), much of it also did not ("Hey, what's up?", "How you doing?", "How are you this morning?", "Have a nice evening", etc.).
WHAT ABOUT THE 'GOOD GUYS'
So this brings me to the point of my article. It's not just girls that have to suffer because of this poor state of affairs. Men approaching with 'good intent' are likely to be unjustifiably ostracised and victimised as a result of overall public discontentment and scepticism of the cold-approach. But they are told they have to approach anyway. Women will 'creep-shame', pull funny faces (I'm not kidding), walk off in a huff and tell them outright that it is not 'socially acceptable' to approach a stranger. And this is not the worse they can do: if they really want to mess with a man, they can whip out the pepper spray, scream rape or attract a crowd's attention. Yes, these are the risks we are taking for you ladies who don't want to get off your couch and approach: better appreciate!
WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP IT
Well, for guys the solution is obvious but this does not mean the type of men who would persist in such harassive tendencies would care or pay much attention. But nonetheless, the advice is as follows: be confident in your approach but not aggressive; do not hang around after the woman has rejected you; do not use sexual language; do not physically touch the woman before you get to know her; do not physically obstruct her path using your hands or body; do not use profain language, etc. 'The good guys' need to learn a way to approach that is very clear in communicating positive intent - in other words they need to use the aforementioned advice to make sure that nobody could possibly perceive them as being offensive and that in a court of law they would not be determined as an aggressor. This often means developing good social skills, learning to interpret verbal and non-verbal cues and developing open and friendly body language. But they also need to be bold and confident - preferably stopping the woman from in front, as shown in the picture above (yes, it is scary, I know) and telling her directly that she is attractive. Also they need to be aware of the tendency to overanalyse any fear of overstepping boundaries so that they do not miss out on potential opportunities and potential 'yes'es: women are sometimes very unclear when their 'yes' means 'yes'. Unfortunately, there are also very manipulative women out there who do play 'hot and cold', leading men to believe that their 'no' means 'yes' and that their 'yes' means 'no'. Avoid these women at all costs.
For women, it has become politically incorrect to offer solutions with regards to violent offenders because the onus is publically perceived as being upon the offender not to attack. Realistically however, offenders are likely to disregard such advice. This means that the solution is much tougher for women but there are still things that you can do as individuals that will help prevent street harassment in general. Approach a man if you are interested in him (the socially perceived threat of aggression or intimidation is almost entirely lifted: you have a massive advantage here, so use it!); politely reject men who approach you respectfully. With men that approach aggressively or procede to become aggressive after you have rejected them, you should create as much space as possible between yourself and the aggressor (if you are more than a leg's distance apart then that person cannot: strike with the legs, arms or charge towards you) and attract as much public attention as possible. People nearby are not likely to want to get involved in physically aggressive situations due to the potential threat to their own person. However, shouting 'fire' is more likely to attract a crowd of onlookers who will be less likely to perceive a threat and will want to see what is happening. When men approach and stay around in a non-confrontational manner, you should be polite if you are to reject him or lose interest in him. Should you be interested in him, please do not play games of hot or cold: make it clear that your 'yes means yes'. He has already given you the courtesy of demonstrating his interest in a direct manner (in spite of all the previously difficulties involved in doing so). The least you could do is give him the courtesy of demonstrating your own interest in a similarly direct manner. Finally it is very disheartening for a woman to completely blank you out. All you have to do is smile, walk past and say 'no thank you': this saves the man his ego and lowers the possibility of violent or aggressive encounters.