A guide to not harassing people
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Interim Opinions Editor
Recently, an article titled “How to Talk to a Woman Wearing Headphones” hit the internet, posted on a website that claims to teach men the secrets on how to get women to have sex with them. The article details getting a woman’s attention after instructing her to take off her headphones, and proceeding to hit on her.
Naturally, the article caused a lot of controversy and discussions on entitlement and harassment. Insecure and/or socially awkward men visit these sorts of “pick up artist” websites. They easily fall prey to articles that promise to teach them how they can become more confident and attractive, and therefore get attention from women.
What exactly is so harmful about this behaviour? It is reinforcing the idea of male entitlement, especially when giving unwanted attention. You are not entitled to the attention of anyone. Headphones are universally recognized as the sign of being uncaring of surroundings, and wishing to be solitary. One does not wear headphones out in public because they are waiting for a stranger to come up and start talking to them.
What’s even worse is encouraging men to hit on strangers. No one wants strangers to come up and start hitting on them. It is intimidation, it is harassment, and it is wrong. In the cases of men harassing women, there is a huge power dynamic at play in a society where men are encouraged to prey on women. Many women can tell you their own experiences of being intimidated and afraid due to a man giving them unwanted attention.
The article was criticized heavily and was (hopefully) not shared or read by very many who thought it was good advice. But it is part of a much larger issue, of an existing culture teaching men that they are entitled to attention from women, regardless of consent. It illustrates a power dynamic that men can tell women what to do, and enforce control over their actions. Encouraging a violation of consent leads to even more horrible and unpleasant ideas and cultures. At its worst, it perpetuates violence against women and rape.
The most attractive men—not to mention ones who will be looked at as a decent human being—don’t ever harass strangers. They make friends (or romantic interests) through being respectful, and without aggression or intimidation. The “Golden Rule” rings true: Treat others as if you would want to be treated. If you’re behaving in such a way that someone doing the same to you would bother you, maybe don’t act that way.