I recently read a post by the endearing Cara Thereon in which she posed the question of how to let a guy down easily and with respect. This is a subject that I don’t think women take enough time to really think through. The comments were interesting to read and they got me thinking.
Speaking only for myself, I feel women are much too cavalier in the way we turn down a man’s offer of a date. It takes a tremendous amount of courage for a man to ask us out. Even if they can sometimes be extremely dickish in their manner, it still takes courage. As the object of interest, women do not have to ever seek out a date unless we just want to. A man on the other hand, must proactively seek out female company or resign himself to never dating. A man who sits back and waits – unless he has Brad Pitt like looks – will have a better chance of winning the lottery than securing female company. Period.
What this means to us women, however, is that we must be respectful of the risk they take. They are putting their ego and pride on the line every single time and much too often we trod all over it with absolutely no respect. I’ve witnessed this all too often. The woman who is so full of herself she sneers and spits out an insulting no.
Question … have you ever considered the “pay it forward” effect that this generates? Take a man who gets put down nastily one too many times and you’ve just given birth to a seed of misogyny. Now, before I get slammed with flame comments, I’m not saying women are inherently responsible in the abusive treatment we often receive, I’m simply saying that we don’t help ourselves if we act disrespectfully in our own right.
I’ll never forget an article I read as a young teenager. It was in the Metro section of The Washington Post, my hometown paper. A young woman was shot in the head and killed by a man at a local nightclub. The man had asked her out and she’d said no. Witnesses indicated that she’d been fairly contemptuous and the man snapped and killed her. Clearly, this was an egregious over reaction to the situation. She certainly didn’t deserve to die. What I took away from that article, though, was that you never know what a person’s experience has been. Her response to that man’s offer of a date was a straw that broke the camel’s back. The one put down too many that he just couldn’t take anymore.
Another time, I was waiting for a bus to get to work and witnessed a young, attractive man walk up to a group of women and ask one of them for her phone number and for permission to call her. He was extremely attractive and very polite. I was rooting for him. She laughed in his face, told him she didn’t date losers and to get lost. The look that crossed his face was sad. I remember thinking that I’d just witnessed the birth of misogyny. Her response was completely off color, yet you could see her preening in her power to reject a man. I wanted to grab her and shake her.
Personally, I go out of my way to be as polite as I possibly can while still making it clear that I’m not interested. More often than not, I simply say, “Thank you. I’m very flattered and I know you took a risk asking me out, but I’m going to have to decline.”
This usually prompts a lot of surprise and a thank you from the man. I literally had one man shake my hand for being so nice about it and we chatted about how hard it is to meet people before going our separate ways.
Women don’t need to empower themselves at the man’s expense in these exchanges. They are putting themselves out there and taking a risk that we inherently aren’t required to take and we should be respectful of that. You never know what effect that put down will have for the next woman. I for one, don’t want to be on the receiving end of it.