Except there’s a small problem: Women don’t want you to hit on them in public.
Sure, some women may not mind being approached when they’re out and about — or at least tolerate it quietly — but there’s a growing groundswell of women pushing back against being hit on in public.
Last year, anti-street harassment organisation Hollaback! produced a viral (and controversial) video exposé of a woman being relentlessly catcalled as she walks through New York City while being secretly filmed, and women are starting to call these so-called “compliments”what they really are: catcalling and street harassment.
Rather than feeling flattered, women report feeling uncomfortable and unsafe when they are approached in this way, and for good reason. Women have spoken up loud and clear about our preferences, and it’s clear now that men approaching us in public spaces with romantic or sexual motives is almost always unwanted.
However, there’s a disconnect here between what women want and what men think of as normal behaviour and encourage among themselves. Women don’t generally go out in public to be hit on; we go out so that we can run errands or meet up with friends for coffee.
When we’re wearing headphones or carefully selecting ripe fruit, we’re clearly signaling that we’d prefer to be left alone, and if you sidle up to us anyway despite these visual cues, then you’re exposing to us your disregard for our boundaries.
Somehow, though, guy culture still internally reinforces the idea that attractive women are to be approached at any available opportunity (“Go on man, she’s hot! Go talk to her!”), and many men haven’t noticed the discomfort and anxiety this causes women. In short, we’re at complete cross purposes.
Of course, most men mean well and simply want the opportunity to start up a conversation with someone they find attractive, and we understand that.
But as women, we have the right to leave our homes without every idle bus ride or dash to the corner store turning into an unsolicited singles mingle — and running commentary while we conduct our affairs (“Hey babe, can I get a smile? What’s that book you’re reading?”) is tiresome and unwelcome.
While any one of those . seems harmless in isolation, they pile up over the course of a day, leaving us feeling like prey; drained, uncomfortable and exposed.
Guys, regardless of what pick-up artists say or what your buddies are pushing you to do, the gig is up: Public approaches need to be phased out, and fast. They make women feel unsafe, and they don’t result in dates. In short, nobody wins.
This leads to an obvious follow-up question: How are couples supposed to meet, then? And surely there are some women who want to be approached? Of course there are, and the answer is simple: Approach women who have put themselves in dating environments.
With the powers of modern technology, this is not at all difficult, and millions of women are quite literally at your fingertips. Dating sites and apps like Tinder and OkCupid are ubiquitous, free and require little more of you than access to a smartphone and a few flattering pics.
Women on these sites have explicitly put themselves forward as being interested in dating. Of course, they have no obligation to date you in particular, and you are still at risk of rejection, but a polite and well-thought out approachwill be welcome even if you don’t ultimately hit it off.
Millions of women are using dating sites and apps, and there’s no shortage of options and users: Tinder, for example, achieved over 1 million monthly active users in less than a year from product launch, and within 30 months, it reached 24 million monthly active users.
Your potential success rate here is so much higher than hitting on women in public, and if the internet is not your thing, there are still IRL options such as speed dating.
Bars and clubs tend to operate as semi-dating environments, in that some single women do hit the club for the specific purpose of meeting attractive strangers, and these women will be more open to being approached in those environments than at the gym, say, or the grocery store.
Not all women go to the club for this purpose though (some just want a night out with the girls), so use some common sense and read the visual cues available to you. That girl who’s avoiding eye contact and using her friends as human shields to block your approach? Leave her alone. The one who’s half-smiling at you from across the bar while trying to make adorably conspicuous sex eyes at you? Go and say hi.
The ease and access of online dating has made approaching women in public for romantic or sexual purposes redundant, and guys can now date people from well outside their usual circles with unprecedented ease. There’s really no excuse for hitting on women in transit or public spaces any more, and women have expressed a clear preference for being left alone in those settings.
Fortunately, online dating has gifted both men and women an easy win-win: All you need to do is leave alone the women who would like to be left alone, and meet the women who actively want to be met.
And if you see a gorgeous woman and can’t bear the idea of missing the chance to talk to her? There’s always missed connections.