Monday, 28 May 2012

Will Work for Woman

"And then I realized she wasn't on Facebook. It turns out she's one of those girls who isn't on Facebook. So I had to call her sister. How embarrassing. I called her sister, whom I hadn't seen in months, out of the blue and said, "Ahem, can I have your sister's email address?"

"Thank you," I said, "for so confirming my philosophy of men."

"What? Anyway, she asked if I would like her cell, too, and I said, no. Which was stupid because, guess what, she gave me the wrong email address. So there I was with the wrong email address, and I couldn't get in touch with her, so I called up her sister AGAIN and the upshot is we're going for coffee."

"That's great. Good for you!"

"What does this have to do with your philosophy of men?"

"My philosophy of men," I said, "is that men will work for what they want, and if they want to contact a woman bad enough they will actually contact her, even if it means an embarrassing phone call."

"This doesn't work with being hard to get though," cautioned my interlocutor. "Nobody wants to look like a stalker. Obviously girls shouldn't be easy, but they shouldn't make it TOO difficult either."

"Your generation of men," I observed, "has been seriously messed with."

My interlocutor affirmed that this was so.

"It would be nice if girls would say hello, though," he said wistfully. "Can't girls just say 'Hello?' It would make it so much less difficult for us."


JoetheGuy said...

Let me speak to the "no one wants to look like a stalker claim", I have to say, as a guy, this is my central concern.

One of my Catholic(male) friends once remarked that "if you ever get the label 'creepy' or 'stalker' in a (Catholic) community, you are done. There is simply no recovering from it." And I have to say, based on my observations this is completely correct. I have always found it strange that many a Orthodox Catholic woman has simply not hesitated to socially ruin a man with the aforementioned or similar labels. I know so many men who have fallen into this situation, where one woman has polluted all the other women against a particular man.

I think that is one of the big conundrums that men face, many are willing to take the personal risk of rejection, but few are willing to accept the social risks of a rejection because the social consequences have often been so devastating.

Jessica said...

Dear Joe,
I can understand how it's difficult for guys to know what's considered "pursuing a woman" and what crosses the line into being perceived as a stalker (I'm assuming it's not too hard to figure out what ACTUALLY being a stalker is.)

However...although I don't know you nor your friends who have been labelled "creepy," I don't fully agree with your suggestion that women (particularly NCG) bandy about the "creepy" label too easily, with the result that a NCB is excluded from the social settings. As has been discussed in other posts on this blog, sometimes women need to trust their intuition about a bad situation and not worry about being "nice." Of course, if it's really a NCG-NCB interaction, the best thing to do would be for the NCG to tell the NCB directly that his actions are making her uncomfortable.

But if an entire group of NCGs have arrived at the conclusion that a guy is creepy, it seems to me that there are can only be two reasons for that:
1) There's been a lot of gossip and "groupthink" going on, or
2) The guy really does usually relate to women in a way that makes them uncomfortable.

In the first case, I don't think the women involved are mature enough for a serious relationship anyway. Either way, I think the best thing for the guy to do would be to ask the woman in the group that he knows best. "Hey, I've heard some people think that when I serenaded Maria from outside her dorm window, that that was a little creepy. Do you think that's true??"

Basically, the only time when I've experienced the type of social labeling that you talk about was when I was in (early) high school. It surprises me that in your social circle, there's not one woman mature/independent enough to be willing to see a guy's actions as just his quirks, and not creepiness. That's what makes me wonder if you really should examine how your friends are relating to these women, and if it could be improved at all. It seems like you're assuming that one woman can influence ever other woman's thoughts about a man, and I don't think that's true among mature women...otherwise we'd all be interested in the same men!

(Again, I don't know your particular situation, and I'm replying based on my experiences.)

Eowyn said...

I think I am familiar with the phenomenon to which you refer, Joe... In my experience, it is never one or even two girls declaring to all that Guy A is creepy... It is often a case of a number of girls experiencing discomfort/uneasiness around a particular guy (often due to his actions/comments) and one of them (Girl B?) confiding in another (Girl C) about it. Girl C, having experienced a similar thing with Guy A is now relieved that she is not crazy/the only one/a terrible person. Girl C shares such sentiments with Girl B who is similarly relieved. This pattern may be repeated in subsequent conversations with other women who have had uncomfortable experiences with Guy A.

Women, especially younger women, do not necessarily share negative opinions of particular men out of malice, but rather out of a spirit of protecting themselves and each other. What sets the "creepy" guy apart from the full-out jerk is that the full-out jerk Is much more obvious to the group and thus much more easily avoided. The "creepy" guy is much more subtle and often engages in a strange mix of sweet flattery and highly questionable conversation/actions. This is confusing for women because on the one hand they are flattered but on the other hand their intuition is flashing red flags which they often surpress or cannot articulate to others. They often don't like to bring it up to people at first because the "creepy" guy is often well-liked and welcomed into the group and also often an underdog of sorts, and the NCG does not want to be a horrible, mean person. To make things worse, the other NCBs simply do not see the questionable behaviour most of the time. Once the NCG realizes, however, that this guy is making other women uncomfortable, she often takes a personal (usually private) stand to stop putting up with this confusing, unwanted behaviour and decides to avoid him. She will often seek to help her girlfriends avoid similar confusion and discomfort.

For the sake of clarity, a list of things considered creepy:
- Bringing up hopes and dreams for the future, especially marriage/ large families in the *first * conversation (this puts our hearts in a confused, vulnerable place)
- Comments beginning with "Men like girls who are..."
- Manipulative instant messaging conversations ("You don't like me because I'm x, y or z" "I'll bet you would never go out with anyone")
- Unwanted, unreturned flirting that doesn't take a hint and move on.
- Compliments paired with subtle insults in the same breath.
- Self-deprecating comments when you will not go for coffee with him.
- Clearly hunting for the future wife of his 10 children with little to no subtlety.
- Unwanted physical touch.

These are the men we warn each other about. In my experience it is much more about protecting ourselves from vulnerable situations than it is about smearing someone's name.

Jam said...

Note in Seraphic's scenario the guy gets the girl's contact info through her sister, i.e. through a mutual acquaintance who is (obviously) close to the girl in question. That is the exact opposite of creepy. It's the definition of open and above-board and socially sanctioned.

In re the well being poisoned. If women nowadays get "creeped out" by men more often than in some vague previous times, it's because we're more exposed and men are in fact creepier. We often live alone; the internet both puts more information about everyone within reach, and also makes everyone more accessible to others. Men (including old school friends, college/work colleagues, friends-of-friends, and others who aren't quite strangers) often interact with women with an expectation that the girl is okay with being seen as a sexual object. I don't want to harp on this -- I'm just saying, "creepiness" isn't some made-up thing to ruin NCB's lives. Being open and above-board goes a loooong way toward preventing the "creepy" label ever settling on you. This may mean having to phone her sister for her contact info; asking her questions about her family even if you guessed from her facebook photos that she has three brothers, one of whom uses a wheelchair; or saying things like "I think Theresa mentioned you went on that pilgrimage" instead of "so, you went on pilgrimage to LaCrosse last year, tell me about that." [*]

I think the underlying cruel irony here is that a guy who mopes around feeling suspicious and/or resentful about "all the girls" calling him creepy -- is pretty dang creepy. I agree with Jessica that the best thing for a guy to do is identify in honesty, possibly with the help of a female friend, whether he's crossed a line (and then apologize if necessary, or simply vow not to do it again). AND I agree with Eowyn that it's more likely to be a case of multiple girls "having a feeling" rather than one girl handing down a pronouncement -- unless we're talking about college.

[*Note: I know this is just my opinion and that not everyone (obviously) will share it. I use Facebook pretty regularly and so I'm not offended or creeped out when guys whom I've friended refer to my pictures or status updates. I mean, having other people see those things is sort of the point! Friends of mine who use it less often tend to be a little more thrown if it comes up in conversation. If the girl doesn't post much, or if you and she don't comment on each others' things much, I think the Polite Social Fiction is to pretend like Facebook doesn't exist. But if you're bringing up something that you only know because of Facebook, it would be on the safe side to cite your source, as it were.]

Eowyn said...

[by "future wife of his 10 children," I clearly meant "future wife and mother of his 10 children". Typing too fast!]

Mustard Seed said...

This is a departure from other combox conversation, but still related to Seraphic's post. In the last month, the following situation has happened to me with two different guys. He texts or calls, engages in friendly chit-chat, asks what I'm up to, and even mentions that he'll be in the same area as me but doesn't actually ask me to, say, get lunch with him. Is he fishing for an invitation from me? Why do men do this?!

The last time it happened I just asked, "do you want to meet up or are you just saying hi?" and it turned out he did, in fact, want to see me. The other time I didn't ask, and an invitation didn't materialize. I don't understand why a man would do this. I'm pretty approachable, I think, and respond to the communication in a friendly way, so I don't get why men would dance around the issue like that. Or are they really just calling to say hi? Bewildering.

It makes an actual "Would you like to get dinner with me Friday night" that much more impressive. :)

Anna said...

MS: Same thing happens to me. Usually I just ignore them or say something non-committal.