This Is Why Women May Seem Unfriendly

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 
Twitter: @LilyEvansMFC / Kikovic / Getty Images

When I walk down the street, especially if I’m alone, I show very little emotion on my face. I’m usually stone-faced because I have been conditioned to be that way. As a woman, if I show too much emotion of any kind on my face, I’m opening myself up for something. What, I don’t know, until I’m deep into it.

Sometimes it’s simply someone who wants to tell me their entire life story. Sometimes it’s someone trying to sell me discount cable services. Sometimes it’s someone trying to get me to join their church or buy some essential oils. And sometimes it’s some dude who’s compelled to get my attention for whatever the reason may be.

In college, a guy who I knew casually through other friends said to me, “Wow, I thought you were such a bitch. But you’re really nice!” Well, of course, I’m nice. When I asked why he felt that way, he said I looked mean. Huh. Well then. I mean, I don’t owe anyone a smile, especially men. Because more often than not, it’s going to lead to a potentially awkward or even dangerous situation. Take for example, this Twitter thread.

This woman was made to feel unsafe in her own neighborhood because a man thought it was okay to overstep a boundary. Sure, she didn’t have to say hi back to him.

But she also shouldn’t have to consider the fact that this guy could follow her home just because she said hello to him and let him give her dog a treat. And nowhere did she indicate that it was okay to touch her.

Who just hugs a stranger? Men who feel entitled to women’s bodies, that’s who. And this guy was a big guy, there’s a chance that if she tried to object or put up a fight, he could have seriously hurt her.

I had a similar thing happen to me. While walking with my son in his stroller, I heard a noise behind me. Instinctively, I turned around to see where the noise had come from and quickly made eye contact with a man. Realizing that the noise was nothing, I continued my walk. But the noise wasn’t nothing. The man had been trying to get my attention. I soon realized that he was walking my direction, trying to talk to me. So I politely but firmly asked him to leave me alone.

I was going to Staples to print something, and this guy was following me to the store. Again he tried to approach me, and I again firmly asked him to leave me alone. Then while I was on the computer, with my son’s stroller pulled next to me, the man tried to strike up a conversation with my toddler. He asked him for a high five, and since my son was three at the time and had seen me speaking to the man, he obliged.

I lost it at that moment. How dare this man think that after I asked him to leave me alone twice, he was going to get my attention by using my son? Then he had the nerve to get upset with me, as if I had been in the wrong.

Here’s a little newsflash, fellas: no woman owes you anything. You are not entitled to her attention. Don’t try to block her way to get her to talk to you. Don’t position yourself in a way that she can’t avoid you if she wants to. You aren’t entitled to touch her.

Once, while I was waiting for the subway, a man came up to me and plucked my earbud out of my ear. I have never cursed someone out quite like that. He said he was trying to get my attention because he thought I was cute. Puh-lease. There are so many things wrong with this. If a woman has her earbuds in, or is wearing headphones and doesn’t remove them when you try to get her attention, take the hint. She isn’t interested.

One more time for the people in the back: Women do not owe anyone attention, especially a stranger. We literally never know if smiling at a guy on the street could end horribly. Of course, not everyone is out to hurt us, but we sadly don’t know that until it’s too late. The risk always always outweighs the benefits. It could end up as the perfect rom-com, but it could also end up as a horror story on the nightly news.

Women don’t want to be unfriendly, but when the consequences can be life-threatening, it’s often the safest option.

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