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    • Over the years I have found myself in many situations where I am being hit on, either in a polite manner or maybe a not-so-polite manner. More often than not, I have responded with "I am not looking right now." or "I have a boyfriend" (even when I don't.) I have always found it extremely difficult to straight out say "At this time, I am not interested in you."

      Sure, no one wants to make anyone feel bad who has worked up the courage to approach someone and ask them out, but sometimes I still feel this pressure to not hurt someone's feelings even if that person is being disgusting, invading of my space, and in general not respecting me as a human being.

      But why? Why has it become the norm to allow disgusting behavior? Why do we as women have this pressure to not damage the delicate ego of a man that doesn't respect us in return?

      I think sometimes I feel fear that if I don't say "I have a boyfriend" that the man may become aggressive, especially in situations where alcohol is involved and to be honest this has happened to me. When I really think about that sentence though, the fact that someone can only respect what I am saying if I am another man's "property", instead of just accepting the non-interest is just absolutely unacceptable.

      How can we make progression here? What can we as a society do to grow?

      Have you had experiences like this? What has helped you find your voice?

      If you are looking for an extremely powerful analogy regarding consent, check out this video.

      Tea Consent:

    • As a man my perspective here is limited since I haven't been on the receiving end of this, but I think you're absolutely right here:

      I think sometimes I feel fear that if I don't say "I have a boyfriend" that the man may become aggressive, especially in situations where alcohol is involved and to be honest this has happened to me. When I really think about that sentence though, the fact that someone can only respect what I am saying if I am another man's "property", instead of just accepting the non-interest is just absolutely unacceptable.

      I think men often aren't aware of how threatening they can be to women. I see myself as a nice guy who would never try to hurt or intimidate anyone, but the reality is that I'm physically larger than most women, and to a woman who doesn't know me that alone can be intimidating and scary. Especially since, as far as she knows, I could be a raging misogynist who'll get violent if she turns me down.

      This is something men need to take responsibility for. We need to recognize that there are times and places when it's just not appropriate to hit on a woman, and even when the time seems right, we need to exercise an abundance of caution and self-awareness so as not to create a threatening situation.

      And above all men need to learn to take a hint. As you say, a woman shouldn't have to provide proof of "ownership" to get a man to back off.

    • Women have been socialized to apologize for their own existence for centuries and to center men above all. No wonder some of those old behaviors still linger, and we still fear to offend or hurt the male ego - especially as it can sometimes have dire consequences in terms of personal safety.

      As Rebecca Solnit put it so brilliantly in this article:

      “Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke,” with the invocation of these two white guys as definitive authorities.

      But seriously, you know who can’t take a joke? White guys. Not if it implicates them and their universe, and when you see the rage, the pettiness, the meltdowns and fountains of male tears of fury, you’re seeing people who really expected to get their own way and be told they’re wonderful all through the days. And here, just for the record, let me clarify that I’m not saying that all of them can’t take it. Many white men—among whom I count many friends (and, naturally, family members nearly as pale as I)—have a sense of humor, that talent for seeing the gap between what things are supposed to be and what they are and for seeing beyond the limits of their own position. Some have deep empathy and insight and write as well as the rest of us. Some are champions of human rights.

      But there are also those other ones, and they do pop up and demand coddling. A group of black college students doesn’t like something and they ask for something different in a fairly civil way and they’re accused of needing coddling as though it’s needing nuclear arms. A group of white male gamers doesn’t like what a woman cultural critic says about misogyny in gaming and they spend a year or so persecuting her with an unending torrent of rape threats, death threats, bomb threats, doxxing, and eventually a threat of a massacre that cites Marc LePine, the Montreal misogynist who murdered 14 women in 1989, as a role model. I’m speaking, of course, about the case of Anita Sarkeesian and Gamergate. You could call those guys coddled. We should. And seriously, did they feel they were owed a world in which everyone thought everything they did and liked and made was awesome or just remained silent? Maybe, because they had it for a long time."

      I think this is starting to change as women are discovering the true freedom of being in the world, and the exhilarating, liberating feeling that we are enough on our own - not only enough, we actually thrive on our own! And it's a power to be reckoned with...hopefully.

    • I am a white guy and even I can’t begin to understand the scary aggression and anger some of us have. How is it possible to explain someone shooting dozens of strangers from a hotel window in Las Vegas? We say it’s mental illness but why does it afflict white men so disproportionately in America?

      Not to feel sorry for myself, because it’s crazy how privileged I am compared to women, the gay community, immigrants, or people of color, but it does suck to see women fear us because our misbehavior.

    • I appreciate your response. I think the biggest thing we can do is continue to educate. The people around us, our children, and correcting someone when they do something that needs correcting. The hardest part is that it can be a touchy subject. There are people out there that feel "attacked" by this conversation. That is not the intention here. The intention is to raise awareness, but until those are able to admit there's a problem, it will continue to be hard to make change.

    • It's certainly interesting to be part of a this generation in comparison to my mother's generation. My mother comes from a very old fashioned religious family from the south. When she hears that I have been hit on in disgusting ways, the response is usually "were you wearing your hooker makeup?" To me that is an absurd answer as it is blaming me, the victim. When I really think about it though, that generation was TRAINED that it's our responsibility as women to dress in a way that won't make us vulnerable to men like that.

      I am grateful to have the awareness of the next generation to know and feel confident that regardless of what I am wearing, I deserve respect and to be treated with basic human decency.

    • There's part of me that feels extremely sad for the good good men out there. They are out there, there are so many of them. What my hope in all through all of these conversations on this topic, is that as we become more educated and the generations learn, that the ratio of amazing men will one day exceed that of dirtbags. There are just so so sooooo many dirtbags out there. It is both men and women's job to call those moments out, correct people RIGHT when something happens, and hope these issues become fewer and farther between over the years.

    • What has caused me to go into deep shock is finding out that this has been going on for decades of my life and I had no awareness of it. It never occurred to me that there could be Harvey Weinsteins or Bill Cosbys in this world, or so many Catholic Priests who abused so many boys. A doctor for the U.S. gymnastics team?

      Now that I've spoken to a few victims, I can possibly understand how I never knew: they are afraid of telling anyone because they fear it will hurt their futures somehow.

    • Chris,

      I think you bring up a very sad truth about all of this. There are many situations where victims are in situations where there abusers are in control of the victims futures or reputations. Even if there hasn't been explicit threats, the fear is embedded. It's a depressingly harsh truth that I hope one day is not a reality.

    • First I believe based on reading many of your posts Chris that there was no ill intent here at all.

      Take crush out of Chris's post on the scientist and it reads different to me. Perhaps my understanding of the word crush is off? Also not sure what it brings to the info. Was it due to the attraction that Chris followed the career? After reading this thread it stood out. when is it ok or not ok to bring stuff like this up? being over sensitive? is it ok since we knew Chris meant nothing by it, yet it is public? All very interesting...

    • Hey there,

      You've brought up a good point. Where's the line? This is something I ask myself and the people around me every day. The thing is, it's not black and white. It can be extremely subjective to each person's feelings. How do we know when someone is in need of standing up for etc.

      In your example of Chris, here's how I see it. Saying you have a crush on someone is harmless. Chris has not reached out to that person, explicitly hit on them, and been disgusting about that persons body. Sure, maybe she could see the word "crush" and depending on her own experiences and feelings, may feel threatened by that. Personally though, I think my line is drawn when things are taken to a sexual manner.

      Someone could walk up to me and tell me I am beautiful. I say thank you and carry on. This would not bother me. It's the second the person turns my body into an object and it turns sexual that suddenly I feel a little uncomfortable.

      I think setting is important as well. Work vs real life. Work can be a tricky place to navigate because talking about a person's physical appearance is a thin line to walk. Typically in a work setting it's most safe to just talk about work or performance and never the physical appearance. It's unfortunate because we want to connect with the people we see every day.

      I think in all of this, my point is that it's tough. It's hard to know where the line is because the line for everyone is different. That is why consent is SO IMPORTANT. "I think you are beautiful, is that okay to say?" It doesn't hurt to ask permission. The mere asking of permission shows the other person you respect them and their feelings. It's easy to do and doesn't take more than an extra 5 words to check in.

      Or on the outside, if you see an interaction and you see someone looking uncomfortable, check in on them. "Hey are you good?" You'll know, even without them saying it if they need help.

    • Inner voice and mindfulness are keys perhaps to an external shell or armor for such social dismal behavior.

      Curious how you would see the correct way to as permission to pay what the person "may" feel is a compliment?

      Had a friend with image issues and a "normal" compliment set them off, as it was always negative to them.

      We do not know the story of people we meet in the world for the first time, what level of assumption is appropriate? the knowledge of the environment and situation is not always available to adjust, do we miss out on great interactions as we are too afraid to engage?

      Sorry going off the plot a little.

    • Hmm, I think it just comes back to the point that everyone's different so it's EXTREMELY hard to navigate either way, right? I don't think there's any one safe way to approach every single person because we are all so different. I would say all anyone can do is try their best with good intentions and learn from each experience.

    • To be clear, I'll confess to my short list of scientist crushes:

      Stephen Hawking
      Neil deGrasse Tyson
      Albert Einstein
      James Clerk Maxwell
      Marie Curie
      Louis Pasteur
      Jane Goodall


      When I mentioned Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a 75-year-old scientist I've never met, I don't know if I even considered that she was a woman, but SHE DISCOVERED PULSARS AS A GRAD STUDENT!!! Oh my God.

      I'm much more careful telling someone they're beautiful, even if they are, for fear of being misinterpreted. I did tell Angela that she was beautiful the other day, however, when I was the photographer at Craig & Angela's wedding. It's true, she's beautiful:

    • I appreciate your coming forth with your short list of scientist crushes, Chris. I also appreciate the the diversity of the list you provided. If I am being honest, I have a crush on that entire list as well.

    • I honestly don't see why refraining from comments about physical appearance is such a big deal to some men.

      Personally, I find gendered comments about my appearance very private and intimate so when some dude I don't know says "you look hot" my instant reaction is, 1.eewwww 2. who the hell do you think you are, do I leave this situation safely. It's one thing to say "you look nice" as this can be said to either gender, to a child, to an old person. But whenever it's sexual, even in the slightest... yeah, nah. If we lived in a world of true equality where women weren't 90% of the victims of violence with 90% of men being perpetrators of said violence, perhaps we could have sexualized remarks anywhere and everywhere and it would be fun. But in the world as it is now?..

    • Evergreen, as a guy I'm interested in knowing what I should and shouldn't say in our modern world. I complimented you on your hair the other day because I think it's awesome, I've complimented Sarah on her tattoos, I complement both women and men about how good they look, how handsome, how beautiful as I photograph them when they really do look amazing. I hope I can still do this without making anyone feel like I'm creepy.

    • Right. It seems like the biggest distinction is it being "sexual". Complimenting someone is fine, but the second it becomes about my BODY then it's a new level.

      Taking someone's photo and saying "Wow, beautiful" or "Your tattoos are awesome." is very different than "Your tattoos are sexy." or anything that suggests sex is being thought about rather than a human just appreciating another human. I suppose this language can differ from person to person. So that's where the ultimate struggle is, but it's safe to say that anything even mildly suggesting something sexual is usually when people get nervous.

    • 2. informala brief but intense infatuation for someone, especially someone unattainable or inappropriate."she did have a crush on Dr. Russell"synonyms:infatuation, obsession, love, passion; informalpuppy love"a teenage crush"

      Infatuation seems to fit, I most commonly heard it in regards to the opposite sex, but even that is not quite accurate now as we become more open. Live and learn, that is a good thing.

      Communicate is complicated

    • It's all about context; I know you somewhat, so if the compliment about my hair is coming from you, that's something positive and I'll say thanks. When completely strangers come up to me and ask to touch my hair... Nope.

      Similarly if you are photographing someone, that implies there's already a relationship, you already know that person and they know you, even if superficially, and since photography is such a visual thing complimenting people on their appearance in this context is perfectly natural and positive as long as no lines are crossed.

      But when a complete stranger came up to me at a moto event, asked to take a photo with me and then said "Can I tell my wife I slept with you" - ...nope.

      Sarah is spot on about compliments being sexualized, and this is what I was trying to convey. There's just absolutely no need for that, unless you are intimate with that person. There is ZERO need for sexual comments in any public space, be it work or school or the local coffee shop. Compliments are awesome, we all love them and we all love saying them, and as long as they are neutral - like someone's hair or tattoos, or someone's accomplishments and achievements, that's all wonderful. When it turns sexual, in most women's minds, that's an immediate red alert.

      I was talking to someone on FB yesterday, an older rider who was asking me about bikes and traveling. After some 20 mins of pleasant, civilized conversation, he asked me where I was from and when I replied he said "oh, country X! I hear that women from X are the most beautiful in Europe" and added a smiley face.

      And just like that, I was gone. I'm sure he meant it as a compliment and it probably was well-intended but to me, it was an instant WTF. We were talking about bikes and travel and he suddenly goes "women from X country are so beautiful"??

      This sort of stuff reminds women exactly where our place is. I thought I was talking to a fellow rider/traveler as an equal, as a peer. With a comment like that, he immediately put me in a different place - that of a pretty object, not an equal rider/traveler anymore. I think this is what gets to me the most. I can be an accomplished rider and an experienced traveler but by saying something like that, all of that is instantly stripped away and I am suddenly just a pretty thing with no agency of my own. Just like that. I can't tell you how infuriating that is!!!!

    • Great response, thank you Evergreen. It makes me think back on things I've said in the past about Swedes and how I love their blond hair and blue eyes. I don't think I was ever gender-specific about it.

      What about children? What are we doing to young girls when we tell them how pretty they look in their dressup? This morning I took photos of Josie after she spent time in the dressup closet and I think I told her how good she looked. Her sisters told her she looked like a princess.