The Invisible Fiancé

Amy Asteria's actually just a cover! - By Leila Panjvani

Psst…it’s actually just a cover! – By Leila Panjvani

A couple of months ago, I decided to buy myself a big, fake diamond ring to wear on my ring finger when I was alone in public. This decision, I admit, was equally the product of a dangerous obsession with accessories that sparkle as it was with the desire to deter unwanted attention from strangers. After a series of terrible personal experiences on the TTC, I was convinced I had found a perfect solution – one that would discourage unwanted confrontation while simultaneously satisfying my shameless affinity for diamonds. Awesome.

I looked online, and after days of ridiculous debate over a dozen different styles, finally managed to pick one out. Of course, to ensure it looked as real as possible, I tried reading some of the reviews. The first one I noticed said something like this: “I love this ring! I bought it to wear while away from my boyfriend in public to get rid of unwanted attention and it has, so far, worked great.” That sealed the deal. About 3 days after that (I know, strange coincidence) I heard a woman complimented on her ring as I was leaving the TTC. Her reaction was similar: “oh, thank you, but it isn’t real, I just wear it on the subway so people leave me alone.”

At first, this ring-wearing thing seemed harmless –an easy solution to an unavoidable problem – but my sudden awareness that many other women were all thinking up the same solution bothered me for days, though I was for a while unable to think of any reason why.

Before I go on, let me describe exactly what it was that precipitated this whole dilemma.

I ride the TTC almost every day. And certainly if I don’t, I still end up leaving my house unescorted to get somewhere somehow, unless it’s one of those really special occasions where I actually get to sit inside all day. But for as long as I can remember, leaving my house didn’t always just mean getting to where I needed to go – it has truly, more often than not, meant being honked at, whistled at, commented on, stared at, or otherwise approached by men as I pass.

I will be more specific. Not too long ago, I entered the subway to begin the long journey from school to home, and having been in the library until night, was lucky enough to board a train that was fairly empty: I could sit where I pleased and had plenty of extra space to throw my books. A man entered the subway with me, and decided he would sit in the seat right next to me, despite the dozens of empty seats on the train. Suspicious from experience of what was to come, I opened a book and tried to look as focused as I possibly could – a tactic I’ve made habitual over several years, despite the fact that it does not usually work. This time was no different from the others. I do not remember what he said to me, but I answered his initial questions with short and stern responses that were meant to block further conversation by implying  that I was not enjoying how much he was invading my personal space. This didn’t matter to him. The talking continued on and on. He asked for my number – which I knew was coming – to which I replied “no, that’s okay.”

He pleaded.

I continued with an increasingly agitated sounding “no.” Getting frustrated, this man decided he would begin to utter profanities at me, calling me every name he could think of to offend me before getting up and walking to the other end of the subway. No one else on the subway paid recognition to what was going on: the most I got in terms of acknowledgement was a man about 10 seats over staring and laughing at my situation, as if to say “wow, was that guy crazy or what?”

That guy wasn’t “crazy.” His behaviour was not an ‘irrational’ one as crazy would imply; it was a symptom of the discourses that make up our social culture.  So with this I ask: What culture is this?

A culture in which we have raised men to understand that women are theirs to approach, bother, talk to, hit on, objectify, or stare at as much as they want to?

What is this society we live in that has led men to feel that by virtue of their sex, they are entitled to conversation with us simply because they decided they were going to start one?

I did not lead this man on, but despite this he persisted as if I was obliged to speak to him just because he wanted to speak to me. Despite my obvious irritation, he still asked for my number, and became enraged upon my refusal. Forget my desires or feelings towards him, how dare I have the audacity to refuse him his?

I don’t want to blame this man. While his decision to curse and try to belittle me was inexcusable, I do believe that perhaps he wasn’t consciously thinking “I’m going to annoy this woman until she cracks” – or that even if he was, it was entirely his fault. I am also not trying to imply that all men think and behave this way. My generalizations are a tool to bring to attention the culture in which we are raised, because I do believe that most men who act this way have been conditioned by a specifically patriarchal culture. I’ll use this short video to illustrate my point:

I highly doubt the man speaking in the video – let’s assume he’s their father – had any conscious intent to teach his son and daughter gendered patterns of behaviour. Yet, repetitive endorsement of gendered behaviour in these seemingly innocent scenarios are exactly how women’s oppression becomes normalized: it is just the way that a lot of us are raised. The video may be “cute” to some – and no doubt that’s part of the reason it was even recorded – but the little girl in this vdeo is being taught that in order to avoid being touched, she needs to give something to the person touching her. And when giving up what she has doesn’t work, she’s told that perhaps its just her the boy really wants. .

She’s learning that her body is okay to give up when the boy won’t stop touching her, and that her requests to be left alone are insufficient. She is being taught to be passive, to be compliant, and to submit her desires to appease someone else’s.

On the other hand, the boy is being taught to persist – that if he just tries hard and long enough, his desires will eventually be met. He is learning that her voice is something to be ignored, and that it’s okay to continue with what he’s doing despite her frustrations.

What happens when these lessons continue into adulthood? They come, in part, to define the social systems according to which men and women behave. These lessons create an entire environment conducive to experiences like mine, where my ‘no’s’ must be repeated, and my refusals are adequate justification to be called profane names. So needless to say, incidents like this incident on TTC are what inspired me to get a ring… a big, flashy one that people wouldn’t be able to miss, so that I can end conversations before they even start.

Sadly, my solution engendered another challenge, because the ring does say something. It wards off strangers by telling them “it’s useless, don’t do it,  I’ve already been claimed by another man.”

I have been coerced into playing society’s game, and it was so easy for society to coerce me into believing that I found a way to beat the system – the one that makes me reluctant and even sometimes fearful to leave my home. All I really did was provide affirmation of how deep the problem goes.

Women have been taught that the way to triumph over persistent, unwanted male attention is to buy into the very construct that creates it. In this context, for example, the solution is one that provides ‘freedom’ (and this does not always work) from the unwanted attention of some men, while rendering women no more than the property of another.

Our culture has created the illusion of choice: would you rather be the property of libidinous strangers, or the property of a man that society has been ‘gracious’ enough to let you choose?

A man can sit next to a woman, know he’s bothering her and ignore it. He can proceed with his compulsion to hit on her, and then debase and humiliate her only when he decides he’s gotten the point.A woman can outright state, very clearly, that she has no desire to speak to the stranger bothering her, and either be ignored or be demeaned. But a ring that implies a woman’s involvement with a man can stop the conversation before it starts. It can do away with her discomfort, her frustration at being ignored, or in some cases can do away with putting her in a position of being verbally demeaned, just by virtue of it being on the ‘ring finger.’ In simpler words, in cases like these, a man doesn’t even have to be present to have a voice louder than a woman’s.

"A woman can outright state, very clearly, that she has no desire to speak to the stranger bothering her, and either be ignored or be demeaned." - By Leila Panjvani

“A woman can outright state, very clearly, that she has no desire to speak to the stranger bothering her, and either be ignored or be demeaned.” – By Leila Panjvani

Men have the power to lay claim to another person through some symbolic object, warding off other men almost automatically, but a woman’s verbal or physical requests to be left alone seldom mean she will be. Either way, women are often walking into a trap. We’re solving one problem by subscribing to another – and perhaps this is not obvious because we are too preoccupied with trying to find a way to stop it.

When I attempt to relay this issue to others, the typical response forces me to internalize the unwanted confrontation. “Look at the bright side” says anyone I’ve ever told this to, “at least guys think you’re pretty.” In other words, the “bright side” (the side that’s supposed to make women feel happy about this way-too-common situation), is the fact that at least we can feel ‘validated’. At least we can take a sigh of relief, as if without this stranger’s affirmation of our external beauty, it would be implausible for us to feel happy with our appearance.

When I bought a ring to solve the issue, I was really buying a temporary solution that only reaffirmed patriarchy. I felt trapped, and unknowingly attempted to free myself through a solution that only reinforced the paradigm that created the problem in the first place.  Solutions like mine don’t change the issue – they just hide it.Whether or not the inclusion of an engagement ring to our marriage paradigm altogether is harmful remains a question for another day (I believe, for my own reasons, that there is much good and a lot of meaning in it as a social symbol).

What I am discrediting and calling into question are the other assumptions and ‘protections’ that come along with this symbol: it is a symbol that I am owned, and it is, apparently, only by submitting to this ownership that I am guarded against unwanted attention. An imagined male gaze protects me from the very real and violating gaze of another male.

Why is it perfectly normal for women to be unable to mend many of the issues they face in society without bringing men into the picture? How have we contributed to the standardization of oppression so much so that, indeed, the standardization has actually worked?

I have provided merely one instance wherein a woman is powerless to help herself. Here, the only way to avoid objectification for many women is to include the very sex that has created the problem in their solution. I have provided merely one instance wherein the ways in which society conceptualizes sex raises women who are powerless and oppressed. But these instances are everywhere, and sometimes, like what I did here, we come up with solutions for problems that actually feed the issue.

Maybe what we need to be doing is not only questioning our social issues, but also questioning our solutions to them, as well. Perhaps the solutions we think of do not facilitate change as much as we’d like. Perhaps, without critiquing our solutions, we allow the normalization of women’s oppression by contributing to the invisibility ourselves.

A big flashy ring - but for what purpose? (Wiki Commons)

A big flashy ring – but for what purpose? (Wiki Commons)

We do this by stopping an issue in such a way that fails to address the social realities continuing to fester in our society. Band-aid solutions can sometimes work quite well, and in my case a band-aid solution was a viable option for avoiding a quite literal conversation I didn’t want to have. Maybe, though, this is only a safe thing to do when it doesn’t inhibit thinking about the more complex social discourses it feeds into. Maybe band-aid solutions can perhaps be a method through which to address, think, and talk about our issues, instead of a way to avoid them.


27 responses to “The Invisible Fiancé

  1. I think the issue is not that men are forcing themselves upon women, but that women are expected and conditioned to find disrespectful advances (I’m only talking about the hooting at hollering) flattering. I recently said no to a boy who asked for a second date, and he made several attempts to persuade me, demanding I give him another shot. I firmly told him no each time, but eventually I started to feel guilty that I had been to harsh on him. I hadn’t, I know what’s right for me (not him), but he didn’t respect my wishes and tried to force himself upon me. “No means no” should not end at physical advances. No woman – nobody, for that matter – should be conditioned to feel guilty for trusting her judgment and respecting herself.

    • Women are taught to be nice. Don’t hurt their feelings. Be a lady. Well, to hell wth that. The next time you’re in a nearly empty car and some guy sits down RIGHT NEXT TO YOU, give him an astonished look and say, “Why are you invading my space? There are plenty of seats elsewhere. Why did you sit down right next to me? I don’t want you here, You should move away before I get very, very angry.” And give him a cold, cold look. No smiling, no shrinking away, just angry astonishment that he would make such a bad move. If he tries to talk to you, say, “I do not want to talk to you. Is that clear? Is that CLEAR!” It is absurd and wrong that we should have to pretend that we “belong” to another man in order to get such men to behave properly. Be cold, cold, cold. Now, if you think you are about to get mugged, start yelling. But until then, act like a lioness….not like a “lady.”

  2. I absolutely loved reading this article. I have spent such an inordinate amount of time lately thinking about this very issue. It would be interesting to hear a psychologists point of view on the topic, as to better understand the psychological issues that play into society teaching men (and women) that this behavior is normal and should be expected, and also to understand how and why A) Men are taught to behave this way, and B) Most women feel guilty about being assertive and saying “NO!”. Oftentimes women don’t even assert themselves for a variety of reasons, the most notable ones being the fear of an inappropriate or potentially violent/aggressive reaction and, as you stated, the feelings of guilt that are associated with “rejecting” an unwanted advance.

  3. this was an outstanding read and really raised a great point. i have never such faced this problem, and i for one am grateful for it. i have a loving boyfriend, and am happy as i am, but i make it clear to everyone that i am not “owned” and it is a partnership. i wish you the best of luck and i hope the rest of your commutes do NOT end up like this (although they appear to produce great articles).

  4. I agree with the major point of this piece, courtesy and respect is becoming in shorter and shorter supply.

    But I really had to laugh when you brought up the baby video. Have you taken any coursework on developmental psychology? or just spent some time around children at all? compulsive grabbing/touching is not limited to either gender. Babies touch things to gain sensory information about their surroundings, this does not start off as a conscience act, the nervous system does this on its own, just the same with visual tracking. Eventually through socialization, toddlers learn to stop doing this.

    a wedding/engagement ring has never been used to show ownership or protector-ship, its a symbol of mutual contract all the way from early Roman days. Its not a force field. Perhaps its not as respected these days because people do things like wear fake rings in public for personal gratification, or to keep people away.

    This is not a gender specific issue either, I wear a large black/silver wedding band, you cant miss it, but that has not stopped women from approaching me in public places. Maybe a band says im financially and emotionally stable so that gets attention regardless of the fact that im married.

    • “have you ever taken any coursework on developmental psychology?……”

      I think it’s pretty clear that I was not blaming the children in the video; rather, I was critiquing the person doing the recording, and his reaction. You claim that babies of both sexes engage in this kind of learning, so let’s hypothetically imagine that we don’t know the sex of that baby. If you have a daughter who is next to tears because she’s so frustrated that someone, boy or girl, is touching her when she doesn’t want to be touched, and your reaction is to laugh and say “maybe he (OR SHE) just wants you”, then you and your reaction is a problem. You cannot justify ignoring that little girl’s frustration by claiming that the baby is “just learning” and is engaging in natural developmental processes. You need to pay attention to her feelings, understand how badly she obviously does not want to be touched, and intervene, instead of letting another child of whatever sex repeatedly grab her – whether the smaller child is doing so as a natural response or not. When you ignore and fail to support these kind of feelings, you run the risk of, like I said, encouraging passivity (which, I might add, is extremely dangerous ESPECIALLY in situations like these, where the issue concerns her body, because THAT is how you create rape-culture).

      Moreover, whether or not you believe that the ring I bought deterred attention because it was a symbol of ownership or because it was a symbol of a contract, the main issue is unchanged: I need to be involved with another man to deter attention. As in the example, my verbal requests to be left alone are not good enough. My demands to stop being talked to are ignored. But my ring, even if it IS, as you argue, always just taken as a symbol of a loving, mutual agreement with a man, still stops the conversation. Either way, it still takes involvement with a male figure to get people to leave me alone.

      And by the way, I’ve entertained your suggestion (that the ring displays a contract) in the above paragraph, but I still don’t buy it. If you want to believe that my ring deterred attention because it tells people that I’m committed and in love with another person and therefore wouldn’t be interested, then go ahead. But let’s just keep in mind that – once again – my feelings were ignored. This man (and men that have always and still continue to do this) did not care that I didn’t want to be hit on. I outright TOLD him that I wasn’t interested. He harassed me anyway. Why am I supposed to believe that he would all the sudden see a ring and decide THEN that he’s going to care about my feelings? The “I won’t hit on her because she’s obviously in love with another man” theory is nice, but unrealistic – if these men cared at all about how I (and other women) felt than this article wouldn’t exist in the first place. The simple suggestion that I’m left alone because the ring is indicative of a contractual, loving relationship is completely incongruous with my other experiences. In light of this I can’t possibly let myself believe that these men just want to respect the contract into which I’ve entered, but rather that they are trying to respect the man with which I’m involved.

      • But according to your own story, you didn’t make firm verbal communications, you made excuses, you tolerated the violation of common standards of behavior without commenting on them. Women talking to other women would get the hint. Men typically don’t get hints, they boundary test, and predatory people do too. Please, please read “The Gift of Fear” by G. deBecker. It’ll change your life.

        “I need to be involved with another man to deter attention. As in the example, my verbal requests to be left alone are not good enough.”

  5. It breaks my heart that this woman doesn’t understand her own power. Read “The Gift of Fear.” The next time someone sits next to you on a crowded subway car, recognize you have options: ask them not to and point out the car is empty, move if they don’t respond to your boundary. Don’t talk to them. Say the same thing over, in the same inflection, same words. Three times works: “I’m studying.”

    I was at a bar with a woman friend, talking about something personal and engrossing, when a guy walked up. My response was “We’re having a personal conversation here.” and stared at him until he left. My friend was horrified at *my* bad manners. Afraid the guy would lurk in the parking lot and kill us.

    It’s on US to stand up for ourselves. Pretending to be someone else’s chattel just kicks the can down the road, to our daughters and nieces.

    • I don’t think it’s fair to distill the issue down to one of manners/confidence/”power,” etcetera. I don’t like to use such heavy-handed terms as victim blaming, but your comment does have a teensy ring of that, when paying mind to the fact that Amy described a pretty clear scenario of harassment.

      I think Amy is quite aware that the wedding ring solution is flawed and problematic. It is a provisional stopper on a much huger waterfall of a problem.

      I also think it’s important to keep in mind that not all women feel comfortable being assertive in dealing with prolonged or aggressive advances from men. This could be based on something like religion or upbringing, or on something like anxiety/mental health state. I’m painting in broad brushstrokes here; my main point is that I think a deliberation on why refusing to ‘kick the can down the road’ ain’t so easy for everyone is more fruitful than telling women what to do with it.

  6. This is a wonderful article. It opens up many, many issues, but the most important is that women’s right to travel freely and safely as they go about their daily business is still not guaranteed. The problem, as I see it, is not women’s but men’s. Men are the ones who annoy women, who won’t go away when asked nicely, who intimidate and in many cases, sexually assault women. From what I have observed, men bother women of all ages, shapes and sizes, so thinking it’s because a woman is “pretty” is not accurate. There will be little change until men change, and that starts with early childhood education, as the short and very painful to watch video illustrated. Thank you, Amy, for this thought-provoking article.

  7. I’ve faced this very issue countless times– and attempting to bring the issue up to others (even other women) hits a very real roadblock- people don’t want to hear the “bad things” that need to be fixed, most would like to stick their head in the sand and pretend the issues don’t exist.. I once had a man block my car into a drive-up store and force me to give him my phone number(excuses didn’t work and he made me call his phone so he would know if it was real or not or take one of his 7 phones he tried to give me) before he would let me go. (bystanders are useless) I always laugh and tell people I’m a crazy magnet, but it’s a reason why I’m very wary about where I am and the people near (having trouble even deciding the best stories to tell) I would never go out walking at night (people tell me I’m crazy and paranoid) — but men especially just DON’T GET IT! I’ve taken lately to getting very loud and very aggressive when men don’t “get it”. People begin to stare and the men tend to get uncomfortable and give up.. It used to be that I would get cursed out or told I’m ugly once I refused, but when I get all loud and crazy they tend to slink off.. (never while alone though- must have people around for this to work) It just so happens I do crazy quite well 😛 Bravo to the author of this article! Will share, but doubt many will even take the time to read it.. society these days.. sigh.

    • I don’t understand this:

      ” I once had a man block my car into a drive-up store and force me to give him my phone number(excuses didn’t work and he made me call his phone so he would know if it was real or not or take one of his 7 phones he tried to give me) before he would let me go. (bystanders are useless) I always laugh and tell people I’m a crazy magnet”

      Why didn’t you dial 911? Why did you make excuses? Lock yourself in your car and start honking the horn until he went away?

      Women are too slow to acknowledge when someone has violated their boundaries, and very slow to react appropriately (mostly because we’ve been trained to get along, and few of us have been trained to take care of ourselves).

      This guy was acting like a rapist, he knew it. To paraphrase Gavin deBecker, a grown man knows that when he’s alone in a parking garage anywhere near a strange women, he *knows* he’s scaring her. We have to stop pretending to be brave and start actually acting like we’re strong, capable of taking care of ourselves. Challenge people when they test us, cut straight to the truth of the matter. Anything less simply makes it easier for predators to pretend they aren’t. IMHO of course…

  8. I think you have the wrong attitude towards the “ring” and what it represents. I’ve used the fake engagement ring before. The ring has kept the workplace drama free and reduced unwanted attention in situations when I want to avoid being hit on. It is easy to slip a fake diamond on the finger and wield it like a shield.
    An engagement ring or wedding band isn’t a sign that you are owned. It is a universal sign that you have chosen to commit to one person. It says you aren’t looking for someone for that day, week, month, or year. Would you own the man wearing a wedding band that matches yours? The wedding band doesn’t say “property of” but “I’ve chosen to dedicate my life to this person.” If your attitude is one of dedication to the person whose ring you are wearing, it clues others in that you aren’t looking for a one night stand while riding home from work. If a fake engagement ring you wear to ward of pervs, prevents you from finding the A&F model that you want to have the ons with then you need to consider whether you should really be wearing one or not.
    I am in complete agreement that advances should stop when it is made clear they are unwanted. However you hid behind your book as easily as you tried to hide behind a fake engagement ring. To the truly priggish an engagement ring means nothing. I’ve been out with married friends who are wearing large rocks and impressive wedding bands. They’ve been hit on with the same frequency as any of the girls without rings on their fingers.

  9. Mel–to clarify, relying on the authority of my fiance, imaginary or not, is treating myself like someone else’s chattel. Vs. handling situations with clarity and firmness when they arise, on my own authority.

    • I know I’ve already replied to your earlier message and I don’t mean to turn this into a comment-war. /honest disclaimer

      I think the word “chattel” is highly loaded and somewhat inappropriate for a conversation like this. Chattel = animals going to slaughter, enslaved and abused workers…

      I understand that *technically* the word means non-land property, but let’s be real about the social connotations. A bit heavy-handed.

  10. Excellent. Spot on. It is amazing how many parents teach children that they do not have the right to their own body. Wonder what Dad would say if the older child were male and baby female.

  11. Pingback: The Invisible Fiance | Comical Musings about Potentially Catastrophic Events·

  12. “What is this society we live in that has led men to feel that by virtue of their sex, they are entitled to conversation with us simply because they decided they were going to start one?” Entitled? never. Though given that women by and large never approach men it is by necessity that we do so lest we die alone. Now I must admit I’m no fan of jewelry, I must also admit that I agree with Mel’s appraisal. I would like to say that a wedding ring does not mean “owned”, it means “not single”. However, you have pointed out the incongruities with this interpretation above thus, it is time to acknowledge that it means different things to different people, though I loath to think that it is symbolically synonymous with shackles. Rather I’d like to hear your take on the male side of these interactions. Let’s ignore this one brute and speak to the wider collection of men hitting on you. Imagine you lived in a world in which men NEVER hit on women, NEVER asked for a date, or a second, or initiated sex, or proposed marriage. How would you find Mr/Ms Right?

    • I apologize if this article has implied that I just hate when men talk to me and approach me etc. I get that we have certain cultural norms that dictate or pressure men to be the first one to make the move. I also get that not all men are “pressured” – men have agency and some probably genuinely enjoy striking up conversation with women.

      I have indeed had a few pleasant conversations with strangers in public places, who have asked for my number and left me alone when I said “no”.

      That is the important distinction that needs to be made here. This article was intended to question why most of the men by which I am approached don’t listen the first or the second or the third time I refuse their approaches. I can assure you that if every man who asked me for my number backed off when I told him I wasn’t interested, that this article probably wouldn’t exist. But evidently my voice isn’t worth listening to, and that – not the fact that men just approach women at all – is where the problem lies.

      To be more clear: The entire suggestion that men perhaps subconsciously view women as objects (whose bodies, conversation, attention, phone numbers, etc.) they are owed is contingent not upon the existence of situations wherein men approach women at all, but of situations wherein they don’t care to back off when the woman clearly isn’t interested. And more than that, when men’s reactions to a woman’s “no” is to verbally (or in some terrible cases physically) abuse them.

      And as an additional point, because you have made the important note of the culture in which men “make the first move”, I should note that we need to be careful about defining what exactly acceptable “first moves” are. Entering into casual conversation, listening to a woman’s refusals (or acceptances!), and going from there is one thing. But when people see “making the first move” – as I don’t think either of us would argue is rare – as cat-calling, whistling, grabbing, gesturing inappropriately, and so on, we breach what could be considered, under certain conditions, an acceptable or respectful culture/behaviour and instead create a social protocol that suggests women’s objectification.

  13. Hi Amy, thank you for taking the time to reply. As some one who believes there’s a romantic renaissance waiting to begin when the ideas of “the pickup community” meet with modern feminism at a main stream level I would very much like to read your thoughts on defining what exactly acceptable “first moves” are in more detail. Who knows maybe will start to see the first actions balance out a little amongst the genders. I don’t see it happening in any hurry but it would be an interesting change to live through.

  14. Mysti Berry:
    “‘Why didn’t you dial 911? Why did you make excuses? Lock yourself in your car and start honking the horn until he went away?”

    Women are too slow to acknowledge when someone has violated their boundaries, and very slow to react appropriately (mostly because we’ve been trained to get along, and few of us have been trained to take care of ourselves).

    This guy was acting like a rapist, he knew it.”

    What you said baffles me, because you clearly understand that the guy in this scenario was acting in a way that you yourself have described as “like a rapist”, yet you fail to realize the inherent danger of responding to the situation in the manner which you have suggested.

    You seem to forgetting many important social, psychological, and biological aspects of any situation similar to the one described. First of all, any man who is “acting like a rapist” and displaying behaviors which are as inappropriate as the ones described clearly isn’t an average person who you should expect to act (or more importantly, react) in a rational way. I’m a guy myself, so take it from someone who knows how guys “work.” Any guy who acts like that is, likely to a great degree, sexist. He therefore will have very little respect for women, their wants, needs, and feelings. He will also believe that, as a woman, you are inferior, and thus you should treat him like your superior. (This mentality is more common than you would care to believe). When you “disrespect” his self-proclaimed authority, you are severely endangering yourself. In addition, since there are many times that alcohol will be involved in situations similar to these, that adds another dangerous risk factor. Why would you EVER want to respond to an already sexually aggressive scenario with aggression? You just end up escalating and contributing to an already potentially dangerous situation.

    “We have to stop pretending to be BRAVE and start actually acting like we’re STRONG, CAPABLE OF TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES. CHALLENGE PEOPLE when they test us, cut straight to the truth of the matter.”

    While I do not discredit the context in which you have defined these words/phrases (in fact I even commend you for your bravery and independence), there’s a huge problem with what you’re suggesting. Your ability to take care of yourself has absolutely no importance in this kind of situation. You generally should NOT challenge men who act like this. While you may be “strong” in one sense of the word, you’re missing the fact that men in these scenarios are, 9 times out of 10, going to be PHYSICALLY stronger than you. A huge contributing factor to those who are the perpetrators of sexual assault is that, wait for it….
    They are men.

  15. Mel:
    “An engagement ring or wedding band isn’t a sign that you are owned. It is a universal sign that you have chosen to commit to one person. It says you aren’t looking for someone for that day, week, month, or year. Would you own the man wearing a wedding band that matches yours? The wedding band doesn’t say “property of” but “I’ve chosen to dedicate my life to this person.” If your attitude is one of dedication to the person whose ring you are wearing, it clues others in that you aren’t looking for a one night stand while riding home from work.”

    You’ve completely stepped out of the contextual confines of this article. Sorry to burst your bubble, but most single men don’t see it that way. Especially not the ones who are approaching you regardless of your blatant lack of interest. There are even a surprising number of MARRIED men who, on a deep psychological level, consider the ring to be a sign that their wife is their property. Us guys can’t be blamed though, it’s very deeply rooted within our psychology, so deep that we aren’t even aware of it. Fortunately for the sake of this discussion I’m one of the few guys who IS aware, yet I’m still guilty of thinking this way at times. Remember though that I’m strictly talking about the ring.

    Girls are just as guilty of this kind of logic. We all are, it’s human psychology. If you’ve ever had a boyfriend/husband and you’ve experienced jealousy or you’ve felt threatened when they’ve been involved (in any sort of way) with another woman, then you’re guilty of this same type of thinking. We either feel jealousy or we feel threatened because we view our significant other as “ours.” It’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s a perfectly rational thought process that stems from our defining of what it means to be in a relationship.

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