First, can I just say I AM SO EXCITED for the new QOTSA album. I just checked my alternate email inbox and found a message marked Tue, May 7, 3:12 AM. Apparently I spent $51.43 on vinyl and a CD. It is the uber deluxe bestest vinyl version you can get and my favorite band, so I ain’t even mad that I broke my no-credit-cards-past-1am rule. Play their song “I Appear Missing” while you read, if you like, below.
I am working on a Pandora station called Everything Homme Touches. When that’s mashed into submission to my tastes, I’ll post it.
Anyway, I wanted to examine something that’s been bugging me; when is it okay or even necessary to interfere, and when do you let people handle themselves?
I mean, as a brassy extrovert who’s not afraid to tell people to get their balls off of me, sometimes I resent it when a lesbro gets over-protective. Pro-tip: pretending to be my “boyfriend” in order to “rescue” me from some asshat is going to annoy me almost as much as the dude telling me I’ve got pretty teeth 10 times in one night. Also, is that some sort of PUA thing? Teeth? I have little baby chompers and the dentists had to put gadgets in my mouth to make it bigger; I don’t really think my teeth are that impressive.
So, this guy I’ve met twice in the bar before — he’s from Detroit so I’d told him about this blog — came up to me and asked me to be his wingwoman. He indicated a woman I’d seen on the dance floor earlier, who actually binged my gaydar for a change (my gaydar is fairly silent and inobservant). She was standing with another young lady. “No, she’s not on your team,” I said. He insisted. “No. This is the wrong place,” we were at the Brass Rail, “and I am the wrong person,” I said. He went on a tangent and told me he has no trouble getting white chicks and won’t I please help him get this sexy black woman all the while hanging on my neck. “Seriously, I am the wrong person,” I said through my tiny teeth, a little bit of heat in my lungs.
He flew solo and persisted in pestering them. I didn’t know if I should walk up and say, “hey, this guy bothering you?” or let them take care of their own business, thank you very much. When do you reach out and when do you respect other people as capable adults? And how does alcohol change this? Worse, would they see me as another predator? Ultimately I decided their two to his one was sufficient and turned my back so my eyes would stop rolling.
Below is my breakdown of when I’d want someone to help me, where “you” could be a casual friend or a stranger. (Close friends would probably know me better and be able to do more.) It is assumed you see me in a basically one-on-one situation. Do you agree?
Leave me alone if:
- You know I’m gay and a guy is potentially flirting with me, but I’m smiling, making eye contact with him, and/or touching his arm or shoulder (I might be enjoying the conversation)
- Really, if anyone is talking to me and I’m smiling, making eye contact, and/or touching them
- I’m arguing with someone but there’s zero physical contact and I am making eye contact with my opponent (I might be enjoying the argument)
Enter the conversation as a neutral third-party, but don’t confront anyone when:
- You know I’m gay and it seems like a guy is hitting on me aggressively
- (You don’t know I am gay but) you suspect that I’m not enjoying a guy hitting on me
- You suspect that I’m not enjoying a woman hitting on me
- I’m arguing with someone but I keep looking away, crossing my arms, turning my body away, and/or make repeated eye contact with you
- The person I’m talking to seems like somewhat of a stranger to me and is considerably more drunk and/or being more familiar than me (I might want to be nice, but need help managing someone who is a little out of control)
Say something to point out my agressor might be doing something socially unacceptable (Do you know this guy? Is she bothering you?) if:
- I’m arguing with someone and they keep touching me even though I do not reciprocate their touches and/or even try to push them away
- Someone (probably bigger than me) has me cornered, I’m avoiding eye contact with them, and I’m looking around (as if I’m looking for someone else i.e. to help me)
- I make repeated eye contact with you (my way of asking for you to come over)
- I’m sitting at a booth, trying to eat some food with my friends, and someone is looming over us and we’re alternating between telling him to go away and pretending to get on our phones, and we don’t want him to sit with us, but we’re kinda trapped in the booth, and this guy is shaking like he’s on drugs, and it’s 3am seriously party time is over…. (this actually happened)
This is a tricky topic for me, because while I’m an independent woman and I resent being treated like I need to be rescued, there are times when I could use some social help. Smoking patios can be rather narrow in this town, and I have been physically trapped in undesirable conversations. I may be able to leave the conversation, but don’t want to give up my chair or position because I’m doing my best not to be defeated or there are just not enough damn chairs. Or, more often, the agressor is a mutual friend.
I don’t know why more women don’t try to come to my rescue. I suppose we just aren’t given the scripts to “be the hero” and though we might want to reach out, it conflicts with the other scripts we’re taught to “be nice” or “avoid direct conflict” and we don’t really know what to do. I also suspect that like anyone else, women fear social judgement. They won’t risk interrupting a conversation because, let’s face it, how many times have you tried to help someone and they responded with rudeness?
I think we have to address that sometimes this rudeness is warranted or at least understandable — that by coming to someone’s aid you are essentially identifying that person as “in need.” Someone who is “in need” can be seen as inferior, weak, or defenseless. Because that person you tried to rescue has been spending the last 5 minutes to an hour defending herself from an aggressor, she may be in the type of mindset such that she refuses help in order to continue to look strong. Your interruption may actually be beneficial, but you may get no reward other than seeing an intense situation get derailed. Of course, you in no way deserve a reward for trying to help someone.
Or, you might be trying to help someone who really didn’t need your help. Hence needing to break down when it’s appropriate to intervene.
Then, I think, we have to be more willing to accept and acknowledge help. I sat on a chair in a really packed PB party: the attendees were a mixture of fraternity-types and redditors. Some smashed random came up to us and asked if we were playing beer pong. He tried to put his arms around us. My friend felt confrontational, possibly because beer pong got shut down awhile ago, duh, and this was our second strained interaction with him that night. So she told him, “Yeah, we’re playing beer pong right now.” When he asked where our cups and balls were, I indicated the latter were in my lap and grabbed my crotch.
He asked a slew of confusing questions after that. A woman interrupted, “Hey, you girls alright?” and I didn’t really understand she was helping us. It was the first time anything like that had happened to me. Even though I was probably doing ok — what with my fancy word play and getting the dude to say he would enjoy touching my testicles, if I had them — he was becoming increasingly obnoxious. “Wait,” I turned to the gal, “Thank you for reaching out to us. I wish more women would stick up for each other like you just did for us.”
So, yeah, the moral of the story is that if I’ve resorted to discussing gonads with a guy, I probably could use your assistance.