It’s been done to death, but come on, how could I not address How to Talk to a Girl Wearing Headphones? This beautiful, heaping pile of garbage could not be ignored.
Support for How to Talk to a Girl Wearing Headphones:
The amazing thing about having waited to write this is now there’s a whole bunch of extra shit at the top of the article pleading with us to believe this is a respectable and useful piece of writing.
It’s unclear to me why ‘Female support’ and ‘Customer support’ are the titles of those sections. I guess it’s important to emphasise that even some ladies can get behind this advice while when a man writes in, he’s more than just his gender: he’s a customer. They also missed a valuable opportunity to write “Female media support” as this would have carried a lot more weight.
What really caught my eye, though, were the quoted articles written by the supporters. I fell down the rabbit hole and read Even Women With Headphones May Want A Man To Chase Them and Feminist Magazine: It’s ‘Sexual Harassment’ To Talk To A Woman Wearing Headphones.
Some good points were raised in these articles that some women may actually want to be approached and those that don’t can’t speak for All Women. That doesn’t change the fact that I think the advice from the original article still comes off as really creepy and not that good and also terribly written.
Also there is some frustrating and sometimes mortifying stuff written in these posts:
In their latest stunt aimed to neuter men while simultaneously infantilizing women, feminist magazine Bust blogger Patricia Affriol warns all those with a Y chromosome that they mustn’t ever speak to a woman who is wearing headphones. (This was apparently written after the feminist was triggered by a male blog post which offered advice to men attempting to approach such women.) Don’t ask her how she is doing. Don’t pay her a compliment. Don’t you dare ask her on a date. You know what, don’t even look at her.
That is definitely not what the issue here is. Why can’t a situation ever be nuanced without resorting to making those extreme claims that distract from the heart of what people are saying? If iZombie is on, I would not mean for you to shut the fuck up in all circumstances forever.
And how is this neutering men? Or infantalizing women? Pointing out that many women (and people in general!) don’t want you to interrupt them while they’re wearing headphones isn’t robbing men of their sexual prowess. WE MUST LET MEN APPROACH WOMEN ANY WAY THEY CHOOSE OR THEY CANNOT BE A MAN!
Even Women With Headphones May Want A Man To Chase Them presents this argument:
In fact, if the wearer actually doesn’t want human contact, he or she should not be in public spaces. Public means open to all comers. If you don’t like that, ride your own car (or bike) instead of using public transportation. One of the ways you pay for using public transportation is by sharing the space. Your ticket purchases you a seat or spot to stand near other people, not an impermeable cone of silence.
Well that’s just untrue. I don’t have any options other than public transport, but I definitely don’t want to be spoken to during my morning commute. Yes, you’re sharing the space, but that doesn’t mean you’re under any obligation to need to make small talk with anyone.
Basic courtesy includes being situationally aware, looking people in the eye as you interact with them, being open for small talk, and so forth. Wearing headphones does not excuse you from basic politeness. Sorry.
But even if you’re not wearing headphones, why would you be required to walk around making eye contact with everyone around you being open to small talk? This makes absolutely no sense and is definitely not the behavioural norm.
The thing that gets me is that both of these articles are really quick to dismiss the fucking avalanche of negative (or even horrific) experiences women have had in this area. I don’t think that 1000% of the time someone is wearing headphones you can’t try to talk to them, but I do think you should be thoughtful and considerate of how you do it (like please don’t wave your hand in front of their face to get their attention as the original article suggests.)
And I do think it should be acknowledged and understood why so many women are at the point where they’re like, “Just don’t do it!” I too have never ever had a good experience in this scenario, but I can also acknowledge there is a chance you could meet the love of your life if he or she gets your attention while you’re wearing headphones and strikes up this magical “casual, easy going” conversation with you.
Even Women With Headphones May Want A Man To Chase Them then gives some examples of great times when men approached women in public…except the examples make no fucking sense! They’re video clips of the infamous boombox scene from Say Anything and the scene from The Notebook when they’re out on the water and Noah is like I HAVE SO MANY LETTERS FOR YOUUUUU. But…but…WHAT??
In both scenarios these were the guys trying to win their love interests back, right? They weren’t approaching either woman for the first time…and I think the breakups in both cases were because of parental interference. Furthermore, neither of the scenes in the video clips are really in public! Diane is in her bedroom, and Lloyd shows up outside her window to play her a song, and in The Notebook, they’re on a boat together with no one else around. Public-ish is about as generous as I can be about this. I have honestly no clue what their relevance is to any of this here.
Many women love a man who has the balls to ask them out, to plan our interactions, to say affirmatively what he wants in life and go after it. Wimpy pajama boys are a total turn-off. There is a huge berth between manhandling rapist and limp you-know-what sexed-out porn user. Many, perhaps even most, women would like something in between—strong yet not overpowering, someone who listens—yet the whiners are telegraphing to men that we want the wimpy end of the spectrum. They need to stop ruining it for all of us.
BUT WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH BEING APPROACHED WHILE YOU ARE WEARING HEADPHONES?
The Original Article Has Some Changes
I tried re-reading the original article with the perspective of it really just being some nice advice preventing men from becoming an “Obama-approved Pajama Boy“, which is apparently a term that exists. I found that the article itself has been edited due to the controversy surrounding it, and the edits have only made the posts read more like someone who has never had a human interaction wrote it.
This conversation for example has definitely changed since I first read it (although I can’t find the version I read a couple days ago, a few bits of dialogue were added in). The edits were clearly rushed and meant to make the whole thing come off as more casual, easy-going, chill:
For example, in a shopping mall or shopping street:
Man: [Smile and say in a friendly, easy-going manner manner [sic] ] Hey – I know it’s not normal for people to talk to someone with headphones in, but I was walking along and saw you and thought – wow, she’s hot, I have to come over and say hi. I’m Dan, what’s your name?
Man: [Add in some light humor to get her smiling and create a spark between you] Cool…nice to meet you Jessica. I don’t normally talk to girls with headphones on, but your big green headphones were just calling out to me.
Woman: [Possibly smiling or laughing].
Man: [If you’re in a shopping mall or city street, you might let her know that you has [sic] something else to do besides talk to her, so she understands that you’re not going to stand there talking to her for 30 minutes] Anyway, I’m just out doing a bit of shopping at the moment. How about you?
I have witnessed conversations on The Bachelor that are more natural than this. Why is this guy giving the woman multiple excuses for talking to her despite the fact she has headphones on?
Also, does anyone else find it weird that this ‘Jessica’ just says her name and POSSIBLY smiles and laughs. Even in this ideal scenario she’s not really giving him the green light to keep talking to her, she’s just exhibiting the same basic politeness most women I know would when they feel uncomfortable. If she isn’t “possibly smiling or laughing” at that point in the conversation, there’s a good chance she doesn’t want to continue with the conversation. Poor Jessica!
There’s also a new conversation added with a lot of defensive comments about how this is all super cool:
Man: Anyway, so it’s been good chatting to you, but I’d better get going and do my shopping. Would you like to talk again sometime?
Woman: Sure, that would be nice.
Man: Okay, cool. [Take out your phone]. What’s your number? I’ll give a call sometime to say hi.
Of course, if a woman doesn’t want to talk to the guy again, she can say no to giving him her phone number and the man should just respect that and leave the interaction.
Woman: I’d rather not give out my number.
Man: Okay, cool. Well, nice talking to you anyway. Have a great day.
It’s just two, normal human beings having a conversation that either leads to a phone number exchange or not.
Nothing wrong with that.
If anyone has a problem with that, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I will never back down from the fact that it’s perfectly normal for a man and a woman to talk to each other.
Does anyone else think this sounds more like an alien trying to convince us these two people are human rather than the author trying to convince us the situation itself is normal?
And no one has suggested it’s not normal for a man and woman to talk to each other. How is that the conclusion that has been reached here? No one is saying that men and women can’t have a conversation in public. They’re just saying, read the room. If you make eye contact and the other person seems open to an interaction, talk to them, but if they’re clearly in their own headspace and are in a hurry or avoiding eye contact with anyone around, just let them be. If you saw an attractive stranger on the train and they were asleep, your desire to speak to them wouldn’t trump the fact that they’re asleep (at least I would hope not.) So why should this be any different?