If you're a woman who's been on the Tube or gone to the shop or left the house at any point during your adult life, you will be familiar with being approached by men. Men who tell you to smile or attempt to talk to you when you're sweating on a treadmill or make a comment about the book you're reading even though you very clearly do not want to speak to them and are, y'know, JUST TRYING TO READ YOUR BOOK.
And in recent years, thanks to the advent of social media and projects like Everyday Sexism, women have been talking about it. In news that has apparently shocked the world, women have gone online and asked men if they could, like, maybe not hassle us when we're on our way to work? Maybe?
So if you are a man who wants to approach a woman, you may now be wondering what to do. What, in this new age of political correctness and having to respect women's basic autonomy and human rights, do you say? What are your moves? What, most importantly, if she is wearing headphones? Well, never fear guys: Dan Bacon has got your back.
Dan Bacon – which I hope is his real name, because honestly what kind of tool would rename himself 'Bacon' – writes a blog called 'The Modern Man', in which he covers such lofty topics as "3 Reasons Why a Woman's Thigh Gap is So Attractive to Men", "3 Reasons Why Men Are Attracted To Breasts" and, weirdly, "My Ex Is Telling Everyone I'm Crazy".
'How To Talk To A Woman Who Is Wearing Headphones', one of his more cerebral offerings, has somehow gone viral and been plucked from the world of men who want to pick up women on the street but are unwilling to shower and visit Reddit maybe 45 times a day, and into the actual world, where people know what sponges are and what basic social decorum is and don't want to take their headphones off.
Sadly, because Dan Bacon is a pick-up artist, unfortunately the blog does not just say "don't", so here, point by point, is how and why Dan Bacon is wrong and bad.
Okay, starting with an easy one here Dan: it does. It does mean you can't talk to them. That is what it means. It means that.
I mean, this could, technically, mean one of two things. We could, as Dan does, go with "her taking off her headphones means she is open to what you have to say" – that's one option. The other: "her taking her headphones off means that she is used to being harassed by men she doesn't want to speak to, and has learned through years of perpetually creepy and disrespectful treatment by strangers that pacifying them and going along with what they're saying for a while is a better way to avoid potentially extremely dangerous confrontation than ignoring them". Could also be that one. It's hard to tell. Who knows.
Now we're getting to the good stuff: the step-by-step guide. I'd like to point out that this kind of list contributes to an incredibly sexist and dehumanising idea of women as passive objects into which you input attention so that they output sex, but honestly I can't get past the fact that this is a list written by a man whose only actual interaction with women has been the time he chatted with a level 17 High Elf on World of Warcraft one time who, in the end, turned out to be some 50-year-old dude from Barnsley.
I mean, I know dating is hard, but I feel like specifying that you have to stand 1 to 1.5 meters away from another human being is… kind of… weird? Like, I don't know how to talk to people I fancy but, being a normal functioning adult, I am aware of how close it is appropriate to stand to them. If somebody is having to teach you to not stand four inches away from a woman before smiling in a relaxed and easygoing manner at them, then you are beyond help. Close the laptop now, dude. You are not going to get laid today or any other day.
Here, Dan explains exactly how much effort you may have to go to in order to hassle a woman who is simply attempting to go about her day to day life, which, as it turns out, is 'quite a lot! Really quite a lot! Like if she ignores you twice, you're still good bro! Keep mutely waving until she fucks you!'
"Nervousness and excitement" = "irritation at having to take headphones off mixed with intangible terror because unknown man is desperately attempting to get attention and could potentially get pushy, coercive or violent at any point". Plus I pretty much know in advance that any dude who's just spent 15 to 20 minutes trying to get me to take my headphones off is almost certainly going to try and talk to me about, like, the fact that he doesn't hate women or anything, but Ghostbusters is kind of a classic and there was no need to mess with the gender of the characters for the sake of political correctness really, was there, they could have just left it as it was, couldn't they?
Two things: one, acknowledging how awkward a situation is has never made a situation less awkward in human history. Never. Not even once. Two: once again, if you are referring to yourself as a "cool guy" then you are never going to have sex with a human woman.
ACTUAL IRL TRANSCRIPT
PUA: [Smiling in an unnerving manner] Hey! Hey - could you… could y-…headphones. Headphones…? ….COULD YOU TAKE OFF YOUR HEADPHONES.
Woman: [Vaguely aware of a man standing around 1 to 1.5 metres away from her trying to talk to her] What?
PUA: I was…I don't normally…I don't normally talk to women with headphones on.
Woman: [Desperately longing for a life in which this man is not currently talking to her] Right. Okay.
PUA: Anyway, I am on my way to a store up the street. Would you like to go for a juice or coffee?
That is the only logical outcome of any of this. The last line is always going to be "no". Every time.
Actual translation: women are attracted to the strength in men (eg knowing when it is an appropriate time to approach them) and turned off by the weakness (eg unnerving men asking them to take their headphones off, sweating audibly, wearing a T-shirt that has a Game of Thrones joke on it).
This bit: this bit is not that funny. The whole post is a ridiculous, farcical mess, but this bit kind of boils down the mindset of a pick-up artist.
Women do not ignore men because they're trying to "challenge" them. Women ignore men because they're nervous, or they're scared of them, or because they just don't want to talk to them. Women are approached all the time in public – literally every single day from when they're about 13 years old – and sometimes the men who approach them are not that nice. Sometimes they aren't just trying their luck or being cheeky: sometimes they are persistent in a horrible, frightening way. Sometimes they will not leave you alone. Sometimes, if you're really lucky, they will literally follow you down the street until you're faced with a choice of "man continues to pester me as I walk aimlessly down the road in the hope he'll go away" and "escaping from situation but potentially dangerous man knows where I live".
What pick-up artists fail to realise is that women – and bear with me on this one – are human. Human beings with hopes and dreams and, weirdly enough, autonomy. A woman's every move is not some kind of calculated sexual power play.
So, for those at the back, a recap: don't gesticulate wildly at a woman to make her take her headphones off, even if you are standing an appropriate number of metres away from her. Don't assume that a very visible lack of interest is actually some kind of complex psychosexual move designed to challenge and excite you. Don't refer to yourself, under any circumstances, as a 'cool guy'. And, final tip, just to reiterate: maybe, just, like, don't.
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