Up Front by Emma Hart


The Up Front Guides: Relationships for the Unisexual

Recently I ran across a discussion between acquaintances of mine on Facebook, about how a single gent should approach women. I'd like to thank the particular gent whose discussion it was for allowing me to use it as the jumping-off point for this column, which seems to be sorely needed. Nonetheless, this should not be taken as criticism or endorsement of him or any of the other participants.

So. This column will be written with het-cis-vanilla-monogamous people in mind. What the fuck is wrong with you straight people? The thing about women? Is that they're from Earth. And the thing about men? Is that they're from Earth. They're not aliens. Alienating you from each other was a strategy to sell shitty books. Why do you need tactics for talking to girls? Why do women need to know what to do with "feminine men"?

Many women complain that the men they meet are brutish bastards.

The fuck? Really? Where are you hanging out that ALL the men you meet are arseholes? Even your male friends? Oh wait, you don't have male friends, do you? What with men being aliens.

I assume this woman and her friends live on the same planet where this is true:

It's simple, if you're nice, you end up alone. If you're a creep, you get the girl, but you won't keep her... The only way a nice guy seems to get anywhere is if the woman makes the first move.

Ah, yes. Nice guys finish last*. Here's a hint. If you genuinely believe that women only like jerks, you're saying two things. One, all women are stupid. Two, every guy you know who's in a relationship is an arsehole. And if you genuinely think that? You're not a nice guy. You're an arsehole. (To the addendum in the above, if only creeps get the girl, no woman is going to make the first move on a nice guy.) 

Here's the thing about women – and I say this as someone who both is a woman, and occasionally hits on them. They're people. And just like non-vagina people, they're all different. Every woman's experience is as valid as any other's. Ergo, one woman's account of her own interaction with men is, I'm sorry to say, completely fucking useless to you if you're not dealing with that woman.

If I try asking a woman out for coffee and acting interested, there's a high chance she'll feel threatened and nervous. Such is my experience, not just a feeling gained from "reading feminist bloggage". 

Let me tell you a story. I was trying to remember how men had let me know they were interested in me, back in the mists of the nineties when stuff like this used to happen. And it's all a bit vague, but this I do remember. It was a nice day, I was in a good mood, walking along Colombo Street smiling to myself. I crossed the road, and met the eyes of a man walking the other way. He smiled back at me. 

Half a block later, he caught up to me and said, "You know, you should be careful who you smile at." And then he asked me for coffee, and I accepted. We went to the Garden City Café, had some coffee, chatted, I told him I was engaged, I finished my coffee, thanked him and left. At no point did I feel in the slightest bit threatened. I still remember it, because it made me feel flattered and happy. 

And I understand that another woman might not have been as comfortable. I understand that I might not be the best benchmark for what's "threatening" to women, being as how I've failed to feel threatened while actually being physically and verbally threatened. But a woman who is scared of every man she meets is also not the best benchmark for what's "threatening" to women. 

And if you were trying to indicate interest in me, what matters is what you know about me. And, the above example aside, by the time you're trying to get me to go out with you, you should have talked to me enough to have some kind of idea of what I'm like. Because what you want is to go out with me, right? Not "a woman", me. You're attracted to the individual person I am. Same goes for every woman. We're all unique fucking snowflakes, alright? You want any chance of her saying yes? Treat her as her, not as "a woman". All women are terrified all the time to the same extent that all men are brutish bastards. 

Neither men nor women are psychic. We won't know you're interested unless you do something to indicate it. And there's an awful lot of space between doing nothing, and sexual harassment. (In fact, one of the creepiest things you can do? Hang close by all night, and never say anything.) 

Now I'll admit that, being as I'm in a relationship, I'm speaking from a position of privilege. But I am also really good at starting relationships. I must be, because I've certainly done it a LOT. The beginnings of my relationships seem, from hazy memory, to involve a lot of alcohol. That's the Kiwi Way, right? My current partner insists I just bowled up to him at a party and snogged him, while dressed as a Playboy Bunny. I don't remember this, but it does sound like something I might do. 

One thing I do know, though. No matter how someone might have approached me, there was no way I was going to start a relationship with someone I didn't physically desire. Surely, no amount of niceness should persuade anyone to date someone they don't fancy. What would be the point? And there is, unfortunately, buggery-fuck all you can do about that. Sorry. 


*Not necessarily. But they don't get up from the table until everyone is finished.

      Emma Hart is the author of the book 'Not Safe For Work'. (Click here to find out more)

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