The heels are high, the music is loud, and the laughter is nonstop. A breath of perfume-scented air, girls’ night is finally here. You’ve finished the last sip of your drink and are about to head out to the dancefloor when a man approaches you. He’s a version of the men that you’ve been dodging since your early teen years with his entitled attitude and cocky side grin. He wants to buy you a drink, but by the way he’s trying to run his hand down your back as he talks, you already know all too well that allowing him to buy you a seven dollar cocktail will inevitably lead to him following you around with sleazy comments and the worst intentions all night.
Feeling uncomfortable, you turn him down. At first politely, then you get a little more assertive. Realizing that you really are rejecting his offer to buy you a drink, he gets defensive. Perhaps calling you names, maybe insulting your appearance or, if he’s feeling especially colorful, throwing something in about how he totally “didn’t want to talk to you anyway.” You had every right to turn down his company, drinks, and weak attempts at trying to start a conversation, so why are you being harassed for it? Furthermore, why is this childish reaction the one that is most expected in the occasion of a simple “no thank you”?
After surveying a group of girls on my campus a whopping 82% of them reported having been treated rudely by someone they had turned down at a bar. 97% of these ladies said that they had reluctantly accepted a drink or stayed too long to talk to someone in a social situation in hopes to avoid an aggressive reaction from them.
Looking at the surveys I was initially kind of surprised. How had almost all of the women that I surveyed given minutes and minutes of their lives to men that they had no interest in out of fear of aggressive reactions or merely hurting the contender’s feelings? We are the generation of women associated with independence, strong attitudes, and the Take Back the Night Campaign, after all. But then I thought back to all of the times I’d let some guy’s seemingly endless stories about the car he drives put a damper on a perfectly good girls’ night because I was too polite to tell him to take a hike.
Why do we do this?
Truth be told, we probably all have different reasons. Manners, fear of the outcome, blatant awkwardness, you name it and we’ve probably all felt it at one point or another. While using discretion and being cautious is an absolute necessity, I think it’s time we stop doing things out of fear or obligation. I’m challenging you to say “no” more often. We don’t need to tiptoe around egos, most places have security personnel on site, and you know that your friends are going to have your back in any situation like this.
Don’t misunderstand me, shame be on any man who lashes out at a woman when he’s rejected, but we as women also need to realize that allowing them to stick around a little longer isn’t doing anyone any favors. Being firm and direct with people right off the bat will help you not only keep control of the situation but also make it clear that you did not come out tonight for anyone but yourself. You came out to have fun and dance off a hard week, so you should do that.