Women do not necessarily want your attention (2007)

A day late and a bit of a change this week as I am on holiday (sort of). Mother RDP is visiting from the other side of the world for the first time in 6 years and requires entertaining (which is actually fairly easy. 1 – provide Playstation game. 2 – add red wine. But she prefers cooperative games and saying “sorry, I can’t play Lego Pirates of the Caribbean any more, I  have to write my blog” isn’t worth the death stare). So for this week I am providing a post from my old blog – one from 2007 before I’d self identified as a feminist.

This was the first time I really wrote about street harassment, the first time I really let rip with my opinions online and it was both freeing and terrifying. The post generated many comments – positive, negative, educational, insightful and creepy, and it was my first experience of the “not all men” derailing rollercoaster.

I look back now and it’s not perfect, it’s not quite how I’d put things now, but it’s my first real piece of “internet writing” and I present it for you here, unedited, as one from the vaults:



Dear To Men,
I know this is a subject which has been brought to your attention numerous times, by women you know, strangers in the street, documentaries, newspapers and various other forms. But you are clearly not getting it.Women, believe it or not, do not necessarily want your attention.I know this may come as a shock to you. It certainly seemed to come as a shock to the four men who – separately – approached me last night, after half 10pm, while I was unlocking my bike outside Sainsbury’s. They all seemed very surprised indeed that a young, lone, small blonde woman would be undesirous of the attentions of a lone man at night. One was so surprised, in fact, that I rebuffed his attentions, that he seemed to arrive at the conclusion that I was a ‘fucking slut’. I am rather bemused at this deduction, as I would have thought that that type of woman would, in fact, have welcomed such advances.Women also do not like being yelled at from men in cars, vans, lorries and building sites. I know this may come as a terrible shock, as I am sure from the frequency with which it occurs, men must find this a particularly successful way of getting a date. I should note that yelling at a woman who is turning right at a busy road, merely to tell her that you can see her bum, and that you approve, is not a good way to ingratiate yourself with said girl. You are far more likely to find that when you a stopped at the next junction, your tail light will be kicked in. Or it would have been, had I caught up with you.

I am aware that in the animal world, male birds strut and whistle particular tunes to attract a mate. I am sorry to inform you that this method does not work for humans. In fact, the next man that tries to attract me by adopting a pigeon chested stature, whistling at me, and calling out the mating chant of the Greater Spotted Twat, “alrite darlin” will find that his reproductive equipment experience rearranging when they meet my shoe, at speed.

If you see a woman you find attractive on the street, or in public, here is a handy guide to prevent you being murdered by a woman who is finally at the end of her temper with idiots who fail to recognise that women are people, and not things to be pulled, raped, mugged, or just shouted at in a moment of boredom.

• Don’t be an unmitigating bastard. If you are one of these, then stick to pulling desperate drunk women in bars.

• Make sure you are good looking, or at least dressed well, clean, and that you smell ok. If you are unwashed, unsanitary, sweaty, or have a third ear in the middle of your forehead, may I recommend a bath, deodorant and possibly even surgery. If you have any female friends, ask them for their advice on your appearance. Do not get cross if you do not agree with their recommendations. The best way to attract a woman, is to listen to what women think of you. If you think you know better, then you have an answer, right there, as to why you are still alone.

• Do not approach any lone women you do not already know late at night. Some men do not seem to realise, but women have an inbuilt fear of men at night, which prompts us to automatically reject a suitor who approaches in this way. WE WILL ASSUME YOU WANT TO RAPE US. Even if this is not your intention, let me assure you, WE WILL ASSUME YOU WANT TO RAPE US. Whether this is experience, genetic hard-wiring, social conditioning, or something else, I do not know – although I personally believe it’s part of that entirely necessary fight or flight instinct. Part of our brain says DANGER. RUN/FIGHT NOW. Let me assure you, that in 99% of circumstances, lone women at night who are approached by men WILL ASSUME YOU WANT TO RAPE THEM. That other 1% may assume the same thing, but they usually get payment in advance.

• If you do make the error of approaching a lone woman late at night, and you receive an angry, fearful or violent response from the woman, and you are unsure why, please refer to the point above. Women, when they are scared, often respond with anger, and thus may shout at you. If this does occur, the best course of action is to back away, apologise, and leave her alone. If you follow her, or try to continue the conversation, SHE WILL ASSUME YOU WANT TO RAPE HER. If she does get angry and shout at you, I would suggest that, owing to the point above, that this is a PERFECTLY VALID AND SANE RESPONSE.

• Many men seem to be surprised by the reaction of women such as I have described above. I have witnessed men being upset and hurt, even shocked by having their advances rebuffed. As men really do not seem to understand why a woman might reject their advances, I shall try to explain it very, very slowly.


• Just in case you are still confused, I shall clarify further.


• IF you do see a woman in public you think is beautiful, and you would like to take her for a drink (and not just have sex with her) then she may actually quite like it if you ask her. However, this is dependant on your surroundings.

Appropriate places:
Anywhere with lots of people, e.g. the underground, supermarkets, libraries, coffee shops.
Places where people go to socialise, e.g. pubs, clubs

Inappropriate places:
Dark alleyways
Deserted streets
Public toilets
Night buses
Anywhere she is on her own and no one else is around
When she is unlocking her bike from an area notorious for bike theft, theft and violent crime when everything around you is closed

Good ways to start the conversation:
‘I’m sorry, I hope you don’t think this is weird, well, i mean it is, but you’re really pretty, I don’t suppose you’d let me buy you a coffee?’
‘I know this is a bit weird, and I’m a total stranger, and please tell me to fuck off if you want to, but you just looked too beautiful to let you walk past me and out of my life without me stopping to ask you your name’

Something like that. ALWAYS acknowledge your actions in approaching a stranger are weird. ALWAYS give her the option of backing off.

Bad ways to start the conversation:
‘Alrit darlin’
‘great tits luv’
‘fancy one do ya?’
‘OI OI!!!! OI!!! OI YOU!!!!’

NEVER EVER EVER get pissed off if she says ‘no’.

• Sometimes, there are some very obvious signs a woman is busy, and attempting conversation may be an error. For example:

– She is reading a book
– She is listening to music
– She is on the phone

Women often do these things because they enjoy them. Some men seem to believe that women only do these things to fill up the time in between when men are talking to them. This is an erroneous assumption ,and foolish in the extreme.

If a woman is reading, and you talk to her, and she continues to hold the book/magazine/newspaper in the same position and continues to read, then she is NOT INTERESTED IN TALKING TO YOU.

• I am repeating this because it is probably the most important piece of information you will ever know about women. You must always bear this in mind when approaching any woman. We live in fear of being raped. We just do. We may not think about it all the time, but it’s there, at the back of our mind when we walk home. When we walk to the bus stop at night. When we wait to meet someone. When we’re surrounded by men we don’t know. When we are walking on unfamiliar streets. When a man we don’t know approaches us. When we feel lonely, vulnerable, far from home. This is why we do not like it when men yell at us. When they whistle. When they jeer and hoot and shout lewd things from cars. When a man on the street asks us for a cigarette. It is a constant, and occasionally all consuming fear that we will always have. And it is why we reject advances with such volume and stress. Because we are AFRAID because you are BIGGER than us, and STRONGER than us and WE DO NOT WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU.

• If you do not understand any of the above, there is no hope for you.

Yours sincerely,

P.s. the next man that approaches me late at night while I’m on my own is going to find out exactly what it feels like to have an Abus maximum security D-lock repeatedly slammed into their head. Purely in the name of science, of course.

EDIT: I’m adding this in, to the guys reading this who are saying ‘hey, we’re not all like this…’

Men don’t get it, because they’re either too nice to understand why other men would behave like that, or they’re the fucktards doing it in the first place.

EDIT: A small number of women have said they don’t fear rape per se, more attack. I’m not going to change it, because I think it’s the fundamental difference between women and men walking home at night – men might fear attack/theft/mugging, but there’s something much more basic, more primal, more personal about the fear of rape than the fear of attack. And these men that say ‘allo darling’ – well – these are SEXUAL ADVANCES. And we don’t respond badly to them because we think these men are going to take our phone or our wallet. I’m not telling you ‘YOU FEAR RAPE’. I’m explaining WHY women react badly in those situations. I would go as far to say that some of you have misunderstood my point, zoned in on one part, thought ‘she says i fear rape! no i don’t!!’ and not taken into account the *context*.

If you do still take issue with the use of the word ‘rape’ – please feel free to re-read substituting the word ‘rape’ for ‘hurt’.

EDIT: ‘To Men’ – it will stand. I know there are exemptions, but it’s making people read it, and if it wasn’t controversial, who’d bother? I do accept some of you have valid reasons for taking issue with ‘To Men’, and I agree with those points, but again, it will stand, mainly because I think it’s funnier. I will also direct you to this excellent comment which is written better than I managed:

This is a really common and regular occurrence for pretty much every woman I know. As in, every week, if not every time I walk home alone in the dark. And the people who do it vary hugely; old, young, middle-aged; white, black, asian; British, foreign; tall, short, medium height; fat, thin, medium build.
The one defining characteristic they all, without exception, share, is that they are all men. When it happens on an almost daily basis, to half the people you know, and it’s always  men, identifying the problem as being with (some) men is not bigotry, it’s just a fact of life.”



  1. “Ask some man you know, ‘When is the last time you were concerned or afraid that another person would harm you?’ Many men cannot recall an incident within years. Ask a woman the same question and most will give you a recent example or say, ‘Last night,’ ‘Today,’ or even ‘Everyday.’
    “At core, men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them.”
    ~The Gift of Fear

  2. “I am aware that in the animal world, male birds strut and whistle particular tunes to attract a mate. I am sorry to inform you that this method does not work for humans.”

    Oh, it does. Street harassers are just not doing it right.
    You see, male birds usually don’t run after females. They stay in their own place and attract females with their mating chant. And then they show off their good looks.

    The human equivalent would be a man carefully constructing a beautiful place (a concert hall is good, a nice spot for a street musician suffices), sing songs to attract potential mates, and then show off his good looks to the potential mates he attracted by dancing.

    Street harassers want to scare women. They are well aware they won’t find a girlfriend that way.

    1. Yeah, there’s a LOT of problems with this. It was probably my first ever piece of feminism writing, in my early “oh shit, I *am* a feminist days. It’s not what I’d write now.

      I like to look back on my old writing to see how much I’ve changed and how I – and society & culture – has changed. There was no real national conversation about street harassment back then, and thories about it being about power, privilege and entitlement were still somewhat fringe.

      It alsp reminds me that there’s always room for me to learn more, refine my arguments and develop my understanding of complex issues.

      I love the idea of a man-bird building an opera house and singing to attract women-birds. Brilliant!

  3. naturally like your website but you need to check the spleling on quite a fewof your posts. A number of them are rife with spleling problemsand I find it very bothersome to tell the truth then againI’ll certainly come again again.

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