Saturday, 26 April 2014

You lookin’ at my bird?

I was prompted to create the current poll by a Twitter discussion about this blogpost by Seeing the Lizards, and replies by Boak & Bailey. Pubs cover a wide spectrum of clientele, and you always run the risk that, if you venture into somewhere outside your comfort zone, you will be made to feel, by verbal or visual cues, that you are not welcome.

I can recall a handful of occasions when I was a speccy, geeky 20-something where I was barracked or made fun of in pubs. Generally I just kept quiet, drank my pint and left. Now I’m a speccy, geeky 50-something nobody seems too bothered – I just blur into the generality of older male pub customers.

I did toy with splitting the poll into separate male and female sections, but decided that would point towards a particular agenda, which wasn’t my intention.

Let me make it clear I don’t remotely condone threatening or insulting behaviour in pubs, but the point needs to be made that what comes across as offensive to one person may simply be robust banter to another. A pub where no customer ever made a jokey remark to another customer they didn’t know would be a very dull pub indeed.

83 comments:

  1. Although being 52, not so much these days, but it's a cross I have to bare.
    Being a big stocky lad who looks like he can handle himself, but well past his prime, I get every half pissed dickhead who thinks himself a bit tasty wanting to have a go.

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  2. Boak is working on a blog post about this but, in short, the problem she's experienced isn't insults or threats but 'Where's your boyfriend?', 'Fancy some company?', 'Can I get you a drink?' when she's just trying to read a paper and have a pint in a corner.

    It's not outright offensive behaviour, but it's enough to make her think twice about entering many pubs on her own, which is where even superficial signs and signals of 'female friendliness' can be helpful.

    The worse I've ever had is the occasional shout of 'Oi -- Greg Wallace/Heston Blumenthal/Private Pyle!' from drunk dickheads.

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  3. It did strike me that women's and men's experiences in this area are so distinct that gendering the poll was the way to go, agenda or no agenda. (If 90 men and 10 women respond, and 15 people say they've had unwelcome attention in pubs, it makes a big difference whether that's a 15% overall rate or a 5%/100% split!)

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  4. Sorry ,Anon here again.
    Cant imagine much aggro in the remaining pubs today
    They are either shut ,near empty
    or half full with loners,the unwanted,the desperate besides the usual crop of Gemmas,Pippas
    Julians and Damians and of course our ever present froth blowing Falstaffs
    Ode to Joy

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  5. I've had the classic "what YOU lookin at, pal?" a few times. Even had a variation "What's your mate looking at?", to which I replied, "I don't know, why don't you ask HIM?".

    Been in a few fights in nightclubs but never a pub.

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  6. Perhaps the solution to unwanted male attention towards females in pubs is a Polite Notice : "Male Patrons are requested by the management not to approach lone Female Patrons. Thank you for your co-operation."

    Though I don't see how well it would work. I can't complain, as my parents met in this pub in 1973.

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  7. I was glad to see that was the Three Mariners in Lancaster - as distinct from (e.g.) the Three Mariners in Laugharne, which I may well have actually been in in 1973. (Just to use the loo or ask if the bus had gone, I was far too young to buy my own drinks. Or indeed to pick up girls.)

    I think it was the Three Mariners that I remember wandering into one afternoon (long before all-day opening); I was faced by a pub full of contented drinkers, who looked round and called out, as one man, "We're closed!"

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  8. Aren't pubs one of the places people actually do go to with the desire to meet someone of the opposite sex?

    Some people are piss poor at chatting up lasses and should the woeful attempt be unwanted what makes it harassment is perseverance rather than the offer.

    The chubby orange lasses that try to drag you behind the bins at the back of wetherspoons could be considered harassment of my quiet cask conditioned contemplation but it's just a burden you have to bear.

    I'm not condoning harassment, which is out of order, but it would be a poor world if no one ever chatted up anyone in a pub.

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  9. If some berk can't read body language and/or the occasion (who tries to pull mid-afternoon in a real ale pub?) then at it's certainly annoying, even if it's not outright harassment.

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  10. So your bird entered a social environment and one berk said one thing to her, to which she responded clearly in the negative, there was no repeat or continuance, and she feels harassed? How on earth does she get through life? It's very easy to left alone, stay away from others. Go where others are, someone might try to talk to you.

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  11. There's a difference, I suppose, between a friendly hello/nice weather/what you reading, and an obvious attempt to "approach".

    But really, its just one of those things. Anytime I go to the pub by myself someone invariably strikes up a conversation with me. It really shouldn't be surprising, that's what pubs are FOR. If you don't want to interact with society, why did you leave the house exactly?

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  12. So, to summarise, women should put up with uninvited sexual advances from blokes whenever they go anywhere alone, or stay at home?

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  13. "It really shouldn't be surprising, that's what pubs are FOR. If you don't want to interact with society, why did you leave the house exactly?"

    As an introvert, I sometimes get the urge to be around other people without necessarily wanting to strike up a conversation.

    If I do, I send signals, like sitting at the bar, making eye contact, and saying hello to people as I take my seat.

    If I don't, I sit in a corner and read a book with a packet of pork scratchings. In that situation, I've never had anyone swagger over to my table, interrupt me, ask where my girlfriend is, and invite themselves to keep me company.

    Because that would be really weird.

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  14. I have an idea, Bailey. We shall have a badge for introverts, you wear it and no one will say good evening to you. It can be for introverts or just slightly precious odd balls. Anyone that wants one.

    No one is making excuses for rude unwanted harassing behaviour. But really, has no one ever chatted you up by a bus stop? Has your missus never been chatted up in a supermarket? It must be horrible getting through life with all these people politely talking to you and having to robustly deter their advances.

    It's really quite easy to deflect unwanted attention. People stop talking to you when you don't engage them in conversation back. I have deflected many a fat lass with that and commend the technique to you.

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  15. Reading a book and eating scratchings is precious oddball behaviour? Really?

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  16. It's maths, Bailey. Both indicate mild odd ballness but times them together and you get a definite firm odd ballness. I for one would never say good evening to anyone eating scratchings and reading a book. In fact if they said good evening to me I would simply raise an eyebrow in silence back at them. Either activity on their own might elicit a good evening in return to a good evening, but never an initial good evening. I would say good evening to someone eating mini cheddars or cheese and onion crisps, but never scratchings.

    May I suggest this badge you need to design to deter the great unwashed in acknowledging your existence forms a large odd shaped ball?

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  17. Never been approached by women in pubs. I always assumed women don't do that sort of thing, while a lot of men do.

    Been stared at a few times, though. I assume it's the shirts.

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  18. You all need to read Rick Muir's "Pubs & Places" about the social value of pubs. In it he records the multifarious ways in which it is considered perfectly acceptable to 1. Mind your own business (with or without porky scratchings as a defensive barrier 2. Strike up conversations with perfect strangers- the pub is about the only place in Britain where this is considered normal social behaviour (I do it in supermarket queues sometimes just to see what happens- a small smile and a nod, that is all) 3. Meet complete strangers and form lifelong friendships or even friendships which only exist at the pub and nowhere else etc etc. If you are interested, you can download a copy of this short, readable and enjoyably well-informed tome free of charge at the IPPR website. Me? Perfectly happy to strike up conversation or not at the bar but if I'm at a table sitting down, I'm meeting someone or minding my own and would rather be left in peace. Best, Dale (Mrs) Ingram

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  19. @Mark Have you tried washing the shirts to see whether that elicits a different response?

    Then you can advise on the effects of clean V scruffy shirts and point out a bit of gravy on the shirt being the key to a solitary path through life?

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  20. Is "hello, " really considered a sexual advance nowadays?

    If so I get sexually harrassed at least three time a day.

    The bottom line is, if you wouldn't say it to a bloke sitting by himself, you shouldn't say it to a bird sitting by herself either.


    I don't know about being "approached" per se, but I've certainly had women come up and talk to me in the pub hundreds of times.

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  21. @Cookie - I may be bizarre and inappropriate, but both I an my clothes are always clean.

    They type of clothes I wear, however, are another matter altogether.

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  22. @Py, there are many reasons why humans interact. Sexual advances are one of many and often come much later. More often than not it is just a natural desire for social interaction. It is harmless. I will smile and nod at the old lady by the bus stop who engages me in conversation without thinking whether she wants to jump my bones. She may do, for all I know, but she may also live a lonely life and the short conversation she has with me may be very important to her health and happiness. It has cost me nothing.

    Lasses have talked to me in pubs and only much later when they wish to exchange numbers do I realise I have been chatted up and don't really want to be. Heh ho. It is very rare to be chatted up, but isn't it quiet nice? A compliment? All the nicer for it's rarity?

    Maybe if I was as attractive as others it would be cumbersome. A burden to go out and have endless sexual advances thrown at me. Luckily I'm butt ugly and I smell of gabbage so I don't get a lot of it.

    I gather from single gentleman I know, if you want to be chatted up then shop at Waitrose with a basket, not trolley. If you want to be left alone, shop at Lidl.


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  23. py -- no, 'hello' isn't necessarily a sexual advance, though I guess if it's accompanied by licking of the lips and waggling eyebrows it might be.

    Boak's experience has been 'Where's your boyfriend?'/'What's a girl like you doing on her own?' etc.

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  24. I'm not even a woman, and I'm getting pretty peeved at the lack of understanding & appreciation being shown here.

    Just ask yourself: how often, on average, does a stranger of the opposite sex initiate a conversation with you? And how often, in the past, has that conversation turned into an unwanted attempt to chat you up, which you are then saddled with the job of repelling, firmly but without causing offence?

    My answers would be (a) very rarely and (b) two or three times in my life to date. I'm betting that most men's answers wouldn't be all that different. Now imagine that your answers were (a) most times I go out and (b) about half the times that (a) happens. Factor that in and the world looks a bit different, I think.

    Part of the trouble is that men on the pull have an endless ability to persuade themselves they're doing the world a favour. "She looks like she needs some company/...like she needs cheering up/...like she could do with a good laugh, I heard this great one..." No, mate, she looks like a person sitting on her own and giving no indication of having any interest in finding a male partner. Put it away and get back to your beer.

    It's a real problem, and pubs should be more aware of it. They could put up signs saying "Unaccompanied women welcome". That would make things much better, possibly.

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  25. Cookie is quite right to point out that one of the key functions of pubs is giving people the opportunity to hook up with members of the opposite sex (or indeed the same sex) and the norms of society are such that men are usually expected to take the initiative in such encounters. Plus it’s in the character of some men to flirt with women even if they’re not seriously trying it on. So it’s unrealistic to expect pubs to maintain standards of behaviour that are completely at variance with wider society. If it becomes persistent, aggressive or threatening then it’s a different matter, of course.

    It may be hard to believe now looking at my drink-ravaged features, but in my youth I was actually quite presentable and can recall a few occasions where I was propositioned by other men in pubs. It’s not necessarily all that easy to pick up the cues of a gay pub and some pubs have mixed gay and straight clientele, or it varies according to time of day. People might have jumped to the conclusion that a young chap on his own had gone into a pub because he was looking for company rather than because he was a beer geek. But I don’t conclude from those experiences that pubs in general are to be avoided or are bad places because they are full of aggressive proselytising homosexuals.

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  26. What Phil said.

    Arguing that women need to 'man up' and deal with it is boneheaded.

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  27. All I (and Cookie) are trying to argue is that it is not the act of speaking to a stranger - whether male or female - that should be seen as the issue here, it is the content of what is said.

    Saying "is that book any good? I was thinking about reading it" to an unaccompanied woman with a book is absolutely fine. If she clearly doesn't want to take this opportunity to converse, you can then just leave her read in peace.

    Continuing to pester her or coming out with some tired "where's your boyfriend, love, fancy some company" line, is not fine. That's the distinction here.

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  28. I think what I'm saying is that it's just not as simple as "friendly conversation" vs "pestering". We can all agree that men shouldn't be overbearing sexist arses, and that's fair enough. Pubs used to be far more welcoming places for overbearing sexist arses than they are now, but there's still progress to be made on that front.

    But most men genuinely don't believe they're being Sid the Sexist when they ask the woman on her own if she is on her own, if that seat opposite hers is taken, what she thinks of the beer, whether the book's any good ect ect. (Sidenote - I hate hate hate being asked if the book I'm reading's any good. My son used to do it a lot, when he was growing up and trying his hand at Adult Conversation, and it drove me bats. I always say "I'll let you know when I've finished it".) I'd go further - I'd hazard that most men who talk to a woman on her own genuinely believe they're "just being friendly" and not treating her any different from a man on his own. On the pull? Chatting her up? No, no, no. Perish the thought. (Unless she was interested, of course...)

    I propose a simple rule of thumb: if it's a woman you don't know, and you're not in a Designating Pulling Zone, just don't do it - keep shtum. Speak when you're spoken to.* We could make a slogan of it: MEN - LEAVE IT OUT!

    *This deals with the situation where you'd genuinely just like a chat, perhaps because you share her evident interest in the work of Kate Atkinson. If she feels like a chat, she'll see you casting admiring glances at her copy of Life After Life and know you're someone she can talk to. If she doesn't feel like a chat, she can tune you out and get on with her book.

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  29. A couple of things. Mudgie's poll is a bit difficult. As a pub goer I have been very frequently subjected to the pub bore or similar, so I answered "many times". Is that harassment? Technically "yes" but it could be construed as going with the territory. I have rarely been picked on, but yes I have been threatened quite a few times over many years, but less so as I get older. No threat now I assume.

    Now can what afflicted Boak be regarded as "going with the territory"? I'd say clearly not. A woman has the right to sit in a pub corner with a drink and her book and only those crass enough to think that way would suppose she wanted advances from the pub lech.

    There is an uncomfortable problem to be faced though. Women can rightly feel vulnerable when this happens and it is not acceptable in any circumstance to do that to anyone. Does that mean women shouldn't venture into pubs on their own? No, but they should choose wisely, much as I do when thinking about some rough pubs. I have walked out of many after looking round. That's common sense.

    I despise men that do what has been described, but on the other hand, would a friendly "All right Love"? or similar be wrong? In today's society probably "yes" however meant.

    No easy answers to this one, but on balance, say nothing. We live in times where innocent acts as well as those that aren't can be easily misconstrued.

    Overall, just leave anyone who is clearly not up for conversation alone, though as Cookie points out, that might not be so, in a different time, place and scenario..

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  30. So let me get this straight:

    men talking to men: fine.
    women talking to men: fine.
    women talking to women: fine.
    men talking to women: sexual harrassment.

    What a load of bollocks.


    "*This deals with the situation where you'd genuinely just like a chat, perhaps because you share her evident interest in the work of Kate Atkinson. If she feels like a chat, she'll see you casting admiring glances at her copy of Life After Life and know you're someone she can talk to"


    So in this case are you saying it its ok to say something or not?

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  31. Where are these designated pulling zones?

    There are certainly pubs that are more for people wanting to pull each other. Meat markets, they get called. I gather many women prefer a drink around canal street as they don't get hassled by blokes. A fact that indicates that some women feel harassed on some occasions, and seek to avoid it.

    I think it quite obvious there is a difference between chatting a lass up and harassment. If a lass is reading a book then she doesn't want to be disturbed. In fact I'd suspect any woman alone of being a bit weird. Probably got a lot cats and buried her last husband under the porch. There are rarely attractive people in real ale pubs in my observation. They tend to be places to avoid talking to others.

    A girl necking blue wkd and out with her mates is what you want to say hello to. That's if you can beat notorious birder, Mudge, to it.

    If you are single and you see an attractive lady it isn't rude to politely attempt to engage her in conversation. It's how the world goes round. A gentleman never persists where it isn't wanted.

    Are people simply talking at cross purposes? It seems quite obvious what is and isn't harassment, unwanted behaviour or even being rude or a bit of a dick?

    Should a single man never talk to an attractive lady?

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  32. I agree, it would be ridiculous to say that the moment a man talks to a woman it's sexual harassment. That's got nothing to do with what I said (and no, I'm not going to 'explain the difference' for you).

    As for your second question, I'm saying if she wants to talk to you she can talk to you, and if she doesn't you can put up with it and get over yourself.

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  33. men talking to men who are quietly reading a book in a corner: weird, possible prelude to a fight.
    women talking to men who are quietly reading a book in a corner: weird, possibly slightly awkward.
    women talking to women who are quietly reading a book in a corner: weird.
    men talking to women who are quietly reading a book in a corner: weird, probably a prelude to sexual harassment.

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  34. @Tandleman - the poll assumes some malicious or unsavoury element, so I'd say being cornered by the pub bore doesn't really count.

    We have got ourselves into a bizarre situation in this country where adults are frightened of talking to children for fear of being labelled a paedophile. If we're not careful, we'll end up with men being afraid to talk to women for fear of being labelled a sex pest.

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  35. I've sat in pubs reading a book/ a newspaper/ doing uni work probably hundreds of times in my life, and on more occasions than not people (of all ages and sexes) have struck up a conversation with me. Never once have I thought it weird or found it awkward, most of the time I put my book down and had a brief chat, sometimes I ask if they want to sit down. Its just people being friendly. That's a good thing, surely?

    Maybe this is a North and Midlands vs South thing? Southerners are a lot more antisocial in my experience.
    I suppose you lot think talking to other people on public transport is weird as well.

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  36. Are people simply talking at cross purposes? It seems quite obvious what is and isn't harassment, unwanted behaviour or even being rude or a bit of a dick?

    The thing is, being spoken to at all when you don't want to be spoken to is unwanted behaviour. Being spoken to in a way that puts you on your guard to repel a possible chat-up - however polite & friendly the approach itself may be - is seriously unwanted behaviour. It's not obnoxious or offensive, it's not harassment or being a dick (although these things also happen in pubs), but it is something people shouldn't have to put up with. To put it another way, women drinking alone shouldn't have to put up with it any more than (say) men drinking alone currently do.

    And if that means friendly, civilised, Kate Atkinson-reading men having to wind their necks in a bit, I think that's a price worth paying.

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  37. "The thing is, being spoken to at all when you don't want to be spoken to is unwanted behaviour."

    How do you know that someone doesn't want to be spoken to until you've tried to start a conversation? The fact that someone is reading a book or newspaper doesn't necessarily mean they don't want to talk to anyone. You seem to be
    suggesting that nobody should ever strike up an unsolicited conversation with anyone else ever.

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  38. women talking to men who are quietly reading a book in a corner: weird, possibly slightly awkward.

    BT,DT: full story here (second paragraph). Awkward doesn't cover it.

    I don't think it's a North/South thing (I've been up here since 1982, apart from anything else). I think it's, very simply and straightforwardly, a men/women thing. (I've got a lot of sisters - and, in point of fact, I've never been out on the pull myself; hopefully never will.)

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  39. You seem to be suggesting that nobody should ever strike up an unsolicited conversation with anyone else ever.

    No, although I did suggest that no man should start an unsolicited conversation with a woman he doesn't know. Obviously that's a bit extreme, but I think it would be a better starting-point than assuming that everything's fine and that a man starting a conversation with a woman is no different from starting one with a man.

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  40. And here we are like aliens trying to understand the complexities of human interaction.

    Exchanging words with someone sitting next to you, or with whom you've made eye contact, is perfectly natural.

    Spotting someone on the other side of room and walking over to talk them when they're minding their own business is weird. If I saw someone walking across a pub to come and talk to me when I wasn't in the mood and hadn't done anything to encourage it, I'd groan inside.

    If she's a woman and you're a man, then there's an added awkwardness because she doesn't know what your motives are but might, from *experience*, suspect you're going to chat her up. Therefore your very approach is possibly intimidating or at least worrying.

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  41. We're getting ourselves in a right muddle here.

    Phil seems to think any man talking to any strange woman in any situation whatsoever is unacceptable, whereas Bailey seems to be saying that its not about the sex of the participants, but about their relative positions in the room.

    It would be a sad and lonely world to live in if no-one ever spoke to anyone else for fear that their behaviour might be "unwanted".

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  42. Though, amusingly in retrospect, I've done the opposite to this. First time I wnr out with people in London back in 1996, we went to a London hotel bar. They all sat there chatting while I put my Walkman on and read a magazine.

    Now, that's certainly seen as weird. Or so I found out later.

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  43. Put a wedding ring on that lady of yours, Bailey. Then you can be assured no gentleman would attempt to bag her.

    Although I am not one for chatting up girls in pubs, and am aware when body language indicates a desire to be left alone, every single girlfriend, including the current, began with me seeing an attractive woman I liked the look of and engaging her in conversation. From college, to work to seeing someone browsing in a bookshop. A flirtatious hello, no immediate knock back, conversation returned, numbers exchanged, dates arranged. Hesitance, fear ending in joy and a feeling that today is a winner. It is easy to work out when someone is not interest and a swift about turn enacted, tail between legs. I have not ruined her day because I have not been a dick about it.

    Dating, love, romance, it's all part of life. The best part. Better than beer enthusiasm. As Mudge says, social convention means it's usually the chap that makes the 1st move. I'd prefer it to be the other away about. To say a short polite conversation with with an attractive lady at the next table in starbucks is harassment is nothing short of ridiculous.

    If you are single, it's okay to talk to girls, in fact it is to be encouraged if you don't want to stay single. Just don't be a dick.

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  44. I think you might need new glasses, py - those ones only seem to be showing you what's between the lines, not what people have actually written.

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  45. "I did suggest that no man should start an unsolicited conversation with a woman he doesn't know"

    seems pretty clear to me. You then say that although it might be a "bit" extreme, its still "a good starting point".

    Here's a far better starting point: if you're in a social setting and want to talk to someone, whether male or female, old or young, alone or in a big group, just go for it. Be polite, be friendly, and if he/she is clearly not interested, stop talking and politely leave them alone again.

    I don't wear glasses.

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  46. To say a short polite conversation with with an attractive lady at the next table in starbucks is harassment is nothing short of ridiculous.

    I didn't say this, & have in fact already pointed out that I didn't say this.

    I have not ruined her day because I have not been a dick about it.

    ...think three different men. On Tuesday. On Thursday she goes for a quiet drink again. Another three men approach her at different times, each of them being nice and polite and not at all being a dick about it. Only two the following Tuesday, but there must be something in the water the next Thursday because she gets interrupted five times, no less. All nice, polite blokes; when she says she'd rather just read her book they back off straight away, no trouble, no problem. Nobody's ruined anyone's day - and nobody's made the pub a less friendly and inviting place for anyone. You reckon?

    All I'm saying is that there's a certain kind of approach that women have to put up with (and take responsibility for dealing with) much, much more often than men, and they shouldn't have to. Obviously it's not surprising that most men don't see this as a problem, but that doesn't mean it isn't one.

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  47. How do you expect single people to get together, Phil?

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  48. py - I object to being told I'm calling for X to be banned, when what I said was that it would be a good idea to start from the position that in general we shouldn't do X. They're very different arguments.

    I'd much rather live in a world where everyone could feel fine about approaching or being approached by anyone else. We're not there, though - and we're not going to get there by pretending we are.

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  49. Cookie - possibly by the woman saying the first Hello? Crazy, I know.

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  50. I don't believe I said anything about you saying something should be banned.

    I find it hard to imagine how a girl in a coffee shop could be engaged in conversation by the bloke at the next table 5 times in one visit. How long was she sitting there, all day? It seems logistically extremely unlikely.

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  51. Women do frequently say the first hello nowadays.


    Of course, being an introvert I immediately pull my rape alarm and spray her with mace for this unwanted encroachment into my personal space.

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  52. Seems a recipe for lots of shy and embarrassed people wondering why the cute girl/guy isn't saying hello to me, Phil. Faint heart never won fair maiden. Neither did behaving like a dick. How humanity got this far without designated pulling zones is beyond me.

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  53. We already have designated pulling zones, if you think about it. They're generally de-designated midweek and in daylight hours, though.

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  54. Speaking personally, I'd wait until she came to the bar and I'd say something like "Alright?".

    This sad episode unfolding here, well I can't quite work out if she's such a shrinking violet, or he's one of those insanely jealous types, who get bent all out of shape if his "Bird" speaks to anyone else. The truth of the matter is likely as with most things somewhere around the middle.

    This pub she goes in, is it a cattle market? I ask because like someone else mentioned, 5 times in and afternoon does seem a tad excessive, and it happening everytime she sets foot in the door would set alarm bells ringing for me.



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  55. How peculiar, Phil, to only pull in the local meat market when you are pissed, she is pissed and you can't really see what you are getting. How much nicer to just talk to that girl you like and see if she wants to get to know you, and be a gent rather than a dick if she doesn't.

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  56. Just so we're clear, what I'm saying is that women on their own in pubs get significantly more unwelcome attention from men than men on their own do from women, and that they shouldn't have to put up with this.

    Cookie and others: are you saying that women don't get more unwelcome attention than men, or that they do get more unwelcome attention but it's not a real problem and they should just put up with it?

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  57. I just got a coffee from the vending machine. A lady talked to me. A work colleague. I talked back. I don't think she fancies me, just asking hows it going. It's a five minute break from the tedium of work.

    She seemed a nice enough person. I didn't get the pepper spray out nor grunt and ignore her. Seems part of life having to chew the fat with people from time to time. I didn't have to do it when I worked from home, but heh ho, I guess when you leave the house people talk to you and it's polite to talk back and considered weird not to. It really wasn't a difficult effort.

    The world isn't really designed for introverts. Probably because the introverts are the odd ones out. Maybe we need a pub for introverts, where no one interacts. You'd have to rip the bench seating out and put barriers between the single seat only tables.

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  58. It all depends on your definition of "Unwelcome attention" doesn't it?

    Someone making idle chit-chat is not, and Precious needs a dose of harden the fuck up. A rousing chorus of "Get your tits out for the lads"is probably a bit beyond the pail, but that doesn't appear to be what happened was it?

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  59. I think both that

    a) men are far more likely to strike up conversation with other men than with a woman (ironically probably for fear of being branded a sex pest), and

    b) having someone say "good evening" to you is hardly sexual harrassment. If you think basic civility such as this is "unwelcome attention", then you're probably the one with the social issues.

    I honestly can't think of the last time I went into a pub and no-one said a word to me. It must be horrible being a woman, you go to the pub and everyone falls silent and stares at the floor, in case a small noise or glance in the wrong direction is interpreted as a "unwanted attention".

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  60. Phil, what I guess I am saying is that the educated and erudite lady knows how to deal with unwanted attention.

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  61. 1. Boak's not an introvert.

    2. I am, and I find that pubs work perfectly well for me as they are: I hardly ever get bothered if I don't want to be. Because I'm a bloke, probably, and no-one is trying to pull me.

    3. Just to be clear, I don't think anyone's objecting to hello or good evening: "Where's your boyfriend?" is a pretty clearly sexually aggressive thing to ask.

    (This is an interesting conversation but now we've reached "Precious needs a dose of harden the fuck up", I'm bailing.)

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  62. Ignore that bit Bailey. Anyone who says "where's your boyfriend" is clearly a prick, and no, that's obviously not acceptable. If I was in the pub at time I might even tell the bloke so (as long as he didn't look like a psycho).

    What we're debating with Phil is whether a man saying anything at all to a woman - even just "good evening" - is socially acceptable.

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  63. Bailey, Your lady encountered a dick. A tosspot. Such people exist. I'm sure she is an intelligent lass and more than able to look after herself. I hope she told him to piss off and enjoyed her book in peace.

    Be grateful she did not enter a pub with Mudge drinking in it. You'd have likely lost her. The Clooney esq silver fox that is Mudge has been known to bedevil many a lady of the greater manchester area. He is a well renowned birder and fanny magnet of the area. They quite literally throw themselves at him. Do not be fooled by protestations he may make on this blog. I would never introduce any lady of my own aquaintence to him.

    It could be worse, She encountered a dick head and went home to you. Had she encountered the Mudge she would no longer be yours.

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  64. "Precious needs a dose of harden the fuck up"

    Go back to sleep, Budvar. We'll wake you in time for the WWE/Monster Trucks double bill.

    This really isn't complicated. Unwelcome attention is attention you find unwelcome. If you're trying to have a quiet drink on your own, being approached by strangers intent on "getting to know" you may well be unwelcome, particularly if it happens over and over again. This is something that happens, and it happens to lots more women than men.

    Sure, a woman who goes out on her own will develop ways of dealing with men hitting on her, but why should she have to? She may end up deciding the game isn't worth the candle & only drink at home or in company - but why should she have to? Because that's how things are? What a great argument that is.

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  65. because the only alternative is that no-one ever talks to anyone for fear that their attention may be unwanted and that would be worse for everyone.

    I can't believe someone is seriously advocating such a bonkers idea.

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  66. Bailey, I take it back, It isn't her that needs a dose of harden the fuck up, it's you, as the problem is patently you.

    Having been out with one or 2 women with the insanely jealous affliction, the signs are *LOUD* and *CLEAR*.

    Like her, I daren't speak to, or make eye contact with another woman, even the barmaid or the old woman who lives down the road for fear of starting an argument or worse still the other woman getting a twatting in the toilets.

    You can't live like that, and you'll lose her eventually. I'm not being aggressive or argumentative, just giving you the benefit of my experience.

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  67. What we're debating with Phil is whether a man saying anything at all to a woman - even just "good evening" - is socially acceptable.

    Still not right, but it's closer.

    What I'm saying is that, if I want, I can sit alone in a pub with my paper for as long as I like, with a pretty fair degree of confidence that nobody's going to approach me with a possible sexual relationship even as the faintest glimmer in the corner of their mind. (This was also the case when I was young and reasonably good-looking.) If I wanted to look available, I'd park myself at the bar and clock the punters around me and maybe venture the odd word. I don't, so I sit on my own, and nobody bothers me*. I don't think I could have anything like this confidence if I were a woman; if I were a woman, I think I would get more unwelcome attention than I do now, and I don't think I'd like this - not least because I know that many women don't like it, and/or avoid going to pubs on their own so as to avoid it.

    That's it, really. The "don't speak until you're spoken to" thing was a thought on how to fix the problem - a social norm that said that, in general, women don't want to be spoken to first would be quite useful in this situation.

    *Although somebody did once try to pick me up in a gay bar - which isn't really an exception, when you think about it.)

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  68. Budvar, you've completely misunderstood Bailey's comments (and possibly this entire thread). Nobody here is talking about jealousy or possessiveness.

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  69. I don't think so, and time will tell wont it?

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  70. You're still erroneously conflating an obviously sexually motivated approach with normal everyday civility and friendliness. The two things are completely different.

    Most women are quite happy to have people say "hello" or "'evening" to them. For one thing, having normal, friendly people around makes them feel less vulnerable should a dickhead emerge and try it on.

    Contrary to your assertion, a friendly, interacting society and community makes us all happier, stronger and safer. It is isolation and anonymity that leave us vulnerable.

    Your proposal is not just completely wrong and entirely misinformed, its actively counterproductive to achieving the ends you claim to wish to achieve.

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  71. I've sat in the corner of the pub reading a book and been abused by the landlord and locals, all for wanting to get out of the house. I was being quiet, minding my own business while supping a pint. Some pubs just want to fail.

    I find that I'm as often invited to join other people as I am made to feel unwelcome, but most people are happy just ignoring me.

    I probably don't view things the same way as your average single woman/man, but whatever happened to just engaging people around you in conversation. Chances are it's just someone that's bored and wants a bit of company. Anyone can say no, but surely harassment only happens when persistent or overly aggressive in nature.

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  72. py hits a nail on the head there.

    A sex pest will be a sex pest and dick head whatever social rules you try and enforce. Discouraging nice blokes chatting up nice lasses in a decent none threatening manner seems to set a norm where the only social engagement a women would receive is unpleasant and unwanted.

    What a pity if the girl sat in the coffee shop hoping the guy on his iPad says hello never does because he is afraid of misunderstanding.

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  73. But Cookie, 5 sex pests in one afternoon in same pub and happening on a regular basis ie everytime she sets foot in the place? I don't know about you, but something doesn't square with this.

    I know that if every time I walked in a certain boozer I was getting grief, I'd stay away from the place, not sit there whining "Oh woe is me" and lecture folk on "How I have the right...".

    If it happens in every pub, then the problem isn't the pub, but else where.

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  74. It has to be said that pubs tend to be something of a magnet for dickheads, and they're worse when they have a few drinks inside them. But society is full of dickheads, and pubs can't be held uniquely responsible for them.

    And all the complaints levelled at pubs apply magnified at least two or three times over to nightclubs.

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  75. As someone said on Twitter,

    The Memsahib, when younger, used to respond to "Want some company love?" approaches with "I don't know. What's your sister like?"

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  76. A magnet for drunken dickheads Mudgie?
    What mid afternoon?
    If this sorry tale were to be believed, the pub would appear to be a venue for the local misogyny appreciation society, who hold meetings on a daily basis.

    Is this "Boak" a dead ringer for Penelope Cruz or someone who just oozes "Bang me big style" from every pore? I suspect not.

    This just does not add up.

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  77. What are you on (about), Budvar? I was the one who referred to somebody getting approached by five different strangers in one afternoon, not Bailey. I was writing about a completely hypothetical scenario, not about anything I know has happened to anyone. The point of my comment was to challenge the idea that friendly and polite interaction is always OK; if someone is regularly the object of friendly and polite interaction from multiple people of the opposite sex when they would rather be left alone, they may well decide to stay at home. And this is a bad thing.

    Now, could you stay out of this thread until you've worked out what we're talking about?

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  78. Contrary to your assertion, a friendly, interacting society and community makes us all happier, stronger and safer.

    Blimey O'Reilly, py, could you at least try to reply to something I've actually said? I know it's easier to win the argument doing it your way, but surely it's less satisfying in the long run.

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  79. You realise we can all read you previous posts Phil and see exactly what ignorant nonsense you have been spouting? There's not point say "I didn't say that", because we can all see you've said multiple times quite clearly that you think men should not speak to women unless they are first spoken to, which, frankly, is patently absurd.

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  80. There's not point say "I didn't say that"

    You said "Contrary to your assertion, a friendly, interacting society and community makes us all happier, stronger and safer."

    Which assertion is that?

    you've said multiple times quite clearly that you think men should not speak to women unless they are first spoken to, which, frankly, is patently absurd

    I've said multiple times, quite clearly, that I think women get much more unwelcome attention in public places than men; and that I think this is a problem; and that one way to address this problem would be for a social norm to be established to the effect that for a man to strike up conversation with a woman on her own is seen as undesirable. (Obviously I also realise that this social norm is never likely to be established.)

    If you don't think women do get a lot more unwanted attention than men, or if you think they should just put up with it, then obviously you won't agree that the problem matters, so you won't be interested in ways of addressing it. Any fix is too expensive if the problem is non-existent. I don't think this is a non-existent problem, though.

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  81. "I've said multiple times, quite clearly, that I think women get much more unwelcome attention in public places than men"

    No doubt this is true to some extent, given the social norm that I referred to earlier that, in general, men are expected to make the first move in developing relationships.

    If you want to reengineer the whole of society to stop that, fair enough, but your chances of success are pretty minimal.

    And I don't honestly believe that the experience of most women is that they are being constantly hit on by men they would prefer to have nothing to do with. If they are, maybe they're going to the wrong places. Not every pub (or other venue) is going to suit everyone.

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  82. Cookie already explained:

    "A sex pest will be a sex pest and dick head whatever social rules you try and enforce. Discouraging nice blokes chatting up nice lasses in a decent none threatening manner seems to set a norm where the only social engagement a women would receive is unpleasant and unwanted."


    There is a problem that a small minority of male-female interactions feature a complete knob who ignores social norms. If you make it the norm that no-one else talks to women at all, then all that will happen is those interactions will make up 100% of male-female interactions.

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  83. Don't worry lads, I have an idea. What we need are rules. I propose the following.

    You are not allowed to talk to ladies ever if you fulfill any of the following criteria :

    A : You are an introvert
    B : You are a bit of an odd ball
    C : You're called Phil
    D : You've written a beer book
    E : You have been convicted of exposing yourself in public places.
    F : You have been banned from keeping pets
    G : You drink real ale in real ale pubs
    H : Facial hair
    I : Bodies under the porch
    J : The general and usual reaction to your approaches to women is one of "Will you fuck off"

    You are allowed to talk to ladies if :-

    A : You are a normal person that drinks normal lager and is basically a normal person.
    B : The general and usual reaction to your approaches to women is one of "My name is ...., here's my number"

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