15 May 2011

Fuckwit quotes and opened doors

I've been single for about 6 years of the past 10. Particularly when I was a little younger, I was often out at the pubs and clubs of London, so for an average-looking woman I had my share of chat-ups. And boy I've had some corkers. At one stage I was considering compiling what I called my ‘bumper book of fuckwit quotes’.

Guys, even when drink has been taken, there's no excuse for lines like these – and yes, these were all really said to me.

  • ‘I'm glad you went to the toilet. It's the first chance I've had to look at your arse.’
  • [On an internet date] ‘I've been wanking to the thought of you all week.’
  • ‘I wouldn't want to date you, but I'd love to take you into the loos for five minutes and fuck your brains out.’
  • ‘You've got nice hands. Big legs, but nice hands.’ [then, upon seeing the look of horror on my face:] ‘No, don't get me wrong! I'd love to have those big legs wrapped around my neck tonight!’
  • ‘You're so gorgeous I don't know why I haven't raped you yet.’
  • ‘Do you and your friend want to come back to mine for a threesome?’

I could go on. I have loads more, and there are tons, I'm sure, that I've blotted out of my memory altogether. But you get the idea.

What astonishes me is that in anyone's head, it's ok to say stuff like that, let alone to a stranger you're trying to bed. Even accounting for the fact that drink silences one's internal filter, and even if said in the context of a place where people were openly on the pull, just…how can it ever be appropriate?

We're not in Ye Olde Times, I know. I don't expect to be treated as a delicate flower or have coats thrown over puddles for me. But have we really gone so far the other way? What comes through in remarks like those is an utter lack of respect. It's not cheeky flirting. It's not funny. It's not charming.

I hear men grumble that ‘feminists’ (or as dinosaurs call them, ‘women's libbers’) have killed off chivalry because they shout at any man who holds a door open for them. I've never encountered this myself, and suspect it's apocryphal. I thank anyone, male or female, who holds a door open for me. It's basic manners.

Care for a fuck, milady?
I proudly call myself a feminist, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate a dash of chivalry. Gestures like going around to open the car door for me or walking on the outside on the pavement don't leave me feeling patronised. They tell me a guy is being polite and thoughtful, and I appreciate the thought, even though I'm not at risk of having my petticoats splashed by puddles and I'm perfectly capable of opening a car door myself. They're not necessary, and I'm not insulted by their absence, but they're charming little touches. A guy who shows a little respect is considerably more likely to succeed in getting lucky with a woman than the charmers above.

Some might argue that I want to have my cake and eat it if I expect to be treated as an equal yet appreciate having a car door opened for me. OK, we can have that debate. But when I'm subjected to lines like the above, we may have gone a little too far the other way. Give me too much chivalry over too little respect any day.


  1. A view from the Y chromosome...
    In the interests of full disclosure, my current single score in my late 30s is 10/10 years (and some more besides that).
    I've seen a number of those types of lines delivered, though admittedly none quite as spectacularly crass as the second or fifth, and to my astonishment I've seen them "work". The fact that they are in common usage must indicate a level of success that my courteous and respectful attempts never reach, presumably as they lack the magic of "confidence". That said, anyone who responds positively to that sort of approach is not likely to be my cup of tea, so I don't view it as a huge loss on my part.
    As for chivalry, I've often been told that I'm "old fashioned / protective / courteous / polite" in a way that very clearly indicates that those characteristics are in some way disappointing. I can't change that - it was how I was raised - but it seems to be oddly out of tune with the times for reasons I can't fathom.
    All of which makes me think that there are probably an equal number of crass people of each gender to whom the fuckwit quotes are acceptable and even appealing. And despite the low success rate of the chivalrous gestures, I'm glad to not be among those fuckwits.

  2. I'm not really surprised that those men *thought* some of those things, but it's pretty shocking that they actually said them out loud (nerves? Still no excuse really). I say "some", because I still can't get my head around the rape line. What the a actual fuck? Was he as scary as he sounds?

    As for the car door thing - I was going to say that I'd probably feel mildly offended if someone felt it was necessary to walk around the car to open a door for me (unless it was my dad, but he's almost 80), but I'd take that a 1000 times over any of the chat-ups.

  3. Shocking. It's all about respect really - being 'chivalrous' *and* not talking like an idiot.

  4. @Andy: Thank you for your perspective. I've no doubt the rude approach works (I'm aware that men even attend classes on how to pick up women that encourage it), but I can only imagine it working on a woman with self-confidence issues! I for one don't believe that "all women like bastards" and "nice guys finish last". The problem comes when people confuse "desperate, needy pushover" for "nice". For a sane woman (or man), politeness and courtesy will never go amiss.

    @Nell - the weird thing was, he wasn't trying to frighten me. Somehow, in his brain, it was meant as a compliment on my desirability. That's a whole other post I think.

    @olderthanelvis - yes, absolutely. It's all about respect.

    The people who are respectful are far more likely to end up with the people who have self-respect.

  5. Reading those "pick-up lines" almost makes me proud to be asexual.