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When did men stop using you as a personal entertainer?

Between the ages of 15-25, I barely had a single train journey, flight, bus ride or wait in a waiting room without a middle aged/oldish man in the vicinity chatting to me.

Now, I’m a friendly person who likes 5 minutes of small talk (“where are you off to?” “Oh visiting an aunt? That’s nice, I grew up there.”) before settling down with my book or music.

And if by some miracle, the person next to/opposite me shares my interests, I’m happy to chat for longer.

But every. single. journey. I used to end up with a middle aged bore boring on about his motorbike, his marathon, or his politics. For hours. If I tried to interject with my own experiences, I’d get talked down to. On the rare occasion I said something (“Sorry, I just really want to finish this novel!” “Sorry, I’ve got homework to do, actually.”) the man would get huffy!

Then we’d have an awkward silence. Maybe he’d say something passive aggressive about me to another man.

(Part of the problem might have been me apologising, I know. I’m training myself out of it).

However, I’ve not really had this problem since the age of 25 - Is it because I don’t look as young and therefore men assume I won’t stand for it? - Is it because I genuinely give out more confident vibes and am less eager to please? - Or could it be because smartphones really became ubiquitous then, so men didn’t need a human entertainer any more?

When people say, “How does biological sex matter, it’s irrelevant, blah blah, why are you obsessed with a stranger’s genitals...”

I think “well why don’t you sit next to Steve from Watford and listen to him bore on about his fucking motorbikes then, I guarantee if Sharon had sat next to me instead, we’d be reading in comfortable silence.”

What have your experiences been like? Do strange men still use you for entertainment? How did you get them to stop?

When did men stop using you as a personal entertainer? Between the ages of 15-25, I barely had a single train journey, flight, bus ride or wait in a waiting room without a middle aged/oldish man in the vicinity chatting to me. Now, I’m a friendly person who likes 5 minutes of small talk (“where are you off to?” “Oh visiting an aunt? That’s nice, I grew up there.”) before settling down with my book or music. And if by some miracle, the person next to/opposite me shares my interests, I’m happy to chat for longer. But every. single. journey. I used to end up with a middle aged bore boring on about his motorbike, his marathon, or his politics. For hours. If I tried to interject with my own experiences, I’d get talked down to. On the rare occasion I said something (“Sorry, I just really want to finish this novel!” “Sorry, I’ve got homework to do, actually.”) the man would get huffy! Then we’d have an awkward silence. Maybe he’d say something passive aggressive about me to another man. (Part of the problem might have been me apologising, I know. I’m training myself out of it). However, I’ve not really had this problem since the age of 25 - Is it because I don’t look as young and therefore men assume I won’t stand for it? - Is it because I genuinely give out more confident vibes and am less eager to please? - Or could it be because smartphones really became ubiquitous then, so men didn’t need a human entertainer any more? When people say, “How does biological sex matter, it’s irrelevant, blah blah, why are you obsessed with a stranger’s genitals...” I think “well why don’t you sit next to Steve from Watford and listen to him bore on about his fucking motorbikes then, I guarantee if Sharon had sat next to me instead, we’d be reading in comfortable silence.” What have your experiences been like? Do strange men still use you for entertainment? How did you get them to stop?

58 comments

[–] Rainbows 41 points (+41|-0)

In Sweden strangers don't generally talk to each other that often, except there are middle-aged men who totally think that random girls and women would LOVE to stop whatever they are doing and chat with them. If that man gets politely told no, I'm busy, expect an angry tantrum. Over 25 and I still get a "oh god no what is it, is he gonna be mad" feeling when a male stranger wants to talk to me.

[–] MakeThatDough 14 points (+14|-0) Edited

horny/violent male strangers are the worst. the fact that they invoke fear and continue to do so for millenia with no fucks is just so... fundamentally wrong.

[–] RegularFeminist 37 points (+37|-0) Edited

Oh gosh, once I was on a train with such an asshole. I was siletently eating my dinner, which was vegan. And he asked me if I was a vegetarian. And you see I don't normally preach about veganism to strangers but I don't lie either, so I confessed. Then he started talking about how meat is essential and when I said I didn't want to talk about that, he asked my why I didn't want to have a debate and stand up for my priciples. He almost begged me. Later when I was reading a book he interfered with somr stupid questions. I don't mind some small talks, but clearly not when I am reading. Also I was sleeping on the top berth and he asked if I needed any help with my bed linen and when I had already said no he was like - oh, don't be shy I just want to help. Ugh.

Oh wow. You were accused of being unhealthy, unprincipled, physically incapable of making a bed, and shy!

[–] MakeThatDough 11 points (+11|-0)

i HATE it when they say don't be shy or don't be bashful.

also, they're literally horrified if you happen to start the dumb ass inevitable conversation about the weather that THEY want to lead to sex

Oh how I hate the meat lectures. I've endured decades of that. "You don't eat meat?Well what do you eat then? You don't drink milk? You need calcium!" There's plenty of nutritional info out there. It's not my job to educate hostile strangers, but they sure thought I needed to be attacked for my food choices all the time! Uggh. Now that I think about it, 75% of the "what DO you eat???" did come from men. I didn't make the connection before now.

[–] GenderHeretic 33 points (+33|-0) Edited

When we speak up about this, we're gaslit by everyone with, "They're just lonely and want someone to talk to! #BEKIND!" But they fucking don't just want "someone" to talk to, do they? They don't bother men of any age in this way. They want women, and specifically young women under 25 or teenage girls. Usually when they're alone, too.These creepy men certainly have no interest in "just talking" to these young women when they're with men or older women such as their mother. They will sometimes bother young women in small groups, though, especially if they're quite isolated or there's drinking. And everyone in the group knows what's going on, and exchange knowing glances, mock him quietly and start enacting tactics to protect each other (eg. not contradicting fake names given, sometimes just laughing him out of there). We all know. But no, we're all just imagining it and need to be scolded to be nicer to those poor lonely men who just want to talk to "someone".

I see these men's reasoning for seeking young women for conversational entertainment as the same reason men feel all personal servitude should be provided by women, and not just any women, but specifically young, attractive women. Servitude = sexual servitude. Conversation in these contexts is servitude to these men; you only have to observe their entitlement and the self-centred nature of the conversation on their part. Even the most mundane forms of servitude where no sexual acts actually occur should still be a form of sexual entertainment by virtue of the expectation that they be provided by attractive young women.

[–] drdee 12 points (+12|-0)

Not exactly the same thing, but your post reminded me of 'dudes greeting dudes':

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/rachelzarrell/dudes-greeting-dudes

I mean, they just want to give a compliment! Why is that so awful?

[–] GenderHeretic 8 points (+8|-0)
[–] drdee 4 points (+4|-0)

Haha that is great--bless that guy. Though I have to admit when I was in New Orleans men and women both talked like that to each other all the time.

[–] bumpyjerboa 31 points (+31|-0)

I'd so much forgotten about this, especially with lock down but YES, this definitely happened to me for as long as I can remember and only started declining around my late 20s.

I think part of it is definitely getting more confident, looking older, but also just learning subconsciously to wear a sort of "no, don't talk to me" expression. Learning to rebuff men in nightclubs with just a look (or the confidence to use a sharp elbow jab) probably helped too.

We're taught as girls so heavily to be nice, polite, and "helpful" to others. Some people even teach their daughters it's rude not to "entertain" like this - when I was a girl my mom would scold me for being shy and not wanting to talk to old men at church. Why the fuck would an old man who's not related to me want to know how I'm doing in school or some boring shit? He really doesn't, he just wants an excuse to pontificate with an audience.

Men just love feeling like they can control us, in any way possible.

[–] CharieC 10 points (+10|-0)

It's not so much that we are taught to be nice and polite, but that we are keenly aware of the potentially lethal consequences if we aren't. :(

[–] AriadneOnNaxos 25 points (+25|-0)

A book, being firm, and not giving into the sulks.

I’m 50, and it last happened to me about 3 years ago. He hadn’t brought anything to read, his phone was out of battery, and expected to chat to me for the four-hour journey. I lent him my charger, and it wasn’t too bad.

You’re right though that it drops off sharply in your mid 20s, for, I think the same reason that sexual harassment from strangers in public does. The younger you are, the less likely they think you are to resist.

[–] starry 7 points (+7|-0)

That, and I also think you start giving off a different vibe? I'm 28 and I'm definitely not here anymore for any of that shit. Maybe I exude it now, lol. Although as I mentioned elsewhere, I never really get these random "entertain me"-dudes. I mostly got dudes that were insinuating that they were too hot for me but would stoop down to my level for a fuck... I'm not conventionally attractive but I do have respect for myself, haha.

[–] Carrots90 23 points (+23|-0)

Earphones and “I’ve got to return this book tomorrow/ I’m writing about this article and it’s due tomorrow/I need to research this issue by tomorrow
can be helpful.

I had one Sherlock figure it out and, with outrage, exclaim “you don’t want to listen to me”. I responded with “how long do you want me to listen for?” and he got so mad.

[–] ouvalemonde 9 points (+9|-0)

"how long do you want me to listen for?" 🤣 legendary

[–] Alexiares 8 points (+8|-0)

lolol – headphones are a lifesaver travelling to head off jerks like this in my experience, but that's mostly within Canada. On planes and trains I don't even plug them into anything, just stick the other end in my pocket.

[–] starry 4 points (+4|-0)

My Airpods were a lifesaver for this, haha. I basically always have them in but they're only playing something half of the time.

[–] Carrots90 3 points (+3|-0)

Thank you 😊

I wasn’t even trying to be funny. It blurted out but I plan to use it again

[–] starry 20 points (+20|-0)

My resting bitch face saves me from this, lol. No one talks to me in public.

[–] MelMarieCurebee 7 points (+7|-0)

I don't have resting bitch face, but I do have a mean cold shoulder. Men are often too scared to talk to me. (I have experienced this but mostly when travelling abroad).

[–] YawningLion 7 points (+7|-0)

Male friends used to make jokes on how "pissed off" I look when I'm alone in public, ha! I told them looking nice and friendly when alone in public as a young woman is like having "I am a prey" plastered on the forehead.

[–] shveya 19 points (+19|-0) Edited

Oh my God, I'll be 37 in February, and this still happens at any bus , train or transit stop that I visit without a male guardian.

I never thought about it until l found the GC subreddit, but I realized how women always try to sit next to each other on public transport if it's crowded. I noticed it but never thought about it or registered it until I started talking to women like those of us here.

[–] littleowl12 17 points (+17|-0)

Oh, damn. This has been happening all my life and I never realized it. I entertained them and always ensured to entirely delight them. When did it stop? Covid.

[–] MakeThatDough 4 points (+4|-0)

lol explain how you delighted them. with eyerolls over your book and "mhms"

[–] littleowl12 7 points (+7|-0)

I’m sorry to say that I meant it literally. I would sit straight up and talk and be super pleasant because....... I don’t actually know why. I was just supposed to be friendly and kind and that was all I knew when I was younger. As I got older, it was just routine interactions while traveling and I never questioned why an older man would want to talk to me out of the blue.

Now I feel a fool. I am autistic and just knew that being friendly pleased the normies and made them happy.

[–] HekArtemis 8 points (+8|-0)

I don’t actually know why.

Female socialisation. For all that the women in this thread are talking about their resting bitch face and cold shoulders and the like, the actual truth is that most of us have been heavily indoctrinated into the idea of being nice and kind and accommodating. And most of us will go through exactly what you have for along time before realising that we actually shouldn't have to do so, and it's a bit weird that these men are doing that anyway. Some women never realise it. And even when we do realise what is happening it is a hard thing to stop doing because it's so heavily imprinted on our brains.

Interesting that you bring up autism though because it's actually one of the things that makes autism difficult to recognise in girls. Girls are taught to essentially mask our discomfort and aversion in social situations, to fake nice, to fake attentiveness etc. Since we're all doing it, it's missed when autistic girls do it.

[–] RisingUp 17 points (+17|-0)

Yeah for me it stopped when I learned to stare through them like I didn't even see that anyone was there. The key is you don't respond with normal human eye contact to the initial attempt to catch your eye, but you don't look away from them either - it unnerves them to the point they don't even start talking to you.

I remember being trapped on a crowded train once beside some dude who was REALLY determined to hassle and annoy the people around him with his conversation. He was yammering away to some poor girl on the seat opposite us who kept giving him short but polite responses. And he turned toward me several times. I was watching him out of the corner of my eye while reading stuff on my phone so I didn't react in any way to him turning toward me, and kept reading. Eventually he started peering at my phone, obviously planning to start a conversation about what I was reading. So I tilted it away from him, while still not acknowledging that I even saw he was there. Then he literally craned his neck to see it, and I tilted it away from him further. Then he gave up and started complaining to his victim about how people aren't friendly on public transport and don't want to have a conversation with you any more. 🤣🤣🤣

[–] Chickpea 12 points (+12|-0)

The key is you don't respond with normal human eye contact to the initial attempt to catch your eye, but you don't look away from them either - it unnerves them to the point they don't even start talking to you.

This is hilarious. I just picture a slow head turn while they’re talking, being met with this face, and then just staying completely silent as they wait for a reply while you continue to look through them lol

[–] womenopausal 13 points (+13|-0)

I soon noticed that a great side benefit of my late teens - 20s look - massive boots, mohawk, leather, goth eyeliner, etc - is that very few men wanted to talk to me. I still do it a bit, for eg if I have a long train journey ahead, because normally I radiate approachability even in middle age.

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