In a society that proclaims sexual equality, some of us struggle to part with old habits …

 

I just stumbled across a video on Facebook that bothered me. I don’t know how old the video is, or when it was first posted, but it draws attention to an issue that needs tackling now.

The video shows a guy walking up to a girl in a park and telling her that he has her boyfriend’s phone, and that her boyfriend left it behind after a class they share. The girl, whose identity is hidden, replies that she doesn’t have a boyfriend, so the guy walks away. Ten minutes later, a different guy approaches her. He asks her name and what school she goes to, and, after she replies, tells her that not only does he attend that same school, but studies the same subject — after watching the whole video it is safe to assume he is lying; deceiving her in order to achieve the purpose of the video’s ‘experiment’. He then asks her if he could have her number, and if they could make plans to study together. Let’s remember that at this point, he is a total stranger to the girl. The girl replies that she has a boyfriend, and this is where things get really, really weird: the guy launches into an entitled, self-righteous rant, letting the girl in on the ‘experiment’ and telling her that he is sick of girls lying about having boyfriends to ‘avoid him’. He tells the girl she’s on camera and storms off, leaving her to attempt to process what just happened.

I don’t need to tell you that the second guy’s response is absurd. if he expects every single girl he asks out to say yes simply because they’re single, he’s setting himself up for a lot of disappointment. He seems to disregard the fact that he is a complete stranger to this unfortunate target, and that it is perfectly acceptable for a person not to give their phone number out to people who randomly approach them at the park. It also doesn’t occur to the guy that, sure, she’s not interested — and she has the right not to be — but she actually made an effort to protect his feelings. She could have simply said she wasn’t interested, but by saying she had a boyfriend, she was attempting to minimise the rejection felt — not that he deserves it.

It is worrying to think that a girl or woman can be made subject to guilt-tripping, a tirade of abuse, or worse, simply for exercising her right to say no. This is more than a viral Facebook video; it speaks volumes about society’s disturbing attitude towards women. It tells us that if a woman is single, she is obliged to give whatever is demanded of her. It’s troubling that so many women consider it ‘safer’ to say they have a boyfriend than to straightforwardly reject an offer. Not only should they be able to turn down someone’s advances without having to lie, but it also implies continuing disrespect towards women — a woman will be left alone if she is considered another man’s property, but if she isn’t, she’s available.

While the YouTuber’s response is unjustifiably excessive, rejection from a woman has ended in far graver situations. For example, in California in 2014, Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured fourteen others before taking his own life. Rodger explained his motivation for the murders in a video filmed shortly before the crime, in which he stated that he was carrying out punishment against women for rejecting him, and against sexually-active men for living a life more enjoyable than his.

The notion that men are entitled to sex with any woman they’ve made the ‘effort’ to approach or attempt to seduce, and that women can be punished for refusing, does not merely create uncomfortable and unfair situations for women, but dangerous ones. Misogyny is poisonous; it hurts society — men included — and, as we’ve seen, can kill. It goes without saying that there needs to be a serious shift in society’s attitudes towards women and sex; women are not sexual objects to be conquered, and whether a person wants to sleep with you or not is not the yardstick by which to measure your worth.

Do not be angry at a woman for not giving you what you want or feel you deserve; instead, realise that your disappointment and anger is rooted in the fact that you expected something from her in the first place. Dear misogynistic men: women do not owe you anything.