I wrote this in late August of 2016, in response to something that was being talked about on social media. An awful man named Dan had written a “guide” in which he encouraged men to harass women who were wearing headphones.
I read “Stop Bothering Women Who are Wearing Headphones” in episode 13 of my Words of Jen podcast.
There’s this writer named Dan something-or-other who posted a blog that’s been getting a lot of negative attention. He wrote a step-by-step “guide” that horrible men can follow in order to harass women who are wearing headphones. I’m not linking to the thing Dan wrote because I do not want to give his blog any additional page clicks.
I am not one for encouraging bad behavior – especially bad behavior that is likely to cause harm to people.
The premise of the “guide” is that men are entitled to talk to any woman that they happen to see – just because they want to. He implies that men who follow his list of bad ideas will be able to convince a woman – who was happily minding her own business and not seeking someone to date – to date the horrible man that harassed her.
Here’s the thing. I’m a woman. I have friends who are women. Over the years, I’ve connected with lots of women through social media, video games, and/or podcasting. In all those years, I have never, ever, ever seen a woman say the she was going to wear headphones on her walk, while shopping, or while commuting on public transit BECAUSE she hoped some random guy would come up and bother her until she took her headphones off so he could talk at her.
There are plenty of men in this world who have managed to find a woman to date without following Dan’s ridiculous advice about stalking and demanding attention from a woman who is wearing headphones until she takes them off. For that matter, there are plenty of women who have managed to find a woman to date without following around a woman who was wearing headphones and harassing her to take them off so they could talk to her.
Ask the people you follow on social media if they have EVER gotten into a relationship with a woman that they harassed, bothered, and would not leave alone until she took off her headphones. I assure you, there won’t be anyone out there who had Dan’s dumb advice work out for them.
Dan’s irresponsible advice is not going to work – ever – under any circumstances. It might, however, cause a woman to file a police report about the random guy who came out of nowhere to bother her. NO ONE wants to be harassed when they are out in public minding their own business.
Dan, and the fools who read his blogs full of bad ideas, fail to recognize that women sometimes want to wear headphones so they can listen to music, or listen to podcasts, or listen to audiobooks. You know, the same things that men wear headphones to listen to.
Somehow, Dan thinks that women don’t have the right to enjoy what they are listening to if some random guy happens to want to talk to them. Dan is completely out of touch with reality – and no one should follow his bad advice.
When a random guy decides to bother a woman who is wearing headphones, and chooses to continue to harass her until she takes the headphones off, he is sending a clear message. He is telling that woman that he has absolutely no respect for her as a person, that he will not hesitate to cross boundaries when he feels entitled to do so, and that he thinks that men have the right to demand attention (or anything else they want) from any women.
Women don’t want to date guys like that, because guys like that are scary and potentially dangerous. Guys who try this “take off your headphones” garbage on a woman who is by herself in a not-so-public or sparsely populated place are letting that woman know that she should run far away from that guy.
Dan’s stupid, self-centered, advice is going to cause a backlash. It already has from the multitude of people who are pointing out on social media how terrible Dan’s post (and probably Dan himself as well) are.
In addition, women who have been accosted by men who demanded that they take their headphones off are even less likely to take them off now when some random guy starts insisting upon it. They are instantly going to know that the random guy who came out of nowhere to harass them is doing it because he read Dan’s awful blog. Women who are aware of Dan’s terrible advice now have even more incentive to ignore the man who marches up and demands that she remove her headphones.
Men who think that the problem – that is preventing them from convincing a woman to date them – is the headphones she is wearing are wrong. The problem isn’t the headphones. The problem is the man himself.