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Dead Horse

Yes. Though over the years I've extended that to anyone cornering a nice person in a dimly lit corner. Or even a nicely lit museum atrium, I don't care.

Here's how, and based on years of rescuing friends, barmates, and random strangers from Creepy Guys*, here's my methods:

a) The easiest- Catch the victim's eye. If you can, hold up a finger to say, "One minute," then take a sip of your drink or eat a couple fries or whatever. This step is important. It gives the girl a moment to realize that someone notices what's going on, and that the noticee is about to do something. Walk over, and say, "OMG, Tiffany**? Hey, you remember me from Mr Laurie's math class?" This is about the time where she will either go along with it, or start to politely demur because no, she doesn't remember you at all. If she starts to politely demur, say, "C'mon, remember when Brian..." and here lean over to whisper, "Just trying to give you a nice out from the guy bothering you if you want it."
At this point, most women feel okay saying something like, "No, I don't remember, I'm sorry" or "Oh jeez, how is Brian?"

b )This is a little tougher, and you need some kind of situation going on. Karaoke, poker games, dancing something that happens at a bar. Go up to the woman and ask them a question about what's going on. Anything'll do, from, "Any idea what this song is? I swear it sounds like, um..." to "Excuse me... this may sound silly, but I have a bar bet with my friends... is that rum and coke or a Long Island iced tea?" Whatever you think will cut off the creep. Meanwhile, make frantic eye movements towards Creepo. Think loudly, "I'm here as a distraction." If nothing else, maybe Creepo will get the hint from your frantic head-jerking, if you don't care about being subtle. (And can you guess I don't?)

c) This is one I don't use often, and I usually used with my sister's friends. And this is one you kinda have to have permission or at least familiarity for ahead of time, hence the 'sisters friends' bit***. If I saw one of them and some older dude was chatting them up and they obviously had that stiff-legged, noncommittal look on their face... I'd come up and talk about family and friends. "Oh, Siobhan," I'd say, "Man, you have gotten tall! Are you what, in ninth grade now? Hey, my daughter hasn't seen you since Fourth of July, want to come see how big she's gotten? Oh, and we have the dogs! You've gotta see 'um." The point is to give a girl (and this kinda only works with teens) a nice, family-oriented excuse to walk away.

d) Is kinda-sorta creepy in and of itself, and relies on the victim's bladder. But it's the easiest and the most gentle, if you can pull it off. When she goes to the bathroom, follow her in. While you're waiting in line, ask her if she's okay with that guy badgering her around or if she'd rather do something else. Very little pressure on her, a chance to explain for you, like I said, the ideal situation unless you're a guy, she's got a gallon-size bladder, or he follows her even there- in which case call the bouncer, cause, ew.

e) If she's sitting on a bar stool or standing, you can always offer her a chair at your table. This could backfire, since the guy may just follow to the table, so only use it if you've got friends there that are willing to have a conversational swarm of sorts.

Guys? I'm looking at you, straight guys. I need your help. I don't know what the guy equivalent is to talking in the bathroom. But the next time you see a guy talking to a gal and she's doing five of the following ten, maybe less depending on the severity, take him aside and point this shit out. If a girl is:
1. Not facing him while he's talking to her
2. Has her arms over her chest and/or her body angled away fro him
3. Is only answering direct questions with yeses and nos or uh-huhs
4. Has her thumb on her cheek and her fingers on her forehead as she leans on the bar/table or other signs of exasperation
5. Is not wearing a matching wedding ring or obviously with some guy that is, I dunno, telling the Ramones story for the 400th time (Married/committed people get arrgh shutupshutup occasionally.)
6. Is casting her eyes around for a friendly face... or rolling them like crazy
7. Is pulling one of those humoring smiles. Imagine your grandmom talking about how much you look like her Uncle Johan as a photographer is snapping a picture. That.
8. Asks the bartender (or a nearby female) to keep an eye on her drink when she has to leave the bar for a second.
9. Holds onto her purse/drink/jacket with a death grip
10. Obviously underage/under employment/under whatever compared to the guy pressuring her. This is a tough one to discribe but I think most people recognize it.

Then probably she's being needlessly polite.

Now, all of that is based on my own experience, and I'm sure you've got three major questions:
Does this 'rescue' actually reinforce victimhood somehow?
Why are the men responsible for their actions, but the women aren't responsible for their reactions?
Do you have any other boobalcious shirts?

The answers are: I don't think so, since I almost always tell the people I'm doing this for what I'm doing and why I thought they might need a hand. I think of this as my version of, "I'm Spartacus!" I hope that this simple idea gives people who don't feel brave or empowered enough to say, "Leave me alone," a thought that not only are they empowered enough, they're able to do it for others. And as most people find, being able to do something for others means that doing it for ourself is a lot easier.
Second... that's a tough question. I tried in my first footnote to make it clear that straight men weren't the only aggressors, but to be honest... y'all are. No, not you personally, flist (though Rafe? I hope that boob thing is an online conceit, dahling), but when it comes to the delicate dance of who does what to whom... you have to admit males are still waaaaaaay more on the side of activists than passivists. I think there's still a sense of entitlement there- "As long as I'm being polite, she should still be talking to me!" which is vaguely true in a social aspect but not in a romantic or sexual one.
Third- not yet.

I'm sure I've missed stuff, feel free to bring it up. I don't usually do political/webgeek posts like this, so gawd knows, there's a comment on pag 14 that already said this or something. And I'm tired now. And I have to go to the gym in the morning because like an idjit, I signed up for a 9:30 class. Haha me.

*Since 99% of the time I'm dealing with creepy guys and 'being nice' girls, I'm going to slip into writing it that way, please know I've open to distracting both genders from both genders but be really, really careful when treading waters you don't usually swim in.
**Assuming you can get a name. If not, "Hey, weren't you in Mr Laurie's math class with me?" works okay too.
***Being 8 years older and willing to be a ghost big sister to a gaggle of teenage girls who constantly had sex questions... this is the part where I could be really creepy my damn self but honestly I classified them all as 'little' since I'd met most of them when they were like, six. Remind me one day to talk about my little brother's friends and when I realized they were probably letting me win wrestling matches. Ugh.
****People who sit politely through those conversations to sift out some comedy gold? My kind of people though. No, I am not always nice.


( 22 sips — Tipsy yet? )
Apr. 24th, 2008 11:19 am (UTC)
I'm not entirely sure what this post is in response to, but I would like to hand you a nice, cold cup of WORD. Like seriously. If I had a stamp that said "APPROVED" I probably would have stamped my computer screen with it while this post was on my screen.

I've been rescuer. One time a dude came up and hassled a coworker while we were on the job. A dude I knew happened to walk by, and also happened to be wearing a tie, so I realized he could pass for a boss-type dude. So I stopped him and whispered, "Joe, see that chick over there? Look at her and say, 'Linda, I need to talk to you,'" which he did, even though he was SO CONFUSED. My coworker was able to say, "Sorry, my boss has to talk to me," and politely walk away, so the guy finally left.

I've also been rescued. I went to a local bar for an old roommate's birthday, so I was only with acquaintances and people I hadn't seen for months or even years. I was newly 21 obviously a student. A 30ish townie came to me, and I could not shake him. He kept asking me to kiss him, and I just kept saying, over and over, "No, I can't. I can't. I'm awkward. I can't." Won't would have been better and more forceful, but I was being needlessly polite, and also was becoming intoxicated. Still I got so uncomfortable with the situation that I asked one of the vague acquaintances for help. She went to chat up the townie as a distraction, while I sat with her friend-from-high-school, who I'd never met before, but who was conveniently a big, kind, friendly dude of awesome, who made me feel safer, just being near him. We played up being old buds to keep the creep at bay.

Because of some other circumstances (like the fact that I was getting way too drunk off a single drink, the fact that I couldn't remember the huge bar brawl that came later, the fact that I still have no idea how I got home that night, etc.), we later determined that I might have been roofied that night. So I'm really glad and lucky I had people to turn to when I needed it, and I just hope that, if I hadn't asked for help, someone would have come to my aid anyway.

So, first of all: it's safer to make sure someone's okay, and help them if they need help.

Second of all: if you need help, even if you're the type of person who hates to admit when that happens, ask for it. Or at least look for it.
Apr. 24th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC)
So, first of all: it's safer to make sure someone's okay, and help them if they need help.

Second of all: if you need help, even if you're the type of person who hates to admit when that happens, ask for it. Or at least look for it.

Exactly. In a perfect world, these women would stand up, say, "Well, this is going nowhere, goodbye," but in a perfect world I'd be at the gym right now and it's possible my won would not be wearing a tshirt with a tie clipped to it so let's be glad we don't live there.
Apr. 24th, 2008 01:24 pm (UTC)
I'm not going to comment on the gist of the whole kerfuffle, because, while I'm sympathetic to both sides to a certain extent, I'm also annoyed with both sides, too. Some adherents to both positions are being dipshits, despite possibly being well-meaning (and occasionally, quite obviously not).

Succinctly, people should not be assholes to each other. This asshole threshold is not a constant, but instead is a variable, constantly in flux based on the dynamics of the two people involved in any given interaction.

I've frequently been the "stunt boyfriend" (or was, anyway) when a girl needed to get away from Creepy McFuckerson. I've very, very occasionally been the guy that a girl wanted to get the hell away from them (I was not always this suave, charming, or attractive *snerk*). Yeah, I'm a schmuck sometimes. I'm better about it now, though still not perfect. *shrug*

(and, yes, my online boob appreciation is an exaggerated conceit based on honest preference (to paraphrase sir mix-a-lot, "i like big busts and i cannot lie"), played up for humorous effect. i'm actually rather shy and deferential, but will take occasional, appreciative glances in the big blue room. i try to look in a manner that coincides with the presentation, for lack of a better word.)

Apr. 24th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
I've very, very occasionally been the guy that a girl wanted to get the hell away from them

Just the fact you'll say that makes raises you quite a few notches in my book- most guys seem to think "It's never me!"

(I figured, hence the dahling.)
Apr. 24th, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
Being that particular flavor of schmuck is one of those things that, at the time, you probably are too self-absorbed (or drunk, or horny, or caught up in the moment, or some combination of the above) to recognize.

re: my personal thing for boobs - it's simply a fetish; big tits press Those Buttons for me. as with anything that falls under such a heading, the ability to consciously respond in a polite manner is often at odds with the limbic system's going, "Dude. DUDE. DUDE!"
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 25th, 2008 08:00 am (UTC)
Most of the time it's pretty obvious when someone isn't enjoying the attention they're receiving.

Not always to straight folks, which is why I put in that caveat.

Oh man... I've pulled off a 'girlfriend' while wearing a wedding ring. The guy in question was an avowed asexual dude who was... let's say more than little uncomfortable with being cornered by someone and breathed on after a particularly wonderful rendition of Shatner-esque "Rocket Man" at karaoke.

I have that 'talk to me all you want, but touch me and it's personal' thing too. I'm a pretty touchy feely type person, but that's with people I know well enough to be that way without getting skeeved and (I fervently hope) vice versa.

My review of a bar I hated: "The music was too loud, the drinks were watered down, the bar was all sticky... and the patrons even more so."
Apr. 25th, 2008 07:26 am (UTC)
This is awesome! Thank you so much for writing it! Linked.
Apr. 25th, 2008 07:56 am (UTC)
You're welcome. I'll have to try to think of anything else I use. I love your idea, but I thought it was a little short on the practical how-tos. Obviously, none of this is perfect (and I KNOW I run the risk of offending someone, but that's okay with me and so far, it's been okay with everyone involved except for the creeps, though that may change and I'm prepared for it) but there's got to be some kind of arsenal of Friend Tactics every person has. A lot more people are reading your journal than mine- maybe you could ask what concrete ideas people have for politely (polite is always important!) interrupting a bubble of ick?

Granted polite brush-offs for people who are taking advantage of politeness is my goal... it may not be everyone's. For creeps who are going the extra mile, so to speak, there's always the option of more direct action like speaking to the bouncer or calling the police or standing between them and not paying any attention to the creep until her gets the hint.

Edited at 2008-04-25 08:12 am (UTC)
Apr. 25th, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
More bits of negative body language.
(Linked here via Vito_Excalibur's LJ.)

The basic lesson is this: if two people's body language is parallel, then they're in mental sync as well. If their body language is not in parallel but neither is changing a lot, then neither is "with" the other. If one person is interested and the other isn't, the one will try to have the same body language as the other, while the other will try to have different body language. I have found this analysis to apply across genders and preferences, and to generally apply in all Western cultures.

So some specifics that tell you something's not right:
- She's leaning away from him, he's leaning towards her. Think of this as her running away from him, but seated.
- They engage in the "dance of body language" with her changing her position (recrossing legs, moving arms, etc), he making the same change soon after, then her changing again. The key here is she wants different body language, he wants the same.
- He keeps touching or trying to touch her anywhere, including innocuous places like shoulder or elbow, she doesn't touch or try to touch him.
- She arranges herself to face away from him or otherwise shows closed body language. If her legs are crossed, the cross is closed to him. Her near-to-him shoulder may be hunched a bit. Her shoulders may be arranged so her back is to him a bit.
- She keeps edging away a bit, especially if he then keeps moving up toward her new position.

Brought to you by someone to whom none of this came naturally, and so had to learn to be very explicit and specific when trying to understand.
Apr. 25th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Re: More bits of negative body language.
— He keeps touching or trying to touch her anywhere, including innocuous places like shoulder or elbow, she doesn't touch or try to touch him.

Oh, man. THAT. *shudders*
Apr. 25th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)
Re: More bits of negative body language.
Something I picked up about body language from a show on the science of love and attraction: watch where the knees and feet are pointed. Towards the person: into them. Away from the person: not into them.
Apr. 25th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
Here via vito_excalibur.

In a con-type situation, that takes place in a large space like a hotel or convention center, a handy variation on your tactic b is the "looking for the restroom" gambit. "Hi, sorry to interrupt, but do you know where the ladies' room is?" *making frantic eye movements at weirdo* Not only does it serve to cut the creep off, it gives her an escape route, in the form of, "Yeah, I'll show you."
Apr. 25th, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
Ooooh- good one. Restroom, registration, etc, I haven't been to a con in nigh on 12 years, (I'm actually heading to Balticon though!) so I am more on the neighborhood bar side of advice, any other con-specific ideas would be great.

Is there a website to contribute to? I saw some talk about it but nothing specific.
Apr. 26th, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)
jacquez is in the process of building a website. For now there is a LJ community: backupproject
Apr. 25th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
Bill Rotsler taught me the simple method: Walk up to the "victim" and ask "Do you want to go do that now?" She gets to decide if I misread the situation; if not, I turn to the oppressor and say "excuse us" and we walk away. As we walk away, I explain "You looked like you needed rescuing."

The key point is the implication that there's a prior arrangement.
Apr. 27th, 2008 06:27 am (UTC)
Hi, I'm here by way of vito_excalibur. This sounds great, & I'm definitely on board w/the backup idea. Just 1 thing I'd disagree on: I wouldn't advise using the harassee's real name, unless you're sure Creep already knows it. Don't give them any info they could use to, say, misrepresent themselves to a 3rd party as a friend of their target's & find out more about them.

Me, I have no problem telling someone trying to put the moves on me to get lost. It's harder w/the type who drunkenly drones on & on, totally harmlessly, to the point where I almost wish they'd try something, just to give me an excuse to give them the brushoff. Come to think of it, the only time I can remember that I've played the backup role was in a situation like this, only w/o the drunkenness.
Apr. 27th, 2008 06:43 am (UTC)
Um... I think you're in the wrong spot. :)
Apr. 28th, 2008 04:37 am (UTC)
I don't think so...I'm responding to the "OMG, Tiffany?" part & the note saying "Assuming you can get a name." And saying that if the harasser doesn't know Tiffany's name, using her real name in your rescue attempt could inform the harasser of what it is, & he could use it to get more info about her from gullible friends of hers for stalking purposes ("You're a friend of Tiffany's, right?" "Tiffany Jones?" "Yeah, did you go to school with her?" ...& now he knows her last name & can look up her address & phone no.) If my talking about "the backup idea" threw you off, I was referring to the "backupproject" community that desdenova mentioned.

Or is there some reason I'm not supposed to be here? Is there some other spot where my post would be more appropriate?
Apr. 28th, 2008 04:41 am (UTC)
No, no, you know what? I must have had MQ and my journal open in the same size windows or something, that was me being an idjit, sorry. :)

You're right- I'm used to dealing with a place where everybody knows your name (half the people walk in and have their drink on the table before they order) so it's usually drunk guy against nice gal, not random creepy stranger. Which is all the more reason to not be actually confrontational, because you'll no doubt see Bob next week.
Apr. 27th, 2008 07:37 am (UTC)
Another tactic : Playing Dumb and Friendly. Walk up, as a total stranger, with a wide, wide, nonironic smile, and announce in a happy, clueless voice "Hi! How are you folks doing?" and Do Not Go Away. Talk about the weather, talk about what's on TV. Act like you are completely ignorant of any social rules which would censure your interruption. Allow long silences for discomfort to build while maintaining nonthreatening but insistent eye contact with the person making the other person uncomfortable. Just be there radiating cluelessness, guilelessness, happiness and permanence. Act delighted with everyone involved: this is a good way of defusing an aggressive reaction. It's very hard to start a fight with someone who is apparently delighted to see you and appreciates your presence utterly, even if they absolutely will not leave you alone to be creepy. Induce embarassment if possible, reacting loudly to physically invasive moves "Whooooooo! Easy there tiger! Hahahaha! Jeez, you sure are friendly!"

The invasive person at this point is either going to a) get impatient, and leave for less annoying prey, b) get angry, and thus show their cards and become a lot easier for the uncomfortable person to distance themselves from, or c) correct their behavior by retreating into a proper social distance.

May. 3rd, 2008 08:41 am (UTC)
You win for this comment/tactic. I actually met one of my best friends like that - he saw me being backed up against a wall by Big Scary Dude and came over radiating clueless amiability and would not go away. Eventually Big Scary Dude got frustrated and walked off, and he turned to me and went "well he was an asshole, wasn't he?".

The funniest way of doing this I've ever witnessed happened in a club in London. Most of the people there did know each other, but occasionally we got gawkers. One night one of them cornered me while I was waiting for a drink and would not go away. Finally a friend came up to me, slung her arm around my shoulder and gave me a big smacking kiss. I gave her the raised eyebrow of confusion and she grinned, then turned to the guy and said "we're lesbians, go away".

Of course he said "I don't mind!" but by then the situation was defused. Friend burst out laughing, I said "what part of the word lesbian do you not understand?", and dude flounced off in a huff. Problem solved!

Seriously, we all need to do this, female and male. If someone looks undomfortable they probably are. Rescue them.
Sep. 4th, 2008 08:42 am (UTC)
I've only had to bail out other friends from non-drinking situations, but there's a creep at our Math Club (yeah, that's how nerdy I am) that just doesn't Get It. I've found that nerds, who tend to be creeptastic due to general social inability instead of drunkness, need special handling.

I've found the following tactics work on him:
1. Walk over. Stand in front of him, so your ass is in his face, and start talking to his victim. This works best if you actually know the person. This would probably fail if the person was creepy enough so you were worried about getting groped, but it works pretty well on non-drunk nerds who just don't Get It. Bonus points if you can manage to fart on him.
2. Plunk yourself down and start insisting on making conversation with him. I've found that most male nerds can't resist a game of one-up-manship; I try to get them going about something relatively safe (who's pulled the best all-nighters, for example).
3. Insist you were saving the seat he's in. Try to guilt him into moving. This really only works if he can't just sit on his victim's other side, but if you're lucky, you can at least force him across the table.
4. Start talking about something very, very girly with his victim. Tampon brands are a good one. Bonus points for visual aids. In my experience, this makes nerdy males run like nothing else. Alternatively, if you know the nerd, start talking about something (fandoms work well) that you know he hates, or that he doesn't know anything about. Nerds don't like being in conversations they don't understand. At the very least, he may well shut up.
5. If he persists in trying to get a date, start inventing things your friend is doing with you. "Oh---weren't we going to do that thing that day? You know, that thing we talked about the other night." Alternatively, if your friend is comfortable with it, tell him you're going on a date that night, but he's welcome to bring someone and make it a double.
6. If you're good enough friends with the nerd in question, take him aside and explain very gently that no, really, she's not interested. Many nerds just don't understand that polite brush-offs are, in fact, brush-offs, and not completely honest "Oh, I'm doing something that night, maybe some other time".
( 22 sips — Tipsy yet? )

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