How Not To Get A Date

BY LAURA RUOCCO

As if there weren’t enough formulaic reality shows to choose from, London producers Marlon Okeowo & Ziakayah David present Tru Players, a street harassment reality game show!  The premise is two dudes going to a busy UK shopping district an competing to see who can get the most phone numbers, and thus be awarded the title of “tru player”.  Finally! A caricature of my daily struggle written by the men who perpetuate it!

As you may imagine, most of the women they approach are reluctant to give up their phone number to some rando on the street.   The contestant’s tactics are described on the Tru Player You Tube page as “subtle”, though a more appropriate word might be “relentless”.  It is painful to watch some of the women laugh nervously, clearly uncomfortable, as the men press them for their relationship status and phone number.  The situation feels all too familiar, as I have found myself many times smiling at or telling my name to some strange guy that I wish would just go away.  A few of the women do give out numbers, but one of them reveals in a separate interview at the end of the show that it was a fake.  The cameras being clearly visible to the women likely factors in to any level of “success” the men achieve.  It’s interesting to see the incongruity between the women’s reaction to the men and what they have to say in the private interviews, where many of the women are less forgiving.

The show, which is geared toward teenagers,  is a perfect example of the way we are steeped in rape culture before we are even old enough to date.  Case in point: the celebrity contestant episode featuring UK comedian Lil Mckell, who is TWELVE YEARS OLD!

In a perfect world, maybe it would be fine for people of all genders to compliment each other on the street and make dates with attractive strangers on the way to work.  But alas, the world we live in is a patriarchal one in which the kind of daily street harassment documented on Hollaback sites worldwide is only the tip of the “shit women have to deal with” iceberg.   I have often felt deeply bummed by my reaction of distrust to any sexual attention, as learned from years of dealing with street harassers and public masturbators.  Potentially pleasant stranger conversations are avoided for fear of the seemingly inevitable “are you married?” or some other version of boundary-crossing.   The Tru Player You Tube page suggests that male viewers might even learn some “clues and tricks on how to approach women”, but the reality is that these shmucks are just ruining it for all of the true “tru players”.

 

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  1. Cristine says:

    I am abhorred by all forms of sexual harassment, but this latest trend of the “Tru Player game” is simply over the top! Harass women on the street, then ask them to “explain” themselves later?! Revolting!!! When I was younger I dealt with my share of “Cat Callers”. The first time this happened to me was when I was about 12 years of age. Naturally I didn’t look my age, as many girls do not. At first I would run, embarrassed, to my destination. Later on I found some helpful tricks. The best answer to an at distance cat caller trying to impress his friends, in my opinion, is to yell back “So, what do you want to date now?, Start a relationship?, get married?”. This generally shuts them up, because they’re doing it for the thrill of the reaction not only from the woman, but from their friends. Every woman must assess her own risk. Body language, tone of voice, surroundings, time of day, etc. should all play a part in how you handle your harasser. Obviously the aforementioned tactic will NOT work at 2 a.m. on a secluded subway with one or more drunk individuals, this will only potentially make the male and cohorts angry and put you in a more dangerous situation. Obviously, the right action would be to ignore them. If that doesn’t work, get off at the next stop. Unfortunately, for women we must follow the rules of self defense first and foremost. Is it fair? NO. Is it right? NO. But ultimately, and unfortunately, it is a woman’s job to protect herself from ANY danger or abuse. I truly enjoyed the posters statement how said “Would you do that if your Mum was standing there, if the answer is no, than don’t do it”! Until the day comes when this behaviour ceases, if ever, a woman must do everything in her power to counter an attack. Whether it be a snappy comeback, pepper spray, stun gun, or the always smart “travel in packs”, until we can change the mind set of men who think we are sex candy for them to drool over – it’s self-preservation. Unfortunately I see a trend, that appalls me. This is young women walking down the streets in short short jeans, and barely there tops with push up bras giving each other high fives every time they get a honk or a holler! Most of us don’t want the attention, but there is a subset of the population that enjoys the “attention”. A lot of things need to change before women will be at peace!

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