Therese’s Story: Unwanted attention

While waiting for my fiancee to exit a retail establishment, I was standing on the sidewalk at this intersection somewhat a ways back from the street and close to the entrance of a residential building. It was nighttime and dark out, although the area seemed safe.

A man approached to enter the building and told me how pretty I was making the entrance area appear. I’m ashamed to admit that I snapped at him and told him “that’s a rude thing to say.” I’m ashamed because he was paying a compliment, but even though he said it in a nice tone his intentions to hit on me were very clear. That’s why I snapped.

I feel very conflicted about the encounter. On one hand I did not desire this man’s attention and it was not appropriate for him to just come out and say this especially to a lone female at night. However, he said it in a nice way and was, at the end of the day, complimenting me and there was no tone of contempt there as there would be with a catcaller or harasser.

I just want to cleanse myself from this encounter by releasing it out into the world, and saying “I’m sorry” to this gentleman, for snapping at him, but also I’m not sorry because you should not hit on a lone woman at night in passing, no matter how pretty she is making your building entrance look. It’s unwanted attention you’re paying to her, whether it’s with the best of intentions or not.

Thank you for listening.


One Response

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  1. R. Zora says:

    I think you did the right thing. This man’s intentions were clear. Also, there’s an objectifying aspect to his “compliment”: you were making the entryway look pretty? As if you were a mannequin dressed up to lure in male customers or something?

    It’s not uncommon for women to feel guilty when they ‘hollaback’. And it’s natural to want to give people the benefit of the doubt.

    But it’s not a man’s intentions that matter, it’s how what he says makes a woman feel. If a comment makes a woman feel uncomfortable, then it’s inappropriate. So, what this man said was inappropriate. And I think you were completely in the right to tell him so.

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