Friendly = I Want Sex?

friendsBy Erica Dalton

Coming into sexuality is so confusing. At least it was for me.

Beyond the no-win of being ridiculed for not doing “it,” verses becoming the main topic of conversation if you do, there were other perplexities.

Most of my classmates had had something resembling sex by eighth grade. I was more naive, which some found hard to believe: Since I had more guy friends than girl friends how could I have been anything but a slut?

Girls and guys both seemed to think so.

Then along came another no-win as my friendliness was taken for flirtation. When I turned guys down I was called a tease.

On my fifteenth birthday a guy friend bought me a build-a-bear and asked me out. When I explained that I only saw him as a friend he got extremely angry. He told me that by being nice to him, laughing at his jokes and spending time together, I was leading him on and that was not fair. I was dumbfounded. How could being a good person now be turned against me? The only response I was capable of was, “Well, do you want me to be a bitch to you?”

My mother had taught me to be nice. But I think he may have preferred me being a bitch because that way it would have at least been clear where he stood.

It was a form of oppression that I was not familiar with.

After the same thing happened a few more times I began focusing on all of the ways I could be leading guys on. I decided to be more upfront about being “just friends.” But I found it awkward to say that because it felt like I was always assuming guys were into me. I also prefer being friends before dating, so I’d be eliminating future chances with that declaration.

Instead, I moved on to dissecting my clothing to ensure I was not sending the wrong message. But being self-conscious about my body, I stuck to pants, tanks and sweatshirts. No seduction there. Other than my over-developed chest, there was nothing sexy about me.

I had thought the problem was me and that I was bringing this all on myself.

Eventually I saw that I was not looking at the big picture. I was not seeing how culture comes into play. I had not seen that men, themselves, have their own set of norms, expectations and pressures.

I now believe that I should not have to be unfriendly, fearing men will think I’m leading them on. And I will not think twice about wearing a shirt that I like from worry that it might send the wrong message.

I no longer believe that the problem is with me, but with a society that too often blames women no matter what they do.

If you can’t please everyone, you must please yourself.

Erica is a student of mine who gave me permission to post this from a paper she wrote.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 30, 2013, in men, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 59 Comments.

  1. Hi and hello. I am a 45 year old woman. All my life men have mistaken my friendliness. It’s causing two serious issues at the moment. I’m a pure at heart person. Genuine at heart. Goid intentions type of person and it’s always lead to men thinking I’m flirting or it’s ok to proceed even though I’m in a relationship. It’s crazy. If i change my personality I’m a bitch. I feel I can’t win. I don’t want to loose friendships. Eve other women are intimidated. I’m lost. I’m super nice fun and friendly. But I think people like me need to stress how happy they are in there current State of life. I believe being friendly and not happy makes you a target.

    • I guess all we can do is behave in ways that work well for our own personality/conscience and other people will have to deal with themselves. And I guess we just have to not worry about them huh?

      But it definitely would be nice if people could just be kind to each other.

  2. I agree with the female posters who said that people mistake their friendliness for flirting…this is my problem, too.

    It’s sad when people assume the worst but that’s the world we live in. I have these neighbors, a husband and wife, and the wife really dislikes me.
    I’m also married and I’m nice to them both, but she seems to think that I want her husband just because we’ve had two conversations in the hallway.

    Because of her attitude, I don’t really talk to him much anymore and I stay away from her. I’ve also had problems in the past with being stalked by a couple of guys just because I was nice to them and they wanted more.
    Some people really can’t tell the difference between flirting and just being nice.

  3. This will always be a no win situation for woman. As a woman, I experience this problem over the internet, on Facebook and things. I want to be friendly because I want to make friends and be a cool person to be around but yet that easily gets mis-interpreted. One time I had a guy tell me I was bi-polar because I was “with it one second then the next I am killing vibes”. I am not bi-polar nor do I deserve to be called that. It’s hard to please or comply to these ridiculous ideas.

    • This will always be no-win situation in our culture. I grew up in time when this wasn’t a problem, So there is the possibility of change. So that’s the good news.

  4. Roberto Iraheta

    I do believe we live in a type of society that not matter what you do you always will be criticized for a woman if she is friendly she is a whore if she is not she is a lesbian for a man if he has manners he is flirty if he doesn’t he is a thug, no matter how a person acts there is always a negative and positive view but we as individuals tent to focus more on those negative views and try so hard to change them loosing the way we really are just to satisfy the vague opinion of others.

  5. I agree with some of Erica’s point but not all her point. The part I disagree is the part that she believe being friendly equals being slutty. I think being friendly doesn’t equal slutty however it’s often read as flirty. It’s actually a problem that often time happen to my best friend and I. My bestfriend is a really nice person; who’d never try and be mean to someone else. Even if she doesn’t like you or have no interest in continuing a conversation she’s not gonna stop talking to you because that’s just how her personality is. She doesn’t want to hurt other people’s feeling. Me on the other hand I’m one of those outgoing talkative people. So the thing was that my best friend and I’s ex boyfriends were best friends as well. So when we were dating our exs we, my best friend and I, would be in the same social gathering as their friends. After a few time of hanging out with my ex’s friend he didn’t want me to be there anymore. The reason being was that I was simply had a “flirty” personality, and he didn’t enjoy seeing me flirting with his friends. It was something that we got into an argument over a couple of time. Being that I didn’t think I was being flirty but instead being myself and I wasn’t going to sit there quietly and not talk to anyone else and just be on my phone. My best friend being there at times too I asked her if I was being flirty. She agreed with me that I wasn’t. I was being my regular self and just talking to people. I think that in today’s society that being able to be friendly and have a normal conversation sometimes is so rare that being friendly often is mistaken as being flirty.

    • It’s not that Erica thinks that being friendly equals being slutty. That’s the title I came up with to get people’s attention. If you want to have sex with everyone you’re friendly to — as some guys seem to think is the case, a lot of people would see you as a slut (because hopefully you would be friendly to everyone).

  6. My boyfriend and I have a mutual male friend. Often this friend and I will go for hikes, or just hang out. My boyfriend doesn’t think twice about this because he knows we are just friends, but when i run into someone I know while hanging out with this guy, I feel like i need to explain. I feel like they are thinking “omg, does amanda’s boyfriend know she is hanging out with another guy!?” When I introduce my friend, I feel like I need to add, ” no really, he is just my FRIEND. I don’t think most people will ever understand that this IS possible until they have a real solid friendship with the member of the opposite sex themselves. It actually IS possible to have a caring, deep relationship with someone you don’t want to go to bed with.

  7. I really love this post, I can relate to this situation. I had a few moments in my life where just being friendly to a male friend somehow send the wrong signals and created a really uncomfortable and awkward moments to the point where I couldn’t be around that individual anymore. I would try and think back to our conversation and figure what I said to make them believe I wanted to be more than friends and realize that in my mind I didn’t do anything that would give off that vibe. Apparently according to some of my girlfriends I don’t know when a guy is flirting with me which is true I’m really out of tune in being able to tell since it not something I’m use too and something that I wasn’t expecting from someone that I see as a friends. As time went on just like how the post stated I found out that men have there own norms they go by and see things completely differently.

  8. I can completely relate with Erica. I’m very easy to get along with, and I’m confident in who I am and what I stand for but this gets me into a lot of trouble. I have always been called a slut, whore, tease, homie hopper, and other cruel names. High school was the worst time of my life. I have a friendly personality and I had no idea that people were talking poorly about me behind my back and why. I thought they were all my friends because we ate lunch together, we were in the water polo and swim team, we took pictures all the time, and we claimed to be “sisters”. I was accused of stealing everyone’s boyfriends, sleeping with them, fooling around with them, and eventually I found out about the false accusations. I was torn. I quit my favorite sport; I had no friends, and no escape from it all. I was bullied in person, and on the internet. There was nothing I could do about it because the more they called me a slut or tease I believed it. No matter how false the accusations were. Just because I was a friendly girl, I’m automatically a slut? That’s wrong. I believe that one can never be happy with themselves if their only goal is to make the life of another person a living hell.

    • So sad. They likely put you down to bring themselves up, out of their insecurities. How lame is that?

      Hope you’re doing better. It can take time to heal. But healing can come.

      • Thank you, I have grown since then but the fact that it happens to so many people is sad.

      • Yes it is sad.

        As much as I wish these things never happened, when they do I always hope that something can be gained, a deepening, an increase in empathy for others who are hurt, greater compassion… Sounds like you may have gained in some of these ways.

  9. Not quite sure if I can apply the double bind for this topic but it sure does remind me of it because society will judge the woman either way. Therefore, if women are not friendly with men she might be considered up tight, a “bitch” or perhaps labeled as a woman who is only into women. On the other hand, like in this case, if a woman is friendly with a man she can be considered as a “slut,” someone that just wants to have sex. Either or the woman will be labeled. I’ve been in a similar situation where being friends lead to the guy wanting to be in a relationship. Apparently my answer bothered him way too much that I no longer heard from him anymore. From strangers to friends & back to complete strangers. Never thought it would affect our friendship but so it be. I guess rejection is something men might be afraid of. In my opinion, people shouldn’t label a woman “slutty” just because she is being friendly; vice versa. Sometimes friendly is just being interested in your surroundings + taking the time to understand what life is like for others.

  10. This blog was very interesting and very true. But I think that it can go both ways. A guy can be nice to a girl and she might think that he is flirting with her. But what the guy really is doing is being a gentleman, I’ve also experience seeing a girl flirt and later on denying that she was. Most girls don’t know that they’re flirting until someone points it out-but they still have trouble admitting it. I think that there’s a difference between flirting and being nice. As a girl, I’ve experienced both. Both genders carry nice and polite people, we must understand the difference between a friendly and a flirty person.

    • You could be right. But I haven’t heard men complain about this. I’ve heard a lot of women complain about the other side.

      It could be less of a problem for men simply because women tend not to approach men and ask them out, so that this whole scenario is less likely to occur.

  11. Hector Navarro

    This is so true. Most females are mean to you unless they are attracted to you. I was often a victim of these situations. In middle school girls did not like me very much and where always mean. As i got to high school and became more athletic more girls began to like me. So sometimes it might be a little confusing when a girl is just nice especially when its what the boy is attracted to her. Now that I am older this is easier to understand. My mom says this generation does not understand right from wrong this is a perfect example of that.

  12. Ashley Steffenson

    I completely understand from my own first hand experiences how Erica feels about this issue. I too, had many more guy friends than girl friends at several points of time in my life. To me, this has absolutely nothing to do with their gender. It’s not that I don’t enjoy female’s company, as I’ve had many girl friends. I think the main cause of the times where my male friends outnumbered my female friends was due to males being more outwardly friendly towards me. This being in my naive eyes simply because they wanted my friendship, when in reality, much like Erica- they only wanted to work their way up to something more… entirely without my own knowledge. Which furthermore only sets a woman up for the glorious double standard. By not being friendly off the bat we’re told to “don’t be a bitch” or “don’t be so uptight”. However, if you’re amiable and welcoming but then proceed to turn down romantic advances- you are a “tease”. It’s a lose, lose situation. I’ve been in this same situation more times than I’m comfortable with that a male friend has misconstrued my friendliness that I usually pertain towards most everyone who is friendly towards me. It’s such a shame that nowadays being nice and kind is such a rare occurrence that it’s taken as flirting or “wanting it”. I think it really has a lot to say about the kind of society in which we live in today or at the very least for women in a friendship/relationship sort of atmosphere.

  13. A girl who claims to be friends with a guy is how she portrays herself. Let’s say the girl wears a skin tight dress then a guy will eventually go up to her and start flirting with her. Of course that isn’t what she wants but that is the image she is conveying so it’s saying “Hey I want to hook up!” If a girl would want to be treated as a friend and with respect then she could show less skin which usually invites flirtatious attitude.

    • You must not have read the post, or somehow missed something. Erica said she checked her clothing and wasn’t wearing anything sexy. A lot of women related similar experiences.

  14. Christin Janicki

    The line “If you can’t please everyone, you must please yourself” really spoke to me in this post. As with so many others i have had similar experiences with my guy friends. I have been told many times that i am a very flirtatious person, but i don’t see it that way. When i ask what about me seems flirtatious they all say that it’s the way that i laugh and smile at everything. They see my naturally happy personality as being flirty, but i am like that with everyone i talk to. People also think that since i have more guy friends then i do girl friends i must be a slut. If a guy has a lot of girl friends nobody questions it. Other guys may even see him and be jealous that he is with all those women, but as soon as a girl is seen with multiple guys she is automatically thought to be a slut. This stereotype has made it impossible for women and men to just be friends.

  15. I think me and a lot of other ladies out there can relate to this post. This has also happened to me a few times in middle and high school. For example, this one guy was in my Japanese class and he was a pretty shy guy. I talked to him a few times and then he asked for my number. I gave it to him because I was thinking to myself ‘oh, he probably just wanted someone to hang out with and talk to.’ He was nice and I thought we could be good friends later on. However, a few weeks later, he asked me out. I was pretty shocked and only said yes because he asked me out in front of all of our mutual friends and I didn’t want to reject him in front of everyone. I talked to him a few weeks later and explained to him the whole situation, I thought I was doing him a favor by not rejecting him in front of everyone, but he took it a different way. He thought that the only reason why I talked to him was because I thought he was attractive and that I was trying to get him to like me. Woah….what? Okay, well first of all, I have been told that I am sometimes too friendly, and second, I talk and laugh a lot, but that’s just how I am. I guess I can tune it down a bit, but why do I have to change? I guess some people may think that that is called flirting? What ever happened to being who you are and having your own unique personality? I guess society doesn’t really care how guys act or behave, just as long as they are who they are. They’re just satisfied enough to critique our (females) every action/movement.

  16. Wow, I am so amazed by everybody’s responses to this article. It is very powerful to hear each and everyone of your stories because it proves that as individuals we are not alone in this struggle. I have always felt that this topic is not the focus of conversation nearly enough. As we have all proven through the comments and articles we have written we have each experienced a period of time that we were confused by the actions and reactions of our male acquaintances and yet this is not one of the things that girls (and guys too!) chit chat about freely. Part of where I feel the oppression is involved is in the lack of ability to communicate freely about the way men react to rejection. It is almost taboo, he might be friends with your friends, you might look bad etc… It does me good to see all of the reflective responses you have had to my article. I hope that we can all reflect on the past and future encounters with males and find a place where we feel comfortable to talk about it. The more conversations there are, the less women will feel the confusion involved and the more men will understand where women are coming from!

  17. I’ve seen this happen way to many times. Being that I also have a majority of male friends, most girls consider me to be a whore as well. Most of them are and have always been friends. Now that I have a boyfriend who could care less who my friends are others have backed off on the comments. “Friend-zoning” guys is a hard thing to do when they begin to like you. But if you aren’t comfortable with the situation it has to be done.

  18. I personally feel as though this often happens, not only to me but many of my friends as well. Being friendly and kind to everyone is just the way I was brought up and doesn’t mean I’m flirty or have a crush on someone. Deeming someone a “slut” or a “tease” for being kind is disgusting. Just because I’m nice to you is not the equivalent of me wanting a relationship with someone.

  19. Rohan 7 Things

    This is really interesting. My partner Anna had a similar experience once when out of the blue a guy friend of hers burst out with “when is it my turn?!” Anna had thought they were just good friends and that going to movies and hanging out was just good fun. Apparently this guy expected a return on his “investment” and when she had intimate relationships with other guys he wondered when it was “his turn” to get some, like she owed him something.

    This sounds horrible until you look at the culture. A lot of guys think they have to buy their way into a woman’s life, and send “signals”. But really it would be so much easier if people just came out with it and said “hey I like in you a sexual way, I’d like to be more than friends.”

    And not every attraction has to lead to either a sexual relationship or the end of the friendship. I’ve been attracted to a number of female friends but I’ve simply enjoyed the attraction but remained just friends. Just because we like someone it doesn’t mean we have to “possess” them, we can still appreciate their beauty and their friendship.

    Really good post Erica!


    • @Rohan & Broad Blogs/Erica

      Rohan’s comment here reminded me of a discussion I had with a guy on my post about Friendzoning here:

      His username is Erudite Knight, and he made the assertion that I was actually defending the idea of friendzoning men due to some examples I’d used in the post, along with the statement that “90% of men wouldn’t hang out with women unless they were getting some” or similar wording. Since his views are so different from what I see here (but typical for what I see in real life), I thought it might be worth looking at. Unfortunately, he didn’t answer my last question, but it’s still quite eye opening, nonetheless.

  20. I’ve been friends with this guy for 4 years. This guy has been my best friend, my backbone, my psychiatrist, literally everything. He has always been there for me through thick and thin. When we first became friends, I told him if he ever started liking me we cannot continue our friendship. We laughed about it, thinking that would never happen. A few months ago, he expressed his feelings and told me he loved me. I made the mistake of continuing talking to him even after he expressed his feelings to me. But nothing was ever the same. I miss him. I miss him so much. I cannot return the feelings on a veracious account because I love him like a brother, nothing more. Yet I feel so wrong when I talk to him because I feel like he perceives it wrong and may take it amiss. The truth is I just want him back. I want my best friend back.

    In relevance to this blog- I have always wondered what I did for him to start liking me. I always treated him like poop and never ever flirted with him or sent mixed signals. And when he did end up falling for me everyone blamed me saying I lead him on, etc.

    In conclusion, I too blame society.

  21. Society has put a lot of pressure on both men and women when it comes to sexuality. I strongly agree with Dalton’s post about how we need to stop pleasing the world, and just focus on pleasing ourselves. I am sure everyone has experienced the awkward situation of reading or receiving mixed signals from the opposite sex. I know I have. It’s not just the rejection that is our biggest fear, it’s what our peers think. Stereotypes are one of the biggest problems people face in their everyday life, but especially for teens becoming familiar with their own sexuality. They make this learning experience very uncomfortable and scary. The only way to prevent people from judging one another is to stop worrying about what everyone thinks. Be you, be the person you want to be, do not be what other people expect you to be.

  22. Society plays such an influential role in relationships between men and women that I sometimes forget how big of a role they take. After years of worrying and fussing about the opposite sex I have become obtuse to the idea of categorizing relationships. Just friends or something more? Are there only two options? Also, why is it that women are either sluts or prudes? What are the reciprocal names for men? A man can either be called a “Man-whore” or “gay” which is ridiculous! Two types of people for both genders? Over thousands of years of the building of empires, and cultures and that’s what our society today imposes about how men and women interact? That’s it? Dumb.

  23. Even though I’ve had and still have several guy friends, I can’t say I’ve ever experienced what Erica has. However, I’m very familiar with the annoying notion that straight/bi/pan girls and guys can’t be simply friends. There is always a question from your surroundings that surely, there must be something more there? At least, friends with benefits? One of my close childhood friends is a guy and questions whether we were something more didn’t completely stop until he came out as gay. But I keep getting asked about other guy friends, mostly by friends and family. Funnily enough, even though they know I’m bi, they never ask that about my female friends. Not even about me and my gay/bi/pan female friends!

    I think this idea stems from our heteronormative society, which in turn helps create the misunderstandings that Erica experienced. To this day, boys and girls often live relatively separate early on in terms of friendships and family relationships. Then when you become old enough to create friendships out of common interests, there is often this tension there, simply because it’s expected to be there.

    Also, I just have one thing to say regarding the whole “leading on” thing, both within the context Erica spoke about and in general; don’t assume that a girl will expect to be approached first just because she’s a girl. Women are perfectly capable of expressing their feelings and intentions. If she hasn’t said anything, do not expect or assume anything. It’s as simple as that.

    • Very interesting points you make. The final paragraph is very well said! ‘If she hasn’t said anything, do not expect or assume anything.” A statement to live by.

  24. Women will always complain about being seen as “sexy” “slutty” or “just a friend”, just like men will complain about women seeming a certain way and being the opposite. No one is ever happy with the way other people view them, the problem is not ONLY in the way society makes you feel like you need to change, but also the feeling in ourselves that we need to look a certain way to be able to be happy and love ourselves. Why not be okay with a man thinking you’re “slutty” if you know you’re not a slut? Why does it matter what people think if those people aren’t even taking the time to get to know you or communicate with you? It has happened to all of us and just like everything else, we learn to deal with it.

    • Makes sense. But that can be easier said than done. Especially when the word sinks in unconsciously in all women’s minds so that even if they aren’t “sluts” they may close up their sexuality to try to avoid the label. On average women tend to enjoy sexuality less than men, and repressed sexuality – which stems from things like being called a slut, is one of the reasons.

      Also, we don’t have to just give up and keep things the way they are. Things actually can and do change.

  25. Paola Hernandez

    I’ve always been the friendly type and especially one to smile a lot. I’ve been called a flirt and have always been confused by it. It really sucks when friends have thought I was into them simply because I was being a friend. I’ve had guy friends stop being my friends because there girlfriends thought I was “too close” to them and “too nice”. This brings it back to the oppressed oppressing others. I was “too nice” to their boyfriends causing them to also think I liked them and resulting with them cutting me out of the picture.

  26. I’m at lost for words…. I’m speechless… Well, by reading this I feel like you’ve taken a few pages out from my diary and posted them on here. (Well, if I had a diary, smh, seriously though.) Growing up, I am the only girl out of my 5 siblings. And believe me, I was Not spoiled. But anyways, to the point, I also have more guy friends than girl friends. But I was the type that didn’t care of what anyone had to say. I had the attitude of my brothers; if you have something to say, say it to my face or say nothing at all. You either loved me or you hated me. But one thing is, is that I was friends (or got along) with just about Everyone. Like this blog says, I too was friendly; And some of my guy friends had also took my friendliness and politeness the wrong way. One thing I hate to see is when people take politeness for flirtatious. Like the blog says, “would you rather me be a bitch to you?”. It’s just that double bind; if we’re nice then we’re flirting, and if we’re straight forward then we’re a bitch. Then if we’re feeling sexy and want to look sexy then we’re sending out invitations?? But if we don’t want to send out the wrong message within our clothing than cover up and don’t look, sound or breath anything sexy because then they’ll get the “picture” to don’t even try?Smh. “Story of my life”. Lol. I can keep going but I’ll stop before I get aggravate myself. Haha. Until next blog =)

  27. I can totally relate to this blog. I used to work as a server in a bar when I was 18 and it was required that I wore shorts and a tank top as my uniform. I was young, needed money to support myself, and didn’t have many friends because I was new to the area. I met a group of girls who frequently came to my work to drink. They were about 5-7 years older than me, and I initially thought they were fun to be around so I became friends with them. They seemed pretty cool at first, up until they said that I was being too nice and that I shouldn’t be that way because it was causing their boyfriends to look at me in a way that they didn’t like. They kept trying to hook me up with this one guy even though I told them that I didn’t like him that way. Maybe it would have made them feel safer that I had a boyfriend? I don’t know. After that, I became this paranoid freak, always thinking “if i do this, would it cause this to happen or that…?” I don’t really hang out with them anymore. They talked about me behind my back saying that I’m a lesbian because i didn’t wanna get with their friend and I like leading people’s boyfriends on, but really? it doesn’t matter what my sexual orientation is… and second, IM just working like the rest of the people there. They really shouldn’t be there if they don’t like it. I think I was too nice so they knew they could just walk all over me and say things like that to me. I was working there because it was my best option at the time. It was just temporary so that I can afford my rent, and these girls scarred me. I wasnt asking people for money and i don’t use people for stuff. They should have known that it was a bar with girls as servers. Don’t go there with your boyfriends and take it out on me. I’m just smiley and friendly because if I hadn’t been that way, no one would want me to work for them. I’m normally nice and friendly, but since this happened, it messed me up pretty bad. It’s not my fault that society uses girls to bring in customers! OH well, i dont work there anymore, and i’m not going back to that either. It wasn’t really my cup of tea. Sorry, I hope this wasn’t too long. It’s actually the summarized version of what really happened. LOL

  28. As far as I’ve acknowledged, it seems to be an universal issue that how a girl should possibly be nice and friendly without leading any guys on or making the guys think she’s NOT flirting around. Men cut off their emotions, that being said, they don’t usually prefer to open up themselves to any others. While girls are more likely to talk to someone when they’re depressed or sad, and the guys think that those girls have less power, have a greater likelihood of becoming their “targets”. Guys see the fact that girls are more caring, open-up and emotional as a sign of being flirtatious. Men are seeing the world and matters through their eyes. Therefore, as the end of the article says, girls should never try to change themselves so that they can please the guys better. This is a society belongs to both men and women, so there’s no point hiding the true selves and reveal whatever others would like to accept or see. Girls should be standing out and facing it!

    • I very much appreciate what you have written here. It’s true we do live in a world that belongs to both men and women!

  29. I do believe that society has this image of the female personality. When we are nice and sweet to the other gender, it sends out an signal that we like them or want to have sex. I find it ridiculous. I was put in situations like this many times. Im a really nice person to everybody and I hate being rude to some one. I believe in helping everybody. I was accused of being gay because I spent more time helping my “Girl” friend out a lot and spending more time with her than I did anybody else. It frustrated me because I felt like I had to be mean to prove that I was not gay, but then later I came to realize it doesnt matter what nobody thinks as long as im me, that is all that matters. I enjoy giving people my time especially the ones that deserves and needs it most and I dont see nothing wrong with it.

  30. I think that society has contributed to this view point, thanks to the media. When a woman is portrayed as sexy and nice guys automatically think she must want to have sex with them. Just because a woman’s nice to you doesn’t mean she wants to sleep with you ok. She’s just being “nice”.

  31. As a gay man, I can somewhat relate to this difficulty–it seems that among gay men, it is virtually required to be a bitch to everyone in order to gain some sort of “power.” By being mean to every other gay dude, you are essentially saying “I’m not attracted to you, and thus I am better than you.” However, I am way above this petulance. I like to be kind and friendly and shake hands and smile when I introduce myself. This is either met with the assumption that I am seeking sex, or I am met with a premature declination of my presumed sexual favors.

    But alas, the point is as follows: through the eyes of men, women are either whores or ugly dykes. There is no middle ground, but alas why?

    I believe that this stems from the blithe arrogance and the masturbatory over-self-empowerment of men (cultural man-hating male feminist separatist here). It’s obnoxious to see how straight men react to being rejected or belittled by women. They become so infuriated and emasculated that they quickly become enraged. They do not see this rejection as a result of their own creations, but alas it is perceived to be a result of the “flawed” female who denies them. Moreover, due to the male’s inability to have a fully-formed concept of reality (a concept which I will talk about and develop more later), all women must be overtly sexual creatures, a la Samantha Jones (but sans the business-savvy nature and quick-witted rhetoric). And so, due to the multitude of the male’s inability to conceptualize what women are actually like, since they have never been forced to see the world from the view of a second-class citizen, they create false archetypes of women which are degrading and frankly embarrassing on behalf of men.

  32. I can completely relate with this post. Starting around junior high, my guy friends turned from just innocent guy friends to sexually-minded beings. I understand we were all going through puberty changes around this time, but that shouldn’t be a reason to lose friends over. I have always liked to dress girly. Not slutty, but girly, and apparently guys take a “fixed up” girl for a sex object. It got worse in high school as it seemed the majority of guys who talked to me wanted something more than just friendship. They would ask for a date, a sexy picture, some even tried talking dirty to me right off the bat in hopes that I would give them a little something to their liking in return.

    I understand men have a hard time accepting rejection, but I only rejected them because on my side, I wanted nothing more than a friendship. This would usually result in them no longer speaking to me, thus no longer being my friend. Or like you mentioned, being called a tease. I didn’t think I was leading anyone on by just dressing girly and being someone’s friend.

  33. In response to the “Friendly = Slutty?” blog, I came to reflect on the fact that this same scenario has happened to me countless amounts of times. I thought it was just my bum luck. Over the years I have analyzed myself wondering what I did wrong that I sent the wrong message. I have taken countless amounts of Communication classes. I have questioned my every move. I have reflected with others what I could have done differently to have arrived different outcome, at the right outcome.
    I am so relieved to have this article tell me that I am not the only one who has run into this type of trouble. Not only have others experienced this type of interaction, but I learned that this was a form of oppression. I too had a belief system that someone else had taught me growing up. So I also had blamed myself and felt that something I was doing was bringing this upon me.
    I sure am glad that there is indeed a big picture to look at!

  34. I definitely agree SOCIETY blames women way too much for what society places on women. That just pisses me off so much because I cant relate to that. I had a best friend who was a male we did everything together, we talked and shared thoughts on everything. But i referred to him as a brother and he knew that I was not into to him. He was the one person that I could vent to about my ex-boyfriend and he never liked him either. But one week he decided to ask me to his dance and I said no in a nice respectful way than he completely changed. He made it awkward each time we ran into each other. Then he had the nerve to make friends with my ex just to spite me and called me a tease. Well anyways my point is that women should not have to tip toe around how they act normally just to satisfy the male. Yes there is a big difference if you are aware of being a tease and if you are not. But men and women also shouldn’t classify all women as being a tease. If men were friendly they would not be seen as a man hoe but when women are they are! It is not our fault that men can’t tell the difference if you are or not into them and it does not give them the right to react wrong about the whole situation. I don’t even know if I make any sense about any of this, it personally just pisses me off and I do not know if I am a feminist or just because I can relate to it. I agree with her quote “If you can’t please everyone, you must please yourself,” why should women subject themselves to dressing down or acting a different way just because we are afraid of how society will label us. In a way I feel bad for men because it is true that men are afraid of rejection, but once again I will say that it is not our fault and yes WOMEN TODAY should not have to act differently just to please society’s eyes.

  35. I think, “If you can’t please everyone, you must please yourself,” is amazingly wise commentary from a college student. (And I already think most 18-22 year olds are pretty freaking smart…) This is the kind of confidence I only achieved after a few more circles of the Earth ’round the Sun.

  36. Women get rejected by men all the time, and as a class, are unlikely to respond with anger.

  37. Very thoughtful post. Men are very afraid of rejection. There’s so much pressure on them to get women, to approach a woman well in order to get her. That guy probably thought he was a shoe in for a date. He knew you liked him as person enough to be around him often, and he thought it would be romantic to ask you out on your birthday with a build-a-bear in tow. He worked up the nerve and was still rejected. Men like this don’t understand that sometimes this is just going to happen, even when it seems like she likes him. I know the feeling of being accused of leading a guy on.You never know when that cool guy friend is going to ask you out, revealing that he likes you and he thought you likes him like that enough to be confident enough to ask you out in the first place. Suddenly, it’s all awkward and you examine everything you say and do and try to figure out where the “leading on” part exists. Truth is, there often never is any real leading on going on. Like you, you were just treating him as a friend. You weren’t doing anything wrong. What he failed to do is understand that rejection can still happen no matter what and he needs to be prepared to accept it gracefully. If he can’t accept it gracefully, he probably shouldn’t have asked you out, as he still had some learning to do.

    • I emailed Erica to let her know that her post was up. She’s a student from a prior quarter. I’m hoping she’ll get a little time later today to respond.

      I thought it was an important post because after she wrote this a couple of different students came up to ask me how to handle the situation, themselves. I thought her way of thinking through this was really good.

  38. I never got this treatment in middle/high school even though every one of my friends was a guy (too much of a nerd/geek myself). However, this happens at the frickin’ time at work. Quite a few of my male customers don’t understand that “being a friendly, helpful salesperson” does not = “looking for a date”. One even went so far as to write a bad review about me on under the guise of it being a store review. Luckily, the Yelp mods took it down, but it was a very surreal thing to read before they did.

    Apparently, being interested in comic books, videogames, miniatures while working in a hobby store means I am “desperate for male attention” but was “far too picky for my own good” and “a gigantic tease to vulnerable men”. Odd and a little saddening, to say the least…

    • How sad!

      One of my students wrote this and I asked if I could post it (after editing her term paper down to 500 words). Thought it was important because a couple of other women students had come up to me to ask about how to deal with the situation after she wrote it.

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