A stupid article I probably shouldn’t respond to

Here’s the latest lament of a particular group of women in San Francisco.

The gist of these stories are that there’s something wrong with the men of San Francisco, as compared to other cities (generally NYC), which is why the dating scene is so bad. They cite the lack of attractive men talking to them spontaneously in bars and coffee shops, even though the ratio of men to women is in favor of women in the city.

*Sigh*

Look, there are a lot of signals you are probably sending that we’re missing, but ultimately I think that the reason you don’t have people coming up to you is that the men of San Francisco respect your right to hang out in public and not be inundated with come-ons. When you walk into a coffee shop, maybe you just want a cup of coffee. When you are out at a bar with friends, maybe you just want to catch up. When you are on MUNI, maybe you just need to get to work.

In a city with so many single men and not that many single women, the chances that a woman you are talking to is 1) interested or 2) available are fairly small. Sure, you’re going to try to talk with someone who is not interested and as long as you are respectful, no big deal, right? Multiply this by the number of single men in the city and that’s probably someone trying to flirt with you on MUNI every morning on your way to work. Women who are reading this, do you really want that? Or is this just the louder people who do want this that get the sfgate article and the page views?

In any case, where in the best of circumstances many people are going to be bothered a lot of the time, why not use the internet to make sure that everyone involved really wants to be in the conversation?

I know this sounds fairly robotic, and I do actually enjoy flirting. I just absolutely hate the current paradigm where men must take it upon themselves to turn a regular social interaction sexual/romantic. I’m also sure that some out there say “who cares if I’m bothered- as long as you are respectful, it’s no big deal”. Perhaps. However most of us (at least those reading these words) work in an industry which is even more lopsided and has serious problems when it comes to women feeling comfortable. Our default needs to be “do not flirt, unless there are clear signals saying that it’s ok”. It’s not easy to context switch out of that on the commute home, or even in a coffee shop on the weekend (especially if we’re doing work anyway at that coffee shop). So women of San Francisco, I ask you to take the advice of someone in the article:

“Probably precisely the type of guy you’re interested in meeting would love to have a confident, attractive woman come up to him and make the first move.”

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