So last year I Slutwalked. I was completely naked – under my pants, bra, tights, dress and flat shoes. I deliberately decided not to dress “slutty”, whatever that means, because the right to wear a thong in public was not one of the things I was marching for. The only thing that I considered faintly provocative about my outfit was my butter soft leather jacket, but unless I rushed up to a stranger and said “hey, cop a feel of my sexy jacket” I thought passers by would go unprovoked. And yet, in all my not-hot glory, as I made my way to the tube to fight for a woman’s right to walk along the street and not be harassed, I got harassed.
A gentleman with a good thirty years on me stopped in the street, looked at my feet, my legs, my chest, my face and back to my chest again, saying (verbatim) “Cor, you’re gorgeous, you are! I definitely would.” The looking took about twenty three seconds, which feels like a very long time when you’re being stared at.
I know that most of the men reading this understand that this is not the best way to start chatting up a woman. But this sort of thing happens to me at least four times a week – and that doesn’t include all the staring, leering and dodgy lines I’m subjected to in bars. There’s no way I’m being singled out because of my stunning beauty. I’m not SuBo, but I’m not Eva Longoria either. Also every single one of my girl mates reports a series of similar events at a similar frequency. That makes a lot of pervy creeps – unless thousands of men are genuinely clueless about pulling. It’s a definite possibility, so I thought it was worth putting together a guide for boys about how to approach girls, by a girl.
There’s nothing wrong with staring at arses – they’re lovely – but for fuck’s sake go and look at one in a magazine
1. Location, location, location
If a man were to smile at me across a crowded bar, start a conversation and/or offer me a drink, I’d think “how charming!” If that same man were to try and start the same conversation by tapping me on the shoulder as we walked along a quiet road I’d be rummaging for my rape alarm. Being chatted up is lovely when you’re expecting it, but when you feel like you’ve been ambushed it’s not flattering, it’s frightening. Especially when someone comes up behind you. They have decided to take a punt on your face because they have spent some time checking out and enjoying your arse. There’s nothing wrong with staring at arses – they’re lovely – but for fuck’s sake go and look at one in a magazine. A woman in a bar is surrounded by friends, waiters, bouncers and people who can help if she becomes the object of a madman’s affections. A woman walking along the street has to be her own bouncer – just assume she doesn’t like the look of you and don’t try to force your way in.
2. You’ve bought us a drink – you haven’t bought us…
So you thought about following the woman with the nice bottom, decided it was a bad idea and went somewhere for a quick pint instead. And amazingly, she’s popped up at your local with her mates. And they’ve all got nice bottoms! Whether it’s serendipity or a nice prezzie from the patron saint of Not Stalking (not that women can be given as gifts, that’s objectification, innit?!) you should definitely offer to buy her a drink. If she says “yes please”, things are looking good. But all she has accepted is a drink. Ken Clarke has been guilty of some utter cuntery but he has not yet introduced a Sex for Wine bill. You are not entitled to see a nipple for every unit of alcohol you purchase for a woman. There is no scale where a bitter shandy gets you a hand shandy and Bollinger buys you bum sex. If you buy someone a drink, it is polite for them to chat to you. You might get on very well, and then phone numbers and fluids can be exchanged. But if the lucky recipient of your generosity ignores you for the rest of the night that’s her prerogative. She’s a rude bitch, but if you feel that strongly about it you can ask her for your fiver back. That’s it. If you want to pay for sex there are all sorts of places you can go. But it’s going to cost more than a bottle of Chardonnay.
Don’t be light and strokey and sinister or she’ll think you’re a Tim Burton animation masquerading as a human being
Sometimes me and my sister play a game called Gay Incest Chicken. You get a same gender sibling, and take it in turns to gently place a hand on the other person’s arm, face, knee or thigh. When the person being touched screams “arghhhhhhhh” and runs away to bathe in bleach, the toucher has won. I know that some people just don’t like being touched, but even the huggiest and kissiest of us do a fair bit of involuntary sphincter scrunching when someone else’s hands take us outside our comfort zone. And I’m always amazed by the number of guys who wouldn’t dream of grabbing a woman’s arse at a garden centre but think it’s OK in a club. I know that everyone from 50 Cent to JLS has sung about the interesting stuff that goes down at “the club” but as far as I know, Fiddy didn’t say “she hit the floor, she’s looking fly / so normal assault laws don’t apply.” If you want to touch someone’s bum, stop and think. Has she spoken to you? Is she smiling? Is she sticking it out whilst wiggling it and winking at you? If you can answer yes to all these questions, you can get stuck into buttock.
So where can you touch a woman when you want to get to know her better? A hand on the arm is fine. An arm around the shoulder is usually OK. It’s like a handshake – firm but brief. Don’t be light and strokey and sinister or she’ll think you’re a Tim Burton animation masquerading as a human being. Don’t be so hard and squeezy that she’ll worry you’re about to snatch her away and throw her in the back of a van. This is not a foolproof way of pulling - but a woman who responds positively to your hand on her arm is much more likely to invite you to put it on her bottom.
4. Compliments are complicated
This bit makes me feel like a right bitch. I know most compliments come from a kindly place. And even the compliments that are intended as a manipulative seduction tool are also intended to make the recipient feel good about themselves. I’m sure the man at the corner shop who told me he’d love to come on my tits believed his semen was the most precious gift he could give me. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d rather have a Mars Bar.
It’s up to the individual, but I’d advise that you avoid complimenting someone’s primary, secondary or tertiary sexual organs until you’ve known them for at least a week. Accessories are fair game, but try to be genuine and specific. “That’s a really nice bag” sounds a bit weird when addressing someone clutching a Dixon’s carrier. Also, beware of negging, or the Negative Compliment. To the uninitiated, some American dude told a load of other American dudes that they could march up to a woman, say “hey, your hair looks shit” and get laid. If you want to sleep with some poor girl with crippling self esteem problems, good luck to you. But a reasonably confident lady will respond by chucking a double Baileys in your face. And then your hair will look really shit.
5. Women want to get laid too – just not by everyone
Many men I’ve spoken to treat pulling like weight training. It’s all about tackling and overcoming resistance. And, er, protein shakes. May I refer you to Princess Jasmine from Aladdin, who told the eponymous hero that she was not “a prize to be won”? If a woman has told you she’s not interested, she’s not playing a weird game – for whatever reason, she’s not taken a shine to you and no amount of drinks, card tricks and showing off is going to change her mind. But the good news is that women think about sex exactly as men do. They like doing it with people they fancy. They don’t withhold it for sport. However, avagina isn’t like Tesco – it’s not an area that welcomes all business once the doors have been open. (Also, you probably won’t find any half price biscuits or cheap travel irons in there.) In Daily Mail Land, a woman who has had sex at any point in her life is totally indiscriminate about who she subsequently has sex with. In real life she gets to choose. Even if your mate Dave told you she was a dirty bitch and totally up for it.
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