I absolutely hate it when strangers hit on me. (I know guys, this is a shocking revelation! Girls don’t want to hear what you think of our asses when you pass us on the street, just like you probably don’t want to hear my comment on your dick size in relation to your giant effing pickup truck!)
As often as it happens, though, I never quite know what to do with myself when someone hits on me at work. It shouldn’t, but it almost always takes me by surprise.
I expect it to happen on the street, and when I’m walking by myself I’ve got my guard up. I’m ready to do things like laugh hysterically and then look the dude in the face and say something like, “Yeah, right.” Or flip him off. Or say, “You know you’re being an ass hat, right? Because you’re totally being an ass hat.”*
Invariably this embarrasses the jackass who cat called me or made some lewd comment, and then he goes into defensive mode. “I was just complimenting you!” is the most frequent response. Yeah dude, sure you were. Ass hat.
It’s different at work because I’m generally focusing on work, and on top of that, I have to maintain a professional demeanor. (Maintaining a professional demeanor does not mean I have to put up with the unwanted attention.)
For some reason, guys seem to think that the fact that I’m behind a desk in a building that’s free and open to the public means they can say whatever the hell they want with impunity. Here’s another surprise: They can’t!
My problem is not with telling them to stop, it’s my instinctual reaction to hold my tongue, because saying “fuck off” to a customer is equally inappropriate and will probably only escalate the situation. I hold my tongue, but I don’t replace the “fuck off” with “if you don’t stop, I’m going to ask you to leave.”
I usually manage to say, “that’s inappropriate,” but that hardly ever stops the behavior. I need to train myself to take that next step and metaphorically stomp on the dude’s foot.
(Now if the guy is hitting on one of my coworkers, it’s much easier to straight up say, “Hey. Cut it out.” Defending myself is always so much harder.)
*Even this is not always possible, because there is a danger factor, and I have to gauge every situation. When I feel physically threatened I just focus on getting myself out of danger as quickly as possible.