Do you like to play?

Managed to walk down Queen Street tonight in a red-sequinned corset, thigh-high cheetah print boots, and a masquerade mask. Long story. Several young men hooted and yelled at me as I walked, which actually just made me crack up laughing. I’m old enough to be your mother, dearies. Move along.

However, it wasn’t the first time today that some random person tried casting an appreciative eye my way.

I wrote a few days ago about wasting time playing a quiz app on my phone. It’s one where you get to play other people around the globe, but all you really get to see is their user name, profile picture (usually anonymous) and game level. My user name (not my real name) and profile pic (a pair of shoes) do tend to suggest that I’m female at least. You can post on the game message boards, challenge other players, and send them personal messages too. So far I’ve been playing for six days and have been messaged by four people. All of them (using the same guesswork of pictures and names) are apparently men.

The first two men who messaged me were players that I’d managed to engage in battle for prolonged periods of time, and our results were close. They both later sent me messages along the lines of “Good game, thanks”, and I messaged back to agree. I’ve found it is always more enjoyable when the match is hard-fought and either of us could win.

The third man who messaged me had played me just once, beaten me, and then sent me an IM saying “Well played. Better luck next time.” That seemed a little unnecessary, given that by now I’ve literally played hundreds of different people and haven’t felt the need to engage any of them in conversation after just one bout. I ignored him.

The fourth man has been considerably more persistent. He played against me in a couple games, and then started sending me challenges (including in other categories where I was playing, but hadn’t played him). Every day he sends me more and more challenges. Then private messages, complimenting me in German and calling me lovely…

So far I haven’t figured out whether there’s a block feature on this app, but men like this do tend to be the reason why women flee or put up walls. He probably just thinks that he’s being nice, and it may well be that he’s looking for nothing more than a particular type of opponent, but his persistent pursuit is out of all proportion to our interactions so far. The best I can hope for is that by continuing to ignore him he will eventually lose interest and wander off, probably to pursue some other unwitting lady with nice shoes.

My first (and usually not very wise) reaction to men like this is to feel sorry for them. “Aw, bless. He probably doesn’t know any better.” That’s not to say that it’s my place to teach them, but it’s enough to make me pause first rather than flee. That single reaction has served me very poorly in the past. Empathy: so easy to exploit.

That simple fact is terribly sad too. I fully understand what it is to be socially awkward. I know well the fear of rejection, and the utter confusion with the “rules” about how to approach (or not approach) the people who draw my attention. It strikes me that we’re still very badly served by our society when it comes to demonstrating models of healthy and sustainable courtship. Yet the ability to see that has also, in the past, left me as an easy mark for men who see these things as well and think stalking is just fine, thanks. It’s really not as complicated as some people make it out to be.

However, I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that all four of the people who’ve tried to engage me in conversation so far have been men. I’ve had good and challenging games against women too, but they apparently don’t see these things as a way to strike up a relationship with someone… or they are just a lot less chatty. Somewhere, we’re still teaching men to try that first approach every time. And some men are taking it further and learning that if the first approach doesn’t work, you have to keep demanding more and more attention until you get your way…

 

Perhaps I should just message him with a simple and concise “Verpiss dich”.

 

 

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