This is meant to help women avoid being harassed while in public. The logic is simple: If it’s clear that you’re busy, reasonable people won’t interrupt unless it’s important. The problem with this is also simple: It isn’t reasonable men who harass women.
Here are some examples of things that have happened when I tried this method:
Example 1: I was sitting in a mostly empty mall reading a book. A man sat down next to me & asked how I was doing. I told him, without looking up, that I was reading a book & doing just fine. Then he started talking about how he loves books, but doesn’t read often. I still didn’t look up. He told me about how he only really reads when he’s incarcerated. He also started talking about how long his day was & how heavy his boots were that he’d been wearing all day. I put my book down & pulled out my phone part way through this to start tweeting about what was going on. He told me I was being rude for not engaging with him. He left when his girlfriend came out of a nearby store. As he stood up he said, “Sorry for bothering you.” This shows he knew he was disturbing me. He knew I didn’t want to talk to him & he continued to harass me anyway, even going as far as to call me rude for not returning his attention.
Example 2: I was sitting in a food court in a mall, reading a book & listening to music. Due to the fact that I had headphones in & was looking down at my book, I was not aware of what was going on around me. I’m guessing this man had previously tried to get my attention by talking, but I don’t know. What I do know is I was sitting in peace when all of a sudden someone was touching my face.
Yep, a stranger reached over & put his hand on my goddamn face.
I jumped, as you can imagine, & ripped my headphones out as I looked up to see what the hell was going on. A man I’d never seen before was looking down at me & smiling. “Hey there.” He said to me, still grinning.
“What the fuck was that?” I said. It was rhetorical. He stopped smiling. “If you want to keep your fingers, I suggest you don’t fucking touch me ever again.” I spat at him.
“You don’t have to be such a fucking bitch.” He said, taking a step back.
“Yes I do, now fuck off.” I told him.
“You’re crazy.” He told me, before walking away.
Example 3: I was on a train & listening to music. Someone tapped my shoulder so I looked to my right. A man had reached over, across the aisle, to tap me. He was now smiling at me. I turned off my music. “Yes?” I asked him.
“Hi.” He said, looking me up and down, which was awkward as hell considering I was sitting & there wasn’t much “up and down” going on. I put my headphones back in & went back to looking out the window.
A few seconds later he tapped me again. I didn’t smile at him this time. I just asked, “What?” Again, he just said hello.
I stood as my stop was coming up. I had kept my headphones in but turned off the music. After the second time he’d tapped me I wanted to hear what was going on. I heard him telling his friend that he was getting off at this stop “with her.” His friend glanced at me as he said that.
“Fuck.” I thought.
I purposely moved to a door that was further away while he walked to a closer one. As the train stopped, I stood right beside the door as other people got on & off the train. I saw him walk off & could see him looking for me, walking towards the door that he’d seen me standing at. By the time he noticed I had stayed on the train, the doors were closed & we were moving again. I didn’t sit back down & got off at the following stop. His friend was still on the train when I got off. I don’t know if he saw me or not.
So as you can see, reading a book or listening to music doesn’t seem to do anything to deter creepy, invasive men from being creepy & invasive. An alternative to this advice would be telling men that a woman being in a public area doesn’t mean she wants them talk to her, follow her, touch her, or otherwise act like jerks to get her attention.