9 Things Women Don't Owe You

Ad failed to load

Recently, a female redditor recounted a troubling experience: A man was harassing her at an intersection. She ignored him. So he threw a cup of antifreeze on her windshield. Though scary, the story was not that unusual. Apparently, this needs saying, AGAIN: There are things that women don’t owe men. Period.

Women owe men what every human owes every other human: Respect. Basic civility. Consideration. Acknowledgment of their shared humanity. But we don’t owe men deference. We don’t owe them our time and attention. And we certainly don’t owe them our bodies. Those are all things that women can give men, that men can give women, that any adult can give to another adult. But it has to be a choice, always — not a debt or an obligation. And that choice has to come from a real desire to defer, to give time and attention, to have sex, to do anything — not deeply rooted stereotypes about gender and the social hierarchy.

I’m not suggesting that all men behave toward women with a sense of gendered entitlement, or that all men are the type to punish women who ignore them by throwing random substances on their cars. But this entitlement is the basis for a lot of bad behavior. Catcalling and harassment stem at least in part from assumptions that men are owed attention, conversation, time, gratitude, and even sex from women around them — simply because they are men. Which is ludicrous, clearly.

Ad failed to load

These are just a few of the things that women don’t owe… anyone, really:

1. Smiles

Ad failed to load

If I had a penny for every time a guy I’ve never met has told me I should smile more, I would have… well, a lot of pennies. “You should smile more” or “You’d be so pretty if you smiled!” are common — though I can’t imagine very effective — pick up lines often lobbed at women as they move through pubic spaces, minding their own business. These lines play upon societal pressures placed on women to always be pleasant and happy, especially around men. When men call on a woman they don’t know to smile, regardless of whatever may be happening in her mind, they’re suggesting that her inner life matters less than their own desires.

No one should have to perform happiness for strangers. If a woman isn’t smiling, assume that’s the way she wants her face to be in that moment.

2. Conversation

Ad failed to load

There is absolutely nothing wrong with attempting to strike up a conversation with a woman, as long as you are respectful of her time and boundaries (so, leave her alone if she is clearly busy, or in a conversation with someone else, or wearing headphones). However, whatever your motivations may be, whether it’s looking for a date or simply wanting to have some pleasant small talk, she (or anyone, for that matter) doesn’t owe you conversation. So if she’s demonstrating that she’s uncomfortable or doesn’t want to talk — by saying so directly, by responding with monosyllables, by turning away with her body, by trying to leave — be respectful of that and let her go.

3. Being more than friends.

Ad failed to load

Can we get rid of the term “friend-zone”? The concept perpetuates the idea that friendship between a man and a woman is somehow inadequate in itself — and that being friends with a woman is simply a route to having sex with her. Certainly, there are plenty of couples out there that started out as friends and eventually developed romantic relationships. But no one owes romantic feelings or sex to someone in exchange for friendship. That’s not how friendship works. If you’re friends with someone only because you want to get something from him or her — money, sex, connections, whatever — then you were never really that person’s friend in the first place.

Friendship is not a consolation prize. If a woman is friends with you, enjoy it! Because friends are great. We should all have more friends!

4. Sex.

Ad failed to load

No one ever “owes” another person sex. It doesn’t matter if you’ve paid for dinner or if she’s flirted with you. It doesn’t matter if you think you deserve it. If doesn’t matter if you and she have had sex previously, or even if you and she are in a long-term relationship. We all deserve to have complete autonomy over our bodies, and that includes not having sex when we don’t want to. Period and The End.

5. Niceness — especially if you aren’t being very nice.

Ad failed to load

We should all strive to be civil toward one another, but a woman isn’t obligated to go out of her way to be nice to strangers. And if you’ve demonstrated hostile behavior — through catcalling, or aggressive or obscene messages, or refusing to leave her alone — she doesn’t even owe you civility.

6. Gratitude for unasked-for attention.

Ad failed to load

When women complain about catcalling or street harassment, they’re often told that they should feel flattered by the comments or grateful for the attention. But why? They’re simply going about their lives like anyone else — they never asked to be yelled at by strangers on their way to work.

Not every woman feels the exact same way about unsolicited attention (and, of course, unsolicited attention can take many forms, some more respectful than others). Maybe some do like it, and will say, “Thanks for the compliment.” But no one is obligated to feel thankful for attention from strangers they never asked for in the first place.

7. An explanation for rejection.

Ad failed to load

Getting rejected sucks for anyone. If you ask a woman out and she turns you down, or if a woman breaks up with you, of course it’s nice to get an explanation, especially if you honestly are confused about why she doesn’t want to date you. But she doesn’t owe you an explanation. People — male, female, or otherwise — have the right to simply say, “No, I don’t want to” and leave it at that.

8. Making you feel comfortable.

Ad failed to load

A woman is never obligated to make sure that you feel comfortable, especially when doing so would make her uncomfortable. Women in our culture are often conditioned to be sweet and nice and to make people happy, sometimes to their own detriment. I know I’ve been in plenty of situations in which I’ve allowed myself to feel uncomfortable because I didn’t want to make someone else — like a random guy hitting on me at the hardware store — feel awkward. But it’s absolutely OK for women to place their own sense of wellbeing, and especially their safety, ahead of other people.

9. Gratitude for being “nice.”

Ad failed to load

There’s been plenty of writing about “Nice Guy” Syndrome, a disease that afflicts some unfortunate guys who think that being “nice” (which can vary from being friendly to simply not being actively creepy, depending on who you ask) entitles them to women’s gratitude and affection — and they tend to complain when they doing get it. There are plenty of wonderful, actually kind men out there, but they generally don’t run around shouting “I’m a nice guy!” nor do they believe that being so makes them exceptional.

There’s enough misogyny and awfulness out there that it’s always great when men are respectful toward women and, better yet, actively support gender equality. But let’s be clear: You do not deserve a shining star for simply not being a jerk. Nor do you deserve a medal for thinking that women are people, too. Behaving decently to women (and everyone else, for that matter) isn’t a “bonus” quality; it’s a fundamental hurdle to being a good person.

Ad failed to load

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

I Wore 'Dad Shoes' For A Week & They Were SO Much Cooler Than I Thought They’d Be

It’s no secret that fashion loves a good polarizing trend. Not too long ago, Birkenstocks made their high fashion runway appearance at Céline and Crocs followed suit on the runways of Christopher Kane and Balenciaga. Now, it’s time for the "ugly" sne…
By Dale Arden Chong

7 Surprising Things That Happened When I Went A Month Without Drinking

If someone asked you if you could take a break from drinking alcohol, would you be able to do it? You may think it’s no big deal to take a month off from drinking, or you may think it’s a *huge* deal, as alcohol seems to be the center of many social …
By Natalia Lusinski

5 Books Under 300 Pages That Are Perfect For St. Patrick's Day Weekend Reading

The grocery stores are stocked with corned beef and cabbage, the local pubs are starting to advertise a particular shade of beer, and in city streets all across America, signs about parade routes have been posted for everyone to see, so you know what…
By Sadie Trombetta

8 Ways Younger Millennials Communicate That Older Millennials Don’t Get

When comparing the ways our parents grew up communicating and the way we all grew up communicating, it seems like their generation and ours grew up in a different world. The technology our parents grew up with was so basic, it's ancient in comparison…
By Kaitlyn Wylde

This Is The ONE Sign That Won’t Be Affected By Mercury Retrograde This Month

It really doesn't seem fair that one astrological sign can ever enjoy the benefit of escaping the wrath of Mercury retrograde — that is, of course, unless that sign is your own — but it happens. Occasionally, the stars just align in the right way for…
By Kaitlyn Wylde

Why My Boyfriend & I Started Couples Counseling 6 Months Into Our Relationship

Right away, Kurt and I agreed on almost everything. We had met through a mutual friend in 2015, but we didn't start dating until we came across each other on Bumble a few years later. That's when we discovered that we were on the same page when it ca…
By Rachel Simon

This Lace-Front Wig Is Going Viral Because No One Believes It's Actually A Wig

To understand how Zendaya easily goes from a pixie cut to voluminous curls or how the Kardashian-Jenners switch hair colors as frequently as they change clothes is to know the power of a good wig. Now that there's a lace-front wig going viral, the Tw…
By Summer Arlexis

This Primer & Mascara Combo Literally Doubles The Length Of My Eyelashes

Even as someone who loves beauty, I was never been particularly passionate about finding the perfect mascara. And then I got lash extensions for the first time. While I enjoy the long, full lashes that lash extensions provide, I always found myself j…
By Olivia Muenter

I Accidentally Fell In Love With My Friend With Benefits & It's Painful

Against my better judgment, I have fallen in love with my friend with benefits. I think I may have fallen in love with him month ago, but being stubborn AF, I fought against those feelings, tooth and nail, and, when it was suggested by a couple close…
By Amanda Chatel

This Viral Post About A Woman Breastfeeding In Public Actually Has A Happy Ending For Once

And today in things that will warm even the coldest of hearts, we have this: A story recently posted to the r/TwoXChromosome subreddit about a dad’s response to his daughter shaming a breastfeeding parent is everything. Posted by Redditor u/starsonwi…
By Lucia Peters

These March Beauty Launches Require Your Immediate Attention

I write one of these beauty editorials every month (feel free to check out January and February 2018 if you're in need of even more products to shower yourself with). Sometimes, I get worried that there won't be enough newness to share — especially b…
By Amanda Richards

Here's How You’re Most Likely To Get Your Heart Broken, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Getting your heart broken can be one of the most painful experiences you can have in your life. But if you're into astrology, being familiar with your zodiac sign can be pretty helpful. For instance, when you know the ways you're likely to get your h…
By Kristine Fellizar

Finger Piercings Are Trending & The Internet Is Very Divided About Them

A new "accessories" trend is asserting itself on Instagram and it's subversive, non-traditional, and so darn precious. It also looks a tad painful but the end result is worth it. Dermal diamond finger piercings are a thing and they may make actual ri…
By Amy Sciarretto

How I Learned Losing Your Job Isn't The End Of The World

Two and a half years ago, I was taking a day off from my marketing job at a San Francisco tech startup to host a friend when I got a call from the CEO. Apparently, I'd missed a pretty big day: 80 percent of the company, including the whole sales and …
By Suzannah Weiss

Meghan Markle's First Appearance With The Queen Included An Homage To Princess Diana

Fashion pundits love keeping a close eye on what the women of the monarchy are wearing, especially when there's an overlap with Princess Diana's sense of style. We're nothing but nostalgic when it comes to Princess Di and her on-point aesthetic. Find…
By Marlen Komar

Why Arizona's Exit From 'Grey's Anatomy' Is A Huge Blow To The LGBTQ Community

Whenever I re-watch Grey's Anatomy, I don't start with Derek Shepherd waking up in Meredith's apartment after their first hookup. I start with Season 5, when Callie first meets Arizona in a bar. I start here, because I want to watch someone like me f…
By Martha Sorren

I Couldn't Find A Beauty Campaign With Plus Size Models, So I Made One Myself

In the fall of 2015, I visited relatives in my hometown, a small suburb of New Jersey. There isn't much to do there, apart from dining at Applebee's or hitting the mall. As a plus size woman, cruising through a shopping mall is a mixed bag. Certain d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Signs You're The Emotionally Unavailable One In Your Relationship — And How To Work On It

It can be a weird feeling when you realize your relationship isn't working. But it happens — even in a long-term relationship — that, despite spending months or years together, you can realize that something is just missing. Sometimes that thing that…
By Lea Rose Emery

The 21 New Books That Goodreads Users Are Most Excited About This Spring

Despite the fact the Northeast is being pummeled by yet another storm that threatens to trap the region in snow and ice for eternity, winter is finally almost over, and you know what that means. No, I'm not talking about April showers or May flowers …
By Sadie Trombetta

Chelsea Clinton Gets Real About Twitter Trolls & What REALLY Infuriates Her About Trump

Before you read the first word on the first page of Chelsea Clinton's new book, you already know one thing: Strong women have always been a big part of her life. There's her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was the first woman to run for president…
By Erin Delmore

If You’re Addicted To Rewatching ‘The Office,' There’s An Actual Reason For That

A few weeks ago, I tweeted that I was looking for fans of The Office who can't stop, won't stop rewatching the series, and that they should email me if they'd like to contribute to an article about their obsession. By the next morning, I had 32 messa…
By Lia Beck

Pregnant Chinese Women Have Been Eating Pearl Powder For Generations To Give Their Kids Clear Skin

If I were to line up next to my sisters, the difference is immediately noticeable: where my skin is a bit patchy and unmemorable, their skin radiates. Both of their faces have a discrete, poreless glow, and I’m certain you could bounce a kernel of ri…
By Angela Chen

This Is The Most Common Myers-Briggs Type

If you've ever really wanted to get to know yourself, you'll probably want to try out the Myers-Briggs type indicator test. You've probably seen a lot of articles online, and wondered about what the most common Myers-Briggs type is, as there's a lot …
By Kaitlyn Wylde

Halo Brows Take The Unibrow To New Heights — Literally

If there's one thing you can count on Instagram to deliver, it's some of the wackiest makeup trends, especially when it comes to brows. Considering beauty enthusiasts are all too eager to get creative with their arches, it's no wonder halo brows are …
By Summer Arlexis