Figuring out what to when an unrelenting dude won’t leave you alone is unfortunately an all-too-common conundrum for many women when they go out. God forbid the guy ask for your number, and you’re left to weigh your safe, viable options when all you wanted to do was enjoy some bar nachos in peace. Have no fear, a fake number to give creepy dudes is here!
You have the website The Mary Sue to thank for this service. They created the eponymous Mary Sue Rejection Hotline for people who were sick of giving incessant, insistent strangers their actual number. (Also, if you aren’t familiar with The Mary Sue, amend that ASAP. It’s a feminist site focused on all things geekdom, celebrating inclusivity in pop culture genres that tend to be homogenous and male-dominated.)
Here’s the TMS Rejection Hotline number, to keep handy in case of a creepo emergency: (646) 926-6614.
When someone calls the number, they’ll hear a message that says:
Oh, hello there. If you’re hearing this message, you’ve made a woman feel unsafe and/or disrespected. Please learn to take no for an answer and respect women’s emotional and physical autonomy. K THANKKS.
However, because even most creepos know better than to call, they’ll also receive the same message if they text the number. While calling the TMS Rejection Hotline will connect immediately to the voicemail, the service actually waits an hour to text back after someone sends an initial message. So, it gives you slightly less of a chance of being confronted by the second evolution of The Incessant Creepo: The Angry, Incessant Creepo.
TMS Rejection Hotline is not the first of its kind. As New York Magazine points out, there was a similar service simply called the Rejection Hotline in the early 2000s, which gave a campy message to anyone who called the fake number. If you want to get creative with it, there are plenty of other rejection hotline numbers you can give to creepy people who won’t leave you alone. (My personal favorite is the one that only texts back “I am Groot.”)
It is admittedly frustrating that a service like this needs to exist in the first place. The fact that The Mary Sue Rejection Hotline is not even the first rejection hotline to exist is evidence of a problem that’s persisted for a while. Giving out a fake number is certainly a satisfying way to stop a conversation from continuing, but its solution is temporary. It’s a Band-Aid fix that does little to solve the greater cultural problem: Some men will not listen when a woman says “no.”
Earlier this year, a well-intentioned tweet lead to a larger conversation about why needing to give out a fake number is problematic in itself. The initial tweet read, “Give a fake number. Stop giving people your line if you're not interested in them. Doesn't make sense.” However, many people were quick to point out why that doesn’t always work. As one person responded, there are people who will call the number in front of you to check and make sure it it’s real. (Quick note: If a person didn’t feel safe or comfortable enough to give you their real number in the first place, doing this most definitely will not remedy that problem.)
Another Twitter user summed it up in less than 140 characters: “If you even have to give a fake number because 'I'm not interested' wasnt [sic] enough for them to leave you alone, there's already a problem.” The person who posted the initial tweet spoke to BuzzFeed News and expressed that he understood why “just giving out a fake number” isn’t the end-all solution. He agreed that the onus should be on the person who refuses to be rejected saying, “People have to accept no. And move on. There's billions of people in the world. You should never harass anyone because they don't want you."
Until we’re all in agreement that you need to take the L instead of continuing to make someone feel uncomfortable, The Mary Sue Rejection Hotline's got your back.