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Thread: Young Girls and "Old" Men

  1. #1
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    Young Girls and "Old" Men

    Today, the first day that school was out for my 15-year-old DGD, I took her grocery shopping with me. She lives with her dad, and needed to stock up for their household. We had separate carts and she did her thing and I did mine so we weren't together. But afterward she mentioned the "old guys" who kept coming up to her and trying to hit on her. A friend of mine who had a stunning young granddaughter had mentioned how upset she got when older men would come on to the kid when she was only twelve or thirteen but looked much older. DGD will have to learn to deal with that. I told her to be firm with them when they approached her with some inane comment about how she was doing, and just tell them, "I don't know you; you're being rude!" or something like that.

    I could always stay with her but she's got to work out a way to handle it, too. Any stories out there about how a kid can deal with this sort of thing?
    Chacun à son goût!

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    "I don't know you, are you a friend of my dad's?" should shut them down without hostility.

    I hesitate to tell her to say something so blunt such as "I don't know you, you are being rude!" when a person just asks her how she is. In the wrong circumstances that could not work out very well or very safe.

    I would aim for a firm but not hostile or rude response to an initial flirtation.

    Otherwise she needs to learn the *look* that tells men to **** off. That takes practice.

  3. #3
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    Unfortunately, she better get used to it, because random men are going to approach her when she's by herself for at least the next 15 years, based on my personal experience. Apparently some men see a young, attractive woman by herself, and cannot resist the urge to approach her and attempt to engage her in a conversation. I don't like being approached in this manner, and while most are probably harmless, it does gives me a "potential sexual predator vibe" and sends all sorts of red flags up. Since it puts me on the defensive, my reaction is never pleasant, and usually they go away immediately. Sometimes I say nothing at all, and just give them a dirty "go to hell" look, and they get the message and go away. Other times I actually respond with something like "Why haven't you approached any of the other customers in this store in this manner?".

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    What is he asking that is flirtatious?
    Yes, a young, attractive, single female is going to get attention, but most times, these old guys are trying to relive their youth and console themselves with attention from a younger person.

    So...if he is being offensive and scary, you can say "I will get the store manager to see if they can help you...I am not understanding what you want from me..." type of statement.
    If he is making casual conversation, she can simply say, "I hope you have a really nice day; I'd love to chat but am really busy today and need to get my errands done."

    Sadly, these guys seem to think it is their god-given right to at least try.......
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

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    I also wonder what it is that she is taking as "hitting on her." Engaging in conversation with someone you don't know doesn't constitute attempts at seduction. I think a lot of teens, especially girls, but also my boys, can be overly sensitive in a lot of ways -- just a normal part of that coming of age and all the changing perspectives and experiences. And older men can feel so far out of the game or fatherly/grandfatherly that they feel no inhibitions in talking to strangers (my father is one of them). And there's the fact that they grew up in a time where people didn't feel so threatened or uncomfortable having conversations with people they met along their way. I'd talk to her about what made her uncomfortable before I started encouraging rude or defensive behavior.

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    She thinks it's odd and it makes her uncomfortable when older guys come up to her in a public place like a supermarket and ask her how she is or try to start a conversation in some other manner. No one is making overtly sexual comments, but it's still inappropriate. Since they don't do that to me, I would agree with her that they are testing the waters; she needs to learn a way to deal with it that doesn't make her feel as though she is tolerating something that she doesn't like. Girls are victimized so routinely that I would like to come up with a way that helps her to feel empowered in situations like this, which she will doubtless encounter with increasing frequency as she gets older and more independent. Apparently this happens to her a lot when she's somewhere without an adult who is obviously attached to her.

    I like some version of your suggestion
    If he is making casual conversation, she can simply say, "I hope you have a really nice day; I'd love to chat but am really busy today and need to get my errands done."
    but sometimes being that polite simply encourages the offender to be more persistent.
    Chacun à son goût!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by RiverFarm View Post
    She thinks it's odd and it makes her uncomfortable when older guys come up to her in a public place like a supermarket and ask her how she is or try to start a conversation in some other manner. No one is making overtly sexual comments, but it's still inappropriate. Since they don't do that to me, I would agree with her that they are testing the waters; she needs to learn a way to deal with it that doesn't make her feel as though she is tolerating something that she doesn't like. Girls are victimized so routinely that I would like to come up with a way that helps her to feel empowered in situations like this, which she will doubtless encounter with increasing frequency as she gets older and more independent. Apparently this happens to her a lot when she's somewhere without an adult who is obviously attached to her.

    I like some version of your suggestion
    but sometimes being that polite simply encourages the offender to be more persistent.
    Have her read The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. And read it yourself, and discuss it with her, alot. It talks alot about trusting her instincts and how to shut down unwanted attention. Although some of these men could mean nothing by it, the fact that her gut is telling her that she should be uncomfortable means she needs to shut it down. It's better that she misreads the intention of the one man that is just being nice, then mis reads the intention of one man who is not just being nice.

    I have a 17 year old and this kind of stuff has been happening to her since 13, and she is not a mature looking 17 year old, she still looks like a kid. It happened to me as a teen, and I did not know how to respond to it and ended up putting myself in some not so great situations as a result.
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    Elizabeth, I doubt if she would read a book like that; she's into romance and vampires. I did just order Protecting the Gift by the same author because I figured I could get her to look at the chapters on teenagers; we shall see...

    Basically I was just looking for suggestions for ways to respond to these situations, which would also help her learn to assert herself when necessary at other times.
    Chacun à son goût!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by RiverFarm View Post
    Elizabeth, I doubt if she would read a book like that; she's into romance and vampires. I did just order Protecting the Gift by the same author because I figured I could get her to look at the chapters on teenagers; we shall see...

    Basically I was just looking for suggestions for ways to respond to these situations, which would also help her learn to assert herself when necessary at other times.
    I think if you read the teen chapters in that it will give you some good openings to discuss things. You can bring up a situation that is in the book, or you can talk about the one you described in the OP, but in reference to how the book would handle it.

    It's a tricky situation. Women in general are taught to stop listening to their gut early on and to be "nice." But there is no reason that we need to be "nice" to strangers who are making us uneasy.
    ______

    Elizabeth

    Walking Towards Wellness, my personal challenge to walk 10,000 steps per day in 2014 while living with and managing a chronic illness. Walk with me.

  10. #10
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    Is there any reason why she has to acknowledge these people at all?

    The way I was raised...well, the way I learned to act from my friends, as my parents never explicitly told me "This is what you do when someone talks to you...", and the way that works for me, is to completely, absolutely, utterly ignore the person.

    Young ladies in Italy expect to be approached by young men, more or less of their same age, and the proper behaviour is not acknowledge them in any way. To even look at them is to encourage them to step it up and keep going. Of course, that was what you did when you liked the boy...

    When my cousin from the US came to visit me, I dreaded going out for a walk with her, as she would always reply to people talking to her. Is it a cultural thing the need to be nice and answer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristyMarie View Post
    "I don't know you, are you a friend of my dad's?" should shut them down without hostility.
    I love this! Great advice!

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    I think the raising girls to deny their gut-feel and to always be "nice" is a huge part of it. I hope things are changing societally.
    I know my dad, in his late 60s, would flirt with the cosmetics gals at walgreens. I didn't realize it till the first time I went with him. OY, the horror!!!
    I know he meant nothing more by it than to get a little attention from a nice, attractive female. I knew he would never act on any impulse for it to be more, but still....and employees sort of had to talk to you and be nice.

    I remember the first time a neighbor made a pass at me when I was 17 (grabbed my boob)...and it was I who was made to feel guilty that I told his wife. That I somehow encouraged it (like I could help having huge boobs early on??). A similar incident (only overt hugging and leaning in) occurred when I was a public librarian...and I was NOT mistaken because I had to work the kids side one night a week and he would follow me there...and THAT was difficult because he was a patron and I a librarian. I had a code with another librarian and would say excuse me and phone her and she would come running over pretending she needed me; would not leave my side till he left.

    Walking away and not acknowledging someone will work as well. Maybe the guys will assume she did not hear him and move on. I think if she does speak to them to make it short and sweet and DO NOT make EYE CONTACT.

    I wonder if younger guys are feeling the same uneasiness with the cougars of today
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  13. #13
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    I'd be afraid that asking them if they were friends of her dad's might encourage more conversation - like, "What's your dad's name?" - or simply a lie that they were. They know that they're a lot older than the young girl they're approaching, so I don't think that would be a turn-off. Besides, her dad is very youthful-looking and attractive, so to her it would feel like an odd way to put a strange older man down.

    Angelina, I am sure it's cultural. It would be very hard for someone to ignore a person, especially in a setting like a mall or supermarket where you were on foot, because one simply doesn't do that here, unless the person is being really obnoxious.

    Wallycat, I hope that creep's wife was suitably upset. I would hope that your parents supported you when this happened!
    Last edited by RiverFarm; 06-14-2012 at 09:37 AM.
    Chacun à son goût!

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    Quote Originally Posted by wallycat View Post
    I think if she does speak to them to make it short and sweet and DO NOT make EYE CONTACT.
    I'm curious about this since I found making eye contact very effective in my younger days.
    Anne

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    I think I'm confused by the goal of this thread. Are we talking about regular/harmless/annoying flirting or flirting by people who give you the creeps and make you feel uneasy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anne View Post
    I'm curious about this since I found making eye contact very effective in my younger days.
    Yes. Not making eye contact makes you look weak. Eye contact and a *look* on their way to approach you can make them stop in their tracks.

  16. #16
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    I never told my parents.

    I found making eye-contact engaged them somehow.
    Not making eye contact made it more like I did not care or want to get to know them...of course, times are changing and maybe men are getting different messages from TV, social media, etc. that makes them perceive certain actions are more acceptable or not acceptable than a real person feels.

    p.s. the guy's wife (and her good friend) yelled at me for telling on him. Said I should have tried to avoid him in the future and hope it didn't happen again
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

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    Quote Originally Posted by wallycat View Post
    p.s. the guy's wife (and her good friend) yelled at me for telling on him. Said I should have tried to avoid him in the future and hope it didn't happen again
    Ah, the perspective of 20/20 hindsight (and also being older); I'd like to think I'd have told them that, if it happened again, they'd be visiting the pervert in jail.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by wallycat View Post
    ...
    p.s. the guy's wife (and her good friend) yelled at me for telling on him. Said I should have tried to avoid him in the future and hope it didn't happen again
    That is just horrible. I'm so sorry you had to go through that.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by wallycat View Post
    I never told my parents.

    p.s. the guy's wife (and her good friend) yelled at me for telling on him. Said I should have tried to avoid him in the future and hope it didn't happen again
    Talk about shooting the messenger! Thank heavens we're past that, but how awful that you had to deal with it. It's a shame you couldn't or didn't want to tell your parents; in some cases they would have pursued the issue for you. But mores were different even just a few years ago, and people wanted to sweep things under the rug rather than face ugly facts. Look at the Sandusky case.

    Back to ChristyMarie's question, so far this sort of encounter is just really irritating to her, but I have a feeling that she is wondering how best to handle it to squash them in the future. No one made her feel uneasy - after all, this was in the supermarket on a Wednesday morning and besides, her grandmother was right in the next aisle - but she didn't like it and felt it was inappropriate.
    Chacun à son goût!

  20. #20
    I don't understand why it would be inappropriate to simply ignore strangers who approach and make one feel uncomfortable.

    I think sending a message that girls need to be "polite" is dangerous.

    I remember seeing some show on women who were attacked and the advice from the expert really was about how women have been socialized into not wanting to appear impolite and so they allow themselves to get into potentially dangerous situations.

    I feel it is always appropriate to ignore someone. To me it appears that this goes beyond passing someone in the aisle and saying howdy but is an attempt to make conversation that raises your "hackles". I nod and smile and roll on by in a supermarket but I feel free to completely ignore anyone who attempts to engage me in an inappropriate conversation - and I then most people either can tell when something is off - or at least should.

    There is quite a bit of difference in having a bit of conversation with someone seated next to you somewhere like a restaurant and a stranger approaching for no good reason.

  21. #21
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    If someone approached me in that manner I would feel free to raise my eyebrows at them, give them a look, and keep moving. I don't think a 15 year old could pull that off, which is why I wanted to be able to suggest something she could say which would cut things short. A man much older than she, dressed neatly and looking fairly respectable, is still almost instinctively a figure of respect to a kid. Fifteen may seem quite mature to you, but kids that age, under their veneer of sophistication, are still just kids and they're feeling their way in a complex world.
    Chacun à son goût!

  22. #22
    Teenage girls should also be warned about Doctors and Dentists whose arms (not hands) "stray" during examinations and treatment. That is entrapment of the worst kind!
    My new favorite saying: "Her cooking' was so bad that the flies got together and fixed the hole in her screen door."

  23. #23
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    I have found that avoiding eye contact in the first place can be an effective preventative measure. It may sound hard to do, but over the years I've trained myself to look past most of the people I encounter who I have no reason to directly deal with. If a man does notice me, but can't get my attention, they have a harder time approaching me. Once they've made eye contact though, it's the opening they're looking for.

    Having said that though, if they choose to approach anyways, I will look them directly in the eyes, but with a look of complete annoyance on my face, and reply whatever I have to say in a firm but stern voice, or simply say nothing at all, which directly sends the message I didn't want to be approached.

    It can be used both ways - avoiding it to make it harder to be approached, and using it to scare off the ones who choose to approach anyways.

  24. #24
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    Several years ago, our sheriff's department gave a class called Rape Aggression Defense. Most of the participants were older ladies like me, but we had 3 teens in the class, and I think it was most instructive for them. They are the more likely targets -- not just of "old men" but of younger ones, too.

    They taught how to take a guy down, and no, not just going for the groin! And they taught how to really defend yourself -- what to yell (not scream) and how to move.

    If you have something like that near you, it would be an excellent thing to have the teens and preteens take it -- just to be safe!
    Kay
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  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by LakeMartinGal View Post
    Several years ago, our sheriff's department gave a class called Rape Aggression Defense.
    I took one of these classes with DD when she was 13 or so. The best class I ever took. For the final class, the policemen teaching the class 'padded up' and then one by one, each person walked into the gym and was tackled/grabbed from behind by the the policeman. The person had to fight off the attacker. It was hard to watch DD get grabbed, even though I knew it was a simulation. However, to watch my baby take down the padded policeman brought tears to my eyes! I was so proud of her. Here was this over 6 foot tall, big, heavy, padded man and my daughter kicked his a$$. At 13 years old. In fact, I took him down too when it was my turn! He tackled me and was on top of me and I kicked out his legs and flipped him off of me and got away. It was a very intense class and very physical.

    Getting back to the question--I agree with amarante, I would advise her to ignore all strangers. Why does she need to respond at all?

  26. #26
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    Kim, that sounds like a great class.

    But re ignoring, I am just not sure a fifteen-year-old would be able to ignore a fairly respectable-looking man who walked up to her and pleasantly asked her how she was doing. The cultural imperative to reply might be too strong. That's why I was looking for something she could actually say.
    Chacun à son goût!

  27. #27
    I hear you...however, I think that for a stranger, especially an older man, to approach a teenage girl who is alone, and make conversation, is inappropriate and she does not owe him a response. The man should know better and even if his intentions are friendly, he should know that it is not appropriate.

    I guess what I am saying is why not tell her that the man is out of line and she does not owe him any courtesy or respect? I know my DH would never, ever, approach a random teenage girl and start up a conversation with her.

    Again, while I completely understand that it may be difficult for a young lady to feel like she is disrespecting an adult by ignoring him, would it not be more beneficial for her to feel empowered to actually ignore him? Or maybe just smile and walk away, if she feels like she can't bring herself to completely ignore him? I tell my DD, who is around your DGD's age, that she is under no obligation to speak with anyone and that she can simply walk away.

    I think to say anything would engage him further. However, maybe she could just smile and walk away? Or else say she is in a hurry? I think to go into any more detail verbally just encourages more conversation and gives the man more of an opportunity to try to chat her up, for whatever purposes he desires.

    I think what I am trying to say is that I really do not think that there is a perfect response to make in this type of situation, that would not potentially escalate the conversation to another level. However, if she smiles and walks away or just nods and walks away, she will have said much more to the man by her actions--her actions will have said, 'do not bother me', while her engaging him in further conversation, even if it is just a short sentence, may give him the cue that she is receptive to his conversation.
    Last edited by VAcooker; 06-14-2012 at 07:16 PM.

  28. #28
    I completely agree with Kim (VAcooker) as I think that girls are in danger if they are socialized to be polite.

    When is it ever okay to approach a female stranger out of the blue and make conversation and so the best thing to do is to teach someone that it is okay to ignore. It's really not that different from teaching young kids that their privates are their privates and no touch is okay.

    Not identical I realize but why does an inappropriate male deserve to be treated with courtesy.

    There are situations in which it is not strange - i.e. if you are sitting next to each other or standing on line to exchange a few pleasantries but when in the world is it appropriate for a strange man to approach ANY woman - let alone a younger woman - and start up a conversation out of the blue.

    I think the sooner girls learn that it's okay to be "rude" when people are inappropriate the better.

    You are attempting to teach her to not listen to her inner voice telling her that something is not right about the encounter. It is better for her to be "rude" than for her to be abducted or put into a compromising situation.

  29. #29
    I read the Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift and thought they were excellent books. They would be a great read for a teenaged girl.
    This topic brings back memories of when I was that age. I did get a lot of unwanted male attention and at times, it was creepy ex. a guy leering at me on the bus, and when I changed seats, he followed me. I wish I had known how to protect myself better and to better recognize when the attention was harmless.
    Gavin DeBecker, the author of these books, does not recommend being polite to unwanted male admirers. He says men hear things differently. Let's say you don't want to date someone and say to him, "I think you're nice and funny but I'm not interested right now". He says men hear "nice" "funny" and "not right now (but maybe later)".
    Best of luck with it.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by foodfiend View Post
    I read the Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift and thought they were excellent books. They would be a great read for a teenaged girl...
    .

    These books are excellent and would be a great read for you (RiverFarm) to read as well. Even if your DGD would not have much interest in reading them, you could discuss the books with her after you have read them and you may get some additional ideas and clarity on how to deal with this issue.

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