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Pleased To Meat You

I turned 38 last week, and through some introspection, realized I’m unfulfilled. I thought a girls’ night out might help. The last thing I wanted was attention from men. Of course, at the bar, I ended up getting hit on by a 50-something overweight man. Shortly after introducing himself, he told me I have a lovely figure and began guessing my height, weight, and measurements (including bra size!). Then he asked me my age! Outraged, I said my stats were none of his concern, and that if he’s in the habit of treating women like sexual objects he should take his chauvinistic attitude elsewhere. Then I slapped his face, and told him it was on behalf of all the women who’ve had to endure his offensive pickup lines. He walked sheepishly back to his laughing buddies. My friends gave me “you go, girl” high fives, but said I seemed a little on edge lately. If they’re right, do you know some good techniques to find inner peace?


Common sense is getting rarer every day. My neighborhood grocery store just started tagging cheese with the sticker “CONTAINS: MILK.” A Welsh regulatory agency said Smoked Welsh Dragon Sausages should be renamed so it’s clear they’re made of pork -- not dragon. Surely your local pickup joint will soon post advisories on the door, like “Contains drunks” and “To avoid attention from men, hold girls’ night out in a convent, not a bar.”

I’ll hazard a guess as to what really went down last week. A man approached you at the bar. Although you consider men who judge women by their looks chauvinistic pigs, you noted that he was not a 30-something blond Adonis but a 50-something fat man. He noted that you noted this -- probably because you shot him the high school mean girl death ray for daring to even dream of hitting on you. Okay, fine. If he couldn’t get you, he’d at least get a rise out of you. You didn’t disappoint.

Naturally, you assumed he was a foot-soldier in the vast conspiracy to keep women down -- not just some obnoxious drunk. Asking apparently uptight girls in bars their age and bra size -- isn’t that what obnoxious drunks do? Come on, you know that, but acknowledging it isn’t half as satisfying as flapping your wings and squawking about being “objectified” (as if people in bars are on the prowl for inner beauty and spiritual depth). Finally, to show him how the civilized half lives, you cracked him one. Just a thought, but if a guy did that to you, would you be slinking sheepishly back to the girls -- or feverishly dialing 911 to have him incarcerated for life?

As for what you could’ve done in response, you’re a girl who was supposedly loath to engage. Didn’t ignoring him occur to you? Or, if you wanted to give back in kind, since it was a fat guy going troll on you, when he asked “What’s your bra size?” you could’ve looked down at his chest and said, “I dunno, what’s yours?” You only became a victim when you started acting like a victim. You’ll probably continue to feel like one until you figure out what’s missing from your life, and take steps to change -- instead of taking out the feeling something’s missing on the nearest aspiring toxic bachelor. As for how to find inner peace, Krishnamurti’s Freedom From The Known has some pretty good guidelines. As for where; there’s no paved path that I know of, but for best results, try standing by a babbling brook instead of a beer tap.

Posted by aalkon at March 27, 2007 6:36 PM


oh wow, Amy - you taught me something. I'm not the original letterwriter, and I've always appreciated your advice in the past, but this gives me even more specific food for thought. Thank you.

Posted by: soleil at March 28, 2007 1:56 AM

The opening post is rather mixed up (perhaps by Amy's editing?). It starts like Dante's Inferno: "Midway in the journey of our life I came to myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost." Then it relates a rather pointless tale that signifies nothing except ineptitude remarkable in a 38-year-old, and ends with "by the way, do you know where I can find inner peace?" like "Is there a shop round here that sells salami?"
It looks to me as if we have someone who has reached the age of 38 without having learned anything since she was 18. No wonder she feels unfulfilled.

Is inner peace the answer? She would still be unfulfilled, but not bothered about it, a bit like a contented cow.

At 38, she also has time left to do some fulfilling. If she doesn't know what to do, I suggest joining some clubs where you can learn new skills, or doing some voluntary work with people who are poor or sick; or travelling to see something of the world, and gaining some empathy for others. There's time, but not endless time, to change.

Posted by: Norman at March 28, 2007 2:50 AM

Hey, don't blame my editing!

It is amazing how lost some nearly 40-year-old adults can be.

(And thanks, soleil.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 28, 2007 6:37 AM

There are a lot of angry women out there, who have no idea of who they are or what they want. I found the following book useful: 'Mama Gena's Owner's and Operator's Guide to Men' by Regena Thomashauer. The title is a bit dorky, but the focus is for women to learn how NOT to be angry all the time, and accept men as they are. Women have stop thinking of themselves as victims.

Posted by: Chris at March 28, 2007 7:15 AM

I can't believe she smacked him. Not that I don't think a smack isn't deserved *in some cases* - but my general rule of thumb is that physical contact is only justified by physical contact. So unless he grabbed her breast or her ass, I'd say she WAY over-reacted.

Need. More. Coffee.

Posted by: Anne at March 28, 2007 7:21 AM

Actually, it all starts with self-acceptance.

And I'm reminded of one definition of "sexual harrassment": "It's not sexual harrassment if they're hot."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 28, 2007 7:24 AM

Slight edit (with comments)

"Then I slapped his face, and told him it was on behalf of all the women who’ve have been hit on by unattractive men (if it was a Fabio clone, you think she'd react the same way?). He walked smugly (he was likely laughing it off) back to his laughing buddies (who probably bought him a drink and talked about what a jerk you were). My friends gave me “you go, girl” high fives, (clearly afraid that they'd get a beat-down if they didn't approve)"

In short, I agree with Anne. "Physical contact is only justified by physical contact." It takes a lot more intelligence to react the way Amy suggested..with a witty rejoinder rather than showing off your cavewoman biceps. And if you think it's okay to hit a guy when he offends you, of course you wouldn't feel the same way had the roles been reversed right?
Who's "chauvinist" now?

Spend some time to learn how to act like an intelligent being, not a reactionist animal.

Posted by: Jamie at March 28, 2007 7:44 AM

True, Amy...but if a hot guy that I didn't know or had just met grabbed my breasts or ass out of the blue, he would suddenly become much less hot in my eyes, let's just say.

As for the woman...ye gods. Has she never been to a bar before? Has she never learned that conducting a dialogue with an obnoxious person just energizes said person? If she felt unfulfilled, why didn't she, say, go volunteer at a soup kitchen or figure out some other cause to help with? Maybe we should suggest that bars should put signs on their walls saying, "WARNING: YOU ARE HIGHLY UNLIKELY TO FIND FULFILLMENT HERE." Sounds as though some people need 'em.

Posted by: marion at March 28, 2007 8:00 AM

They had a funny mini-video on Saturday Night Live once about that. Hot guy lies on woman's desk practically naked = OK. Dorky guy says hello = sexual harrassment.

Posted by: Chris at March 28, 2007 8:09 AM

I agree with Amy - want to NOT get hit on by a drunk guy in a bar...DON'T go to a bar...unless you look like the female version of Quasimoto - it's gonna happen. And some guy out there probably gets hot and bothered over hunchbacks. Somedays you just can't win. That is no excuse for committing assault and battery. Simply rolling your eyes and walking off to your safety net of friends would have sufficed

And - remember, the day will come when we women walk into a bar only to be told something like "bingo is being held down the street grandma" and only wishing we could get a pass made at us.

Posted by: Chris at March 28, 2007 9:02 AM

Thanks for sticking up for the men, Amy. Like we learned in kindergarten--hitting is not nice! Also, sticks and stones can break my bones...

Posted by: beansworth at March 28, 2007 9:32 AM

I remember when I was a pre-teen girl, I was pretty flat. A not too nice fat boy came up to me and said. "YOU DONT HAVE ANYTHING!! YOU'RE FLAT!!" *snort snort* Embarassed I said "Well why dont you give me some of yours? You have plenty" All of his buddies laughed and he shut his pie hole never to bother me again.

I'm also gonna go out on a limb here but I feel that feminist thought is for immature teenage girls not women. When I was a teenager my friends and I were puzzled when we got hassled by dudes, we thought there was something wrong with us that attracted that attention from those men. I was a bit of a feminist then, and I did feel like a victim. Then we realized that it happens to EVERY woman, no matter what, and not because all guys are jerks. Some just dont know how to handle the presence of a woman. When I stopped feeling like a victim (when I got into my twenties), I felt a shitload better about life.

Posted by: PurplePen at March 28, 2007 9:40 AM

Hi Amy - I liked your advice this week. Sometimes I think you're a little hard on people. After I read the letter from the woman, I was cringing thinking about how she might get slammed for her act of aggression. However, you delivered a great response. Spot-on. It was funny, but also trying to tell her something in a way she might hear. Good job!

I do think the woman was way out of line. However, consider that some bars are more of a cafe/bar cross (or a restaurant with a bar) than one of the bars named "Ugly's" with no windows and iron bars on the front door. The original writer doesn't say which kind she and troops deployed to. It's possible the place they chose did have some legitimacy as a social place for the ladies and was not just a place to get drunk. Hence she might have been a little surprised to remember that oh yeah, people can get drunk here and hit on me...

Some people avoid self-examination like the plague. I hope this is the first step for this woman in getting it together.

Posted by: Jennifer at March 28, 2007 12:03 PM

So the guy thinks he's funnier than he really is and could stand to learn some new material. Big effin' deal. That chick is a mean bitch.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at March 28, 2007 12:12 PM

I used to tussle some with my ex-boyfriend. Hitting, slapping, hammer-fisting, Muy Thai elbowing, Tiger Crane claw...whatever the weapon, it's not right, man or woman regardless. Not to mention it's not very mature, or attractive--maybe that would appeal to her superficial focus on appearance.

Posted by: Wendy at March 28, 2007 3:11 PM

I think the Original Writer's intent was to impress and befriend Amy, by displaying her "feminist" attitude.

What she fails to realize, is that while she was SO busy worrying about the fact that this man was judging her based on her appearance - she was also judging him based on what he looked like (as described in the letter) and getting some sort of cheap damsel-being-put-upon thrill.

She got dressed up. Went to a bar with friends. And got hit on. You know she enjoyed every second of it. This was a chance to feel attractive, and now that she's had the experience, she wants everyone else to know just how attractive she is - men can't even stop themselves from guessing bra sizes around her.

My only advice to her would be this: Stop being such an attention whore. Find another way to boost your self-esteem. That should bring you some "inner peace."

Posted by: Jaime at March 28, 2007 9:50 PM

I saw that "Contains milk" sticker a few weeks ago and wondered who was that stupid. (Not that your story was directly about the sticker.)

On another side note: Amy, you would have liked the lady I met at our local dog park today. She carried bags around to everyone who's dog pooped. There was not one sneaky Mr. "I don't see it" getting away from her. I thanked her for taking it upon herself to enforce the rule. I absolutely HATE stepping in dog shit when I clean mine up.

Posted by: Edi at March 29, 2007 12:49 AM

(Hey other-Chris. I'm changing my secret code name to Chrissy, in honor of Three's Company.)

If the writer of the letter had any self-awareness, she would have known that the reason she went to the bar in the first place was to get attention from men, so she could feel powerful. If the only way to feel good about yourself is to shit on someone else, that's pretty sad.

Posted by: Chrissy (formerly Chris) at March 29, 2007 6:36 AM

I work nights in a bar, and my job (hosting live trivia games) requires that I keep a bucket on the stage with me, into which players slip their answers to the night's trivia questions.

I find lots of mens' phone numbers slipped into it, too. For a while I took them home and stuffed them into a jar, just to see how long it might take to fill it up. But one rare night, a guy slipped me not only a number, but a HUNDRED DOLLAR BILL.

That guy took things way beyond mere vulgarity, mere propositions, etc. THAT guy actually must have mistaken me for a whore. And I feel it is noteworthy that I didn't slap him. When he approached my stage again, I politely returned the bill -- "You dropped this, sir" -- and informed him that nice girls rarely take sweaty wads of cash from strange men in bars.

THAT guy "sheepishly" slunk out of there, and never came back. He left me alone because I took the high road. "Venting," on the other hand...well, what to say about "Venting?" Except that she has some awfully romantic ideas about how this sh*t works. I guess she just forgot to dash her drink into his face, and loudly shriek "SCOUNDREL!" at him, or she would have done both of those things, too.

Posted by: Daisy Jones at March 29, 2007 12:24 PM

"The LAST thing she wanted was the attention of men," so she went to a bar. If that wasn't so typical...


That's all I got...

Posted by: Morbideus at March 29, 2007 12:48 PM

If Amy took the same approach as these people who post "Warning: Contains peanuts" on peanut butter jars and stated the obvious, maybe she'd post an advisory like this on her column:

Warning: Letters may contain extremely irritating whining from self-indulgent twats.

I don't know why I feel so vitriolic towards this LW. One thing that I just realized is why the fuck does she think a quickly dashed-off letter to an advice columnist she's never met lead her to a thing that eludes many people who struggle for it relentlessly? Does she think she can take a short cut and skip the hard, time-consuming, honest work that such a journey involves?

The quest for inner peace and contentment isn't undertaken in a smokey bar nor on the Internet. The LW's methods of pursuing an answer make me wonder if "inner peace" is just another trite cliche to her--just like slapping a man when he hits on her at a bar.

Posted by: Wendy at March 29, 2007 9:21 PM

> Jaime wrote: I think the Original Writer's intent was to impress and befriend Amy, by displaying her "feminist" attitude.

Thanks for the laugh. If that was the OW's intent, she is more than delusional. Fresh out of whining and victim-y "feminist" attitude at Amy's.

Posted by: Marie at March 30, 2007 12:03 AM

Maybe she can buy inner peace on the Home Shopping channel!

Posted by: Chrissy at March 30, 2007 5:52 AM

Great advice, Amy--he was crass, but she was in the wrong. (To be honest, I would be less irritated by this creepy fella than the guy who tried to pick me up by tossing a note into my beer. Ruining my Guiness does NOT impress me.)

To PurplePen: "Feminist thought", in its ideal form, is about recognizing that women are people. Not about superiority or making men into little girly pets--just about asking them to treat us with the same consideration they give each other. Don't let the harpies scare you off any more than you let a few jerks turn you off of men.

Posted by: Nikki at March 30, 2007 8:59 AM

A girl's night out always helps me when I'm feeling unfulfilled. Good thing 'Venting' wasn't packing a pistol. A 'little on edge'? Hoo-boy, talk about an understatement.

As always Amy, you are right on target. Loved the '911' comment. The shoe is always on the other foot.

Posted by: Leon Sanders at April 1, 2007 7:24 AM

Okay, I see errors on both sides of the equation here.

Any guy in his 50s who allows himself to get overweight has no business hitting on women in their 30s to begin with. If he's going to go around doing stuff like that in bars, the least he can do is take care of himself and try to be somewhat presentable. BTW I practice what I preach.

And if he's going to talk to her at all, the least he can do is be politely sociable. Telling her she looks great is fine (but only if it actually is reasonably truthful). But asking a woman you just met at a bar for her statistics, that's the kind of bonehead move a 22-year-old would make.

Meanwhile, her reaction reveals just as much about her attitudes. Amy's probably right that if the guy had looked like Brad Pitt it wouldn't have mattered what he said or how he behaved. But this woman just really doesn't sound like she even likes men to begin with.

Maybe she's a lesbian? Sure, it's jumping to a conclusion, but it would explain a lot, wouldn't it? She comes across as someone who's been conditioned by 30 years of post-modern feminism to believe that no man is really good enough for her and that she doesn't really need a man in her life to be happy or successful anyway (although something tells me she'll probably always have that vague "unfulfilled" feeling...)

And a little withering sarcastic humor would certainly have gone a lot further. When he asked her what her bra size was, he was just begging for her to just tell him, "Whatever it is, it's definitely bigger than your brain and your dick put together!"

Posted by: Fester Bestertester at April 1, 2007 1:27 PM

It's strange how guys can sometimes make the jump in logic, from a woman that obviously doesn't like men to 'she must be a lesbian'. Do you make the same jump in logic with your male friends? If a guy complains too much about his divorce, his ex-wife, etc., do you think, 'hey, he must be gay'?

I'm pretty sure she just hates men, but isn't going to switch teams just yet.

Reminds me of my ex who made the scientific observation that 'all women are bi-sexual', from his few visits to swingers clubs.

Posted by: Chrissy at April 2, 2007 5:54 AM

You know how to drop it!
That was great that you refer her to Krishnamurti. His book is the place to start understanding the self.

Posted by: joel at April 2, 2007 11:11 AM

Two points:

I'm not just "in the habit of treating women like sexual objects," I pride myself in my practiced skill and long history of doing so. Secure women with wit and sagacity usually appreciate this and are more likely to be viewed in more dimensions. Self-rightous harpies will always be judged solely by their tits and ass (special exemption for certain European heads of state).

Fester, rich guys in their 50's have no trouble at all hitting on women in their 30's, tonnage notwithstanding.

Posted by: snakeman99 at April 2, 2007 5:11 PM

a few weeks ago, I was walking through a home depot parking lot, and a guy whistled (appreciatively) at me.

at 20, I would have been embarrassed
at 30, I would have yelled something like "f*ck off"!
now at 40, I just waved and said "thanks"

Posted by: fran at April 3, 2007 12:39 PM

When I was single and 21, I'd go to bars with friends. Not to get attention from men, but to drink and laugh and be goofy with the girls. Sometimes I would get hit on, and it happens. Though I wasn't there for that kind of attention, I knew it was bound to happen every now and then. Usually an uninterested attitude would allow me to get quickly back to the girls. Sometimes, in the case of the guy who said, "I'll be honest with you, I just want to have sex with you as soon as possible," it took simply getting up and walking away with no explanation. Only once did I have to resort to a physical deterant. A grope was made, a slap was delivered, and a much more forceful grope was made. A well placed punch sent him on his way (probably didn't leave a bruise, but definitely made a point). Then I got back to the girls, and we laughed it off. 10 minutes later the guy returned whining about how I didn't give him my phone number. Go figure.
So, yes, a female can expect that when she goes to a bar, she might get hit on. Doesn't mean she's there looking for it. Sometimes us married girls still want a girls night out with some music and cocktails, and sometimes our friends are single and looking. But, if you're not looking for attention, deflect it and enjoy being out with friends. After all, it's much more fun to relate the story of the horrible pick up line to your friends than it is to get all in a tizzy about it.

Posted by: Allison at April 5, 2007 9:43 AM

If someone gives me a hundred dollar bill, I'm keepin it. Who cares what anybody thinks?

Posted by: Chicknlady at April 9, 2007 12:05 AM

I have deep respect for amy and most of the people(yes men and women) who replied to this post. Amy seems to always take the logical side of right and wrong regardless of if it goes against her "feminist" views or not and this was a GREAT example. damn right she would not hesitate to call 911 if a guy had slapped her. It is a shame that our conditioned society has come to this where we have to specifically say it is not OK FOR A WOMAN TO HIT A MAN regardless of if he was crude or not. We make the same point with men hitting women and women shouldn't enjoy a priviledge any different than men. Equality simple. I don't hit people{men or women] but let me just say if i was the fat guy, no way in hell i would walk "Sheepishly" away. i would definitely SLAP HER BACK.Not because i advocate violenceagainst women, but because i believe if a man(or a woman in this case) crosses the line like that, then an "eye for an eye" is the simple solution. That will teach her not to go around slapping people regardless of if they were stupid and rude(and he definitely was0 or not.

Posted by: M. at April 10, 2007 4:30 PM

I'm actually not a feminist, but a human-ist -- for equal treatment for all, not special treatment for some.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 10, 2007 6:17 PM

I am a fan,
I agree with your response... but not all feminists are ball bashing man eaters.
I happen to be one.
I have respect far all humans. And I understand the biological differences between men and women.. and I have two sons I love to death...(16 and 24)
So don't blame their victim-hood on feminism. It is/was her issues not feminism's issue about her unacceptable response.(Don't get the two confused.)
There is a purpose for feminism believe it or not.
Equal treatment in the classroom,
Equal pay for equal work,
and ... believe it or not, highlighting the achievements of women, so younger women can have a vision and goal of ALL they can contribute to the world.
So much of the disparities between the sexes are systemic and not individual discrimination. But change takes time and it takes obnoxious verbal people to keep it on the radar screen, so to speak, look at history on any issue...
I also have the coolest daughter (21) in the world...
I want her to realize her passions and dreams.

Posted by: Melissa at April 21, 2007 7:57 PM

Feminism is too often special treatment-ism. I'm for women having the vote and for women making the same money as men do...providing they do the same job, and they don't leave the job at 4pm to pick up the kids while the men and women without children stick around.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 21, 2007 11:26 PM

It's so refreshing to read such laser sharp objectivity burning through this sort of hypocrisy. Amy needs to be cloned to re populate the world with a little fair minded common sense.

Posted by: L.Greg Burton at May 16, 2007 5:30 AM

Thank you so much. I'm working on getting in more papers! Please request me in a paper near you.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 16, 2007 6:09 AM

Now Melissa, the problem I have with feminism is this:

I'm an engineering student. As I'm sure you know, there aren't too many female engineers. But shouldn't we get the same pay? Because an entry level female engineer can expect $10k-$20k more a year than a male engineer.

Don't get me started about equality in the classroom. There is a reason there are far more women in college; elementary schools in particular are failing boys. My old high school hasn't had a male student with a 4.0 GPA in 5 years.

And why are we only holding up women as positive examples? We should encourage all children to achieve, not just the girls.

Posted by: Scott at May 16, 2007 12:07 PM

I don't think we should encourage women to become engineers any more than we should encourage men to go into PR or psychology to balance out the large numbers of women in those fields. Are those women earning so much more money actually better engineers, or are they just paid more because they have vaginas?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 16, 2007 12:14 PM

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