Why Dudes Don't Greet Dudes

My newest Daily Dot piece is about #DudesGreetingDudes.

After that NYC catcalling video went viral online, some men (not all men!) were upset, not because they were trying to defend their right to shout “nice tits” at a random woman, but because even non-sexual comments were being defined as harassment. For instance, Michael Che, co-host of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, wrote on Facebook, “I want to apologize to all the women I’ve harassed with statements like ‘hi’ or ‘have a nice day.’”

In response to comments like these, This Week in Blackness CEO Elon James White created a hashtag called #DudesGreetingDudes:

The #DudesGreetingDudes tweets are hilarious because they’re ridiculous. After all, everyone knows men would never actually talk to each other like that.

But why wouldn’t they?

The common explanation is that street harassment—yes, including the “nice,” non-explicitly sexual kind—is ultimately about asserting male dominance over women, forcing them to give men their time and attention. It wouldn’t make sense for a man to infringe on another man’s mental and physical space in that way.

But I think there’s also a little more going on here, and it has to do with the ways in which men are socialized to view women not only as sexual objects, but as their sole outlet for companionship, support, and affirmation. They’re socialized to view women as caretakers and entertainers, too.

Read the rest here.

Why Dudes Don't Greet Dudes

9 thoughts on “Why Dudes Don't Greet Dudes

  1. 1

    Dudes greeting dudes is just hilarious.

    Probably because they don’t see other men as receptive to it, and because they know that most men, just like themselves, were socialized to ignore this type of thing.

    I’ve always been more talkative with women than men. Women seem more open and receptive to conversation. I’ve been trying to be more talkative in general, and I notice that, as long as one of us is willing to make the jump, men can be just as talkative, and just as appreciative of conversation.

    But this was never about women’s feelings. If it were, then the moment mass numbers of women started speaking out about street harassment, these men would collectively go, “Oh, oops, I guess that didn’t make you feel so good.”

    I can understand being disappointed and upset when you’re criticized for trying to be nice; it doesn’t feel good at all. But what doesn’t make sense is continuing in the behaviour. If I send someone flowers as a gift, and they get angry, I’ll be a little bewildered, but I’m not gonna keep sending them flowers.

    That’s about as generous as I can be, here.

  2. 2

    Oh, also:

    I remember growing and seeing men be intimate on television, and it looked strange. Why the fuck were those two guys hugging? Women hugged each other, and men hugged women, but men don’t hug men. So why are those two guys hugging with their heads pressed together?

    I noticed it was always older movies where men were intimate with each other. I think the idea that men aren’t intimate with each other is a recent phenomenon. I think it’s also a very white phenomenon.

  3. 3

    I generally like your writing Miri, but your ignorance is showing on this one. You don’t know the ways in which dudes greet dudes. I can assure you it occurs, it’s just invisible to you because you’re not a man. Being a woman, you don’t have the first-person experience of living as a man or the tensions of masculinity and male-male friendships/relationships. I refrain from telling you what it’s like to be a woman and from pontificating on experiences I don’t have. I’d appreciate it if you would give me and other men that same basic level of respect.

    1. 3.1

      Well, I think there is a difference between DudesGreetingDudes (which isn’t really much of a thing) and DudesReactingToDudes (which is). You don’t see the sort of scenarios limned in those ridiculous twitter comments, because that’s not generally how men interact with men, for a host of reasons (which I think the OP basically gets right).

      But it’s true that this doesn’t mean that men ignore each other. There’s tons of body language and such that goes on – a whole mode of communication that most women probably aren’t really aware of, because they don’t have to be.

  4. 4

    Pete, wherever did Miri say that men don’t greet each other? And where in this post did she even mention male-male friendships/relationships?
    This is about interactions in public places between strangers.
    And what Miri said was that

    men would never actually talk to each other like that.

    (emphasis added)

    I … refrain from pontificating

    glad to hear it.

  5. 5

    Wow, I didn’t know that dudes had some sooper seekrit greeting ceremonies they’re keeping hidden from the feeemalz.

    Miri, you mention that men are aware that men might react violently towards a cold approach. But there’s another side to it: Women also know that men might react violently towards being rejected. And yes, all men benefit from this, even the “I would never hurt a woman, just say no, #notallmen” kind of guys. Women do try to soften their refusals, because we know that the reaction to a rude “fuck off” might be a fist and a kick.

  6. 6

    For those who have stated above ‘dudes do greet other dudes’ I won’t say it does not happen. I have seen it happen. I have seen 1 man talk to another man he did not know about a book the other guy was holding at a cafe. At a pub, I heard a guy in a group talk about a motorcycle trip and another guy there, who was drinking by himself, talked to the guys about bikes. It happens. I’ve even seen a man say ‘nice hat’ to another man.

    However, a key difference between this and many of the “hi’s” that women get in public are that they seem built around some actual point of common interest between the men. Men don’t seem to do the ‘let’s say Hi to every guy and hope to get a response’ the way men do that with women. Guys don’t approach other guys with tired, generic ‘lines’ that are used on every other random man.

    This is also where some men refuse to see the difference between harassment and conversation. Walking up to me and asking me about a book I’m reading, if you’re actually a fan, *might* be a conversation starter. Interrupting my reading while a guy goes on about how he sees me here all the time, and that I seem like a really nice person, and that I look somehow attractive, probably going to irritate me.

    It seems that type of ‘let’s say hi to as many women as possible’ is probably related to status, dominance and impressing even an internalized audience of other men. Why is random guy saying “Hi” to random women everywhere? Because he has been taught that he should have their attention, probably taught that they should give it to them, and that *right now* this should be an exciting opportunity to get with him they should not pass up?

    #perhaps a good rule for a guy to follow when approaching a woman is, would he be approaching a guy?

    I write that since, guys *do* talk to a guy about ‘hey, I saw the band on your t shirt play once’ and other such conversations. Many men do this to women. It at least demonstrates that you see the person you’re talking to as a person with interests and preferences.

  7. 7

    What I find contemptible about street harassment has nothing to do with the attempt to make a connection to a stranger, and I don’t care one bit if a man is looking for a woman to date and ONLY tries to connect with attractive female strangers. It’s completely irrelevant to me.

    The problem is that it is uninvited. And that it’s clearly uninvited by body language before a word is uttered or a creepy action made. My general rules on the few occasions I have interacted with a random woman on the street or in a bar: Make eye contact, does she smile? Does she appear receptive? If no, then end it there. Say something harmless, just, ‘hi’, is fine, if there is an indication she’s uncomfortable or doesn’t want to talk, once again, end it. Body language on occasion can be hard to read, mistakes are fine. What’s galling about the defence of the cat call video is how obvious it is that she doesn’t want to interact with the men, making them clearly harassers and not just friendly. Friendly people respect other people’s boundaries. Anyone defending that shit as friendliness is disingenuous or a goddamned moron.

  8. 8

    Where I live, dudes greet dudes sometimes. As in, strangers on the street, when it seems appropriate. Women too. It’s considered one of the nice things about walking or cycling as opposed to driving a car. Saying “hi” or “how are you” to the traffic controller at the roadworks (maybe a little chat if you’re stopped), the cyclist coming the other way, the bus driver, the lady selling the Big Issue on the corner, the person you just did the awkward “who gets to go through the train doors first” thing with.
    I think it works because when people do this, they actually make eye contact with the other person first and wait for a non-verbal go-ahead. At which point they greet said person to their face. As opposed to shouting something at the ass of a person who’s making a big effort to look totally unapproachable. It’s this latter thing that dudes don’t do to each other, and it’s a plain and simple question of (dis-)respect.

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