The Internet routinely churns up sexist bilge, but this week shit hit the fan when a blog post from 2013 titled ‘How To Talk To A Woman Who Is Wearing Headphones’ resurfaced on Twitter.
The piece, written by self-proclaimed “pickup artist” Dan Bacon (who gets paid to teach men how to proposition women), came under fresh Internet fire when Twitter user @YoPhoebs tweeted a screenshot of the article on Monday and condemned it.
You don’t. pic.twitter.com/wOVHgCt5UW
— ᴾᴴᴼᴱᴮᴱ (@YoPhoebs) August 29, 2016
Since then, the piece has been widely circulated both on and off Twitter, and has met with severe criticism.
The piece goes wrong in it’s very premise—that you need to approach women wearing headphones at all. Women (or a person of any gender for that matter) wearing headphones have already made the choice to listen to whatever it is that is playing through their headphones, rather than pay attention to the outside world. So a stranger wanting to talk to them about sex is something they definitely don’t want to entertain at that moment. Unfortunately, however, the piece assumes the exact opposite —that a woman is asking for male attention, craving for men to approach them, even when they have headphones on. What’s worse, the piece goes on to say that the only women who wouldn’t be open to talking despite having headphones on are those who are already in a relationship. Round of applause, ladies and gentlemen.
Bacon goes on to provide a step-by-step guide to how men can gain the attention (read: invade the privacy) of headphone-wearing women – which ranges from creepy to downright horrifying. At one point he justifies all of it by saying: “don’t ever think that you’re doing a bad thing by approaching and talking to a woman in a confident, easy going way.”
Of course. Approaching a woman when she clearly doesn’t want to be approached and forcing her to pay attention to you is never a bad thing, right? Cue puking noises.
There’s a lot that’s wrong with Bacon’s article – his creepy, consent-defying suggestions, the sense of male entitlement that makes him think that women are just dying for male attention and much more. But Twitter user @YoPhoebs had summed all of it up in just her one-word reaction. But what she hadn’t foreseen was how popular would become and lead to the creation of one of the best Internet memes of the decade.
In response to @YoPhoebs, a whole host of other Twitter users came forward to criticize the piece—coming up with answers to the question posed by the piece’s title in sarcastic and utterly hilarious ways.
How to talk to a woman wearing headphones
1. Walk over
2. Keep walking
3. Into the sea
4. Yes into the sea for you, goodbye.
— Sarah Jones (@SarahJonesVent) August 30, 2016
how to talk to a woman with headphones: immediately jump directly into an icy lake. women love wet & freezing men. she will love it
— Noelle Stevenson (@Gingerhazing) August 30, 2016
How to approach women wearing headphones:
-Remain silent and motionless; Their vision is based on movement
— OhNoSheTwitnt (@OhNoSheTwitnt) August 30, 2016
Not just Twitter, but various media outlets and online blogs too started taking notice. While The Guardian took the piece apart by a point-by-point breakdown of everything wrong with the writer’s arguments, even a thoroughly male-oriented platform like Ask Men expressed their horror at the piece—reminding its readers that trying to talk to a woman who’s wearing headphones is actually a bad idea.
This meme, though seemingly about women and headphones, has transformed into a larger conversation. It’s become a way of expressing frustration about male privilege, and the various forms of both direct and indirect harassment women face from similarly entitled men. These tweets are subverting the sexist claims of the article in both a humorous and impactful way.
How to Approach a Girl Wearing Headphones
– Leave her alone
– Ur not entitled to her attention no matter how attractive u find her
— Iron Spike (@Iron_Spike) August 30, 2016
“Hey, girl. Are you wearing headphones because I’m pretty sure you’d rather listen to me talk to you.” pic.twitter.com/GjjNhOiBVO
— Anne Wheaton (@AnneWheaton) August 30, 2016
If i’m wearing headphones, don’t talk to me unless you’ve won an Oscar or I’m on fire
— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) August 30, 2016
In a space like the Internet where everything is volatile and temporary, one might wonder why this blog post from three years ago would suddenly become relevant. But this is because of how the issue itself is so relevant and common. Men continue to think that it’s okay to invade a woman’s privacy in the name of ‘flirting’; and if they are capable of ignoring even a forceful “no” from women, what chances do a pair of headphones stand?
Hence, this meme is an extremely important one; and men should be following the various guidelines of this meme instead of the original article’s creepy and disgusting ones.