Over here we have a fellow that I assume is well-intentioned wondering why women are so gosh-darned unfriendly when strange men walk up to them at the airport. Another man in the comments relates that women sometimes cross the street to get away from him and wonders what’s up with that. Another was outraged that a woman told him, “Go away, I have a boyfriend,” when he was just trying to tell her she left her cellphone on top of her car.
I can’t speak for Australian women (the link is on an Australian server), but one out of every six American women has been the victim of sexual assault during her lifetime (source: RAINN). The usual recommendations to avoid being one of the one in six include not talking to strange men, not wandering around alone in bad parts of town, not dressing well (I have that one down pat, myself–picture jeans, a t-shirt that says, “No, I will not fix your computer,” and hooray that it’s black because then you can’t see that I spilled coffee on it this morning, and what is this makeup thing of which you speak?), etc. If you’re insulted that someone thinks you’re a “strange man” they shouldn’t talk to when you’re just trying to be friendly or helpful, consider that 38% of victims are raped by a friend or acquaintance, four in ten assaults take place in the victim’s own home, and two in ten take place at a friend or acquaintance’s home (source: RAINN). If a woman has to be afraid of that nice guy Bob in accounting, or the guy she’s going on a date with tonight, why should she trust a total stranger?
No, I’m sorry, you can’t have it both ways. Either rape is a woman’s problem and the only way to avoid it is to consider half the human race a potential assailant who is bigger and heavier than you are, or women can be friendly to strange men who walk up to them and try to sell them things or tell them they’ve left their cellphone on top of their car. Those are mutually exclusive situations, sorry. It’s very likely that you’re not a rapist, but she has no way of knowing that.
RAINN has things men can do to help here. But if you’re going to be friendly, try to be friendly in social situations where there are other people around, like your local LUG or work. Don’t corner women alone in an isolated place like a parking garage and be friendly. We have it drummed into our heads from an early age that that’s a prelude to assault.