How 'The Mary Sue Rejection Hotline' Handles Women's Texts From Creepy Guys

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What The Mary Sue Rejection Hotline Will Text That Creepy Guy At Starbucks

Geek girl website The Mary Sue has done something which at first delighted and entertained me to no end, but that, upon further reflection, has made me feel deeply, deeply depressed. Please allow me to share why and how.

In light of both the assaults alleged to have committed by Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent #MeToo campaign across social media, the team at The Mary Sue got to brainstorming on their intra-office Slack channel about different ideas for ways to help women feel safe. Ultimately, this led to their decision to create "The Mary Sue Rejection Hotline". 

The premise is simple enough.

Let's say you find yourself at a bar... or in a club... or at a cafe... or walking through a museum... or any place at all, when a man you don't know stops to chat you up. You aren't interested but you don't want to be rude, so you smile and nod politely, trying to not insult him while clearly sending the message that you were far happier entertaining yourself and you do not wish to engage in a dialogue. He asks for your phone number. You don't want to give it to him. You demur, saying that it's been nice meeting him but you just aren't interested.

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You have firmly and kindly said no, but no wasn't what he wanted to hear, so he chooses not to have heard it. Instead, he grows increasingly aggressive and pushes back. 

"Come on, don't be a bitch," he insists.

Or perhaps he says, "Just give me the chance to take you out on one date. I promise you'll love it!"

He thinks he's being assertive. You think you have — once again — been put in an extremely uncomfortable position by a man who is not only making you feel unsafe but simultaneously making you feel guilty for the fact that you feel unsafe. What started off as a seemingly awkward but simple social encounter has escalated to the extent that you now feel intimidated, frightened, and desperate to make a safe, clean get-away.

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So what do you do? You give him your phone number. Except that this time, you don't give him your real number, and you don't give him some fake number. You give him the number for The Mary Sue Rejection Hotline — (646) 926-6614.

When he calls this number, he will be politely informed that he was given this number because he made a woman feel unsafe. 

If he chooses to text you rather than calls you — because let's be real, no one calls anyone anymore — he will get the same message via a reply text message, but the reply will arrive approximately an hour after he texts you, in order to be sure you've had plenty of time to flee the scene before the response arrives. 

The specific text message sent as a reply by the MSR Hotline is clear, direct, and, in my opinion, awesome.

"Oh hello there. If you're reading this message, you've made a woman feel unsafe and/or disrespected. Please learn to take no for an answer and respect women's emotional and physical autonomy. K THANKKS."

This isn't the first time that such a hotline has been created, but it is the first time a hotline has been created specifically by women for women to use in the exact moment at which they are feeling paralyzed by fear because of a man's behavior.

And so here's where we get to the part about how all of this makes me feel depressed...

I think it's great that this Hotline exists, and I also think that it sucks even more that it has to. Rejection isn't easy for anyone, but for some reason, men of the world seem to have a harder time dealing with it than women. According to Brandy Engler, Psy.D. in an article for Men's Health, “Men associate their status with whether or not women like them... If women don't like you, your social status is lower. It affects the way a man sees himself.”

Sure, women don't always take rejection well either. I've seen Fatal Attraction.

But let's be honest. More often than not when a woman is rejected it sends her sobbing into a tub of ice cream, not running out to stalk, harass, rape or murder the man who rejected her. In fact, statistics gathered by the U.S. Department of Justice show that "male perpetrators constituted 96% of federal prosecution on domestic violence."

I will never stop marveling at all of the intelligent, savvy, and funny women who take up space on this planet. The fact that a group of them came up with the idea for this rejection hotline strikes me as fresh as hell and I love it. It's one more representation of all the good that can be created when women band together.

Also, it would be great if women no longer had to come up with new ways to safely say no to men.

But that's another story for another time.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.