‘Not interested’ column brings up valid points

First, let me tell you about myself: I am a proud Baylor University alumna. I am a proud Baylor Lariat alumna. I consider myself a successful, driven career woman. I cover business news for an international publication and I’m currently based in Southeast Asia. I owe a great deal of my success to the Lariat, and my experience there. I’m also a feminist.

And I give my number to men I’m not really interested in, because I don’t want to hurt their feelings.

I heard about the “Not interested? Then don’t give him your digits” column from my brother, who asked for my opinion on the piece. When I saw how much traction the column was getting on Facebook and Twitter, I decided to write that opinion down and share it with all of you.

Just a few weeks ago, I was at a bar with a coworker when I man approached us and asked for her phone number. She immediately said, “No. Thank you for asking, but I’m not interested.”

I was stunned. I almost always give men my number, even when I know I have no intention of replying. It is the easiest thing to do. But, as my friend told me that night, it is not honest, and it isn’t fair to the guy. The man my friend rejected was affable enough and told us to have a good evening. He left and we continued with our night.

That lesson — just be honest, it is the right thing to do — is how I read Thomas Mott’s column. Certainly I believe that lesson applies to both genders, and in more scenarios than just getting digits.

So I was shocked when I read some of the Facebook comments and Tweets about the article.

I’m not sure how a guy asking for honesty translates into him justifying sexual harassment or male privilege. I don’t see the article turning women into “sex machines” nor do I think it sends a “message of guilt” to victims of sexual assault.

Does Mott say women can’t change their mind, and decide not to be interested after all? Of course not. He just asks for honesty.

I was even more surprised by this comment: “Rape, discrimination, street harassment, it really just all pales in comparison to the pain and trauma of being ignored.”

Now, is the topic of men (or women) being ignored via text anywhere near as important as the topics of rape or discrimination? Certainly not.

Does that mean that all topics that don’t rise to the level of importance of rape or discrimination should not be discussed? Of course not.

Now, maybe the feminist in me thought this line in the column was a bit offensive: “EVERY girl has her phone at all times nowadays; if they wanted to reply, they would have replied.”

(Dear Thomas — I often don’t reply to friends, family and love interests for hours at a time because I am legitimately busy. Don’t necessarily take that as a sign of disinterest).

But I can also say this: Thank you for sharing your opinion, Thomas. It takes bravery to pen an opinion for the whole world to see. And thank you to the Baylor Lariat for giving students that vital place to learn, discuss and grow.

So now, when a guy asks for my number and I’m not interested, I’ll tell him, “No. Thank you, but I’m not interested.”

I hope he will appreciate my courage in saying no, just as I appreciate his courage in asking. And I hope that dedication to being honest with people will make the world just a little bit better a place.

Catherine Hirst, Baylor alumna