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When It's OK to Talk to a Woman Who's Wearing Headphones

By Rebecca Pahle | Miscellaneous | August 30, 2016 |

By Rebecca Pahle | Miscellaneous | August 30, 2016 |

The Internet’s all a-flutter today over a piece by one Dan Bacon—soon to be your least favorite bacon, supplanting English philosopher Francis Bacon, that asshole—called “How to Talk to a Woman Who Is Wearing Headphones.” I can feel you slowly backing away from your computer, but wait. It gets so much worse.

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Pretty much the whole piece is like that. It’s shockingly terrible and includes such gems as:

You: [Add in some humor to get her smiling and create a spark between you] Cool…nice to meet you Jessica. I don’t normally talk to girls with headphones, but your big green headphones were just calling out to me.

Woman: [Most likely laughing, smiling and enjoying the interaction].

Yeah, I’m sure.

If you are nervous or anxious, she probably won’t be interested in talking to you. Most women are attracted to the strength in men (e.g. confidence, masculinity) and turned off by the weakness (e.g. nervousness, anxiety).

Oh, we’re dealing with one of those, are we?

5. If she takes off her headphones to talk to you, do what we call “Acknowledging the Awkwardness” by quickly mentioning something about the potential awkwardness of the moment (see the conversation example below), to demonstrate you understand that approaching a woman in this way isn’t the most common of experiences for either party.

Nah, pretty common for women, really.

“[S]ome girls are shy and will be hesitant to take the headphones off right away because they are feeling a lot of nervousness and excitement about what is happening.”

As opposed to “what the fuck is this creep doing talking to me when I have my headphones in?” Incidentally, that quote above has been changed to “[S]ome girls are shy and will be hesitant about taking their headphones off initially. If she doesn’t want to take off her headphones, it’s probably a good sign that she doesn’t want to talk to you, so just respect that and leave the interaction.” It’s like either Bacon or the site the piece was published on (I’m guessing the former—Bacon doesn’t seem like a paragon of self-awareness) realized “hoshit, this is super stalkery” and went through and added a bunch of “in some rare cases, women may not want to stop what they’re doing and talk to a random stranger” language. (With zero note about the changes, of course.) You can check out the original version on the Wayback Machine.

For example, the section warning men against “giving up too easily” used to be labelled “allowing her to ignore him.” (!!!) Instead of:

“Headphones are a great barrier between a person and the rest of the world. That being said, if a guy wants to get a woman’s attention he needs to show confidence by being determined to get her to stop listening to the music and chat to him to him. If a guy has a weak vibe or presence about him, a woman usually won’t give in to his request for her to remove the headphones.

Women love to test guys to see how confident they really are and a favorite test of women is to ignore a guy’s attempts to converse with her and see what he will do next. Will he walk away in shame, or will he remain calm and continue talking to her in a confident, easy-going manner?”

We get:

“Headphones are a great barrier between a person and the rest of the world. Some women wear headphones because they don’t want guys or anyone else to speak to them, so if you try to talk to a woman and she clearly shows that she’s not interested in talking to you, just respect that and walk away. However, sometimes a woman will be interested in talking to a guy, but she won’t immediately pull out her headphones and show interest. Why? Some women like to test guys to see how confident they really are and a favorite test of women, is to ignore a guy’s attempts to converse with her and see what he will do next.”

“Ok, ok, ok, I concede there is a slight chance that a woman may genuinely not be interested in talking to you. But you should keep trying anyway. See? We’re sensitive now!”

Heads up for the people who don’t seem to get this: Women do not owe your their time. Just because you want to talk to them doesn’t mean they want to talk to you. And literally wearing a device that covers their ears? Pretty good indication that they don’t want to talk to you.

Still, I concede that there are some situations where it’s OK to talk to a woman who is wearing headphones. Here are all of them. You’re welcome.

*If there is clear and present danger.


*If she is bleeding out her ears.

*If you are the reanimated corpse of Mary Todd Lincoln.

*If you’re a really nice guy, and look, it can be tough to meet people in the city sometimes! How are you supposed to make a connection if you can’t approach a woman you—HAHAHAHAHA NOPE. People who have their headphones on generally want to listen to whatever it is they’re listening to instead of engaging in strained small talk with strangers, and I hate to break it to you, but WOMEN ARE PEOPLE.

*If the woman is your ex, and you really need to explain to her—Oh. Ohhhhh, shit. Yeah, maybe stay away from any and all exes, headphone guy.

*If you are her audiobook.

*”Hey, Rebecca! The world’s cutest dog is over there, AND HE HAS THE WORLD’S SECOND CUTEST DOG RIDING ON HIS BACK!”

*If you are on the New York City subway system and you need directions on how to get somewhere. Just stand up in the middle of the car and calmly and clearly state, “Can someone please tell me how to get to—” At least six strap-hangers, regardless of gender, will whip out their earbuds and proceed to fight one another for the right to tell you the best way to get to Hoyt-Schermerhorn.



*No, seriously, don’t. Why would you talk to someone who’s wearing headphones? She’s doing something. She’s busy.

*Are you one of those “What book are you reading?” people, too? I bet you are. I’m not reading anything. Because you’re talking to me.

*You know that if you talk to a woman who’s wearing headphones, and she seems moderately receptive—as in “polite chit-chat for three minutes, doesn’t tell you to fuck off”—she’s trying to murder you with her brain, right?

*He’s on fire.

*You’re on fire.

*Baby’s on fire.

*I don’t mean if the woman is really, blisteringly attractive, and you feel the need to let her know—surely she’ll enjoy the compliment! There has to literally be a baby, and it has to literally be on fire.


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