Social Question

squidcake's avatar

Seriously?! Are people this rude by nature?

Asked by squidcake (2627 points ) April 28th, 2010

So, here’s the backstory.
I’m a tutor at the local library every Wednesday, helping 3rd and 4th graders whose English isn’t so great because they grew up in Spanish-speaking homes.
So I’m working with a student, and this older woman whom I’ve never met decides to approach me.
She stares at my shaved head (how dare a girl shave her head!) and asks:
“Did you really do that to your hair intentionally?”
I’m kind of taken aback by this unsolicited rudeness but I answer, “Yeah, it was part of a fundraiser for cancer research that my school organized.”
She just gives me one of those smug grins and bluntly says “Well, you look like a boy,” just before walking away.
The student I was with went into a giggle fit for the next five minutes, then she started poking holes in the furniture. Lord…
SERIOUSLY?!
Why do people feel the need to approach others in such a rude, unsolicited way? Is this the way they were taught to behave? Are there outside influences that make them so bitter?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

50 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’d say ‘Well, you sound like an idiot..at least hair grows back, stupidity is forever’. What an ass.

Jude's avatar

What a bitch. Totally uncalled for and rude.

She was in need a good vag punch.

WolfFang's avatar

lol you should have decked her…jk but some people are just rude by…well i don’t know if it’s nature, or nurture, most likely from their own experiences but I personally know people that have been like that for as long as I can remember

squidcake's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir
Thanks, I’ll remember that one. :)
@jjmah
Seriously. I should have delivered a nice falcon punch. But, alas, she was old.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes, people are that rude or inquisitive with no finesse. Your reply was fine, I’d have done the same politely then gone back to what I was doing, showing her by dismissal of my face and posture that she wasn’t well received. Someone more polite in asking, I might have given more detail and shown appreciation for their interest.

primigravida's avatar

You could have just said, well I guess I did it intentionally, because I am intentionally undergoing chemo for cancer… and see what she would have said. Probably not the nicest way to respond, but people like that need to be put in their place every now and then.

squidcake's avatar

@Neizvestnaya
Yeah, people ask me politely all the time so I answer and it doesn’t bother me. :)
But man, this woman…it was seriously hard to be in a good mood today.

@primigravida
I wish I had the balls to answer like that! I would love to see the reaction.

Seek's avatar

Nothing could have stopped me at that point from saying “And you look like a hag, and sound like a frigid bitch.”

Not saying I’m right… it’s just what I would have done.

Tink's avatar

This reminds me of when an old lady came out of her house just to inform us were were going to get fat. Me and my friend were sitting down on the grass during P.E looking for ladybugs and this lady comes out of her house, yells across the street (our school is across the street from homes) ”Are you guys on break?!” And we answered no and she yelled again ”Well you’re not going to lose any weight by just sitting there doing nothing!!” We looked at her in shock and got away from that fence. Then she went back inside her house.¬†We never said anything to her.
I guess we should have.

You should’ve given that person a lesson on how douchebaggery is frowned upon as well.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Lack of proper up-bringing is the only explanation I can think of.

squidcake's avatar

@Tink1113
Oh, wow, I’m actually laughing but that’s seriously terrible.
Props for “douchebaggery.” One of my personal favorite words.

deni's avatar

WHAT. A. BITCH. good god. i dont even know what i’d do in that situation. one, i wouldn’t be in that situation because i dont have enough balls to shave my head, even though i want to. so mountains of kudos to you. but i assume i would be speechless. and no, people are not that rude by nature. she must have been raised by wolverines. nasty creatures.

FutureMemory's avatar

“Well, I didn’t ask for your opinion, but since you volunteered yours here is mine – you look like an old prune with all those wrinkles. By the way my name is ___, it’s nice to meet you!”

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Obviously you aren’t going to punch anyone for something stupid and tacky that they say to you, and I’m sure that your manners are also too good to call them stupid to their faces, or worse.

But that kind of rudeness does call for “the cut direct”, which is a social tactic from the turn of the previous century (and before) that has sadly fallen out of disfavor. If you’re going to have a look like you do (which is fine as far as I’m concerned, and I applaud your reason—but your reason is your own, too, and doesn’t have to be explained to the tactless and other dolts), then you should master the cut direct (at the bottom of the page).

squidcake's avatar

@CyanoticWasp
Great Answer. I may have to buy that whole book. :)

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

That proves to me that not everything that we think needs to be spoken aloud.
I can’t think of any reason other than self gratification that anyone would come up unsolicited and say that. That’s a lot of gall.

jerv's avatar

Welcome to America.

Jeruba's avatar

A woman I used to work with had this remark to make of people who exhibited outrageously boorish behavior: “Born in a barn,” she used to say, rolling her eyes. “Born in a barn.”

That is not how America behaves, @jerv, or none of the Americans here would be thinking it’s rude, would they? That’s how some people with no sense of propriety or basic courtesy behave. Why should we compulsively put ourselves down at every opportunity? I’d much rather see us pull ourselves up.

augustlan's avatar

Wow. That is incredibly rude. I’m going to have to go with a bad upbringing or a mental deficiency. Some people truly can’t stop themselves from saying what they’re thinking (some kind of filter is lacking), but don’t mean you any harm. Those you can respond to without rancor. If she’s just a bitch, I’m in favor of a WTF? look and turning your back.

I admire your bravery and compassion, by the way. :)

faye's avatar

I think you did exactly right saying nothing back. @augustlan I’m going to use’WTF look’ next chance I get.

Zen_Again's avatar

I’m surprised that it happens in the States, but then there are 300 million people. Law of averages… there’s gonna be one. The sad part is that it wouldn’t happen to a guy, and not because it is so accepted that men shave their heads, but rather out of fear. Why does society still accept that women can be told anything to their face unsoliceted and in a rude fashion? This is inequality at its worst.

GingerMinx's avatar

Very rude of her but I wouldn’t say all people are like that. Obviously her parents didn’t do their job. I applaud you for not making the situation worse and showing restraint when a child was present. Personally I probably would have said, “Well madam, I would rather look like a boy than sound like an ass, good day”.

jrpowell's avatar

She is simply stupid. Life is too short to waste time on stupid people. Move on and realize that they have to endure their stupidity every second of their life.

And congrats to you for volunteering. Ignore the hag keep on helping kids.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I’ve noticed that among old ladies, there is a higher chance of having a bug up their ass about hair. I dye my hair all sorts of funky colors and apparently that gives these rude old ladies license to come up to me and reprimand me for “doing that to my head.”

Meanwhile, a woman I knew who just died at 94 thought my pink hair was damn near the coolest thing. I guess old ladies are just obsessed with hair. :)

monocle's avatar

So sorry that happened to you. As far as I know, only dimwits are openly rude like that.

ucme's avatar

Poor woman obviously has a particularly unpleasant bug up her arse.Must be awful for her.

rebbel's avatar

<<< finds bald girls sexy.

JeffVader's avatar

Some people blow-goats….. what can ya do eh?!

martyjacobs's avatar

Take comfort in the fact that people like this don’t have many friends (if any at all). There are many friendly and polite people; the rude ones are just easier to spot because they do things like this.

mattbrowne's avatar

Don’t let it get to you. I’ve seen cases when people comment or giggle about someone’s first or last name.

In fact, the effect of your encounter might actually turn into the exact opposite i.e. something very positive. How so?

Well, let’s face it, your shaved head has increased the awareness of cancer research depending on donations. Better research eventually means better therapies without chemotherapy making patients’ hair fall out.

This ignorant woman might actually gossip about it and maybe more than 100 people hear the story from her about the shaved head and the fundraiser.

I’d say: Mission accomplished !!

jeanmay's avatar

She sounds like a very sad, lonely person, desperate for any kind of attention. How pitiful. Thankfully you’re likely to never have to speak to her again.

What a great idea to shave your head for charity, I’m sure you look great. I’d be too scared to shave my head in case it turned out to be weird shaped and knobbly!

deni's avatar

This reminds me a bit of when someone said to me “Your first name is Deni? Wow, your parents must hate you.” Really? It’s that bad? I wasn’t aware my first name was “Turd”.

martyjacobs's avatar

@deni, Deni is a hella-cool name :D

SABOTEUR's avatar

Unfortunately, yes.

Due to the woman’s age, an appropriately curt reply would have been too disrespectful. On the other hand, asking her the same question you asked here might have let her know what an a__hole she was being.

JeffVader's avatar

@deni Cool name for a cool chick!

deni's avatar

aww thanks guyzzzz :) :) :)

Ivan's avatar

You should have scolded her for speaking without being spoken to, being in public unattended by a man, and not being in the kitchen.

Are people really still living in the 19th century?

ValerieTeacup's avatar

We need to start declaring more of world peace.

Jeruba's avatar

The woman gave herself away right from the first. She knew you weren’t a boy. She wouldn’t go up to a boy and accuse him of looking like a boy. (She’d probably accuse him of looking like a girl.) How did she know you weren’t a boy? Because you didn’t look like a boy.

Anyway, what’s wrong with looking like a boy?

She probably did this same kind of stuff to her own kids. Luckily you do not have to live with her.

I think giving her a sincere, straight answer was just the right thing to do. (A long, slow look first mightn’t have hurt.) Not all of us would have had the grace. You can’t correct everybody’s rudeness, and you certainly can’t be a vigilante bringing justice upon every boor and lout running around, but you can refuse to buy into it and contribute a further offense to the sum of rudeness loose in the world.

laureth's avatar

This reminds me a bit of something I learned on Fluther recently.

At the time, I was upset about the rudeness of a (hairy, actually) man behind me in the grocery store one summer who suggested that I really ought to have shaved my legs. I didn’t think that anyone should be so rude, even if I, like the OP here, had an appearance outside the accepted norm.

However, what I learned was this: there are people who take it upon themselves to enforce social norms. They may believe they are doing you a favor, to point out that you are outside the mainstream (in case you didn’t know that you look a little different). They are the messengers who awake you from your slumber. They don’t even necessarily see this as rude, just as a public service, I guess.

Hopefully this makes you feel better than it did me. ;)

Zen_Again's avatar

@laureth Of course! It’s the SNP (The Social Norm Police)

Silhouette's avatar

Wow, rude and hateful. I have no idea why some people are mean and nasty, must make them happy in their pants.

Provlear's avatar

Your reaction seems to be much more abrasive than her innocent question.

mattbrowne's avatar

I think real rudeness is about people realizing they are being rude. In this case the woman has got the mind and the social skills of a young child unaware of the notion of rudeness. We’ve all heard children asking questions like, Why is your belly so huge? They are so wonderfully direct about everything. Perhaps even pointing with their fingers. Good parenting allows children to mature. Some kids never had this privilege. And they never really grow up mentally or socially. They remain kids trapped inside the body of an adult.

So next times this happens, perhaps you could think, oh, dear, poor kid.

squidcake's avatar

@Provlear
Her innocent question? It was obvious that she was asking out of spite.
And I wasn’t the least bit “abrasive” to her face.

Provlear's avatar

@squidcake I didn’t mean to imply that you were abrasive to her, you probably just acted civil but befuddled. I simply meant that the creation of this thread seems an overreaction to a question that could easily have been innocent. I’d have no problem answering her question were our situations reversed. But you were there, maybe you saw some body language that implied she was confrontational. It just didn’t come across in the way you presented the story.

augustlan's avatar

@Provlear I’m gonna’ have to disagree with you, there. Nearly everyone in this thread felt the woman was quite rude. I don’t see how her behavior could be taken as “innocent”.

Seek's avatar

I’m guessing @Provlear is the type of person that thinks it’s OK to ask a stranger when she’s “due” before knowing whether she’s pregnant.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr: Or go up and grab the pregnant belly. ;)

Kardamom's avatar

I think a lot of people today were not taught to “act this way” but rather they were never taught “how to act appropriately” in most situations. Parents don’t teach their kids etiquette and polite behavior anymore (look around in any grocery store and you’ll see kids running amok and parents looking the other way or talking on their cell phones) and teachers are not allowed to teach children proper manners (apparently it violates their freedoms).

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