A lot of attention has been paid to the viral video of a woman wandering around New York City and getting “catcalled” by the men she encounters.  If you really stop to analyze what this video is, some of the things said to her are completely innocent, like “hello” and “good morning.”  Others are just compliments about how she looks good.  Still others are men obviously trying to pick her up, but I’m not sure when that became somehow illegal or wrong.  Yet the people pushing the video want you to think that the moment this woman started striding through New York City’s worst neighborhoods with a crappy expression on her face, refusing to talk to anyone who talked to her, that means that no woman can walk the streets of New York City without being attacked or insulted.

Now, let’s start out by acknowledging that this is New York, one of the roughest cities in the world.  Going to any neighborhood where you’re a different color than the people who live there is already something that you might want to reconsider.  Marching around the neighborhood for hours refusing to talk to anyone who speaks to you, no matter how politely they address you, seems like a bad idea.  It’s just plain rude not to acknowledge someone who says hello to you, so you shouldn’t act all outraged if they then get angry when you won’t say anything back.

Most of the men in the video are obviously trying to pick up the woman (which is why, of ten hours of raw footage, they were chosen for the only two minutes of video that actually made it onto YouTube).  Most of them don’t have much “game,” as we say.  You could also see a kind of race-baiting component to this video.  If a white woman walks through a rough all-black inner city neighborhood and then we record the men who talks to her to show them as animals who can’t be polite, are we just being racist jerks to the people who live in that neighborhood?  It’s entirely possible.  Some folks simulated the video in Norway and nobody talked to the woman at all except for one guy who asked directions, pretty much.  And this stupid video has generated all kinds of parodies, including what it’s like to be a Jew walking around Manhattan, and what it’s like to be a man (“Hey, you want a job? Want a job?”).

Really, though, the men in the video should be kind of ashamed of themselves simply because there is a right way and a wrong way to approach women on the street.  If you want to chat somebody up, you have to be cheerful and friendly and understand that nobody on the street just trying to get somewhere is obligated to talk to you.  (In that way, the video is a setup, because the woman walked around the city for hours and never actually got where she was going, so it’s an unrealistic experiment.)  There are some definite “don’t” moves when it comes to chatting up somebody on the street.  This is a cold-calling type of pickup game that is hard to do well, so you’ve got to keep that in mind.

First, don’t be a pest.  Annoying a woman is NOT going to make her more likely to give you her number.  If you approach her and you are obnoxious, is she going to say to herself, “Yes, sign me up for more of that, please.”  No, she’s going to write you off and the more you talk to her after she writes you off, the worse you are making the situation, to the point that at some point you are basically just harassing her.  When you talk to a woman on the street, understand that you can’t afford to be bothersome.

You’ve got to be charming, funny, polite, or just honestly friendly.  If she isn’t receptive to your approach, just go away.  Make it a nice, pleasant part of her day by complimenting her (and not in a creepy way) and then letting her be.  That way when she gets where she’s going she can think about the nice compliment she got.  After all, if you were walking down the street and an attractive woman stopped you and said, “Sir, I just wanted you to know that the jacket you’re wearing looks great on you,” you’d feel. good about that for the rest of the day.  Women are no different and actually crave this kind of thing more than men do.

A good way not to be a nuisance when you talk to a woman is to remember that you are trying to talk to her and just her.  Don’t act like you have an audience when you talk to her.  Nobody should be hearing you except her and you.  And whatever you do, don’t approach her in full view of your buddies unless they understand not to be jeering or cheering along.  No woman wants to feel like she’s being made sport of, or like other people are watching.  For one thing, if she sees a way to burn you down, she might do it just so that you’ll look dumb in front of your buddies, because she resents that you’ve put her on the spot in front of an audience.

Finally, when you approach a woman, remember also not to get too personal, or too sexual.  You don’t know this woman.  Yes, you can probably tell your girlfriend how much you love her ass and how you enjoy making love to her.  That might be the type of bedroom talk that gets you laid in a relationship.  But if you walk up to a stranger on the street and tell her how much you’d like to do her from behind, you’ll be lucky if she doesn’t straight up mace you in the eyes and then make a run for it.  Understand that things you can say to someone you are in a relationship with are very different than things you can say to a stranger.