Brie Larson just sparked a huge Twitter debate about women’s politeness and harassment

In light of the allegations against Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein and his subsequent admission that he did sexually harass a number of women over the years, many women across many industries feel empowered to speak up about their experiences with sexual harassment. Brie Larson tweeted her thoughts that women must always be straddling a fine line between politeness and defensiveness whenever they are confronted with an unwanted advance.

Yesterday, Larson tweeted the innocuous statement, “I merely smiled at a TSA agent and he asked for my phone number. To live life as a woman is to live life on the defense.”

Any woman who has ever turned a man down has had to deal with this. Whether a woman is being asked out or catcalled, any answer that involves “No” is often met with hostility. Of course, her tweet invited typically exhausting responses like this one:

“The fact he gave it a shot should be applauded. At least he had the guts to show interest,” wrote one Twitter user. To which Larson, responded, “You do realize you’re blaming me for a situation I did not ask to be in? A situation that made me uncomfortable?”

The expectation that women must respond to men’s advances with gratitude is completely frustrating, that we are not entitled to reject someone and continue on with our day, that we must be berated and belittled for having the audacity to not engage with someone. Larson continued:

There was also an overwhelmingly frustrating response that she needed to “lighten up,” which is as infuriating as being told to “calm down.” Some Twitter users, however, did defend her.

At the end of the day, if a woman says she’s uncomfortable, why don’t we listen instead of telling her how she SHOULD feel.


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