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5 common things M’sian men do that unintentionally make women feel uncomfortable.

Picture this:

It’s 9 pm. You’re waiting for the lift to arrive, when a guy walks in and stands next to you. You step into the lift and he gets in behind you, waiting for you to press your floor before he does the same.

Now if that seems like a perfectly normal situation to you, chances are you’re a guy. But for us women, that could have been a terrifying experience. And even though the man in question might not necessarily have bad intentions, sometimes men do things that make women feel uncomfortable… and often times without knowing.

Here’s the thing: Especially here in Malaysia, men are generally taught to do simple gestures like opening doors for women and letting them pass first, to be seen as “gentlemanly”. And even though it might have worked back in the day, some thing that might have once been considered “gentlemanly” in some cases could potentially end up causing more harm than good. For example…


1. Waiting to push the lift buttons last.

when a guy waits for me to push my floor button. GIF from Tenor.

So, in the lift scenario earlier, we mentioned that it might have been one of the most terrifying situations a woman could be in. Here’s why:

  1. The guy is standing behind you. We’ll touch on this more in the next point.
  2. He’s waiting for you to push the lift buttons, before he does the same. And if you’re not sure why this might be considered a scary situation, there’s an urban legend in Korea that explains it perfectly.

Okay but urban legends aside, waiting for a lady to push her floor button first in a lift might result in much hesitation because us ladies might be worried about any potential stalkers finding out where we’re getting off, or just straight up being followed.

Protip: Just push your floor button first, and then we’ll push ours if we need to. Unless, of course, we ask for help with pushing a button cause of distance or because our hands are full.


2. Letting a lady enter first, and walking in behind her.

90% of Malaysian men after reading this article. Meme from KnowYourMeme.

We’ve all seen it in the movies, or read in childrens’ books on manners. A man going out of his way to open a door for a woman and saying the magic words:

“Ladies First”

But while 1970’s John Travolta might have been able to charm the leading lady into a date, men these days may not share the same luck. With enough incidents of women being grabbed from behind occurring in the worst and most unlikely places (lifts, trains, and even when walking through a park), us ladies can’t help but feel wary of men standing/walking in behind us.

But of course, this changes according to how well acquainted we are with the person and the situation we’re in. So, unless the person is someone we’re familiar with, we’d probably feel uncomfortable if they were to follow behind us because we’d most likely be afraid of the… grabby-grabby.

Protip: Unless you know us well enough or if you feel like we’d need a hand, feel free to exit or enter first. We won’t get offended. 


3. Walking a liiiitttle bit too close for comfort.

RUN. Meme from Imgflip.

Even if it wasn’t for C-19, people 👏 need 👏 to 👏 keep 👏 their 👏 distance 👏. Just like how drivers shouldn’t tailgate the car in front of them, staying too close to someone while walking can be seriously uncomfortable, regardless of whether you’re a guy or a lady.

However in the male context, walking behind a lady while maintaining a constant speed miiiight just make her feel like she’s being followed.

Protip: The easier way to go about it is to overtake the lady walking in front of you. But if she starts to walk faster, don’t do an ‘Usain Bolt’ by trying to match her speed. She’ll most likely end up running… with you running after her.

The gomen will publicly shame companies with no women directors? We asked some Msians what they think of that.


4. Staring/Looking for waaayyyy longer than expected.

According to this study from the UK, a person can probably stare at someone else for about 3.3 seconds before it starts to get creepy.

Don’t liddis. GIF from Imgur.

But we get it. Sometimes, people might be really deep in thought or just having one of their zone-out moments, and they just so happen to be looking right at someone else. But the moment eye contact is made, it’s usually a sign to look away, regardless of whether the person that’s being looked at is male or female.

Protip: Generally try to avoid staring at people. Unless you’re doing it on purpose, then STAHP. We’re all human beings here, not animals in a zoo to be gawked at.


5. Randomly initiating conversation in efforts to “be friendly”.

ohno. ohnonononono. Meme from Imgflip.

In some countries, randomly striking up conversation may be seen as a friendly gesture, where there’s small talk about the weather and so on. So, if a dude approached a lady out of nowhere just to strike up conversation, it might be greeted by some slight hesitation at first, but we’d most likely warm up to the conversation after some time.

However, the moment the questions start getting a little too personal, the conversation just becomes one huge red flag that we’re just dying to walk away from. What kind of questions, you ask? We compiled a mini-list for your reference:

  • Where do you live/study/work?
  • Do you have a boyfriend/Are you married?
  • Why are you dressed like this? (straight up creepy, unless you’re in cosplay or something)

And though these questions may seem completely harmless, the circumstances they’re said in would make allll the difference. For example, if we were to compare a short conversation in the coffeeshop vs. being approached at the LRT station at night; the first situation might be one that you see as the plot of a rom-com, while the second situation might be the opening scene of a Criminal Minds episode.

Protip: Randomly initiating conversation might not be the best option; but if you do engage in conversation, try to avoid questions that might be too personal and take note of the situation you’re both in.


We can’t tell who’s a threat and who isn’t.

Meme from Imgflip.

The truth is there is no way that we can 100% ensure that there will be no misunderstandings whatsoever cause sometimes we forget, or we’re unable to discern whether someone is uncomfortable based on social cues alone.

But here’s the thing: Women, in order to discern which men could be potential threats and which couldn’t, have to constantly be on high alert and look out for those same cues to ensure that they’re not placing ourselves in danger. And while the consequences for men taking that extra step might run the misunderstanding of being seen as “strange”, women can’t afford to make a misjudgment because it might just cost them their safety.

Though it may seem easy to argue that it’s #notallmen, the problem is that we don’t know which men have good intentions, and which don’t. And when we are very aware of what might happen if we make a misjudgment, the best option we have is to err on the side of caution.

Here’s some further reading if this topic interests you:

(The last two paragraphs have been edited to include further options for reading, and remove a sentence which may give readers the wrong impression of what this article is trying to convey) 


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