The actress’ polite reject was met with a threat.
Jameela Jamil has already taken on bodyshaming, targeting everything from magazines that use airbrushing and criticise women’s bodies to diet brands that sell products like detox teas through celebrity ambassadors.
Now The Good Place actress has spoken up about destigmatising rejection, after an encounter with a stranger led to her being threatened.
Jamil, who we named Woman of the Year at our 2019 Remarkable Women Awards, wrote on Twitter about going to the shops with a friend and being ogled by a man.
“Man then approaches me to give me his number,” she wrote. “I explain I have a boyfriend but thank him for the offer.”
At that point, the man could have chosen to politely turn around and leave but, perhaps unsurprisingly to many of us, he did not.
Jamil continued: “Man then threatens my career, saying I better remember that I rejected him. And then Shouts at me that I’m low class…”
Jamil is far from alone. A quick glance through the responses to her tweet reveals women sharing their own stories of being chatted up and then abused after rejecting a man’s advances, while Stylist’s own Ava Welsing-Kitcher has written about being sworn and spat at after meeting a man’s chat up lines with her own.
One person who responded to Jamil’s tweet said she “got called a lesbian and told I was probably on my period when I rejected a guy”, and his friend also spat a chip at her, while another shared a story from when she was followed by a man she rejected when she was just 13.
Another user said she was overcharged by a driver after she refused to take his number, and was too scared to argue back.
And it’s not just the stories themselves that are disturbing, but also the lengths women have to go to in order to fend off advances.
One Twitter user responded to Jamil that it was “gross that you had to mention that you were already taken by another man”.
The comment prompted Jamil to share another shocking story.
She wrote: “I once said no thank you to man when I was 19 and didn’t have an excuse… and he punched me in the face. After that whether or not I have a boyfriend, I say I do. Being a woman is truly, constantly scary. It’s like existing on thin ice.”
Horrifyingly, more women began sharing stories of physical violence they were subjected to after rejecting a man. Twitter users also shared their methods for trying to get men to stop talking to them, from pointing out their have a boyfriend or husband to getting a friend to pretend to be that partner.
Following the stories, Jamil tweeted that we “need to teach children about rejection, so that we can change the way we see rejection as a society”.
She continued: “We need to de stigmatise it, so that it doesn’t feel like the ground is swallowing you up when someone says no, however nicely. This would lessen their need to lash out.”
Jamil’s suggestion is a sensible one: until men are taught that rejection is not the end of the world or a reflection of them, women will continue to be put in uncomfortable, vulnerable and even life-threatening situations.
And while it’s sad that we have to live in a world where men need to be actively taught to respect a woman’s decision, it’s better than a world in which a woman is punched for saying no.