Something happened this weekend that made me think of all those people that comment every time there's an article about street harassment, or getting hit on while you're just trying to ride the bus or getting groped in a bar. The ones that are like "God, feminism is making it so that I can't even talk to women any more!"
I was at DragonCon this weekend, which, given the number of stories of harrasment we've been hearing, seems like it would be a recipe for disaster. I was walking through the art exhibit when a guy came up next to me, and said "Hi, I'm Mike. I just wanted to let you know that you look really incredible in that dress". I told him my name, and said thanks. He asked if I was going to the dance/masquerade thing that night. I said no (I really wasn't), and he said "That's a shame, it was nice meeting you anyway", and he walked away.
No pouting, no trying to convince me, no mention of what specific body parts he wanted to touch because of my dress. I was sort of shocked after he walked away, so when I saw him again a few minutes later standing with some friends, I went over and told him I really appreciated how respectful he was, and that I wasn't trying to blow him off or anything, I just really hadn't had any plans to go to the dance. We talked for a while, and exchanged emails.
So, you know, yes you can talk to women in public. You just have to talk to them like they're people.