You’re At Your Job To Do A Job – Not Flirt And Get Dates – Regarding the Backlash Over the “Me Too” Sexual Harassment Awareness Movement
There is so much stupidity or apparent willful ignorance in criticisms of the “Me Too” movement that I can hardly keep up with them all.
One of the several recurrent criticisms of the “Me Too” sexual harassment phenomenon that keeps coming up online or on television news programs are by people who are worried that people no longer feel comfortable flirting in the workplace.
How will people ever get dates or get married if all workplace flirting is verboten, they ask?
I just saw such another example on last night’s episode of Fox cable news “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” where Carlson interviewed a psychiatrist who is worried that people (I suppose, men especially) don’t feel comfortable flirting with people on the job thanks to “Me Too,” a twitter hash tag that brought attention to sexual harassment.
I’m a single woman. I’ve not married yet. I was engaged years ago but broke up with the louse. I met my ex through an internet friend, not on a job.
When I had full time or part time jobs, I was there to work.
Not flirt. Not to be on the receiving end of passes, sexy comments, or groping.
For all the women out there who like to insist, “But I met my spouse on the job!,” or, “I like to be flirted with at work, it makes my dry brighter,” you’re making things difficult for women such as myself who really are not comfortable with being flirted with on a job.
Nor am I necessarily looking at a work environment in which to get dates or a spouse via a co-worker or supervisor.
On one full time professional job I had, I found out one of my male co-workers had a crush on me. I overheard him say so to a female co-worker on the phone, before he realized I had walked into the open office area outside his office door.
I could also tell from his behavior he seemed to be romantically interested in me, and he’d drop hints over lunch and around the office.
I was not interested in him in that way, so I remained friendly towards him, but did not flirt back.
Fortunately, this male co-worker never did anything vulgar, lewd, nor did he do anything like put his hand on my knee, or so forth.
So I let the whole thing slide.
Even though this co-worker did not do anything lewd towards me, I never the less felt distracted, nervous, and a bit negative about his workplace flirtation.
Even though I am not at a job to flirt and get dates, I did sometimes enjoy cracking up with the co-workers, joking with them over lunch breaks or at the water color about our favorite movies and TV shows, or asking them about their new pet dog and what have you.
I was fun, friendly, and pleasant to all co-workers at the job (male and female), but I was not comfortable with male colleagues flirting with me (though not all did. Some were completely platonic.).
I am really put off by the TV hosts and folks on social media who are expressing concern over how the workplace environment may change negatively due to “Me Too.”
What they really seem to be saying – whether they realize it or not – is that they are wanting to return to the status quo which is what made long-term (and even some short term) sexual harassment in the workplace possible in the first place.
These types want us all to revert to a work culture in which both “good” and “bad” men get to make passes at women, whether the women like it or want such attention or not.
Further, if the women do find that type of attention bad (whether it is “innocent flirty” or “smarmy and gross flirty”), the women feel pressured to remain silent about it, because, if they report it to Human Resources or to their boss, they feel they may get fired, demoted, or punished in some other way.
This is one dynamic that permits the creepy, bad men to get away with unwanted job sexual harassment / flirtation.
I am willing for the “good” type of flirting to be killed off in the workplace if it means no more creepsters get an easy job of doing nasty and unprofessional things to women at work, such as showing their naked, erect penises to their lady colleagues.
(This really happened. I just read a woman’s account the other day of the time her boss took out a black and white photo of his erect, nude penis to show her in the office.
He actually felt at the time that such a stunt would be acceptable. Some of you men out there really need to be educated that no, such behavior is not acceptable? Are you still fifteen years old, emotionally, or what?)
It is really not that difficult to not sexually harass another person.
If you treat other people with respect and like fellow professionals, and not like sex objects, and not as though they are POTENTIAL LAYS to satisfy your lustful urges, it’s not difficult at all.
And, as a result, there is little to no confusion about what constitutes appropriate or inappropriate behavior with a co-worker.
I have made it through life thus far without ever flirting or having made a pass at a guy in a job-related context.
I have made it through life thus far without groping a man at work (or anywhere else). I have never made sexually suggestive comments to a man, because that would be highly inappropriate in a work setting.
One does not have to be an Einstein to see any of this. It’s very common sense, a hallmark of decency and of self control.
However, so many men I see online and the political shows act like great big doofuses and clowns about all this.
They sit there and claim absolute ignorance (imagine them saying this in a Gomer Pyle bumpkin voice):
“Why gosh golly gee whiz, gee wilikers, what can I say or not say around the womens now? What can I do or not do around the women folk now? It’s so dad gummed confusin’ these days. What’s a man to do?”
Spare me, please. It’s never been confusing.
If you find this stuff confusing, you are either very entitled (and need to examine yourself for your assumptions about women), or, you are playing obtuse.
If you are a man who expresses confusion on how to behave around women on the job, it could be because you are a sexist slime ball who used to be able to more easily get away with workplace sexual harassment.
Such as a Harvey Weinstein, who said after tales of his numerous sexual harassment allegations came to light, that the work culture these days is not the same as it was in the good old 1970s, when men got to prey on women much easier on the job than they do now.
Just because a woman grins and bears your butt slaps and so on in the office (which was the usual coping mechanism for a lot of women) does not mean she actually likes it:
Most often, such women are putting on a front because they are afraid of being fired if they protest the behavior they find repugnant. (In yet other cases, some women also don’t want to be seen as the “office bitch” who lacks a sense of humor.)
Some women, oddly enough, support this “pity us, we men are so confused” behavior and coddle men.
I’ve seen women join in on this chorus of, “Oh no, how confused the poor men of the working world will be now, those poor dears.”
Occasionally, one will hear about a woman making an inappropriate sexual comment to a male co-worker or subordinate, but it’s been a very small number compared with the staggering number we’ve seen of male on female harassment.
How is it that so many women manage to make it through life without groping or sexually propositioning male co-workers, but we’re seeing lots of men doing so to women?
Obviously, most women are not “confused” about what is considered appropriate or inappropriate behavior in the workplace towards men, since we’re not seeing many, many reports of women making passes at men, groping men at work, exposing themselves to men, demanding men have sex with them to keep their jobs or be promoted.
I am not really buying the “All Men Are Too Dumb To Understand How To Treat Women At Work, The Poor Babies Are Just Confused” shtick.
(Unless you want to get into sub-categories of abusive men who feel entitled to abuse and harass women; they are another breed altogether, and a sub-category of men who are blind to sexist biases they hold.)
I really am not comprehending the criticism that the Me Too trend has gone “too far” or is bad, all because a few dudes may now feel too intimidated to flirt with a woman on a job or compliment her on her new dress.
Such men can join Tinder, Yahoo Personals, eHarmony, or whatever online avenues singles are using these days to meet other singles, because most people on those sites are looking for dates, so there is no ambiguity.
You’re at your job to perform a duty, not get dates or get laid.
According to this 1981 article, most men are not confused about what constitutes sexual harassment:
Sexual Harassment…Some See It…Some Won’t by E GC Colins, Timothy Blodgett from 1981 but pertinent in 2017
Snippets from that page:
The major conclusions discussed include the following. Most people agree on what harassment is. But men and women disagree strongly on how frequently it occurs.
The majority correlate the perceived seriousness of the behavior with the power of the person making the advance.
Top management appears isolated from situations involving harassment.
Many women, in particular, despair of having traditionally male-dominated management understand how much harassment humiliates and frustrates them, and they despair of having management’s support in resisting it.
Most people think that the EEOC guidelines—although reasonable in theory—will be difficult to implement because they are too vague.
On sexual harassment we men need to be clear: the problem is not women, it’s us by Jonathan Freedland
Snippets from that page:
It’s hard to think of another scandal where the finger has been pointed so swiftly at the victims rather than the perpetrators.
That’s partly thanks to the prominence given to those women who would rather upbraid their sisters than support them: witness Edwina Currie asking Harriet Harman if women were “so weak, so useless” that they couldn’t tell a lecherous man to push off.
But it’s also been aided by the meagre contributions men have so far made to this conversation, many of them choosing to say nothing. It’s added to the sense that this is a women’s problem rather than one confronting us all – and one for which men, as the main offenders, have an obvious responsibility.
When men have spoken out, their input has too often collapsed into the self-pitying complaint that all is now confusion, that today’s cheerfully innocent man has no idea how to behave as he is forced to pick his way through a dizzying hall of mirrors constructed by feminism and political correctness.
There’s nothing wrong with admitting uncertainty – and I suspect most of us have been interrogating our own past or present conduct in the workplace, wondering if we’ve been getting it wrong. We all need to make that effort, and to make it in good faith.
What’s grating, though, is when an apparent claim of disorientation is, in fact, a disguised complaint that women’s objections to harassment are stopping men having the office fun they used to regard as their right.
Because, in truth, this isn’t all that complicated.
Hopefully the extreme cases – of rape, of coercion, of an explicit threat of consequences if sexual favours are withheld – are clear to most men already. As for the supposedly grey areas, Ruth Davidson helpfully distilled the key point. “It isn’t actually about sex,” she said. “It’s about power, it is always about power.”
For if one person is in a position of authority over another, even the smallest gesture can acquire a new and different meaning.
Men need only think of their own working relationships with other men to realise that they already understand this deeply.
The merest glance from a boss towards one colleague rather than another can be read by the office Kremlinologists as a sign of preference and favour. I recall the editor who with the tiniest arch of his eyebrow – I do not exaggerate – could signal a change in policy that would percolate through the entire organisation.
I will end with this:
Let’s Rethink Sex by Christine Emba
… At the bottom of all this confusion sits a fundamental misframing: that there’s some baseline amount of sex that we should be getting or at least should be allowed to pursue.
Following from that is the assumption that the ability to pursue and satisfy our sexual desires — whether by hitting on that co-worker even if we’re at a professional lunch, or by pursuing a sexual encounter even when reciprocity is unclear — is paramount.
… It’s not that sex in and of itself is the problem. But the idea that pursuing one’s sexual imperatives should take precedence over workplace rules, lines of power or even just appropriate social behavior is what allows predators to justify sexual harassment and assault.
And it encourages the not-predators to value their desires above those of others.
A sex-above-all ethic, combined with a power structure that protects and enables men (alas, it’s almost always men) is what allows the Charlie Roses of the world to think that it’s fine to grope and proposition their subordinates: After all, Rose thought he was pursuing “shared feelings.”
It’s what makes comedian Louis C.K. think that as long as he “asked first” and women didn’t say no, it was acceptable to make them watch him masturbate.
Perhaps the skittish colleague will have to build a rapport with his co-worker before engaging in romantic pursuit, and then do so after hours. Maybe the nervous cad will have to give up a few borderline sexual encounters to make sure he’s on the right side of the line.
Adjusting to this new understanding may well mean less sex for some, in the short term, and more anxiety for several. Too bad. If we value access to sex over other people’s consent or comfort or basic ability to exist unmolested in their workplace, then we as a society are in the wrong.
And in the long term, as norms resettle, it will mean a healthier sexual ethic — and a better society — for us all.
Related on other sites:
Harassers don’t just have power over women. They have the social power to get away with it.