An in-depth analysis of what Male Matters considers the sexes’ most divisive and destructive behavioral difference
by Jerry A. Boggs
Updated January 14, 2018 – 17,800 words, 2 hrs, 15 min
17,270 clicks for years ending 2017; 352 ytd 2018 (plus hundreds more at a previous blog)
Contains one depiction of nudity
Years ago, the media ignored the “female” side to the gender story for fear of offending men. Today they and virtually all other institutions ignore the “male” side for fear of offending women.
“We need to understand the breadth of the problem if we are going to begin to address the problem and to change attitudes in a meaningful way.” –LA Times editorial, November 17, 2017
What is the breadth of the problem? If you listen to feminist-influenced media such as the New York Times, sexual harassment is an epidemic, and all men, inflicted with “toxic masculinity,” are harassers in the waiting.
But the General Social Survey, one of the most trusted sources of social-science data, in 2014 asked a random sample of Americans: “In the last 12 months, were you sexually harassed by anyone while you were on the job?”
“To that question,” Christina Hoff Sommers wrote in the New York Daily News on November 26, 2017, “only 3.6% of women said yes. That is down from 6.1% in 2002. These results do not suggest an epidemic. Nor even a trendline moving in the wrong direction.”
Still, 3.6 percent represents 2,376,000 women of the approximately 66 million women aged 16 and older who are employed. To me, that is no small number. The group most likely to report being harassed is young attractive women between ages 18 and 40. These women may represent no more than 20 percent of the female workforce. Of the 66 million employed women, the 20 percent equates to 13.2 million women. Young attractive women may account for 2 million of those harassed. That would mean more than 15% of young attractive women are harassed at work. And for them that would appear to mean, yes, an epidemic.
This, I think, provides a fairly accurate understanding of sexual harassment’s breadth.
But the editors ought to realize that sexual harassment, whatever its breadth, doesn’t arise from attitudes. The following explains what I consider sexual harassment’s underlying real cause. More important, it lays out what I believe is the only solution.
At around age 12, a boy may start becoming conscious of the media’s incessant portrayals of beautiful girls and women in magazines, newspapers, and movies. He can’t escape the bombardment. To him, beautiful females, unlike handsome men, often seem to be held out as a prize. He may grow to feel inadequate because he can’t have one of these “genetic celebrities,” as they’re called by Dr. Warren Farrell, who has proposed a White House Council On Boys and Men and whose book “The Boy Crisis” is due March 2018.
If a boy is to have a girlfriend at all — even an unattractive one — he knows he will probably have to reach out to her first and risk rejection.
Many girls at this age also reach out. But they are often pulled back and restrained by parents or other girls who say, “Let the boy approach you.”
A girl may learn to think: “How do I attract?”
A boy may learn to think: “How do I avoid rejection?”
Very early, because of their different behavior, the sexes set out developing two different psychologies when contemplating creating male-female relationships. They are, quite often, two strangers destined to alienate each other.
When grown women want to reach out first, they, too, are often told, “Let him approach you.” In my office around June 2001, I overheard a 40-ish woman telling a female co-worker she was planning to ask a guy in her department out. The co-worker’s reaction was rather stern. “No. You wait until he asks you.” I thought: Talk about conspiracies! This “brazen” woman would have to resort to the traditional ways of attracting a man: wearing her best makeup and clothes and make frequent appearances near her “target.”
A boy learns something on an unconscious level: To prevent or diminish the pain of rejection, he turns females into unimportant sex-objects who can’t hurt him — which still may not mask the realization that the sex-object is indeed very powerful. (See the work of gender expert Dr. Warren Farrell, author of many books on the sexes, including “Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say,” Chapter 8 of which is online here as a sample of his insights into things gender.)
A boy’s focus on sex stems not just from an unconscious need to protect himself. It also stems from the biological sexual need that both sexes have (and which females have been taught to suppress if not deny), and from the media’s constant portrayals of the prize: beautiful, sexy girls and women.
The fear of female rejection helps propel boys and men to the publications and outlets that feature beautiful nude women. These further fuel the desire for the beautiful sex-object.
“In high school,” Farrell says, “a 15-year-old boy, the less mature sex, is expected to risk the rejection of the more mature sex. Having fewer social skills and being more likely to be a ‘failure to launch’, he may feel overwhelmed, withdraw and fall addict to the world of internet porn.”
“The best-selling magazines to men are Playboy and Penthouse,” Farrell adds. “These represent men’s primary fantasy: access to as many beautiful women as desired without risk of rejection.”
These men’s magazines tell men access to beautiful women is possible once you gain financial successful or status. Even the attractive man looking at these magazines feels he needs success or status just to win over his female counterpart in looks. (The woman, usually, merely needs to be attractive.)
“So while in men’s magazines success is a power tool to get sex and love, and therefore the look of success is crucial, in women’s magazines love and sex are power tools to get success—and therefore both the look of love and the sexual tease/promise are crucial.” (Recognize here the significant driver of the gender wage gap?)
Is it any wonder that the men charged with sexual harassment in late 2017 are either successful or have status, men who likely turned the women into unimportant sex objects?
And that the women alleging sexual harassment are attractive, often beautiful starlets?
“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
“Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).”
It gets complicated. Such terms as “severe,” “hostile,” “offensive,” “harassment,” and “unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance” are subjective. Their definitions can vary from person to person. Many women view male persistence for dates, which may come more often from co-workers, as sexual harassment. Some say a man’s compliment is sexual harassment. The definition seems to keep expanding depending on who you are and where you work. Tennessee State University announced it considers whistling “in a suggestive manner” (the “wolf” whistle?) to be sexual harassment. Depending on the tune, it can result in a student being suspended or expelled. And sometimes sexual harassment is confused with flirting. Many employers impose zero tolerance that allows no distinction between physical assault and lewd jokes. So does it matter much what the EEOC says? -Male Matters USA
We all behave pretty much according to societal expectations. A large part of these expectations is gender-role expectations. As everyone knows, males have certain gender-role expectations and women certain others.
Individual men and women interpret each expectation in their own way according to how they were socialized to interpret it. They also decide how the expectation should apply to them — or whether it should apply at all. Thus the sexes can have a broad range of behaviors in response to each expectation.
Take, for example, the traditional expectation that the man should initiate male-female interactions and relationships. (Near the end of my commentary here at Male Matters USA, just before PRIMARY REFERENCES, I offer what I think is the “biological” reason for the male-initiates custom.) Some people fully believe in this expectation and act accordingly; some do not believe in it in the least; some think men should show the first sign of interest and the woman should take it from there (accept or reject); some think the woman should throw out the first sign and the man ignore or respond. (There are probably myriad possibilities.)
With this in mind, please be aware that I wrote the following to reflect what I think are the sexes’ general, long-enduring, most common responses to gender role expectations regarding initiating and advancing male-female relationships. To the reader who believes they are not the most common, I suggest he or she read the January 2013 New York Times piece “The End of Courtship?” The last couple of paragraphs of the piece show that many women still insist on traditional ways of meeting and dating. (Note that the examples provided, in true New York Times fashion, make men look cheap and bad, perhaps to give the impression men are to blame for courtship’s end, which upsets many women.) I also suggest the reader see the April 30, 2011, Psychology Today’s “Why Don’t Women Ask Men Out on First Dates?”
“Together, we came to understand how we beg men to express feelings, but then when men do express feelings, we call it sexism, male chauvinism, or backlash.” -gender expert Warren Farrell, author of The Myth of Male Power
Here’s how the media often treat men:
When conservatives say blacks’ violence must be blamed on the individual, the media, especially the liberal media, usually replies, “No. You must understand the underlying dynamics between the races that spawn black violence.” When it’s said “To understand sexual harassment, you must look at the underlying dynamics between the sexes,” the liberal media says, “No. You must blame the individual man and tell him he has to change.”
Some years ago in an earlier time of sexual-harassment frenzy, Cosmopolitan, then and now the top-selling women’s magazine, told women how to get a relationship going in the workplace. By doing so, it told them how to unwittingly set themselves up to be sexually harassed. (Wikipedia says of Cosmopolitan: “The magazine, and in particular its cover stories, have become increasingly sexually explicit in tone, and covers have models wearing revealing clothes.”)
Setting the stage for men to sexually harass women.
Do these media outlets advise women to conduct their on-the-job search for romance by directly approaching an appealing man and asking him out? Some do, but probably most do not. Following a decade of media focus on sexual harassment, Cosmopolitan told women some years ago to take these tactics in the workplace:
- “Brush up against somebody in the elevator…”
- “If you have good legs, wear a very tight, short skirt and very high heels. Bend over with your back to a man (to pick something up or look in a file drawer, etc.)….”
- “You cross your legs and your skirt rides up….” (Source: The Myth of Male Power, pp. 289-90)
These indirect initiatives recommended by Cosmopolitan, you’ll note, are very sexually suggestive. When a woman practices them, she practically screams, “I’m a sex object and I want sex!” (This helps explain why some men, accused of harassment mistakenly blame it on a woman’s “dressing and acting like she wanted it,” even though that may have in fact been the message she wanted to send.)
Might some men, weary of hearing “toxic masculinity” flung far and wide to explain sexual harassment, think these indirect initiatives are toxic femininity?
At a party (and hopefully not at work!), which of these two women pictured below advertises sex more by seeming to say “I’m a sex-object and I want it!”? Which of them is more likely to be approached by a man looking not for love but solely for sex? To whom is she more likely to say “Yes” — a George Clooney lookalike or a Harvey Weinstein lookalike?
Rose McGowan in her “naked dress” at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.
In the photo immediately above, what statement is celebrity Rose McGowan, who accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her in 1997, making after the rape at the 1998 Video Music Awards? To whom is she making it? Could children see her? Did she prompt some people at the awards to take offense, which CBS’s Charlie Rose prompted when he allegedly paraded naked in front of female employees? Why should our biases allow attractive women to get away with exposing themselves far more readily than anyone else? (It’s against the law in most places for women to expose their breasts, etc., in public.)
Suppose, say, the attractive Brad Pitt or Matt Damon attended an awards ceremony wearing a “naked outfit.” What would happen? Compare your reactions to his display of his body and sexuality with your reactions to McGowan’s display of hers. Might you feel you have somewhat of a double standard? (Incidentally, PBS’s Charlie Rose, who admitted to parading nude in front of his female employees, should have had the presence of mind to know that in this society his septuagenarian body has no appeal to anyone — except possibly to septuagenarian women. But he and Rose McGowan may have exhibitionistic disorder, or at least a subtype — which is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.)
Update on Charlie Rose: Women are “falling all over themselves to approach Rose….”
But a man’s “naked outfit” is not the correct gender comparison here. The accepted idea in society is that men want women’s bodies and women want men’s money — thus women are sex-objects, men success-objects. At the Video Music Awards, McGowan flaunted her body as a sex-object. The correct gender comparison would be a man flaunting his wealth as a success-object. And he can’t just pull up in a fancy car and strut in a tux. He’d have to, say, wear a billboard copy of his investment portfolio and bank statements that show off his millions and other assets, perhaps under the caption “Male Power.” What would some women’s reaction be? Admiration? Desire? Resentment? Jealousy? Might not those have been some of the internal reactions some men at the music awards might have had — but knew they didn’t have society’s permission to reveal — when McGowan showed off her assets with the understood caption “Female Power”?
Harvey-Weinstein lookalikes may learn a brutal lesson. They may believe all they need to do to be accepted by an attractive woman is to acquire status or financial well-being. But many of them eventually learn the attractive woman, especially if she is a beautiful starlet, wants and can get a man who is both successful and attractive himself.
Even the ordinary woman may want a successful man so that in marriage she has three options available to her: work full-time, work part-time, or stay at home full-time raising their children. If attractive, she likely also wants an attractive man. Besides wanting someone appealing to gaze at, she wants to up her odds of having attractive children.
Suppose it had always been the other way around instead: women were known for wanting just attractive men, and men were known for wanting attractive and successful women. (That’s becoming more possible and more expected as more women gain success.) What would RFs say? Would they call it a double standard? Would they demand that men stop treating women as beauty-AND-success objects?
“The power of these indirect initiatives,” says Warren Farrell, “is that they put neither the woman’s ego nor her career on the line.” (If you’re receptive to men’s feelings, you might understand this female power could stir in many men a resentment toward women.)
But the problem with many of women’s indirect initiatives is that they attract Mr. Wrong as easily as Mr. Right, both of whom must put both their ego and their career on the line if they want to find out which of them indeed is her Mr. Right.
If Mr. Right responds, all is well and a courtship may begin. But if Mr. Wrong responds — which in reality may happen often — how is a woman instructed to handle him?
Is she told Mr. Wrong is the occasional price a woman must pay because men can’t always know for sure if a woman isn’t interested until they make an advance? Is she advised to say politely and convincingly, “No. I’m sorry, but I’m not interested”?
Sometimes she does receive such sensible advice. Increasingly, though, it seems she is told differently, mostly by the largely unquestioned theorizing of radical feminists (RFs henceforth; radical feminists shouldn’t be confused with equity feminists, who are concerned about equity also for boys and men). She is encouraged to think of Mr. Wrong as someone who offended her and created for her a “hostile work environment*,” especially if he approached her again after being told No.
She is advised to find out if Mr. Wrong violated one of the rules that keep multiplying as a result of the ever-expanding definition of sexual harassment. (In “Ninth Circuit Court Denies Men Equal Protection At Work For Expressing Less Emotion Than Women,” I analyze another troubling expansion added in September 2005.)
That advice is more likely to be followed if Mr. Wrong is unattractive. According to a 1994 study, reported on by Psychology Today, Sanford Braver, a psychologist at Arizona State University, found the more handsome a man is, especially if he is single, the less likely he is ever to be accused of misconduct. (I can hear women telling an unmarried female co-worker who filed a charge against Mr. Handsome Single Guy, “Are you crazy? You’ll never be able to date anyone from this office.” Or: “I wish he’d sexually harass me.”)
“Male power,” despite popular feministsplaining, has little or nothing to do with it. (On men’s “power,” see Warren Farrell’s book, The Myth of Male Power.)
“Conventional wisdom,” Psychology Today says of Braver’s and his partner’s study, “holds that sexual advances from people in positions of power have a coercive edge, and thus are felt as more harassing. But Virgil Sheets, Ph.D., and Sanford Braver, Ph.D., found that it has little to do with a man’s position within the organization. Attractive, single men were least likely to be accused of sexual harassment. Although the team expected that people with higher status would be more desirable as a potential date or mate–and so less likely to be seen as harassing — social status didn’t seem to affect the subjects’ perceptions of harassment.”
But another study, reported on by The Journal of Social Issues in 1982 (another high-peak year of reporting sexual harassment), had this to say in an abstract:
Female flight attendants were asked to “record the incidence of sexual harassment by personnel of higher, equal, and lower status.”
“It was hypothesized that the lower the status of the harasser, the more negative the recipient’s affective state. Results show the affective state of the recipient is most negative with lower-status personnel engaging in moderate verbal and physical harassment.”
Are sexual-harassment laws largely in response to women’s desire to keep unattractive and/or unsuccessful men away?
Who creates sexual harassment? Men only, as the liberal media and feminists say? Or men, women, courting behavior, Cosmo-style magazines, and radical feminists? Think about how each contributes to setting up conditions for the harassment.
When a man compliments a woman at work, he often does so merely to foster harmony, as he might do with another man. If he is interested in her romantically, he may compliment her to show not only that he likes her, but also to test out her responses to see whether she is receptive to a request for a date.
Such “testing-out” compliments have long been part of how men try to open the door to a date and a relationship with a woman. Since the Ninth Circuit Court in 1991 expressed the view that even well-intentioned compliments can form the basis for sexual harassment claims, some men in the workplace have shifted from testing women out with words of appreciation to avoiding them as much as possible.
At work sometimes, married men, such as Fox News’ Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, seek affairs, and so do some married women. Many married women, like single women, learn how to “initiate” in the indirect Cosmopolitan style above.
How do some men feel about sexual harassment and RFs’ influence on how it’s viewed and dealt with? Comedian and liberal Chris Rock says, “What’s the difference between sexual harassment and just being an idiot? If my father didn’t harass my mother, I wouldn’t be here. Anita Hill started this whole thing. If Clarence Thomas looked like Denzel Washington, this would never have happened. When an ugly man wants some, you call the police.”
“Anybody can sue for sexual harassment because it is completely subjective,” writes Adam Carolla (in his book In Fifty Years, We’ll All be Chicks). Picture an office where there’s a Cool Guy and a Creepy Guy. Attractive receptionist comes in wearing tight new jeans. Carolla writes: “Cool Guy comments, ‘Somebody’s been working out.’ She replies, ‘Oh, it’s only the jeans.’ Cool Guy looks her up and down and says, ‘You do have good genes.’ She laughs.
“Now, same scenario with Creepy Guy. Receptionist walks in, Creepy Guy says, ‘Hey Kelly, nice jeans.’ And she marches straight off to Human Resources to file a report.” Rather than enforce a no-fun policy in the workplace, surely it would be more satisfying (and effective) for Kelly to deal with Creepy Guy herself, via a slap in the chops.” -Kyle Smith, Nov. 20, 2010, New York Post.
(Male Matters: A very good commentary, except that Kyle Smith apparently believes that to maintain control over who compliments her — and therefore to combat “sexual harassment” — a woman should get angry at and inflict violence on Creepy Guys who use the very same compliments as Cool Guys. To see the potential consequences of a “slap in the chops,” read “Rihanna’s and Chris Brown’s Abuse.)
For another view, suppose men announced to women, “We men have decided that it is women’s role, and only women’s role, to raise the children. Even though we want children as much as you do, we men will take no part whatsoever in the role of child-rearing.”
Suppose men added, “We will never acknowledge when you do well in your role of caring for children. Our only feedback to you will be to criticize you when we think you take care of the children improperly or make them angry. We will then call down your toxic mothering and label you ‘abusers.’”
Women would feel this is sexism compounded with cruelty. Feminists would not be amused in the least by men stereotyping mothers as potential abusers.
Imagine, then, how men might feel (if only more men felt free to express how they feel!) when they realize this: RFs, by fixating only on sexual harassment outside the context of all male-female flirtations and courting interactions in the workplace, have in effect said to men:
“It is your role, and your role alone, to initiate male-female relationships even though women want romance, love, and sex as much as you do. It is your role to take the roughly 150 initiatives (see immediately below) Warren Farrell says must on average be taken to move a relationship from first eye contact to first sexual contact. We do not want women to take any part in this except to say yes or no to your initiatives. Moreover, we will not commend you when you perform this role correctly and every day countless good relationships result. Our only feedback to you will be to denounce you when we think you ‘do it wrong.’ We will then assail your toxic masculinity and call you ‘harassers.’”
Re 150 initiatives: and the attendant 150 risks of rejection. The effect on the male psyche of rejection’s constant threat has not piqued most social researchers’ curiosity.
Mainstream feminists and the media often discuss men’s abuse and violence. When is the last time you heard something like this:
Many feminists say the childcare problem cannot be solved until men equally share the responsibility for raising children. To my knowledge, no feminist has said, “Sexual harassment cannot be solved until women equally share the responsibility for initiating and advancing romantic and sexual male-female relationships.”
Can you imagine this being uttered by feminists such as Yvette Caster?
“Despite being a feminist,” she said, “and despite being more than capable of affording my own dinner, I still want a man to pay for me on dates.”
Is Caster the sort of hypocritical feminist who fuels men’s anger, the anger that at times might push male bosses to harass and use their leverage, just as women sometimes use theirs in divorce proceedings and falsely accuse their husband of abuse to get a favorable court ruling?
Let’s examine her statement. It tells me she doesn’t take the initiative to ask guys out. Why do I think that?
Suppose she asks a man out to dinner and he, like some women, has a hard time saying no and accepts. After they dine out, does she expect him to pay for something that was her idea and he wasn’t keen on?
Look at that expectation from his view: He felt pressured into accepting an undesirable date, and now Caster wants him to pay for it. How presumptuous, arrogant, and sexist would that be? (But he’d better not expect sex from this feminist just because she expected him to shell out a hundred bucks for an evening he wanted to pass on.)
I’m sure Caster is not so insensitive or stupid she can’t see the unfairness in asking a man out and then expecting him to pay. So, no, I don’t think this “enlightened” feminist-chauvinist asks men out. (Many women subscribe to “Whoever asks, pays” and conveniently stack the deck against men.)
Thus we have yet another way of reinforcing the male-initiates rule — with the full blessing, it seems, of feminists who demand equality. Couldn’t this be called another example of toxic femininity?
…[A] story of an exchange with a female friend of mine: She had a dry spell dating. Guys wouldn’t ask her out. I told her to try ask guys out, I know there are lots of guys who’d love it. She said she had tried, once, and got rejected, so she’s back to the old pattern. This alone made clear to me how massively different our worlds are. For I had lost count how many rejections I had taken at that point. But only one of us had a choice in picking a pattern. -Hitch, August 24, 2010, Greta Christina’s Blog
How the sexes learn “harassment” behavior
Examples of how men at work “do it wrong” and become sexual harassers are often shown in the videos used as part of employers’ training against sexual harassment. The videos, as well as the rest of employers’ training programs, are sometimes influenced by the thinking of such RFs as Catharine MacKinnon, a law professor at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan. MacKinnon has said that since “male power” prevents women from granting meaningful consent, male sexuality equates to rape. The videos swayed by this thinking cast men as sexual predators-in-training who almost always “do it wrong,” while concealing the fact that in real life the vast majority of men obviously “do it right.”
(Although MacKinnon suggests “male power” forces women to say “yes” when they mean “no,” many men report hearing mostly women’s “no” in response to their requests for a date or sex. Sometimes they hear, “Not a chance” or even “Drop dead.” “As most men can attest,” author Cathy Young writes in Newsday, “women routinely reject them with very little trepidation.” When I asked a woman to dance some years ago, she looked at me and said, “Get in line.” Do such responses to men’s initiative-taking sound like they came from women intimidated by “male power”? Of all the people I wish would read this commentary, I wish most that MacKinnon would read it. But of all the people who’d refuse to read it, she’d refuse the most. Twice she declined to debate Dr. Warren Farrell. What is she afraid of?)
More important, the videos fail to take into account that many if not most women assume little or no responsibility for directly initiating the workplace relationships women desire as much as men and which many women’s magazines encourage them to go all out for.
“Do you wonder what’s wrong with you if a man doesn’t make a pass at you? Men and women can never be friends as long as women expect that unless men come on to them as lovers, they have been rejected.” -feminist Victoria Billings, author of The Womansbook, a tome not kind to men.
This raises a question: How often do women flirt with or come on to a man merely to goad him into making a pass, then, reassured of their attractiveness, reject him? How does this behavior — which could be called another example of toxic femininity — help curb gender divisiveness and lift us out of the sexual harassment quagmire?
The training videos’ theme frequently is men’s persistent requests for dates or sex. This persistence is the type of harassment that women at work often find very bothersome.
The persistence falls within the definition of hostile environment, which now forms the basis for most sexual harassment cases.
The harassers seen in the videos are nearly always cast as overbearing boors who pay no attention to a woman’s “no.” (For sure, the promos for the videos almost always cast men as harassing women — and a woman reprimanding the harasser.) Some men just don’t get it. They persist…and persist…
Yet as surely as women are taught by Cosmo-type magazines the value of wearing come-hither clothes and “being sought, protesting, then allowing ourselves to be overcome” (Working Woman, August 1994; emphasis mine), men are taught to use persistence as a way of overcoming women’s No’s.
“I asked her out,” he said. “She refused. I kept asking. She kept refusing.”
“I’m your adviser,” she said. “It’s not appropriate.”
The “he”? President Barack Obama
The “she”? Michelle, his future wife. –Oprah.com
Had Obama been unattractive to Michelle, he might have found himself facing a sexual harassment charge from feminist Michelle.
Thinking politically, some men might be inclined
to call women the Party Of No.
One not-so-subtle source of this teaching of male persistence is movies, which have a long, consistent history of teaching it.
In the 1981 “Body Heat,” a man calculates that a woman’s lucid, no-means-no refusal of his advances is disingenuous. On her front porch moments after she ends their talk and locks him out, he seizes a chair and smashes it through her door. When he enters, she doesn’t flee in terror from what appears to be a man gone berserk. Instead, she receives him and shrink-wraps herself around his body, kissing him as if she hasn’t seen a man in decades. She then leads him upstairs to her bedroom. It’s later revealed that she was after him even before they met – even as she was saying “No”…
In the 1991 “Frankie and Johnny,” Frankie’s resistance to dating Johnny is in time worn down by his smothering persistence.
In the 1992 “Lethal Weapon 3,” a woman tells a man she wants the two of them to stop their sensual horseplay of showing each other their body scars. Presumably she has signaled that she doesn’t want their fooling around to get out of hand. His response? He stops, but then almost immediately grabs and kisses her in the way that in 1995 got U.S. Sen. Bob Packwood into trouble with the National Organization for Women and the Senate Ethics Committee, which recommended that Packwood be expelled. Her reaction? She goes to the floor with him and they graduate from sensual horseplay to consensual sex-play.
Which sex do you think about when you see the title of the 1999 movie “Never Been Kissed”? Women say, “I’ve never been kissed.” Men say, “I’ve never kissed anyone.” Passive vs. active. Different behavior, different language.
In the 2002 “Clock Stoppers,” the lead female calls the lead male “Bozo” and fluffs off his romantic overtures twice. When he nevertheless persists, she gives in.
Fast-forward to 2010: In Jennifer Lopez’ “The Back-up Plan,” the Lopez character repeatedly resists a man’s requests for a get-together, only later to capitulate under his persistence.
In that same year, “The A Team” shows the character “Face” kissing a woman he’s never met. She slaps him. He kisses her again. She grabs him and kisses him back, hard.
“Many women acknowledge eventually marrying men to whom they had at first said ‘No;’ that is, men who had in fact persisted.” -Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power, cassette tape version
“When I accidentally met my second husband — because he made it happen — any relationship with him could not be further from my thoughts. He was really ugly. But we had friends in common and he was very persistent. He was bright, witty, bold — to make a long story short, soon I was seeing him as uniquely handsome, so dear he was to me.” -Commenter Gina Oliveira at Huffington Post, September 5, 2013, in reply to jf12
But now you have this shibboleth, “No means no.” Well, no. Sometimes “No” means “Not yet.” Sometimes “No” means “Too soon.” Sometimes “No” means “Keep trying and maybe yes.” -Camille Paglia, the UK’s Spectator, October 2016
Might this be called toxic femininity?
And so it goes, in movie after movie from the unliberated 20th century to the “liberated” 21st century, women resisting, men persisting, women finally yielding.
And in real life in 2009, long after men’s hitting on women was labeled sexual harassment, there is still this, as reported at PsychologyToday.com: “As we all laughed, she added: ‘[Men] need to hit on us more!'” Yeah, guys, take the risk of being accused of sexual harassment.
To be sure, movies use the persist/resist gimmick to create the all-important conflict and sexual tension that are often essential story elements. And sometimes, as in “Body Heat,” the gimmick has legitimacy as an indispensable thread of the plot. In “The Back-up Plan,” the Lopez character resists the man ostensibly because “she has a habit of pushing people away when they get too close.” But have you noticed that uniformly the persister is a man and the resister a woman?
The expression of “male sexual interest is not simply being construed, or interpreted, as ‘power.’ It has actually been redefined as such.” -Daphne Patai, Heterophobia – Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism.
Explains Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld decades ago in The New Male Sexuality, “Men in the fantasy model are always rewarded for not listening to a woman rather than taking her seriously. Is it any wonder that men in the real world have trouble knowing what to do when a woman says ‘No’ or ‘Stop’?”
Is it any wonder that some men are led to think that while a “No” said with sincerity is how one woman makes her refusal clear, it’s how another woman tests a man’s sincerity?
Many men, especially young, inexperienced men on campus, booze it up to dull the fear and effect of rejection. Once drunk and fearless, a man is more apt to become abnormally aggressive.
The idea that women shouldn’t be listened to is reinforced, Zilbergeld adds, each time a woman initially resists a man’s advances to avoid being considered “loose” or “easy,” or to buy time to decide whether she likes him enough to go out with him, or whether he measures up to her (and to her friends’) standards, then says yes if he asks again. The message some men absorb as a result of this female behavior? Don’t listen to what she says! You can talk her into changing her mind! As stated earlier, contrary to feminists’ rhetoric “no” doesn’t always mean “no.” As Kate Fillion stresses in Lip Service, “One-third of women consistently tell researchers that on at least one occasion they have said No to sex when what they really meant was Yes; ‘liberated’ women are as likely to do this as are women who accept traditional gender roles.”
The message that men shouldn’t heed a woman’s “no” — at least her first one or two “no’s” — is also picked up, perhaps unconsciously, each time a man overhears a woman say of the man in her life, “I didn’t like him at first. Now I’m in love!” This suggests she found love the way women in movies find it: he made an advance, and she resisted; he persisted, and she gave in and was then “swept away” by his relentlessness, by love born of male persistence, of a man’ s refusal to take no for an answer.
The message “Don’t listen to a woman’s ‘no’” pops up in lots of places. In a July 1992 letter to Ann Landers (well after sexual harassment had become a hot topic), a woman writes: “I am a professional, single, attractive woman in my late 20s. Two years ago, I met a wealthy man. I did not encourage him, but he pursued me relentlessly and was very persistent. I finally gave in.”
Around 1995, a woman in my office, after reading my op-ed about sexual harassment in a newspaper, said, “Bunk. Women initiate all the time.” But why, then, even years later in 2014 the need for this book by a “Certified Dating Coach and Law of Attraction Coach“: “Read Her Signs“? And this from the July 2014 book The Power of the Pussy, which reflects the views of an earlier book The Rules: “Don’t let them get into your pants easily. Make them work for it, and make them work HARD for it. If he does not want to work for it, let him walk, and [you then] move onto the next man (men are like buses, in 15 minutes another one will come around)…Who is next?” (What would women think of the man who expressed a similar contempt toward women?)
Surely men could call this toxic femininity.
Even today, after 40 years of feminism, men are still told to change their behavior, including learning how to read a woman’s mind so you can read her signs! But women are still not told to change their behavior. (I’ve read several commentaries instructing women to wear conservative clothes and not to flirt. Both instructions have no relevance to sexual harassment. Many men will still persist for the foregoing reasons.)
By being the initiator, men have given the impression they want sex more than women. Women, by usually not being the initiator and by following the advice in the above-referenced books, have given the impression they want sex less than men or not at all. Thus even when a woman does all the initiating, including sexual, if she accuses him of rape, she is more believable. This is a core issue, I believe, that men ought to protest.
The problem for the male, asserts Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld, is to differentiate between refusals that are real and those that are ambivalent or merely facades. If a man backs off when a refusal seems to be a facade, he may fear that not only will he lose out on a possibly great relationship, but also will be viewed by the woman as a wimp for giving up and lacking the desirable male bravado.
Many men, says Zilbergeld, stop trying to figure out if rejections are real or fake, and forge ahead regardless of what the woman says.
Video clips from television shows of males making risky initiatives, and females engaging in nonverbal proceptive signaling. Credit: Psychology Today, Michael Mills, Ph.D. Late in the video, the over-voice says it’s women who make the selections with their “steady stream” of hints and suggestiveness. But the steady stream of hints won’t always work, as every woman knows. The man may be too shy, uninterested, or thinks she may be a tease looking for an ego-stroke: come on to me so I can reject you and look desirable and better than my competition. Moreover, one woman’s hints and suggestiveness differ from another woman’s. Some women, as I point out later, look the other way to show their interest! Read my mind!
Although many women complain when men persist, many others complain when men don’t persist. Oprah- and Dr. Phil-style talk shows have featured topics like “Women Upset Because Men Didn’t Call Back”! Sadly, men are put between a rock and a hard place – criticized when they overdo the pursuing, and criticized when they underdo it. Meanwhile, no one seems to understand that, contrary to the advice in such books as The Rules and The Power of the Pussy, pursuing and calling back are women’s responsibilities, too.
“Being there for ten years, I’m also a little offended that I didn’t get cat-called like that.” -Jillian Barberie-Reynolds, of “Good Day LA,” appearing on the Joy Behar Show Sept. 15, 2010, and commenting on the Ines Sainz cat-call case.
Japan may have less of a sexual-harassment problem than we do. If so, it might be due to what Tokyo mange artist Tomomi Nakamura explains is the reason for a fairly recent trend in movies.
Japanese movies often depict a sexually charged moment when the hero slams his hand against a wall, blocking the path of the heroine, and becomes romantic. The scene is called “kabe-don.” (A 2015 discussion is here.) The reason for kabe-don, Nakamura says, is that “…in reality, boys don’t pursue girls strongly enough.” (“C’mon! Risk making my sexual-harassment accusation more certain!”) For Japanese women, kabe-don, like romance novels, supposedly helps make up for the reality of those disappointing, passive Japanese men.
If I recall, all this derives from:
There are not enough babies in Japan. That’s because there aren’t enough marriages. And that’s because there aren’t enough relationships. And that’s because there aren’t enough male-female relationships. And that’s because “boys don’t pursue girls strongly enough.”
There you have it: One of Japan’s major problems — one that carries serious implications for Japan’s future, economic and otherwise, laid at the feet of young Japanese men.
Japanese women, like American women, don’t seem to realize, or care, that the reason men often don’t pursue girls strongly enough is the fear of rejection. Sometimes the stronger the pursuit, the stronger — and more humiliating — the rejection. Role reversal can quickly make women sympathetic.
Nat Geo, Season 10, Episode 8, aired April 24, 2017 (The episode is available on demand to customers of participating TV providers.)
When feelings become fact, the stage is set for repression and censorship. That is because, in the absence of tight definitions, almost any behavior can be construed as sexual harassment. A remark meant as praise can be experienced as an affront, an expression of sexual interest as a breach of trust. Victims, real or imagined, multiply. –Prof. M. Patricia Fernandez Kelly
It stands to reason that flimsy or false charges of sexual harassment would begin surfacing. “Given the expansive terminology,” writes John Cloud in Time (March 23, 1998, p.50), “just about anything can count as a hostile environment, depending on who’s defining the terms.”
Extremist interpretations of sexual harassment disturb even some in the American Civil Liberties Union, normally pro-woman in matters of gender:
“There has been,” says ACLU president, Nadine Strossen, author of Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight For Women’s Rights, “too easy a leap from discrimination on the basis of gender to the false assumption that any sexual reference to or about a woman, or in the presence of a woman, is sexist. I find that absolutely contrary not only to free speech but to women’s equality.
“One thing I discovered in doing research for my book was the shocking extent to which, although our legal system has so far without any dissension rejected the [Catharine] MacKinnon/[Andrea] Dworkin argument in the context of pornography laws, [it] has accepted their world-view through the Trojan horse of sexual harassment law and practice. Their view boils down to: Sex is inherently degrading to women, so any sexual image or reference [is harassment].”
As a result, Strossen says, sexual harassment “has disintegrated into simplistic demonization of sexual expression.”
Children are taught the empowering maxim, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But for years now many grown women are taught by radical feminists a modern version: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can utterly destroy me!”
More and more we have expanded the concept of sexual harassment. More and more we have stripped away the requirement of factual support for a complaint of harassment, and have pressured employers, who normally hear both sides to a grievance, to hear only the victim’s side to a grievance of sexual harassment. More and more, RFs and the media indoctrinate women to see every man as the enemy and a harasser in the making. More and more, they have portrayed the female as a powerless, fragile creature who is easily offended and harmed by the mildest innocent male indiscretion – and whose dignity, it turns out, can often be restored only by ample monetary compensation.
All things considered, why shouldn’t we expect unscrupulous women, their eyes on the gold sometimes easily mined for being “offended,” to file flimsy sexual harassment charges, notwithstanding RFs’ suggestion that such women don’t exist and so false charges are a myth?
Are false accusations a myth? Consider:
Mothers and female babysitters are sometimes caught on video while attacking the tiny individuals who cannot report victimizations. “Prime Time Live,” for example, on November 19, 1997, delivered the nightmarish scene of mothers in maternity wards clamping their hand over the nose and mouth of desperately struggling infants. In Great Britain, researchers using covert video cameras in just two hospitals filmed 33 parents suspected of child abuse, almost all of them mothers, in the act of deliberately smothering their newborns.
Other videos, such as the one that aired February 21, 2001, on the Maury (Povich) Show, revealed female babysitters abusing toddlers and even babies – slapping them, banging them on the head with objects, and tossing them around like rag dolls. If a hidden video camera operated day and night in every home in America, who knows how extensive women’s violence against children might prove to be.
You already see where I’m going with this:
If without provocation women can batter or kill defenseless little children, whom they are supposedly socialized to love, they can, without provocation, batter or kill men, whom they are told almost daily to fear, distrust, and hate by RFs and much of the liberal media.
And if some women can kill men and children, others can falsely accuse the hated, distrusted male of sexual harassment.
Besides never discussing female violence, leading feminists and the liberal media seem never to discuss men’s proclivity to rescue. According to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, more than 90 percent of the selfless souls who’ve jumped into flood waters, burst into burning buildings, and rescued often complete strangers from danger or violent assault — sometimes at the cost of their own lives — are male. Far more men pull women from the jaws of violence and death than the other way around.
By ignoring both men’s long history of rescuing people and women’s violence, feminists and the liberal media are more able to convincingly use sexual-harassment accusations as “more proof of toxic masculinity.”
Add to this reporting bias the money incentive.
“…[T]he power balance moves in the women’s direction when a mere accusation results in a handsome settlement and more cash and fame in a brief career in show business. The mere accusation, whether proved or not, is worth a ‘settlement’ rather than an expensive and messy trial, as one of the cases against Mr. [Herman Cain, presidential candidate campaigning in 2011] suggests. The lawyers call it ‘damage control.’ Any chief executive officer would tell you that ‘settling,’ even when he believes the accused party is innocent, is usually the easy way out. That’s what his attorneys are telling him, too.” -Suzanne Fields, November 11, 2011.”
Increased incentives to complain about sexual harassment likely generate more accusations. RFs may insist that more accusations prove sexual harassment is worsening. And it’s worsening, they may claim, only as a result of heightened misogyny and a male backlash against women asserting themselves. They will likely demand even more legislation and incentives to make it even easier for women to come forward and complain…which in turn will increase the reporting even more…which will further increase RFs’ demands for even more legislation….
“I think we’ve overemphasized gender or sex,” Nadine Strossen says, “and underemphasized harassment. Harassment is harassment – it doesn’t matter what basis you do it on! If I’m harassed because I’m a member of the ACLU or because I have curly hair, it doesn’t matter what the basis [is]. The same is true at work: if anybody is doing something that interferes with your ability to work, it doesn’t matter what in particular they see about you that makes them do that.
“The law [says] that you are protected against religious harassment. If we were to transpose the overly broad concept of any sexual reference to a woman as sexual harassment, then what about an employee talking about gay rights or reproductive freedom in front of an employee who’s a fundamentalist? They could say that it’s religious harassment at work.”
By focusing on gender or sex, we tend to ignore other common forms of harassment.
Postal worker Kimberly Thompson wrote, “Beginning in early 1990 through April 1993, I was continuously harassed by Carolyn Jones, Mary Edwards, [and] Jeanette Michaels [last names are changed]. All are supervisors on my tour [who] caused extreme stress that culminated [in] a forced resignation.”
As Thompson explained, one of these supervisors stole her eyeglasses, and another accused her of having an affair with a co-worker and threatened her on the job and at home. One of them even rammed into her car and came after her with a knife.
After fleeing the knife-wielder, she reported the incident to the police. But when she reported it to the postal inspector, she was told nothing could be done about the knife threat because the incident did not occur on the job. In fact, nothing was done about anything. Even after she returned to work, she continued to be harassed by her supervisors Jeanette Michaels and Mary Edwards, “for any little thing (my seating stool was not in the proper groove or I was too long in the rest room). Michaels and Edwards would come past my station with remarks like ‘We’ve got the right one, baby,’ or ‘There’s always a next time’ and ‘If she has any sense, she would resign before she gets fired, because the next time it’ll stick.’”
Had the emphasis that’s given to sexual harassment been given also to this common but non-sexual harassment – which usually afflicts men – Thompson might have been able to forestall the hostile work environment. Moreover, we might not automatically picture harassers as male.
By emphasizing gender or sex, we also pay little or no attention to the harassment and humiliation of children by adults.
In 1992, at West Utica Elementary School (Michigan), parent volunteers Pamela Munro and Patti Rosinski accused a 2nd-grade boy of exposing himself in school. They put a letter in the book bags of the boy’s 24 classmates, urging parents to complain to the school district about the boy disrupting class. In the letter, they said the boy’s “outbursts” were “perverse, unruly” and said “at the present time he is suspended for exposing himself to the class.” The boy’s parents, rightly, sued the school and the parent volunteers for false accusations, violation of the boy’s privacy, and damage to their family reputation.
My feeling about this incident is this: Only in a culture which, taking cues from RFs like Catharine MacKinnon, has become hysterical over sexual harassment and has stereotyped males as rapacious beasts, would two adults, possibly feminists, feel the need to punish and humiliate a little seven- or eight-year boy for exposing himself in class. Had the child been a girl, the two women likely would have handled the matter in a private, caring way, so as not to undermine her self-esteem, correctly seeing such a child as misguided and not fully aware of what she had done.
Criticizing the over-emphasis on gender or sex as diminishing women, Katie Riophe writes in The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism on Campus, “The assumption that women in the workplace can be sexually harassed by male peers or even subordinates – Catharine MacKinnon [argues] the fact that being a man gives you so much more power that [women] need special rules. That [is like] saying that women who are in a position of power aren’t really; their power and their authority is so fragile that a dirty joke by a man can puncture all their years of hard work. I find that offensive.” RFs’ version of “sticks and stones”!
The Price of Extremism
“The men in my office are terrified of saying or doing anything that in any way acknowledges the differences between men and women, and many of the women walk around like hand-grenades with their pins half-pulled.” -Nick Wright, Halifax, Nova Scotia, commenting in the New York Times, November 3, 2014, regarding “Street Harassment Law Would Restrict Intimidating Behavior“
Protect-the-woman laws similar to those pertaining to sexual harassment have historically ended up hurting women. Around 1908, in response mostly to pressure from women’s groups (which had power decades before RFs first complained that women have never had power), states began passing hours-limitation laws to prevent employers from requiring female employees to work more than a certain number of days per week and hours per day. Employers, with less control over women, began barring them from productivity jobs subject to such things as last-minute product orders which, if not fulfilled, would go to the employer’s competitors, thereby hurting everyone in the company. Employers were forced to reserve these jobs for the group still under their total control: men. But now with a smaller pool of workers available for these jobs, employers were compelled by the law of supply and demand to raise the pay. So began both the division of labor by sex and the sexes’ income gap, now touted by feminists as prima facie evidence of women’s oppression.
It’s not surprising, then, that protect-the-woman legislation regarding sexual harassment is also backfiring on women.
“There’s no doubt about the fact that the climate has been counterproductive,” says Ricki Gaull Silberman, vice-chairman of the EEOC. (Women’s Freedom Network newsletter.) “It limits women’s opportunities, although nobody will admit to it. Managers are afraid to give travel assignments to women, late-night assignments, [work behind] closed doors. We are in danger of reinstituting the protective laws of the early 20th Century that we were so proud of getting rid of in the name of equality.” (See also Rene Denfeld’s The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order; it speculates that expanding sexual harassment is part of the antimale war waged by RFs who desire gender segregation.)
Mariana Parks, Vice President at the Seattle-based Washington for Policy Studies, notices the extreme importance of a mentor for anyone serious about a career. “You learn your best lessons from the mistakes you make,” she says, “but someone must be willing to sit down with you and tell you that you’ve screwed up. Now we have created a situation, with the deadly cocktail of affirmative action, EEOC lawsuits, and sexual harassment lawsuits, in which people are increasingly unwilling to tell women what they are doing or have done wrong because it creates a paper trail. In the long run, this will be a huge impediment to women’s advancement.”
Female executives may find male executives becoming more reluctant than ever to include women in their circles, even as diversity programs call for women’s inclusion. Many men, says Judith Tingley in Genderflex: Men & Women Speaking Each Other’s Language At Work, are paralyzed by the fear of saying or doing something that will brand them as sexist pigs guilty of harassment.
…[I]t is clear that sexual harassment policies have damaged the work place as well. Among the less visible costs are: women have acquired the status of victims who require protection from a paternalistic State; women are losing mentors who are unwilling to risk complaints; women are being viewed as “the enemy” by male co-workers who do not associate with them more than is necessary. -Wendy McElroy
Some employers now consider the female employee a potentially greater liability than males. They fear that at some point, probably when a woman is disciplined or fired, she will file a sexual harassment lawsuit and cost their company thousands of dollars just to settle.
“…[T]he law of unintended consequences is among the most potent laws in existence. Governments, for instance, often enact legislation meant to protect their most vulnerable charges but that instead ends up hurting them. Consider the American Disabilities Act (ADA), which was intended to safeguard disabled workers from discrimination. A noble intention, yes? Absolutely — but the data convincingly show that the net result was fewer jobs for Americans with disabilities. Why? After the ADA became law, employers were so worried they wouldn’t be able to discipline or fire bad workers who had a disability that they avoided hiring such workers in the first place.” –Superfreakonomics, 2009, pp. 138-39, paperback
A researcher writes:
A friend of mine who ran one of the largest research firms in California let go a woman who was unable to get along with most of the employees. A few weeks later, she sued him for sexual harassment.
He had no interest in her, had never had a complaint against him for such behavior, nor had anyone in his company ever had a complaint against him for sexual harassment. Well, there was one exception: The woman who filed the complaint had herself been the subject of complaints that she had sexually harassed two different men and discriminated against them when they were unresponsive. Nevertheless, the legal hassle that resulted diverted the firm from its function and catalyzed a decline that eventually led (in conjunction with the recession) to the company’s extinction.
The potential for such destructiveness, says Warren Farrell, “makes even female employers more desirous of hiring men.” Take Pittsburgh restaurateur Sarah J. McCarthy. According to Nadine Strossen, “McCarthy has said that the overly broad concept of sexual harassment as all speech with sexual connotations has made even her, an avowed feminist, ‘fearful of hiring women.’” Many employers, both male and female, may be wondering if they’d be better off operating in another country where business is not terrorized by RFs and political correctness.
“After I gave a speech about the importance of hiring women, even one of my women managers said, ‘I like what you’re saying about hiring women, but the higher up in the company I go, the more afraid I am to hire a woman for the company, ’cause all three of the lawsuits we’ve received have been from women. I’m afraid of being the one to hire somebody who will sue the company.'” –Why Men Earn More
Although Cosmo-type magazines still tell women the workplace is a great place to look for romance, some women now think the workplace offers a dismal place to look. “Another problem with guys,” says Devon in a letter to romance columnist Cheryl Lavin (July 6, 1997, Detroit Free Press), “is that they’re not sexually aggressive enough. They don’t know how to sweep a girl off her feet and turn a girl on. They’re too scared and intimidated. The whole ‘90s thing with date rape and sexual harassment suits have made them scared and made sex a lot less fun.” (Spoken truly like someone who sees romantic initiative-taking solely as the responsibility of men — and who is blind to the risks she wants men to take.)
“…[W]e all have to be careful. I don’t know of one executive in this town who will hire a female assistant. That’s the corrupt side of it: Women have claimed that men have done things they haven’t done, and men are afraid.” –Bill Maher, formerly of “Politically Incorrect” Playboy interview, Aug. 1997
Toward a legislation-free solution
Without question, employers must have training programs aimed at preventing such hostile environment cases as female workers being manhandled by people like Harvey Weinstein. They must also stop such quid pro quo incidents as bosses punishing employees who reject advances and giving preferential treatment or promotions to those who accept them, thereby discriminating against all the other workers who were competing for the promotions. Programs designed to stop these kinds of behavior benefit everyone, employers included.
But employers’ programs should also provide a balance to RFs’ interpretations of sexual harassment and RFs’ proposals to curb the harassment through the singular method of punishing harassers and compelling male employees to understand the “female culture.” A balance would primarily include providing an understanding of the male culture as well.
Such a balance in the programs to stop sexual harassment should point out the relevance of women equally sharing the responsibility of initiating male-female relationships.
This equal sharing should be emphasized especially when an employer aspires to be “socially conscious,” or when an employer can’t prohibit – or doesn’t want to prohibit – fraternizing, since to prohibit it would deny employees a major “benefit”: “When,” says Warren Farrell, “I ask women in my audiences who had entered the workplace when single and later gotten married, to ‘raise your hand if you married a man you met at work (or through a workplace contact – a client, or someone to whom you were a client),’ almost two thirds raised their hands. Another 15 percent of these women lived with or had a long relationship with a man they met while on the job, but never married him.”
Because the sexes generally have different roles in meeting, dating, and interacting romantically and sexually, they have a different psychology with regard to each other. Neither sex understands very well the psychology of the other, because neither sex has often spent time in the other’s shoes. That’s why the sexes are often antagonistic toward each other. It’s why Dr. Warren Farrell has for decades taught the value of role-reversal.
To my knowledge, employers’ sexual-harassment prevention programs fail even to suggest women should equally share in initiating the relationships which women equally desire at work and which most employers seem to condone. (A Fortune magazine poll of 200 executives found 79 percent think office romances are not the company’s concern if the unmarried couple remain discreet.) So men feel they alone are vulnerable to charges of sexual harassment. That feeling of vulnerability will increase as more women learn that even a frivolous charge of harassment won’t be questioned and may earn them a large sum of money from employers wanting to avoid the higher costs of litigation and a tarnished image. Most men, untutored on gender issues the way women are, are unable to articulate their vulnerability – and the unfairness – or are afraid to articulate it lest they be penalized at work for “opposing women.”
If employers’ programs do not tell women they have equal responsibility for initiating workplace romance – and thus ignore men’s vulnerability and views – employers may pay a price. Some men, rather than welcome the changes promoted by diversity, may obstruct them and contribute to the workplace stress and gender alienation that a growing body of experts links to policies on sexual harassment. Other men may simply leave companies whose aggressiveness in preventing a hostile work environment for women has created a hostile work environment for men.*
But there is a more compelling reason that employers’ sexual-harassment prevention programs should reflect an understanding of the male culture and should encourage female employees to equally share in initiating relationships. This understanding and equal sharing would curb sexual harassment and costly lawsuits. Here’s how.
When women complain that men don’t take their “no” seriously, they imply that women do take men’s “no” seriously. Men’s “no”? How can men say “No” to women if women as a rule don’t directly ask anything of them?
Sometimes a woman says “no” even before she is asked but means “yes”! In 1986, shortly after Laurel and I broke up, she stopped by my house unannounced one evening. “Let me walk through your house one last time,” she said, motioning for me to follow. At my bedroom door, she paused. “If you think you’re going to get me in that bed, you’ve got another thought coming.” Well, no, the thought hadn’t occurred to me. Minutes later, sitting in her car in my driveway and getting ready to leave, she rolled down her window. “Well, you missed your chance,” she said, and drove away.
Men’s “no” generally occurs when men decline to take direct initiatives in response to women’s indirect initiatives. Suppose a woman takes a Cosmo-recommended indirect initiative, such as brushing up against a man in an elevator and smiling at him. If he merely returns a smile and goes back into his thoughts, this is, in her view, his way of saying “no” to her indirect initiative, to her gesture of interest in him. As a woman might explain, “If I gush at a guy, ‘That shirt/jacket/sweater looks awesome on you,’ and he doesn’t pick up on that by talking to me and sooner or later suggesting lunch or something, I figure he’s telling me to forget it. He’s clearly saying ‘no’ to me.”
Not only do men tell women “no” by declining to take initiatives, but it appears women take men’s “no” quite seriously. To them, men’s “no” definitely means no.
I still stand by every word of date-rape manifesto. Women infantilize themselves when they cede responsibility for sexual encounters to men or to after-the-fact grievance committees, parental proxies unworthy of true feminists. – Camille Paglia, Free Women, Free Men
That’s because, I believe, throughout their entire lives women see men, in both the real world and the fictional, make their interest in a woman perfectly clear by going right up to her and asking for what they want in words not open to interpretation. The male’s direct and unambiguous initiative-taking has taught the female to believe that if the man she is flirting with is interested and wants to go out with her, he will unequivocally ask, “Want to go out with me?” And it has taught her that if he doesn’t want to go out with her, he will utter nothing except perhaps small talk; he will take no initiative with her at all.
The male’s clear-cut, unambiguous courting behavior has convinced the female that when her flirting – her indirect initiative-taking – is ignored, the man is plainly not interested. No point in her continuing to flirt with the man who fails to make an overture. No point in persisting with someone known for making his interest clear by taking initiatives, and also known for making his lack of interest clear by not taking initiatives. (Some women do persist with flirting on the sometimes-correct assumption that the man is shy and needs encouragement.)
In contrast, most women, by not taking clear-cut, male-type direct initiatives with a man who stirs their interest, often make their interest unclear. When, for example, a woman “shows her romantic interest” in a male co-worker by giving him a Brad Pitt-look-alike compliment, and she herself doesn’t request a get-together, the man may hear ambiguity and think: “Does she have the hots for me, or is she just making an observation about my looks?” Considering the hysteria over sexual harassment, he may also think, especially if he doesn’t know her well, “Is she setting me up to come on to her so she can charge sexual harassment and tap the company for big bucks for being ‘offended’?”
In theory, sexual harassment law applies to both sexes. In practice, it applies virtually only to men, since they alone are assigned the role of initiating male-female relationships. Some young women are beginning to see this role as theirs, too, and are taking more direct, male-type initiatives, something I often experienced first-hand at singles dances in my unmarried days.
But one young woman, who is attractive and outrageously successful, says she never approaches a guy first. “I assume,” says singer Taylor Swift, “that if someone is interested in me they will come up and talk to me — and if they want to call me up afterwards, then they will.” What if a man said that? How many women would he meet? What would people think of him? If such a man were known by everyone at a singles gathering, would he be the butt of quiet jokes?
Most women, it seems, still leave all or the bulk of the initiative-taking to men. Such women include even the accomplished, seemingly feminist Nicole Beland, a former senior editor at Cosmopolitan and Mademoiselle magazines. She produced a column, “Ask the Girl Next Door,” for Men’s Health. In it, she advised men how to connect with women. She appears to be an expert in sex and male-female relationships. In the January/February 2004 Men’s Health, she writes: “I’ll spot a good-looking guy in a coffee shop, at the bookstore or in a bar and will immediately pretend he isn’t there. My thought: if he’s attracted to me and looking to meet someone new, he’ll say something. I’ll purposely look in the other direction. So yes, it’s shyness and pride, but mostly it’s our annoying, persistent female reluctance to make the first move.” [Emphasis added.]
Think of the bind that women like Beland put men in: a woman can be purposely looking the other way either because she likes a man or because she wants to avoid a man. (This is one way women’s “signals” can vary and be impossible to read.) Thus the man who approaches a woman who is “purposely” looking the other way is, from his view, at risk of getting anything from a polite, ebullient “Oh, hi, how are you?” to a belligerent, humiliating “Get out of my face!” In the workplace, men, especially bosses, risk losing their jobs approaching such women. It continues to amaze me that experts such as Beland, even in the 21st century, still want to keep the courting arena in the 1950s, without realizing — or without caring about — the risk of sexual-harassment accusations they ask men to take.
Couldn’t this be considered toxic femininity?
If women equally shared the responsibility for initiating relationships, how would this help curb the on-the-job sex harassment that is manifested largely in men’s persistent requests of women?
By taking direct, male-type initiatives, women would become known as persons (as opposed to sex objects) who make their romantic interests undeniably clear, just as men do. In turn, men would see – just as women do now – little or no value in persisting after being refused by someone known for taking her own direct romantic initiatives when interested. Why persist with someone known for making her romantic interest clear by taking direct initiatives, and known for signaling her lack of interest to a man by not taking initiatives with him? “Why try twice with such a woman,” a man would think, “if she has never expressed interest in me, and then still expressed no interest after I showed interest in her? She clearly isn’t interested.”
If women equally shared the initiative-taking, presumably some would make persistent requests of men, and more men might complain of sexual harassment.
But the combined persistence from both women and men would be less than men’s persistence currently is. (There will always be some men and women who, perhaps unable to accept rejection easily, have a hard time taking “no” for an answer.) That’s because men as a whole would become considerably less persistent as they learned that a “no” from a woman known for directly initiating her own relationships truly does mean “no.”
Assigning the initiator role only to males is more than sexist. It is illogical if it’s true women want relationships more than do men (they don’t; it’s about equal), and they feel harassed by men’s “come-ons.”
“If you think this system no longer applies, then just watch how people behave at parties or nightclubs. Subconsciously, men will only approach a woman if they feel that they have more than an eighty percent chance of being accepted. This is where flirting and sex signals become important. In a sense they are a code used between humans to test the levels of mutual attraction before visibly acting and thus risking rejection. Where people are watching and a rejection is taking place, the person doing the rejecting [usually the woman, since usually the man does the approaching] often exaggerates the act so that the spectators are in no doubt as to who is the loser. Sometimes seen as cruel, this is actually a form of self protection. The person doing the rejection cannot afford the peer-group doubt that they themselves might have been rejected.”
“The danger of being visibly rejected is that it encourages others to reject you, too. In this case it’s just another form of peer pressure; i.e., ‘If Janice rejected Mike, maybe there’s something wrong with him? Maybe I should reject him, too, just in case. Hell, I don’t want to be seen with Janice’s reject anyway.’”
Does all this at least partly explain why some insecure men get angry and take revenge when they are rebuffed?
What is the man’s self-protection against this female behavior? He must put her down also! “Thanks. I just noticed how slutty-looking you are.”
Another example of how male-only initiative-taking alienates the sexes:
“Girls tease and practice, whereas most guys are for real. Girls that reject a guy often go up in the estimation of their friends (they have high standards) whereas a guy that fails always goes down in the estimation of his friends (loser). Guys have learnt that even if all the signals are ‘right,’ they can still be rejected.” [Emphasis by Male Matters]
An equal sharing of the romantic initiative-taking would do more than curb male persistence. It would also reduce the sexual put-downs and other mistreatment that can make women feel demeaned and uneasy at work. That’s because an equal sharing of the initiative-taking would increase men’s respect for women, the lack of which many RFs say is a primary fuel for male harassment of women.
An equal sharing of the romantic initiative-taking would do more than curb male persistence. It would also reduce the sexual put-downs and other mistreatment that can make women feel demeaned and uneasy at work. That’s because an equal sharing of the initiative-taking would increase men’s respect for women (and vice-versa), the lack of which many RFs say is a primary fuel for male harassment of women.
Here’s why men’s respect for women would grow. It’s said soldiers fighting in a war bond with each other because they have a common enemy and are there for each other as each other’s protector. No doubt this explains these men’s bonding to a large degree. But mostly what bonds men in combat, I believe, is their knowledge that they share a common role in which they all share the same risks, the risks of physical danger and psychological terror. By knowing that all the other soldiers share their dangerous role and hence share the same risks they take, combat soldiers acquire for one another the respect that is the principal glue for the bonding between them. For those men who refuse to share the risks, they have only contempt. Many war veterans, for example, scorned former President Clinton for being a “draft dodger,” someone unwilling to share the risks they took. (“Draft dodger,” by the way, is a sexist double standard: how will these veterans look upon the first female president, who was legally able to avoid the draft altogether? Geraldine Ferraro, the first female candidate for vice-president, was not burdened, as male candidates are, by having to prove bravery with a combat record of risking life and limb.)
Suppose women equally shared the risk-taking that comes with equally sharing the initiative-taking required to create relationships (which lead to marriage and children). Men would stop seeing women as demanding “equality in relationships” while at the same time playing the old Cosmo sexual games and refusing to share the risk-taking. They’d stop seeing women as demanding equality while resisting equality, an unfairness and double standard no one discusses.
If women equally shared the risks of initiating relationships, men would not resent them for unfairly expecting men to risk not only sometimes painful rejection when reaching out to the other sex at work but a career-smashing charge of sexual harassment as well.
“Both traditional and nontraditional men perceive women who ask for dates as kinder, warmer, more thoughtful, and less selfish than women who do not ask for dates.” –From a study co-written by Dr. Charlene Muehlenhard, University of Kansas psychologist and researcher – (I read this statement a publication in a book store some years ago. Since then, I have not been able to find an internet source for it.)
Were the initiative-taking equally shared, men would undergo the female’s role of being asked. Spending time in this role would enhance men’s respect for women even further. Men would experience first-hand the awkwardness in being asked out by a boss or another person to whom they are uncomfortable saying no. They would learn that because saying no can be difficult, it can be easy to give the impression they are “leading someone on” and being a “tease.”
Conversely, if women directly initiated relationships the way men do, women would respect men more as well. Instead of seeing all men as potential harassers who want to “dominate females by reducing them to a sexual role,” as RFs see men, a woman assuming the role of initiator would learn first-hand something important: she could easily be “led on,” and that being led on could at times lead her to become persistent with her requests for dates and so forth.
Such a woman would learn, too, how she could be affected by anxieties over being rejected by a man face to face (especially if she thought her advances might be overheard by others in the office). She might discover that she could become so anxious about being rejected that she might totally focus on “selling” herself as Ms. Wonderful, as someone much too great to reject!
As we all know, many people, both men and women, have difficulty saying “No” to a salesperson. I have had it at times, and I’ve heard my wife engage in rather long phone conversations with a caller selling a product or service she has no intention of buying. When she finally musters the courage to say “No,” I can imagine how angry the caller must have been after being “led on.” A lot of other people, however, don’t muster that courage and wind up buying something they never wanted or needed.
A similar dynamic takes place between the sexes on the single scene:
A woman is usually pretty sure that the man who asks her out has a genuine interest in her, whether for romance or just sex (meaning she is unsure only of his intent, not his interest). That’s because she knows he took the time to look her over, then risk rejection to approach her and request a get-together.
For the man, it can be very different. He is aware that women (like men) can have a hard time saying “No,” and so a woman may accept a date — and sometimes even a second and third date — from a man she has little or no interest in. Thus, while the woman is usually pretty certain of his interest, the man is often not certain of hers, even on a second or third date. This male uncertainty may go a long way to explain some men’s need, at least early in a relationship, to be braggadocios who “over-sell” themselves.
This intense focus on the self – on “selling” herself to escape rejection – would often cause a woman to tune out the man’s feelings and his attempts to hint “I’m not interested” without hurting her feelings. Thus a woman in the initiator role would learn how easy it is to be seen as “coming on too strong” and being persistent. (In our current male-initiates arrangement, the man who “comes on too strong” is only the counterpart of the woman who “attracts too strongly” by wearing too much makeup or too little clothing).
In experiencing the pressure to “sell” herself, she would learn how “coming on too strong” and being insensitive to a man’s feelings could earn her the label “insensitive jerk.” Aware she could be called a jerk by some men no matter how sensitive she was, she might adjust her approach by putting up a protective, nothing-can-hurt-me front, thus appearing “invulnerable,” “unfeeling” – “male” traits society presently had rather condemn rather than try to understand.
In sum, through an equal sharing of the initiative-taking, men and women in the workplace would gain more respect for each other, and in time there would be a significant reduction in on-the-job accusations of sexual harassment, both frivolous and legitimate. Workplace tension between the sexes would decrease, and so would sexual harassment’s high cost to business.
Contrary to the notions of political correctness and feministsplaining, women have as much to learn about men as the other way around.
Overcoming the resistance to an equality-based change
An impediment to this equality-based approach to curbing sexual harassment is the absence of diverse thinking about the problem.
RFs, having convinced society women are victims (not without a price: many women, for example, today seem to be instilled with unprecedented fear and anger, which is bad for one’s physical and mental health), insist the only change needed is in men and the legal system. The idea that women should have to do anything besides reporting offenses strikes many RFs as ludicrous and, worse, as blaming the victim (hence all the feministsplaining). At the least, RFs are unable, or unwilling, to see a connection between men being assigned the initiator role and men being accused of the harassment. To RFs, apparently, this is mere coincidence.
Perhaps they see no connection because they think of male initiating as male power — which would be puzzling, since RFs don’t tell women to grab some of that power by doing the initiating. Never mind that men report feeling not power when taking initiatives with women but fear of rejection and ridicule if they are “Mr. Wrong,” or if they initiate “improperly” – too fast, too slowly, too crudely…. Men’s fear when taking initiatives with women at work has been ratcheted up by the added possibility of a sexual harassment accusation. As for power, a man may indeed feel powerful if Ms. Right accepts, but no more so than the woman does when Mr. Right asks.
Why do women wear makeup and men don’t?
Women’s makeup is a long-established, direct result of the male initiates rule which assigns to men the role of “seducer” and to women the role of “inducer.”
Makeup, along with other beauty enhancers like push-up bras and revealing clothing, is more than just an expression of femininity and conformity to societal expectations. It’s used to compete against other women who vie for men’s attention. It helps a woman to induce men to approach and take the initiatives she herself doesn’t take or takes fewer of (see the above Cosmo recommendations of how a woman should induce men). To verify this, ask women if they would go out looking for men without wearing makeup. (Women’s reasons abound for wearing makeup, some of them having to do with power.)
A man, as an initiator, as a seducer, doesn’t need makeup to get a woman’s attention. When he wants it, he approaches her and introduces himself. That initiative-taking gets him her attention, whether it’s positive or negative.
The male seduces/the female induces is the fundamental behavior that results in the female as a sex/beauty object and the male as a success/status object. If females did the seducing and men the inducing, men instead of women would wear makeup. This is just one example of how behavior produces outcomes we ordinarily don’t link to behavior and instead wrongly attribute to “attitudes.”
For now, RFs’ views on sexual harassment rule the day. They are generally embraced by institutions and the mainstream media, which never debate whether women ought to equally share in initiating relationships, although they frequently report that men should equally share in such “female” roles as housecleaning (to the wife’s standards!).
The rigid, unforgiving feminist notions about sexual harassment, as well as about men, are universal and entrenched. As a result, many who think differently about sexual harassment feel intimidated into silence. Their will to speak up is squashed by the gender politics and by the lack of strong support one ordinarily needs to challenge heavy-handed bureaucratic attitudes. Few forums arise to explore the concept of sexual harassment with intellectual honesty and a free-flowing, anything-goes exchange of views.
Yet employers can do more about sexual harassment than merely lecturing that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ which everyone but RFs concedes isn’t always true. They can include in their training programs staged role reversals in which male and female employees swap their traditional courting roles (females become the initiator, males the passive reactor) and conduct mock romantic encounters and dates.
Sexual harassment regulation may get worse before it gets better. So may relations between the sexes and between male and female employees. For the time being, employers’ potential for liability may grow. Employers may need all the more to train their employees, ideally through gender role-reversal training, to create a culture of empathy and understanding that automatically self-polices against sexual harassment.
Some consider such role reversals irrelevant or absurd or the workplace too staid and serious for such “play.” Yet precedents exist for using this role-reversal training in programs to curb sexual harassment. Many employers already conduct role-reversal training whereby employees and supervisors trade roles to acquire a deeper understanding of what each other experiences, thus helping bring down the “Us against them” wall that often stands between them and creates hostility or uneasiness where none need be.
Police agencies conduct programs that allow officers and “criminals” to trade places in play situations to help the officers prevent or mitigate clashes in real situations. Many family counselors implement role reversals for feuding parents and teenagers, and for troubled husbands and wives. Such reversals are considered highly effective in allaying tension that arises out of the inability of two individuals, or two groups, to understand each other. They can frequently illuminate what has been muddled or distorted by verbal communication and turned into cause for animosity.
To an extent, some employers already see the value of role reversals in their harassment training. A group of male air traffic controllers was forced to let female participants fondle them, and had to look at photos of male sex organs. This was a crude, sexist RF-influenced “role reversal” training that was designed, as usual, to “educate” only the male workers. Its sole intent was to allow the female employees to show the men “how it felt” to have to endure one type of sexual harassment, even though most, if not all, of the male participants had never harassed anyone.
(Note that photos of male sex organs were used in this reversal, not female, as should have been to create a true reversal. The trainers dared not use photos of female genitalia, lest they themselves be accused of harassment by the women out to show men how it felt! They may have also thought the men would be turned on, not off, by pictures of female genitalia. One implication of showing only male genitalia is that harassment training itself must be careful never to offend women, but may offend men with impunity. Which, of course, is one reason some men feel harassed by harassment training.)
“Sexual harassment legislation in its current form renders all male employees unequal to all female employees. It violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection without regard of sex. Thus the political will to protect women prevails over the constitutional mandate to protect both sexes equally.” –Warren Farrell
A few years ago I wrote and distributed a pamphlet about how everyone can help create world peace. I stressed that to reduce the ill will responsible for much conflict between nations, as well as between groups and between individuals, people must, trite and meaningless as it may sound, understand each other (and themselves). I said the best way to do this – the best way to implement what I called the “principle of understanding” – is for two individuals or groups at odds with each other to assume each other’s role, where possible, and walk a few miles in each other’s shoes.
Taking on the role of another, walking in his or her moccasins may be the best method of applying the principle of understanding.
Especially when sustained, role assuming lets us personally undergo and assimilate the influences of another’s environment which are too subtle or too complex to communicate verbally but which are necessary to experience if we intend to understand why certain people attain their beliefs, why they are the way they are, why they are our enemies. In sum, role assuming lets us, to an appreciable degree, “be” the other person. “Being” the other person helps us develop the empathy and emotional connectedness essential to both interpersonal and international peace.
How much we can “be” and understand another person via role-assuming may be affected by our socialization. The housewife trying on her husband’s provider role might not feel the same impact and stress her husband feels in that role. That’s because men are still socialized more than females to seek financial success or status to attract the other sex and to gain society’s approval.
By the same token, men likely experience less anxiety than women in “female” roles because of less pressure to maintain an image of competence in these roles. Obviously there are mitigating factors (including our subtly operating biases) which a role assumer should be aware of to maximize the understanding sought.
After participating in role-reversed mock encounters and dates, many men and women for the first time get an inkling of what the other sex goes through in the courting arena. They suddenly see the other sex in a new, better light. More important, they learn that much hostile-environment sexual harassment, especially persistent requests for dates and so forth, can be the by-product of misreadings and misunderstandings resulting from the sexes’ different courting roles — and that sexual harassment is not, as RFs have stonily maintained, the method by which men at work conspire to subjugate women.
These sex-role reversals as part of training should appeal to the bold, cutting-edge employers who wish to move beyond political correctness to a whole new way of looking at sexual harassment — and at women and men. They present employers the opportunity to curb sexual harassment with an equality-minded approach that reflects an understanding of both the female culture and the male culture, thereby gaining the respect of all employees, including, possibly, even the respect of some radical feminist employees.
Objective legal minds may eventually prevail upon the courts to reverse sexual-harassment regulations’ attack on first and 14th amendment rights in the workplace. But while waiting for this long shot to occur, employers may be able to reduce their potential for lawsuits via the more benign method of regular role-reversal training.
In the wake of the numerous 2017 sexual harassment allegations against celebrities, some radical feminists have chosen not to understand the alienating courting behavior between the sexes and how women contribute. Instead, they have already come out smearing all men in RFs’ typical “all women are innocent victims and all men are victimizers” fashion.
Michelle Goldberg says in The New York Times (home of radical feminists and the flagship male-trasher), “Sure, Franken made plenty of sexist jokes when he was with “Saturday Night Live,” but I thought he was one of the good guys. (I thought there were good guys.)”
Roxane Gay writes in her October 19 commentary in The New York Times (of course) “Dear Men: It’s You, Too”:
“There is no escaping the inappropriate attentions and intentions of men.”
Harvey Weinstein, Gay says, is “famous but utterly common.” Oh? Never in my 76 years have I seen or even caught a whiff of a man like Weinstein, and I have spent prolonged time around hundreds of men and women in work settings with my ear to the gossip mill. Word gets around. I worked in the federal government for 27 years. In one year throughout my entire agency across the country, only four harassment allegations were made, and based on what I now know, chances are one of them was false.
In my office no complaints of sexual harassment ever arose. How do I know? Because, as I said, word gets around. One couple was caught having sex in a small supply room, and the next day it was known throughout the office. (The man and the woman had been in a relationship for some time.)
I did witness obscene behavior on the part of some female employees. One day a woman was strolling around the office as mostly women laughed in her direction. I moved in for a closer look. She was wearing an apron around her waist and flipping it up and down. Underneath the apron, I soon learned, was faux genitalia, not female genitalia, male. This was at the height of a 1980s sexual-harassment frenzy. No one complained, though in retrospect I should have. Imagine a man walking around flipping up an apron to expose female genitalia. During work hours. On federal property. Would the women have laughed? Or would the man have lost his job and tens of thousands of dollars in salary and retirement benefits?
Around that same time, another woman handed out copies of crude sex-humor comics, copies she’d made on the federal government’s copier. The comics put down male characters. Again, picture a man handing out crude sex-humor comics that put down women.
Because of the “male seduces/the female induces” behavior, women in general resort to makeup and beauty enhancers and turn themselves into beauty-sex objects to (among other things) induce men to take the initiatives women have been socialized — by family, friends, parents, the media, tradition — not to take.
The “male initiates” rule, with the constant threat of rejection it carries, may harden the male psyche toward females. It may lead many men to reduce the female to an unimportant object who can’t hurt them. (Unimportant objects have less power to hurt than important people; ask women who call men “jerks.”) Reducing a woman to an object may also prevent a man from picking up on a woman’s hurt.
The male-initiates rule, especially when teamed up with the male’s strife to become financially successful, can create a man who doesn’t dare express his personal feelings in probably most settings.
I say to feminists and the media, especially the generally anti-male liberal media such as The New York Times:
It’s time to try something different. Start by listening to men a little bit more and to radical anti-male feminists like Roxane Gay a little less. It may be hard to believe, but at some point you must stop asking us to understand only those who are harassed and start asking us to understand — without the feministsplaining — why some men harass. To defeat a “disease,” you must understand the disease and not just its victims.
You might also help your Democratic Party:
“Republicans don’t have near as big a woman problem as Democrats have a man problem.” –Wall Street Journal
Why are feminists quiet about this inequality? Could the answer be: They worry about offending women? If so, feminists acknowledge they want to maintain a tradition — while opposing all other traditions! — that is responsible for what may be the sexes’ most alienating and destructive behavioral difference, the behavioral difference I believe spawns most of the sexual harassment that both feminists and millions of other people have for decades condemned and blamed solely on men.
What’s that sound? It’s my heavy sigh. Expecting society to make the change I recommend is, I’m sure, like expecting someone to relocate an ocean with a teaspoon.
Why I think radical feminists such as Roxane Gay, Gloria Steinem, and The New York Times editors can’t change their views on sexual harassment:
They not only want to portray the female as a victim (perhaps to insure their relevance as saviors of women). They also, I believe, are driven by their need to be right about their views when that need is driven by their fear of being wrong.
Suppose Roxane Gay read this commentary (if only!) and became utterly convinced she was wrong about men. Would she then write an op-ed saying she is wrong? Not likely. Why? Because she has gone public and told thousands if not millions of people there are no good men. She has many supporters, including The New York Times. If she did publish her changed views, what would happen? She’d likely lose the vast majority of her supporters, who may include her family and friends who would turn on her. She’d also lose the pay from the liberal outlets publishing her views.
My money says Gay would remain silent. Or she would continue the same sexist feministsplaining.
The deeply entrenched need to be right keeps us deeply entrenched in the need to alienate the sexes.
Ultimately toxic femininity might be defined as women’s unequal initiative-taking. But I prefer not to label behavior. To slap a label on behavior, especially a negative one without a thorough, objective explanation, is to do a disservice to the person or group labeled. By sprinkling “toxic femininity” here and there in my commentary, I hope I conveyed the point that calling men’s “harassing” behavior “toxic masculinity” without an objective explanation is ultimately to disrespect both sexes.
Is this where we stand as of January 2, 2018, as illustrated by this video at Fox & Friends:
In the first picture clipped at 00:28 seconds from the Fox & Friends video linked to above (the pictures do not link to the actual video), the gregarious, animated Marilu Henner (star in “Taxi”) lays her hand on Brian Kilmeade’s knee. Is she just over-friendly and unconscious of what’s she doing — or is she signalling interest in Brian?
At 01:34 below, Henner becomes still more friendly. One might think she’s mauling Brian on live TV!
So is this where we stand on sexual harassment going into 2018: A woman can openly and publicly lay hands on a man’s knee, thigh, and shoulder, while we would have dared not permit that to happen the other way around. Had Kilmeade done the same laying-on-of-hands to Henner, would he have been fired on the spot? No. He would have been fired immediately after the show and all the U.S. media would be ablaze with shots of his “toxic masculinity,” his “brazenness to possess and dominate Henner.”
Truth-based Comic Relief
“Safe sex” has a different meaning for men than it does for women.–Unknown
Sexual harassment exists because men believe it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. –Unknown
“When men talk dirty to women, it’s sexual harassment, but when women talk dirty to men, it’s $6.95 a minute.” —Albert Schafer, President, Coalition of Parent Support San Diego
Saturday Night Live: “Sexual Harassment and You“
A possible “biological” reason for traditional courting behavior:
In the courting arena in the workplace and elsewhere, it has been, up until very recent times, the custom that men approach women to initiate a relationship and women wait to be asked.
When did this custom start? I believe its genesis can be traced to our hominid times a million years ago when we were animals evolving into humans.
As you’d imagine, females of the era often were impregnated and had children. It’s possible a huge number of pregnant females and females with babies took themselves out of the mating arena – or tried to do so by fleeing, the hominid woman’s “No.”
That generally meant far fewer females at any given moment were available for sex.
The lopsided ratio fueled the males’ need to move in fast to beat the competition. Hence males initiated even before females realized they, too, wanted sex. (Sometimes females were fought over, leading to males evolving with generally bigger stature and muscles.)
It’s not that females didn’t initiate. They did. Even today, many female animals initiate sex. On TV I’ve seen a lioness back up to a sleepy lion who wasn’t particularly interested at first. The same with chimpanzees, our next of kin.
For us, the “male initiates” endured the millennia, from our hominid era to our human era. It eventually became viewed among civilized humans as “natural behavior,” paving the way to evolving into a custom because “That’s the way things are ‘supposed to be,’” with both sexes in roughly equal number supporting and enforcing it.
PRIMARY REFERENCES (Search for the books at http://www.Amazon.com):
- Ceasefire! Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality, Cathy Young
- “And You Wonder Why There is a ‘Glass Ceiling,'” commentary by Charlotte Allen
- Defending Pornography, Nadine Strossen
- Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and The Future of Feminism, Daphne Patai
- The Myth of Male Power, Warren Farrell (www.warrenfarrell.com)
- The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order, Rene Denfeld
- Who Stole Feminism: Women Betraying Women, Christina Hoff Sommers
- What To Do When You Don’t Want to Call the Cops, Joan Kennedy Taylor
- Why Men Are The Way They Are, Warren Farrell
- Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say, Warren Farrell
- Women’s Freedom Network newsletter (www.womensfreedom.org)
*The hostile environment we’d hear most about would be workplace deaths – if 94% of those deaths occurred to women rather than to men. Unfortunately for men, society continues to care more about how many women are offended by dirty jokes than about how many men are killed or maimed by workplace accidents.
“When Saying ‘Yes’ Is Easier Than Saying ‘No’” -New York Times, December 16, 2017. Excerpt:
Sometimes “yes” means “no,” simply because it is easier to go through with it than explain our way out of the situation. Sometimes “no” means “yes,” because you actually do want to do it, but you know you’re not supposed to lest you be labeled a slut. And if you’re a man, that “no” often means “just try harder” — because, you know, persuasion is part of the game.
This in the New York Times! Will wonders never cease?
Sexual Assault’s Broken System of Justice” This report of June 11, 2017, details what I believe is a frightening culmination, especially on campus, of the decades-old “male initiates/female reacts” courting system. Excerpt:
The defense attorneys for Mr. Johnson asked that the rape charge against him be dismissed in part because they believed the Missoula Police Department’s sexual assault investigation policy violated the presumption of innocence. Whether that was an appropriate basis for the dismissal request is best left to legal experts. What is more clearly inappropriate, however, is that the judge based her ruling on David Lisak’s misrepresentation of his own paper.
The Court finds that the Missoula Police Department’s policy … is not in violation of the presumption of innocence. It is not improper for the police to have this policy because, as Dr. David Lisak noted in his expert witness disclosure, the percentage of false reports is very low … It is hereby ordered that the Defendant’s Second Motion to Dismiss is Denied.
Even if the research were valid—and it’s worth repeating that it is not—a judge’s decision to proceed to trial based on the statistical probability that the accused is guilty is troubling. It is difficult even to imagine another type of crime for which the presumption of innocence has been so compromised.
“How Women Can Prevent Sexual Harassment” This commentary of April 24, 2017, begins with an awareness of what men must contend with:
Since the dawn of the ages, men have been trying to get it on with women. Hundreds of old movies (and new ones!) depict story after story of a woman who acts coy and flirtatious with a man, while the man is left to dissect the meaning of her behavior. Does she want it or doesn’t she? Is she interested or isn’t she?
The commentary shows three ways strong women combat sexual harassment at work:
They dress appropriately.
They don’t flirt.
They nip it in the bud.
These measures are certainly effective as far as they go. But the commentary falls short in that it fails to recognize the many women who dress professionally, never flirt, and nip it in the bud initially (for the reasons explained in my commentary) but later have second thoughts, as seen in movies and in real life, giving rise and reason to male persistence, a cornerstone of “harassment.”
“The Uncomfortable Truth About Campus Rape Policy” This Atlantic.com report of September 6, 2017, describes the draconian point we have reached. The old saying “It’s better that 10 guilty go free than that one innocent be punished” has been turned on its head on campus. This may partly explain men’s drop in college enrollment over the last eight years.