How We Waded Into The Sexual Harassment Quagmire And How to Dig Out

Updated February 9, 2017
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An in-depth analysis of what Male Matters considers the sexes’ most destructive behavioral difference


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. 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 show that many women still insist on traditional ways of meeting and dating. (Note that the examples in the piece, 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 many women disdain.) I also suggest the reader see the April 30, 2011, Psychology Today’s “Why Don’t Women Ask Men Out on First Dates?


“Nor have we really said that girls can and should initiate first dates instead of just indicating that they’re interested and waiting for the guy to ask. We need to move from ‘Call Me Maybe‘ to ‘I’d like to take you on a date.’” –Andrew Smiler, July 10, 2013

As you read, ask yourself:

Why are feminists quiet about this inequality? Could the answer be: They worry about offending women?

by Jerry A. Boggs

Sexual harassment is “far from a thing of the past: over 11,000 charges were filed with the EEOC and local Fair Employment Practices agencies [in 2011].” -Bryce Covert, Nation magazine, May 23, 2012

She’s following Cosmopolitan’s advice. His “sexually harassing gaze” enrages many feminists, who never tell women to equally share the initiative-taking so they won’t have to do such misleading things that put men at risk of being charged with creating a “hostile work environment.”

Media outlets often acknowledge sexual harassment’s chilling effect on office romance. But that hasn’t deterred many of them, such as Fast Company, from telling readers who’re looking for love that a great place to look is at the workplace.

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, a women’s magazine that has the largest number of single female readers, told women some years ago to take these tactics in the workplace (at the height of the sexual harassment clamor, it did not say “Use such tactics only in social settings, not at work):

    • “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)

“The power of these indirect initiatives,” says educator Warren Farrell, author of Why Men Are the Way They Are, “is that they put neither the woman’s ego nor her career on the line.” 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 is probably the usual case — 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, she is urged, 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), 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. (A troubling new expansion made in September 2005 is analyzed in “Ninth Circuit Court Denies Men Equal Protection At Work For Expressing Less Emotion Than Women.”) That advice is more likely to be followed if Mr. Wrong is unattractive. According to a study by Sanford Braver, a psychologist at Arizona State University, the more handsome a man is, the less likely he is ever to be accused of misconduct. Braver also found that unattractiveness in a man meant he couldn’t say “hello” without it being seen as sexual harassment.

Who creates sexual harassment? Men only, as the media and feminists say? Or men, 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 how men try to open the door to a courtship 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, some married men, such as Fox News’ Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, have affairs, and so do some married women. Married women, like single women, learn how to “initiate” in the indirect Cosmopolitan style above. But when things don’t turn out well (a promise for a promotion can’t be kept), the men who initiated are subject to being accused of harassment.

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 even if they 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 childrearing.”

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 you ‘abusers.’”

Women would feel this is sexism compounded with cruelty. Feminists would not be amused in the least by women’s being stereotyped 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 sexual relationships even though women want them as much as you do. It is your role to take the roughly 150 initiatives (and the attendant 150 risks of rejection, the effect on the male pysche of rejection’s constant threat having not piqued most social researchers’ curiosity) that 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 call you ‘harassers.’”

Many feminists say the childcare problem cannot be solved until men equally share the responsibility for raising children. To my knowledge, no feminists say, “Sexual harassment cannot be solved until women equally share the responsibility for initiating and advancing romantic or sexual male-female relationships.” Can you imagine this being uttered by feminists in the vein of Yvette Caster, who said, “Despite being a feminist 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 male anger, the anger that can sometimes push men to harass, perhaps out of a deep feeling of powerlessness?

In closing, 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 points. 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. Thus, the videos, often swayed by such 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,” most men report hearing mostly women’s “no.” Sometimes they hear, “Not a chance” or even “Drop dead.” Do such responses to men’s sexual initiative-taking sound like they came from women intimidated by “male power”?)

Perhaps more important, the videos fail to take into account that women take 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 come on to a man merely to goad him into making a pass, then, reassured of their attractiveness, reject him? If they do that often, how does it 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

Workplace rudeness is usually illustrated as behavior conducted by males toward females. Here we have two black men being rude toward two white women -- antimale sexism combined with racism.

Workplace leudness is usually illustrated as behavior conducted by males toward females. Here we have two black men being lewd toward two white women — antimale sexism combined with racism.

very bothersome. (It 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.) They 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.

Thinking politically, some men might be inclined to call women the Party Of No.

One not-so-subtle source of this teaching on 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 him, 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 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. And Liam Neeson’s “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

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 as late as 2009, long after men’s hitting on women was labeled sexual harassment, there is still this, as reported at “As we all laughed, she added: ‘[Men] need to hit on us more!'”

To be sure, movies use the persist/resist gimmick to create the all-important conflict and tension that are 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, drink booze to dull the fear and effect of rejection. Once high or drunk, 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! 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.”

Many years ago, a woman in my office, after reading my op-ed in a newspaper, said, “Bunk. Women initiate all the time.” Why, then, many years later the need for this January 2014 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:  “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 [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 comparable anti-female contempt?)

Even today, after 40 years of feminism, men are still being told to change their behavior — including learning how to read her signs and read her mind! — but women aren’t. 

By being the initiator, men have given the impression they want sex more than women, and women, by not being the initiator, 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 the 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 he 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.

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 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.

Extremist Interpretations

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’s proclaimed in some employers’ training programs that sexual harassment charges are always valid, and that flimsy or false charges are a myth. Suppose Bill Clinton, while president, hadn’t been restricted by political correctness, hadn’t sacrificed personal power for political power, and could have expressed his personal feelings regarding sexual harassment. One wonders what he might have said about the “myth” of false charges after having denied the charge that he sexually harassed Paula Jones. Chris Byron says in the September 1994 Men’s Health magazine, “No one has yet been found guilty of sexual harassment for a tip of the hat, but charges are certainly being filed on increasingly flimsy grounds.”

It stands to reason that flimsy or false charges of sexual harassment would begin surfacing. “Given the expansive terminology,” writes John Cloud in Time (3/23/98, p.50), “just about anything can count as a hostile environment, depending on who’s defining the terms.” A man need not even be persistent. “For some women,” says Warren Farrell, “any initiative – even one – could make her feel uncomfortable and therefore create a hostile environment. And that is all she needs to have her lawsuit upheld.”Not even the man’s intent makes a legal difference. (Imagine intent not making a difference in the case of bodily injury or homicide.) And if it’s her word against his, a “bare assertion” of sexual harassment can stand without factual support. A woman no longer even has to inform the man that he’s bothering her. She can merely complain to a girlfriend at work. The EEOC’s decision number 84-1 says this is “sufficient to support a finding of harassment.”

“The Civil Rights Act of 1991 removed the requirements of discriminatory intent and wrote the concept of ‘disparate impact’ (i.e., effects, not intent) into statutory law for the first time. It also gave plaintiffs in Title VII discrimination cases the right to a jury trial and to monetary damages. This set the stage for the elevation of women’s word to the level of law – which was precisely the goal of feminist activists.” –Daphne Patai

In 2011, have sexual-harassment policies become more open-minded? On campus they’ve become less so. A new letter from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights “includes a requirement that universities adopt a ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard of proof for deciding sexual harassment and sexual assault. In other words, in every case of alleged sexual harassment or sexual assault, a disciplinary board must decide on the basis of more likely than not. That’s far short of the requirement in criminal law that charges must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. I wonder whether there is some connection between this and the dwindling percentage of men who enroll in and graduate from college. Are we allowing — and encouraging — our university administrators to create an atmosphere so unwelcoming and hostile to males that we are missing out on the contributions they could make with a college or graduate degree?” -Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner

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 some grown women are taught by radical feminists a modern version: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but mere words have the power to 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 be restored only by ample monetary compensation.

All things considered, why shouldn’t we expect unscrupulous women, their eyes on the gold that is often 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?

As reports of sexual harassment increase because of the increased incentives to complain about it, RFs will likely insist that more reporting merely proves sexual harassment is worsening 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….

“…[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

“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.”

“It is a sign of the extraordinary power gained by feminist perspectives that men have in some cases lost their livelihoods because a woman has interpreted something said or done (that just a few years earlier would have seemed innocuous) in accordance with new feminist dogma.” –Daphne Patai

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 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 newsltr. “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 (7/6/97, 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.)

“…[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. ’97

Toward a legislation-free solution

Without question, employers must have training programs aimed at preventing such hostile environment cases as female workers being manhandled. 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 advances, 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 have a different role in meeting, dating, and interacting romantically and sexually, they have a different psychology with regard to the other sex. Neither sex understands very well the psychology of the other, because neither sex has 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 seek 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.*

“Inevitably, the heightened sensitivity to sexual harassment has left some men feeling persecuted, and it has convinced others that the handling of sexual harassment claims can be every bit as abusive as sexual harassment itself.” -Ellis Cose, A Man’s World

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’s asked but means “yes”! 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. 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.

The fear of sexual harassment charges, coupled with the usual fear of rejection, discourages more and more men at work from taking initiatives in response to female co-workers’ cues of romantic interest such as “My, what a nice tie/suit/shirt you have.”

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 experienced first-hand many times 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, wouldn’t he be the butt of quiet jokes?

Most women 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. Thus the man who approaches a woman who is “purposely” looking the other way is 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 maintain a 1950s-style courting behavior, without realizing — or without caring about — the risks they ask men to take.

If women equally shared the responsibility for initiating relationships, how would this help curb the on-the-job sex harassment which is manifested largely in men’s persistent requests of women?

By taking direct, male-type initiatives, women would become known as persons 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 making her lack of interest clear by not taking initiatives? “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 attracted.”

If women 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 that women want relationships more than do men and they feel harassed by men’s “come-ons.”

Here’s an example of how male-only initiative-taking can alienate the sexes:

“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 [almost always the woman, since it has been established above that men do 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, especially cruel rejection, at least partly explain why men get angry when their initiative-taking is rejected?

What is the man’s self-protection against this female behavior? He must put her down also! 

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]


Women Need To Be Educated About Sexual Consent — Right Now They Aren’t


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.

Here’s why men’s respect for women would grow. It’s said men fighting together 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.)

If women equally shared the risk-taking that comes with equally sharing the initiative-taking that is necessary to create relationships, men would stop seeing women as demanding “equality in relationships” while still playing the old Cosmo sexual games and refusing to share the risk-taking.

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

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 that 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 been after being “misled.” A lot of other people, though, 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 a 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 her to tune out the man’s feelings and his attempt 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” – traits society now had rather condemn in men rather than try to understand them.

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, 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), 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. At the least, RFs see no connection between men being assigned the responsibility of initiating relationships and men being accused of the harassment. To RFs 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 the 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 “incorrectly” – 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? Because makeup (along with other beauty enhancers like push-up bras and revealing clothing) is more than just a way that females show conformity to other females. It’s used to get men’s attention, to help women attract men and induce them to approach and take the initiatives women themselves don’t take or take fewer of. 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, doesn’t need makeup to get women’s attention. When he wants the attention of a particular woman, he approaches her and introduces himself. That initiative-taking gets him her attention, whether it’s positive or negative.

The “male initiates/the female waits” rule, or the “male seduces/the female induces” is the fundamental behavior producing the female as sex/beauty object and the male as success/status object. If the roles were reversed and females did the initiative-taking instead of men, men instead of women would wear makeup. This is just one example of how behavior produces outcomes we ordinarily don’t associate with behavior.

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 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 not 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. 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.

I wrote:

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.

Socialization can affect the extent to which role assuming allows us to “be” and understand another person. The housewife trying on her husband’s provider role might not feel the same impact and stress her husband feels in that role, since males are still being socialized more than females to invest their whole ego in success at work. 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, as well as at the sexes. They present them 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.


At the beginning, I asked, “Why are feminists quiet about this inequality? Could the answer be: They worry about offending women?” If so, feminists are acknowledging that they want to maintain a tradition — while opposing all other traditions! — that is responsible for what I think is the sexes’ most alienating and destructive behavioral difference, the behavioral difference that spawns most of the sexual harassment that both feminists and millions of other people have for decades condemned and blamed solely on men.

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

PRIMARY REFERENCES (Search for the books at

  1. Ceasefire! Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality, Cathy Young
  2. “And You Wonder Why There is a ‘Glass Ceiling,'” commentary by Charlotte Allen
  3. Defending Pornography, Nadine Strossen
  4. Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and The Future of Feminism, Daphne Patai
  5. The Myth of Male Power, Warren Farrell (
  6. The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order, Rene Denfeld
  7. Who Stole Feminism: Women Betraying Women, Christina Hoff Sommers
  8. What To Do When You Don’t Want to Call the Cops, Joan Kennedy Taylor
  9. Why Men Are The Way They Are, Warren Farrell
  10. Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say, Warren Farrell
  11. Women’s Freedom Network newsletter (

*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.

NJ Says :

June 3rd, 2010 at 8:15 am

Male Matters: I appreciate the link. It is nice to see the male prespective presented civily and in a common sense way. As a non “RF” feminist (or at least I would like to think so, reading the article posted does give me a few things to think about), it can be hard to hear about these issues from males, because typically they are presented in the way that David presented them in his first post… which is beyond frustrating as a female attempting to be taken seriously in the workplace. I know this is an older article, but the fact remains that as HR professionals, the best way to protect the company and your employees is to investigate and follow up on claims thoroughly, so matter where they come from. If they are disingenuous, you can find out that way.

Archived at


What is the latest on campus regarding sexual harassment? Here’s a May 20, 2011, commentary:

The Tyranny of Hurt Feelings

Mona Charen

Mona Charen

By Mona Charen | | May 20, 2011

Call it testosterone poisoning: A group of fraternity pledges at Yale, blindfolded and led in a line, each with his hands on the shoulders of the boy in front of him (the Yalie bunny hop?), were paraded in front of the Women’s Center. There they shouted vile and puerile slogans including “No means yes, yes means anal” and “My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac, I f—- dead women.”

“It makes you want to slap those kids,” laments Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Idiotic behavior like that of Delta Kappa Epsilon makes his job — defending free speech and common sense in the Orwellian universe of the American academy — that much more difficult.

Wendy Kaminer

Wendy Kaminer

A group of Yale women and alumnae have filed a Title IX complaint against the university, prompting the self-described “lonely civil libertarian feminist,” Wendy Kaminer, to lament that women are acting like helpless females.

“What accounts,” she asks in The Atlantic, “for such feminine timidity, this instinctive unwillingness or inability to talk or taunt back, without seeking the protection of university or government bureaucrats?”

But the bureaucrats are hard at work — even if it means compromising the due process rights of the accused. In fact, the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education has pretty well mandated that the rights of the accused be downgraded.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter dated April 4, 2011, the Office for Civil Rights informed all recipients of federal funds that when adjudicating accusations of sexual harassment or sexual violence (the two are constantly conflated, as if the latter were merely a more extreme form of the former), universities must reduce the burden of proof from “clear and convincing” evidence to “preponderance of the evidence,” or 50.01 percent likelihood that the offense took place.

American law has traditionally afforded stricter standards of proof when the stakes for the accused are high. In criminal cases, the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The OCR claims — bizarrely — that sexual harassment cases are like claims for money damages. Hardly. The stakes for the accused in a campus disciplinary hearing concerning sexual harassment or sexual violence could scarcely be higher. The student’s reputation, education, and even liberty are at risk.

Throughout the letter, as Kaminer notes, the Obama administration, through the OCR, assumes the guilt of the accused, just as the Duke faculty presumed the guilt of the lacrosse players. No concern is spared for the possibly falsely accused student.

The OCR’s demand is consistent with two decades of “speech codes” and sexual harassment standards at American universities that seek to micromanage speech and thought. Lukianoff believes that students are being trained at colleges to “unlearn liberty.” As the definition of what constitutes “harassment” expands, the First Amendment freedoms Americans take for granted contract. It’s a tyranny of protected feelings extending into ever-more-ridiculous realms.

A student at the University of New Hampshire was found guilty of harassment because he posted fliers in his dorm jokingly suggesting that female students who wanted to lose weight take the stairs instead of the elevators. A student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis was found guilty of thought crime. He was seen reading “Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How The Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan” (a book that celebrated the Klan’s defeat by the way) and was convicted of racial harassment. A Muslim student at William Paterson University was charged with sexual harassment after a comment he made in an email to a professor concerning a lesbian-themed movie.

At Duke, university regulations specify that “sexual misconduct” may be determined by a number of factors, including “real or perceived power differentials between individuals,” which may create an “unintentional atmosphere of coercion.” The University of California’s sexual harassment “info sheet” defines sexual harassment as, among other things, “Sexual innuendoes and comments about your clothing, body or sexual activities … Suggestive or insulting sounds (ie: cat calls, whistles, etc.: hostile environment); Humor and jokes about sex in general that make someone feel uncomfortable or that they did not consent to…” So if you tell me a joke that makes me feel uncomfortable, you are guilty of sexual harassment.

By tossing aside nearly all standards of sexual conduct 40-odd years ago, liberals abetted the free-for-all they are now so feverishly trying to check. That’s condign retribution. But in the process, they are endangering freedom of speech and thought — and in some cases even inviting gross miscarriages of justice.


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46 Responses to How We Waded Into The Sexual Harassment Quagmire And How to Dig Out

  1. booogiemann says:

    Fascinating reading!! Well spoken, well researched, well thought out, well done.

  2. Matthew says:

    I have been the victim of a “Cry wolf” scenario and lost one of my very first jobs. It affected my father so much, he refused to hire women for his technology firm which employs nearly 75 people (step-mother being the only female). His reasoning was very clear. He said he wanted to take no chances on sexual harassment. The company hired alot of new immigrants who may not be acclimated to our system, where women have such strong rights. He preferred to be out of the office for weeks and never worry about a lawsuit. He used this as an umbrella excuse. But I don’t mind.
    When I go into the workplace, women get away with murder. They talk about pay discrepancy, sexual harassment, and other issues. But I talk about, extra sick days, and gross differences in professional attire. Men, for so long, have been vilified even for compliments but I have found workplace relationships to break up the monotony of the job, whether they be just friendly, or much more. The problem is, if a man says something, ANYTHING wrong. Many women will go straight to HR or management. So. I stopped taking the ques from women. The long looks across a desk, the hair toss, attention sighs, invites out for lunch. All of this, to avoid ever having my name sullied with something so detrimental as sexual harassment case, which could have been avoided.
    And while we’re at it. I’d like to think all that bra burning and female empowerment garbage changed us for the better. But my bias shows. Women still expect the world from a man. A man is still expected to pay for many dates. If a woman doesn’t have a car, she expects the man to have one. If the woman lives at home, the man is expected to have a place. Women expect men to buy them drinks in social settings. I just don’t get it. Why fight for the right to earn something close to your male counter-part, only to reverse back to the chivalrous era when it suits you?
    Can you please just make up your mind?

    • pvblivs says:

      Well, feminism has made up its mind. (Sorry, my experience shows there is not such thing as “equity feminism.” All feminism is what the author calls “radical feminism.”) They want “equality” in all conditions in which they perceive men to have an advantage. But they want women to keep every advantage they have. Ultimately, the goal of feminism is to oppress men.

      • Judy is a Punk says:

        It’s a perception issue, and certainly, many people are distancing themselves from feminism because it’s had such a poor public image for several decades (some of this is by design). The radical feminists, who are usually separatists, are currently a very small lunatic fringe, mostly on the internet. They read second-wave feminist books from the 1960s and very early 70s (i.e. pre-Dworkin/McKinnon, and I’m excluding the fringe like Valerie Solanis) and deliberately misconstrue what’s being said. Many of those texts are simply emblematic of their time. When they state, for example, that in Tennessee, a woman can’t get a loan without her husband’s signature, they state it because it was true, in that place, at that time. The radicals twist the statement around as if it is even reality in 2013, and take it to its absurd extreme, e.g. “Women must live in exile from men.”

        Radical feminists actually aren’t even interested in men anymore. Their true enemy now, in the second decade of the 21st century, are trans women – XY-born individuals whose brain gender is female, who take hormones and undergo gender-change operations so their physical gender matches their brain gender. Whether you like trans women or dislike them, or even if you have no opinion on the matter, I’m sure you can at least agree that there is no “diabolical plot by men to infiltrate female-only spaces,” and that trans women have not been “invented by men” for this purpose, but that’s not how these loons see it. They want to strip trans women of their human rights.

        The rest of feminism, which is 99.99% of what you read about in the mainstream media, is pop-psychology pabulum and the marketing of pop-culture passed off as a movement. As The Last Psychiatrist writes (and do read his blog; it’s informative), this is not activism, and the people who produce this muck never intend it to be. No, it is a collection of upwardly mobile, privileged white women demanding to be handed power without assuming the responsibility of that power.

        There are scores of people who believe in true equality for the sexes/genders, but you will not find them on the internet. I generally refrain from engaging in MRA vs. feminist debates, because they always end in a lot of finger-pointing and name-calling. The people who want true equality, and not lip-service equality, or “girl power” to consume feel-good messages from Jezebel are mostly just out there living their lives. You won’t find them in your online space, and if you encounter one elsewhere (like, say on a news website), you won’t know you’re talking to one, because they don’t advertise their views. They are young and old, male and female, black and white, gay and straight. They are what I like to call “ordinary folks.”

    • Judy is a Punk says:

      I’m sorry that you lost your first job because of sexual harassment charges that were false and ruinous. That must be very frustrating. I was laid off from a new director job a year ago because my boss falsely decided I was too ill to work for him. It’s not the same, and in my case, I was let go because the company didn’t want me actually USING the health insurance package they so “generously” provided to employees, but I sympathize with how it feels to find yourself down and out, through no fault of your own, and with no control over the situation.

      I lost my first job in my profession (which was my second professional job) because, after a year of listening to my boss talking dirty to me – comments included telling me that I looked sexy in my boots, that I didn’t even know how great of a trophy wife I would be, and that I should leave the field to work the phone-sex lines advertised in the newspaper classifieds because I had the “voice of a hooker” – he decided he didn’t feel like paying me anymore. However, he knew I could sue, or more accurately, that some women might sue, because of the work environment (the company’s employees also made generous use of a colorful array of racial and gay slurs) so he gave me a payout and made sure I could collect unemployment. I always dressed in a conservative fashion – still do – and do not discuss sex at work, so I suppose you could blame me, or my behaviors, but some things are very much one-sided (like false harassment lawsuits tend to be).

      Later, I switched my professional focus to a much more technical sub-specialty of my field, and began to enter male-dominated offices. I avoided the big, corporate places because I do find that the work environments there are sterile and neutered. They tend to hire a lot of 30-/40-something female middle-managers (of which I am one), but their hires can be very prissy and proper, and hell-bent on turning a relaxed, creative environment into a corporate hell where everyone’s a stickler for the rules because they frown on any behavior that may even SUGGEST sex.

      So anyway, I was a manager, and I was a very popular one. I earned 20K less than my male counterparts at every job I worked (I imagine for reasons similar to why your father will not hire women at all), and I had fewer options than my male colleagues when I wanted to change jobs (many companies would prefer to hire a less-qualified man because they perceive that women bring problems to the workplace – sexual harassment, maternity leave, etc. – which angers me, because I don’t want to sue anyone, and my husband and I don’t want kids). But my teams were consistently the most profitable in the history of the company.

      The only problem was, I’d keep encountering ‘That Guy’ at my job. ‘That Guy” was an older man, usually in his early 50s, with a troubled marriage. It always started off innocently enough. I’d be managing him and complement him in a professional manner for a job well-done. He’d take that as an invitation, and while it would start out innocently (saying I looked nice when dressed up for a meeting), soon I’d find him touching my shoulders and letting his hand linger far too long at parties. Or asking me personal questions about my sex life with my husband. And then, I’d start getting e-mails, which would grow progressively dirtier. I would respond in a business-like tone, ignoring the implications of his comments, and he would up the ante.

      The most recent guy demanded to meet with me to discuss “what was happening between us” – evidently, he’d imagined a budding courtship without my permission. I’ve been gone from that job for two years now and live halfway across the country, and this man made a point to tell me how he was thinking of dumping his new girlfriend, and sending me a dirty picture on Valentine’s Day. My only recourse is to ignore it. Women who sue for sexual harassment are all but ensuring they never work in their professions again. And I don’t care to have my personal business exposed to the world, either. I now work at a predominantly female company and it pays crap. I’d like to get back into the male-dominated companies, but I’m not sure how to proceed.

      And obviously, our current system sucks. Sexual harassment goes both ways, and everyone is affected by it. Some are hurt by false accusations, others, like me, will always be on the receiving end, and we’re powerless to stop it – and rendered even more powerless when companies view us as the problem, women as a monolith, and enact a blanket policy to stop hiring women. The question in modern workplaces becomes, “How do you balance appropriate addressing of sexual harassment with elimination of false accusations?” And feminists would do well to pay attention to this one, because female bosses harassing male subordinates is becoming more and more of a problem, as women acquire more power and income in the workplace. How do you prove innocence with a false accusation, or more importantly, how do you penalize someone who has brought forth a false accusation? And if you are being harassed, or are being held back at work because you’re viewed primarily as a sex object (and this is going in both directions nowadays too, or should I say, becoming more gender-blind), how do you assert that the advances and comments are not welcome while protecting your own career and reputation.

      I hesitate to post this because when I used to post on gender sites more frequently, I’d get at least 1-2 male commenters per blog telling me that I deserve to be treated as I do because I’m a woman, and I need a taste of my own medicine, as if I were part of some great, evil female monolith, out to get all the men in the world. (I got it just as bad on feminist sites, but this isn’t a feminist site, so I’ll reserve my critique of them for a more relevant post.) That makes me sad. And it’s not productive. I’m looking for concrete ideas to solve a major problem, not teasing, or assigning blame. I’m looking forward to some suggestions and some productive discussion here. I’m hopeful.

      • crocket says:

        I think a company needs a private formal legal system with proper procedures for resolving conflicts. For example, people choose juries, and juries make judgments, based on evidences. You know how it works in public courts. There should be a formal way to resolve conflicts so that false accusations are deterred.

    • gemguy says:

      The women are just having it both ways, when and if they can and when it suits them and their agenda.
      They use all the tools they can for themselves or against us when and if it suits them while some of them are very clever but sinister at the same time.
      Yes, any man is better off to do his woman chasing far away from the office environment as it can all to often lead to a mans ruin in more ways than one.

  3. AEonFlux says:

    I don’t have time to parse out all the things that are messed up about this, but here are three main points I’d like to make:

    1) Every single movie you cited was written by one or more men. It is men who are creating these media scenarios that you say are giving you the impression that persistence in the face of a woman’s rejection is desirable behavior.

    2) Cosmopolitan is in no way a feminist publication. By holding up their teachings as contradictory to what feminists want, you’re creating a false argument. Feminists, and I’m talking equity feminists here, frequently critique Cosmo’s advice.

    3) If women say no, and you take them at their word, and that turns out to not be what they want (because they were playing some game or whatever) then their limited dating success will discourage them from playing that game anymore, and encourage them to be more frank about their needs. You’re also neglecting to take into account all the slut-shaming that happens to women when they eagerly and equally participate in dating the way you’re envisioning. Why do you discount women’s concerns that they’ll be considered “too fast” or “too easy”? Those are real experience with real-live consequences, especially in a professional environment.

    Most feminists recognize that our society isn’t fair for people of any gender or sexual orientation and want to make changes that will better for everyone. But men disproportionately make and benefit from these rules. When you lament that if only men were more free to express their feelings the way women do, you fail to mention who it is that censors that. Research indicates that it’s men, men who discourage other men from showing those feelings with homophobic or sexist slurs. If you want facts to back this us, as I know you will, I’m citing Michael Kimmel’s Guyland.

    If you want to work as a team, if you dream of a less-divisive future where it gets better for everyone, maybe look at the facts instead of portioning out more blame. Just trying to be pragmatic here.

    • Thanks for your comment.

      You seem to be an ideological feminist, one to whom gender always matters. To wit: “all the movies are written by a man.” Even if they were, what does that have to do with anything I said? Both male and female writers try to reflect society as they see it. Female writers would have done the exact same thing.

      Re: “Cosmopolitan is in no way a feminist publication.” Never said it was. But it has been and is widely read. It influences, whether it’s “right” or “wrong.” That’s the point, not who publishes the mag. I criticize the mag also.

      Re: “You’re also neglecting to take into account all the slut-shaming that happens to women when they eagerly and equally participate in dating the way you’re envisioning.” I document that men like it when women equally share in the initiative-taking.

      Re: “Why do you discount women’s concerns that they’ll be considered “too fast” or “too easy”?” Apparently you didn’t read this: “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”….”

      Re: “But men disproportionately make and benefit from these rules.” This is where you are most ideological. I and thousands of other men would strongly disagree with this sexist statement. Both sexes make and both benefit from and are hurt by the rules both make. You ignored the fact that the highly influential Cosmo mag is published by a woman and written mostly by women. Google such books as “The Rules,” which is written by a woman, then come back and tell me men make the rules.

      Re: “When you lament that if only men were more free to express their feelings the way women do, you fail to mention who it is that censors that” Both sexes censor but only idelological feminists (female and male) won’t admit it. Now this: Who has censored women from expressing their sexual feelings?

      Michael Kimmel is your male counterpart.

      The only people I blame are the media and feminists who refuse to see the male side of things. Please be sitting down when you read this:
      “The Doctrinaire Institute for Women’s Policy Research”

      • AEonFlux says:

        The reason it’s important that men wrote all those movies is that when you’re trying to parse out what real women want from men, it’s pretty crucial to look at the behavior of real women. Not women as male writers imagine them. And Hollywood movies are not known for reflecting accurate pictures of the world anyway. So when you use those movies as your reference point for the way people can or should act, you’re starting with a flawed model, one not predicated on reality.

        “The idea that women shouldn’t be listened to is reinforced each time they say ‘no’ to avoid being seen as ‘loose’ or ‘easy’.” This is a double-bind, meaning women can’t win. Because saying “yes” and then being thought of as “loose” or “easy” comes with its own social consequences. Like not being listened to. Which is the same thing that happens to you if you say “no”. So, wait…what are we supposed to do? You may find it frustrating that women don’t seem to say what they mean, but do you think they would do that just to mess with you, some guy they hardly know? Like, for fun? Women who say “yes” too often, and the definition of how much is too often is never made clear and invariably changes with each new person you ask, suffer social consequences that can bleed over into professional, legal, physical and emotional consequences. If you don’t understand what that’s like, lucky you…but if you do, why can’t you find some empathy instead of enmity for people in a similar plight?

        Recognizing a differential between the way two groups are treated is not sexist. Observing a phenomenon does not make you prejudiced, even if the phenomenon you observe IS sexist. Both sexes do participate in our society and reinforce and recreate it through their actions every day. You’ll get no argument from me there. But women are disproportionately represented in every type of leadership out there. And when they’re not, the groups are usually special-interest, women-specific things.

        Who has censored women from expressing their sexual feelings? Hundreds upon thousands of years of prizing female virginity and fidelity, resulting in the suppression of their sexuality. An insistence that the purity of a woman directly translated into her worth as a human being, sexist attitudes codified into law which made women first the property of their fathers and husbands, and later the sort of backward child-wards of their indulgent husbands. Most religions shame women for enjoying their sexuality, police who ask what a rape victim was wearing or if she’s been drinking are censoring her for her sexuality. When you suffer sexual bodily harm and get no justice because you decided not to just stay home knitting, your sexuality is being censored.

        Honestly, I feel all this MRA stuff has got to be the growing pains of having to learn to share your power toys. You’ve had a good run men, and it’s not over, you just have to let everyone else play, too, now. And that means that not everything gets to go your way all the time. Grownups compromise and cooperate, they don’t undermine each other at every turn to protect their little pile of figurative gold. It’s not a zero sum game.

  4. AEonFlux:

    Re: “The reason it’s important that men wrote all those movies is that when you’re trying to parse out what real women want from men, it’s pretty crucial to look at the behavior of real women.” Go back and read my Foreword.

    Re: “The behavior of real women”: So all women behave exactly the same? Would you please describe that monolithic behavior at, say, a singles dance or bar, or in the workplace. In other words, please be real. You have now the opportunity to tell men exactly how women behave. BTW, how did you learn how all women behave? That must have been exhausting.

    Re: “Recognizing a differential between the way two groups are treated is not sexist.” No, but your ideological-feminist interpretation of the differential is.

    Re: “Honestly, I feel all this MRA stuff has got to be the growing pains of having to learn to share your power toys.” What on earth are you talking about? As usual, an ideological feminist devolves into talk about “male power.” Please list all the power “toys,” privileges, and rights you think men have, and I will respond with a list of all the powers, privileges, and rights I think women have. One thing’s for sure, you did not read “The Doctrinaire Institute for Women’s Policy Research” That commentary will be my reference.

    I hate to say this, but you come across exactly like a feminist from the 1970s. Absolutely no change in your thought since then. I’ve read hundreds of feminist books. How many books have you read by gender experts like Warren Farrell? I’ll wager not a single solitary one. If that’s true, who’s biased and inflexible?

    You’ve dodged my major point in “Sexual Harassment Quagmire”: how we can dig out of it with the true equality that you only purport to believe in.

    I will not respond to you again unless you tell me what books you’ve read similar to those by Warren Farrell. At this point, you simply do not know enough about men (or women) to qualify as a well-rounded, reasoned debater.

    • AEonFlux says:

      It’s okay, we don’t have to continue to debate. But I do think you should get a few things straightened out in your reading comprehension, so that your discourse skills don’t lead you astray. I did not say that all women act the same, or suggest that they were some monolithic group. I said that real women are different from fictionalized women, and that basing your understanding of the motivations and behavior of real women on the fictionalized accounts of women written by men was not a solid foundation on which to base your argument. What you have done in your reply is to put words in my mouth that don’t reflect what I actually said. Straw man argument.

      You’ve also made a lot of assumptions about my education (or lack thereof) without knowing a single thing about me except what you can glean from two blog comments. It’s a big leap, an inaccurate one in point of fact, but providing you with a list of books or articles that I’ve read so that you can certify that I am indeed qualified for the privilege of conversing with you is a waste of my time. Besides which, your reported extensive reading does not seem to have broadened your understanding or deepened your empathy.

      Many, many things have changed since the 70s. However, your arguments reflect a misunderstanding of some of the very basic tenets of feminist thought, so if it sounded like a primer, it’s because I just didn’t feel you were in a place to discuss some of the more contemporary or esoteric issues. Especially since you keep misreading or skipping parts of my argument. Like where you ask me what privileges men have that women don’t–if you scroll up you’ll see where I mentioned women’s continuing lack of political representation. So far as yet, men retain most of the power to legislate, and that’s a huge privilege. It’s that one that allows people to codify our social beliefs into legal doctrine which must be followed, which is not discretionary. At slightly over half the population, women should make up just over half the population of our governing bodies.

      I’m going to put my participation here to rest because I get the feeling that you’re not really interested in true discourse, that your mind is already completely made up. But I really appreciate your comparison with Michael Kimmel. It’s the best compliment I’ve received all week.

      And I did read your doctrinaire (well, I read the first 3/4 but then skimmed the rest because I just couldn’t take all the fallacies anymore without my head exploding), but it’s so full of flawed logic and inaccurate information that I don’t feel make your case at all. You use a lot of passive voice about what is expected and required of men without making clear who does this requiring. Plus, you present a lot of conclusions with no hard data–at least in that first section on earning. Women’s sexual selection is not a driving force for men’s wages or career choices, in fact most research I’ve read in the last ten years suggests that it is not the opinions of women but of other men that drive men’s behavior.

      You know what, you’re right, we shouldn’t discuss this anymore–there are more mistakes in logic and presentation than I have the time or inclination to engage with. Your writing is sensationalistic and you have literally said nothing new, contributing nothing to the discussion that I haven’t read from MRAs a hundred times over. And your use of terms like “gays” and “blacks” and comparing them with women negates the experiences of all those groups. They, like women, are not monolithic, their unique challenges in this society are not comparable, and your account of their motivations and behavior is about as accurate as the depictions of women that your male screenwriters offer.

      You know what’s really divisive? When people try to tell you what hurts them and society, and instead of listening you say, but what about what hurts ME?! Feminists agree that our society is hard on men too, but since most laws and social standards assume maleness as the default, women have had to take on the responsibility for advocating for ourselves. Men have left us out of the decision-making process for centuries, so pardon us if for the first hundred years or two we focus on catching up before we make men the center of our attention again.

      I wish you well, but yes, let us end this discussion here.

      • Good ending! I think the “problem” between you and me is not so much you or I but our method of communicating. Email is the worst way to do it. I’ve had many face-to-face discussions like this, and they are far less tedious and easier to work through. I know personally several people who see things from your view, and they happen to be very good friends of mine. I have a feeling that would be true of you if I knew you personally. I wish you well, as well.

      • Never Blue Again says:

        You feminist are beyond debate…….. because you are beyond logic.

        “Like where you ask me what privileges men have that women don’t–if you scroll up you’ll see where I mentioned women’s continuing lack of political representation. So far as yet, men retain most of the power to legislate, and that’s a huge privilege. It’s that one that allows people to codify our social beliefs into legal doctrine which must be followed, which is not discretionary. At slightly over half the population, women should make up just over half the population of our governing bodies.”

        More political representation is not a privilege. It’s a duty .Which is earned by men. No one is stopping you from being a politician. Is this how you define privilege … ? Then why most women can give birth without a man (sperm donor/bank) but a man can’t.. Then it is also a privilege to women. Why don’t we make more invest into artificial womb technology to make it fair….. ?

        “At slightly over half the population, women should make up just over half the population of our governing bodies.”

        Are you insane … ? This is like saying China has a population of 1.34 billion. Nearly one fifth of the world population. So china should control one fifth of the world.

        Seriously these are the feminist logic……….. ??? Huh…. !!!

  5. Aaron says:

    This is a brilliant piece of writing that I couldn’t stop reading. Seemingly unbiased views expressed by presenting excerpts from several industry experts. A piece well worth my time.

  6. caprizchka says:

    It’s been a good many years since I was a hot young thing in the workplace, but I remember. The body is not always under one’s control and neither are the hormones and emotions. It would seem to me that Feminism marshaled all that discomfort and somehow framed it to make it “Patriarchy’s Fault” as opposed to Nature. Meanwhile, body dimorphism of some sort or another is epidemic, and so is malnutrition and mental illness–mostly on the female side of the population but males are catching up. It would seem to me that women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan are some of the worst influences on young women. I remember when I decided to quit them cold turkey at aged 30. I felt so much better about myself afterward. They are a burden! Meanwhile, so many women are terrified of ending up alone that the mixed signals of media get to be overwhelming. Fear–conscious and subconscious–seems to me to be underwriting all weird modern behavior particularly from a gender perspective.

    It would seem to me under the current climate that any workplace romance should be considered highly risky at all stages, including mere contemplation thereof. Moreover, if one decided to proceed regardless, it would seem to me the sign of an emotionally and socially mature woman for *her* to make the first move–otherwise, how could it possibly be worth it?

    I hope that more employers have prospective employees sign arbitration agreements that stick and otherwise find ways to protect themselves. I certainly could not blame an employer for failing to hire women given the murky legal waters. I’m so out of step that I wish that it would be possible to demand that a prospective female employee not get pregnant for a defined term. Ultimately, however, I think that the answer to so many of our social ills is to divest from the corporate world and instead turn to small business and entrepreneurialism whereby the family become the employees and otherwise completely put the whole notion of the sterile workplace in the grave. Forced integration and diversity is for the big-box employers–not the family business. The former is forcing us all into devolution to the lowest common denominator.

    For what it’s worth, as a career woman in high tech I was often the only female in the office but yet I exuded an “all business” aura which netted me only one instance of “harassment” which I was able to handle all by myself. In that office, however, there were other women who did complain about the same immigrant’s behavior (he wasn’t fully Americanized–is that a crime?) and I was called into the H.R. office for my reluctant testimony. I couldn’t understand why the other women couldn’t just say, “No”, like I did. Why was his persistence such a big deal? That’s all it was by my accounting.

    My own meme–which I proliferate as much as I can is this: “Sexual Harassment? Ask yourself: What Would Mae West Do? Let a raunchy sense of humor be your parasol.” Women today are such delicate hypocrites.

    • What a thoughtful comment! Thanks for your perspective. By the way, I suspect that if the “immigrant” in your place of work had looked like George Clooney, the women would not have complained. That’s why the comedian Chris Rock says sexual harassment laws/policies are meant only for unappealing men — but the laws/policies tend also to keep appealing men away.

      Thanks again.

  7. robocaller says:

    I’ve been reading the articles on this site, especially interested in the perspective the authors here on how men deal with their emotions. I don’t know where to post this comment, but after seeing the back and forth with AEonFlux, I thought you might be able to give me a reply.

    I agree with the authors here that there needs to be a place for men to talk about their social experiences, and also that, in so far as men are quiet about their feelings because they fear reprisal — from either men or women — that’s a negative thing and encourages repression.

    However, I think, in turn, the Feminist attack on stoic ideals has also been harmful socially, to both sexes. When people are taught that if they don’t let out all their feelings, they’re repressed, and if they don’t let all of their sexual feelings, they’re repressed sexually, it leads to social environments that discourage temperance and self-control. This can be seen in the binge drinking culture on college campuses, military bases, and elsewhere, which often ends up leading to incidences of rape. In turn, in many families I’ve witnessed, the women don’t moderate themselves and become excessively controlling and emotionally abusive towards their spouses and children. The husband, in turn, unable to cope with this — even after communicating his feelings, not remaining silent about them — might turn to drinking, and this worsens the situation.

    Plus, I’ve also seen plenty of incidences in which a person who honestly is self-reliant and doesn’t feel need to express himself — not from fear and repression, but simply because he’s content not to — is punished socially for not being expressive enough.

    So, to the extent men’s rights forums like this express a need for a social forum for mens issues, I agree with them. To the extent that they join hands with Feminists and further attack stoic ideals, I disagree.

    • Thanks for your well-written, heart-felt comment. I can’t disagree with most of what you said.

      We express feelings to various degrees. Some people, as you said, are just fine not expressing their feelings. You said, “Plus, I’ve also seen plenty of incidences in which a person who honestly is self-reliant and doesn’t feel need to express himself — not from fear and repression, but simply because he’s content not to — is punished socially for not being expressive enough.”

      Did you read “Because men express less emotion at work than women do, the Ninth Circuit Court denies them equal protection”

      And did you read “We often have different responses to the sexes for the same behavior”

      Expressing feelings can be tricky for men. If you rarely express your feelings, your spouse could rightly claim “I don’t know you after all these years.” That’s one danger of being stoic. What would you think if your spouse were sexually stoic, never expressing her sexual feelings? You might wonder if she really desires you.

      I’ll try to go into more when I have more time. Have to go pick up my granddaughter! She’s not quite two years old, and I do try to be expressive with her because children like responses from adults. In my view, enthusiastic responses, where applicable, help validate them and make them feel appreciated and cared for.

      Be sure that you’re not “repressing” your feelings to avoid being hurt. Being hurt is part of life. Learning how to deal with the hurt is part of life, too.

      • robocaller says:

        Repressing your feelings to avoid being hurt is the very opposite of stoicism, in my understanding.

        Stoicism is about learning to be happy, learning to deal with life, and learning not to be controlled by your emotions. To the degree that someone represses their feelings at all, that’s not genuine stoicism, because instead of learning to be happy, the person is just ignoring how unhappy he is, and to the degree that someone does that to avoid getting hurt its even less so — instead of being strong enough to deal with getting hurt, he’s just demonstrating how controlled by his feelings he actually is.

        And, of course, it it can’t always be about you. If there’s a real problem, you have to deal with it, regardless if whether you’re happy not to. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away; it often makes it worse. And if someone you love is upset, you have to work it out. You can’t be happy as long as they’re unhappy. And if someone needs to know you care about them, you need to show it. But, a key stoic virtue is patience, and I feel patience helps people do all of that better.

        Honestly, I think the saying that “communication makes a good relationship” is important advice — a lot of relationships do fail on communication — but its overrated. In some of the best relationships I’ve seen, the partners don’t feel the need to talk a lot. They don’t need to re-affirm they love each other, because they know it, and they work out their problems easily. The mutual tolerance of the spouses towards each other helps prevent bad feelings from brewing. On the other hand, in some of the worst relationships I’ve seen, the partners talk *a lot*. And a lot of it really isn’t “good talk.” Its stuff like gossip and criticism of neighbors. I find, it usually isn’t *lack* of communication that’s a problem in most relationships, its a lot of *bad* communication.

        I did read the article on the Ninth Circuit decision — but not the other one. My only complaint about that was that it seemed to reaffirm the idea that it was necessarily bad that men are less expressive than women, and this is always a negative, socially taught behavior. Sometimes it can take a bad form — I agree — but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

        I would put it this way — I think there are some things men can learn from women, and other things women can learn from men.

        People need to stop reading stoicism as synonymous with repression.

      • You wrote an excellent reply. Your definition of stoicism is one I agree with. Meanwhile, bear in mind you are expressing your feelings about being a stoic! And you’ve done a great job.

        To me, men are damned if they do express feelings, and damned if they don’t.

        Feel free to post your comments at the end of the “Ninth Circuit” piece — or anywhere. You write well and intelligently.

  8. gemguy says:

    What I like to often point out to people concerns how the way things are has a lot to do with who created the environment that we all too often have to deal with.
    It is a mans world out there more so than a women’s, relative to who exactly built the world that we all presently live in.
    When I think about all that women do have in their lives and their abilities to do what they can and often do achieve, I come to realize that it is men that have provided the women with the ability to do what they can do…far, far more so than their own abilities to change their environment.

    Most of the feminists like to think that all they have in their lives comes from their own initiatives and or their own hard work alone, while feminism and any gains in the feminist arena are hard won by way of women banding together and demanding equality for themselves….and all their achievements realized by way of their own efforts….. ..that is, to their way of thinking.

    If you ask yourself where did or where does the ability to do what they can do originate from, you come to realize that all the tools and ways and means and therefore abilities on hand for women to progress to this point are in effect provided to them by the societal environment surrounding them having been created by men….. far, far more so than ever provided by women.

    You have to realize that the comfortable safe environments and everything entailed,that so many women live in and more or less take for granted, were not created by women overall while it is men that have provided them with the powers and abilities they do presently have available to them.

    In countries like Canada and the USA ( usually the 2 countries that are commonly recognized as the most progressive counties concerning women rights and feminism ) you can clearly see that there are no real barriers to women’s ability to make their already semi charmed lives ( all the better ) if they really want to work hard to do so.
    Bear in mind, what has been created by men and often to the advantage of women also was not created out of thin air while the men that changed the world for the better had to commonly struggle like hell to achieve what they achieved resulting in the world as we know it….a modern world created by men that greatly benefits women also while near everything that men created is utilized by women also making their lives just as comfortable as men’s lives.

    The whole system , so to speak, is available to them to be utilized while we see that many women are utilizing the system, that men created, to their advantage while it is often not to a mans advantage….but the fact remains the system overall was created and built by the minds of men and men’s ceaseless imagination and their inherent drive to create…far more than women.

    In effect you are witnessing how the system that men have created and sustained being used against them to the advantage of women in a number of changing social circumstances.

    For example: The legal and justice system that is used against men by women was not created by women, although there are some women who are working participants and players in the existing system , so to speak, that men created…not women…but it is there to be utilized by and for women also.
    It is not a perfect system but historically if you follow the history of how laws and the judicial system evolved you will learn it was men who created the system…not women…but women use it against men when it is to their advantage.
    Point being, if men had not created such a system then the tools and the ways and means to fight against injustices and or perceived injustices would not be available to women to be used in their favor also.
    The women complain there is not enough women in political positions as if the only reason for that is men doing everything they can do to stop women from participating.
    Not ( entirely true ) as through the ages there has been numerous women who were involved in politics and held political positions within a ( man made political system ) not a political system created and sustained by women.
    The women that did participate had to fight hard to be a participant …but that fact simply underlines the fact that nearly all and any players in the political arena have had to fight and struggle to be rewarded with such a position as it is a tough game to play.
    Point is: Should the men just simply give those positions to the women, in a system that men created, not women, while stepping aside because the feminist and women’s groups call foul.
    If the women want to be part of the system then get ready to be a fighter and work hard to achieve your political goals and be ready to do it against men or with along with men because the game always was and remains so a system and an entity that men created…not women.
    But always bear in mind it was not women who created and sustained political systems.
    There should be no surprise to anyone that politics are controlled by men as it was men that created the whole entity…not women… many men still feel to today that it is mans game and men should be in control of the game they created.
    That is their prerogative to think as such.

    Anyhow there are far too many examples to list concerning ( the way it is) because it was created by men…not women and that is the main reason it is the way it is.

    • Wow. Thanks so much for taking the time to lay out your thoughts. You’ve properly given men their due, which is rarely given.

      Here’s a comment I’ve posted at various sites:

      Here’s a view that has been missing for 40 years in all the tens of thousands of reports about women and work:

      Society consists of two “worlds”: the world of work (the productive world) and the world of children (the reproductive world). Obviously each world needs the other for its survival, so both are needed for civilization’s survival. Hence, the two worlds are equally important.

      Despite this equal importance, what do you suppose is the result thus far of the 40-year-old push for “gender equality”? It seems to be this: We are ending men’s dominance in the world of work (The Economist at “women are gradually taking over the workplace”) and, largely because “women are the ones who give birth,” preserving women’s dominance in the world of children. (Men have no reproductive rights except the right not to participate in sex. Imagine if women had no rights in the productive world except the right not to participate.) This does not bode well for the hope of a non-violent society.

      Too many feminist economists don’t seem to realize that men face as much sexism in the world of children as women do in the world of work. They also don’t see that the forces preventing men from being fully integrated into the world of children are the same forces that prevent women from being fully integrated into the world of work.

      Thus they don’t realize this: There will never be full equality in the world of work for women so long as there is not full equality in the world of children for men.

      See an example of how men are limited in the world of children: “In movies, dads not treated as equal to moms”

      Again, thanks much for your great comment.

  9. Clarence says:

    This essay, long as it is, fails for the simple fact that it asserts that the only (or perhaps main) problem with the sexual harassment laws is that they are in an environment where men have to do the vast majority (if not the entirety) of the initiating.

    I don’t think the sexual psychology of ‘group men’ and ‘group women’ is anywhere near malleable enough to significantly change that. In no society, anywhere, at any time, have women done most of the initiating. There’s no doubt they can do SOME of it and I’m all for encouraging it, but for the most part women are not as sexually attracted to men they have to ask out as men who take initiative. Exceptions exist of course.

    But the real problem is that you fail to take on sexual harassment for what it is:
    Giving all the power in the workplace (esp. sexual power) to the most easily offended and those most ready (not necessarily the same person at all) to abuse such power.

    Of course It also allows women at a workplace to ‘police’ the men in their environment as you do point out that attractive men often get away with behavior an unattractive man (or even a ‘normally attractive’ male) could not.

    But I think the real problem with current sexual harassment law is that it is too broad and too attuned only to the perspectives of one sex.

    One should probably ban and punish things like repeated unasked for (when one has made ones lack of interest clear)propositions, any second degree or first degree assaults of a sexual nature (regular physical assault can be handled with the already extant laws) and esp any ‘quid pro quo’ requirements.

    And that should be it. Currently you can be fired, sued, or disciplined for over-heard private jokes, bikini pictures of your wife on your desk, singular propositions, and remarks that can be construed as sexual of any type.
    The categories of sexual harassment are so broad you can drive a tank through them. And they encourage Orwellian and suppressive work environments where people have to act like robots concerning the opposite sex. And with our SCOTUS openly embracing an anti-male sexist standard (‘reasonable woman’ instead of ‘reasonable person’) there is no chance of this changing any time soon.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments. The only points I disagree with among your many good points:

      Re: “This essay, long as it is, fails for the simple fact that it asserts that the only (or perhaps main) problem with the sexual harassment laws is that they are in an environment where men have to do the vast majority (if not the entirety) of the initiating.”

      I’m not sure I know how to respond to this. Are you talking about the work environment? Because the laws do pertain only to this environment, where “men have to do the vast majority (if not the entirety) of the initiating.” Exactly my point: why is it that men must do most of the initiating that puts them alone at risk? That’s precisely why I call for the equality I detail.

      Re: “I don’t think the sexual psychology of ‘group men’ and ‘group women’ is anywhere near malleable enough to significantly change that.”

      That’s true as long as no one raises the sexes’ consciousness about it. The vast majority of both sexes see no problem with the male-initiates rule until you point it out to them. Then they start making a connection between the rule and sexual harassment. Again, this is exactly why I wrote commentary.

      Re: “for the most part women are not as sexually attracted to men they have to ask out as men who take initiative.”

      I don’t think it’s that a woman is less sexually attracted to a man she “has to ask out,” as it is her upbringing makes her feel more valued by being asked out. To her, “having to ask a man” is degrading — so why is it not degrading to men? Answer: sometimes men do feel degraded when they are rejected. If the sexes equally took initiatives, neither would feel degraded and both would feel less pain when rejected. Which, again, is exactly why I wrote the commentary

      I would urge you to think about all this a little more deeply.

      Re: “But the real problem is that you fail to take on sexual harassment for what it is: Giving all the power in the workplace (esp. sexual power) to the most easily offended and those most ready (not necessarily the same person at all) to abuse such power.”

      Maybe I didn’t address this as directly as you’d like (and I appreciate your making the point because it is in fact very important). But I believe it is a theme that emerges in readers’ minds as they get deeper into the commentary. Or maybe not!

      Re: “One should probably ban and punish things like repeated unasked for (when one has made ones lack of interest clear) propositions….”

      They are punished. I very extensively addressed the reasons for repeated requests.

      Re: all your other comments: Good job!!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to give your thought to me and my readers.

  10. Clarence says:

    I’m claiming sexual behavior is based on evolutionary biology and thus most women’s character traits do not include a strong predilection for taking the sexual initiative. I could refer you to regular psychological studies , studies from the field of evolutionary psychology, Baumeister’s work, or I could do what I just did: point out that no culture in history has ever had women doing most of the sexual and relational initiating, or heck, anything close to half.

    I’m not saying we can’t increase it somewhat because there ARE aspects of culture (but culture is always constrained by biology) that act to suppress sexual assertiveness in women, but it’s a pipe dream to think it will ever be 50- 50 or heck, probably anything close. I think it could be a much better world if we could get it to 75/25, but I fear anything more than that is impossible. After all, it IS much easier for a woman to ‘take the lead’ these days than in the Victorian era (and if its shameful no one need know esp if you live in a big, anonymous city or do it over the web) but while I dare say that women do initiate more than in the Victorian era, there is hardly an epidemic amount of initiation.

    Anyway, this is a bit off-topic from the sexual harassment laws, which are sexually discriminatory on the face of them because of the before-mentioned standard.

  11. Jack Strawb says:

    Where in this is the acknowledgment that most studies show women no less prone to harassing, stalking, and abusing men, as the reverse? In that sense the article strikes me as fundamentally dishonest.
    “Women more likely to be perpetrators of abuse as well as victims

    Published: July 13 2006 Category:Education, Family, Gender, Law, Research

    “GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Women are more likely than men to stalk, attack and psychologically abuse their partners, according to a University of Florida study that finds college women have a new view of the dating scene.

    “We’re seeing women in relationships acting differently nowadays than we have in the past,” said Angela Gover, a UF criminologist who led the research. “The nature of criminality has been changing for females, and this change is reflected in intimate relationships as well.” “

    • Jack, thanks for taking time to respond.

      While I don’t link to studies of women’s harassment of men, I do give examples of women’s harassment being overlooked by the media. I also point out that women harass men economically.

      You’re quite right to point this out.

  12. eljffelfeflkje says:

    One request for a date by a coworker wouldn’t be considered sexual harassment. It’d be harassment if he kept on her about it or if he retaliated against her for turning him down.

    • Thanks for commenting!

      Re: “One request for a date by a coworker wouldn’t be considered sexual harassment.”

      Ordinarily, I believe that’s true. But one of working women’s complaints, as I point out, is that sexual harassment laws and policies have made men too skittish to ask even once. Women looking for relationships in the workplace are more difficult to find — often unless the woman approaches the man first, thus making her interest clear.

      Re: “It’d be harassment if he kept on her about it….”

      Yes, I say that many times, I think, in the lengthy commentary.

  13. Wally Konstanty says:

    I’ve been interested in the ‘logic’ of quota feminists who demand equal representation in politics, and upper management etc. It’s curious that they ignore equal representation in areas such as
    long-haul trucking, oil-rig work, roofing, ocean fishing, hazmet diving, bomb disposal, welding, auto mechanic, timber work, engine room work, carpenters,crane operating, etc, etc. I call these women ‘pick-and-choose’ feminists because they don’t really want ‘real equality’ but only that which favors them. There is a reason why men are 94 percent of all job related deaths. This ‘death-gap’ is completely ignored by misandrist fems who only see issues narrowly.

    • Wally, well put. I like your list of male-only jobs. Either feminists aren’t complaining about the low female-representation, or the media aren’t covering their complaints. I agree: I think it’s the former.

      As I say often: Remember, “feminists” are men as well as women, and tons of everyday women want no part of feminism as exhibited by many leading feminists.

  14. Bob says:

    “Nor have we really said that girls can and should initiate first dates instead of just indicating that they’re interested and waiting for the guy to ask.”

    Many men and 99% of women are too afraid of rejection to have the balls to make the first move…. that’s why men have testosterone, so they are pushed to make the first move…. Don’t try to re-engineer genetics…. men are men and women are women…. the new age 90s, equality for all are long gone….

    • Thanks for the comment.

      Re: “Many men and 99% of women are too afraid of rejection to have the balls to make the first move…. that’s why men have testosterone, so they are pushed to make the first move”

      No, that’s why many men drink to dull the fear and impact of rejection.

      Not trying to “engineer” anything. I leave everything to individual choice. I merely point out where I think the gender alienation — and much of sexual assault — come from.

  15. George says:

    “Both sexes make and both benefit from and are hurt by the rules both make.”

    White people make all the rules, be it male or female…so when an Asian male asks a white female out on a date and is persistent she could take it to HR and complain about sexual harrassment, because she may be a racist or simply may not like the Asian guy. He may be the only Asian guy in the organization and the white males most likely will not support him.

    • George, thanks for the comment. You gave a good example of the kind of gender-alienating possibilities created by the male-initiates “rule.” As for as white guys most likely not supporting him, I don’t know about that. You said it in a way that indicates you haven’t actually experienced this but suspect it would happen. I’m pretty sure that no one in my organization ( would withhold support from any man regardless of his race. But I do think most men tend to be apathetic about these things, though judging by comments I’ve seen over the years, that is changing pretty fast.

  16. Anderson N. Nunes says:

    Reblogged this on Nexo de Sobriedade.

  17. Despite the fact they don’t apply… these laws (copied just below) SHOULD apply to VAWA (which should have a “P” for “Persons” instead of the “W”.)
    The 2014 Florida Statutes
    Title XLVI
    Chapter 837
    View Entire Chapter
    837.05 False reports to law enforcement authorities.—(1)(a) Except
as provided in paragraph (b) or subsection (2), a person who knowingly 
gives false information to a law enforcement officer concerning the 
alleged commission of any crime, commits a misdemeanor of the first 
degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(b)  A person who commits a violation of paragraph (a) commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if the person has previously been convicted of a violation of paragraph (a) and subparagraph 1. or subparagraph 2. applies:
1. The
information the person gave to the law enforcement officer was 
communicated orally and the officer’s account of that information is 
corroborated by:
a. An audio recording or audio recording in a video of that information;
b. A written or recorded statement made by the person who gave that information; or
c. Another person who was present when that person gave that information to the officer and heard that information.
2. The information the person gave to the law enforcement officer was communicated in writing.
(2) A
person who knowingly gives false information to a law enforcement 
officer concerning the alleged commission of a capital felony, commits a
felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
History.—s. 57, ch. 74-383; s. 34, ch. 75-298; s. 206, ch. 91-224; s. 5, ch. 97-90; s. 1, ch. 2013-117.

  18. Kyle McKenna says:

    Quoted above: “If women say no, and you take them at their word, and that turns out to not be what they want (because they were playing some game or whatever) then their limited dating success will discourage them from playing that game anymore, and encourage them to be more frank about their needs.”

    Nonsense. They simply capitulate to a man who persists. Simples, as the Brits say.

  19. Just a Little Embarassed says:

    I am a 14 year old female, with a passion for rights of anyone and everyone. I have a deep interest in entering an engineering field, and this blog post elicits a great deal of worry for me. If I’m to be participating in a mostly male environment, I don’t want to be an object of concern. As a (hopefully) respectful and decent person, I would hope that I’d never overreact or harm someone else’s career, but I also have a fear of being pushed beyond my comfort zone. Even though I’m still many years away from entering the workplace, I am simply afraid to be in a situation that I can’t understand both sides of. The concept of sexuality is one that I am just beginning to understand, and yet it feels like there is so much danger of hurting someone else that the risk is not worth it. The concept of pursuing versus being pursued is honestly confusing. Although I read many novels with romantic themes, I always feel some sort of confusion over why the female lead can’t be bothered to just walk over and speak her mind. And yet, I understand. The beginning of any relationship is walking in blind, with no clue as to how the person might react, and exposing your guts (emotionally), giving someone else the power to hurt you. So please, any advice?

    • You are my youngest commenter! Thanks so much for taking the time to write (and you write very well). I don’t really give advice, since I am not a psychologist. To me, you seem very mature for your age, so I think you will grow up with a level head on your shoulders. You’ll learn that taking the risk of being hurt is a natural part of life. One can diminish hurt by understanding others, as you seem highly capable of doing.

      Re: “The beginning of any relationship is walking in blind, with no clue as to how the person might react, and exposing your guts (emotionally), giving someone else the power to hurt you.”

      That’s quite a profound statement for a 14-year-old. It describes the “male” role in male-female meet-ups.

      And think of this: “giving someone the power to hurt you.”

      No one has the power to hurt us unless we give them that power. Power is given, not taken. And no one does anything without a pay-off.

      If you think for many years about those last two sentences, you will be one of the most mature people on earth!

      Don’t rush yourself. Enjoy your childhood. At your age, you can expect to live to 100. Enjoy life!

  20. Joe Hardin says:

    The definition of sexual harrassment is simple: Any romantic gesture, comment, or overture to a woman from a man that the woman does not find immediately attractive.

    The persistence thing is interesting too. Many, especially young, women first go on looks, height, and build in deciding whether someone is attractive. But what they truly find attractive for a relationship is a personality that makes them laugh and feel secure. It sometimes takes persistence to get past the facade. Women should really accept more dates than they do.

    I don’t play those games anymore. I am very direct with my dates. It is now easy to get women to accept a date because I am rich, so I just need to figure out who I like. On a first date that is going well, I will usually ask directly, “Shall we find a hotel?” If there isn’t time, my followup is always, “Next time, then” and if I have done my filtering and judged her interest correctly, she will always agree and feel relieved that she does not have to guess. Many times I have been complimented that I have such direct communication; they appreciate it.

    My college age girlfriend (I am quite a bit older) describes herself as a “feminist”, but she loves flowers, chocolates, physical closeness and sex and is quite passive about it. She first comes across as a bit edgy, but as soon as she is the slightest bit aroused, she is “do what you want with me.” She has bought into the feminist bs mentally, but emotionally she wants a man to lead, protect her, and be chivalrous.

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