ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷

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Sexual Harassment & Misplaced Indignation

One of the most deleterious consequences of the Politically Correct moment is its not-too-subtle insinuation that people’s lives ought to be perpetual psychologically-insulated cocoons – that those who dare introduce The Protected to the emotional bumps and scrapes attendant to everyday living are vilest of criminals.

- African-Americans who hear the dreaded “N-word” at work deserve millions of dollars from their employer for “psychological trauma.”
- If a gay man overhears somebody tell a “fag joke,” the joke-teller (and everybody who laughed) deserves to be sent to prison.
- If a woman receives an unwanted proposition from a client, she is a victim of “sexual harassment,” and needs to sue.


I’m treading on touchy ground here – and I want to be careful. From the interactions I’ve had with him, Raymond strikes me as a very intelligent and thoughtful individual. That said, I completely disagree with his verdict that the incident was a 'clear case of sexual harassment.’

In my opinion, it is anything BUT clear. The guy in the story is guilty of many things: tackiness, bad manners, poor judgment … but was what he did criminal?

I know there are those among you (hi foobiwan!) who will read the girl’s account and probably sneer: “she kissed him back and she’s now whining about being harassed?! WTF?! Typical female dishonesty.”

While I wouldn’t go that far, that detail does bring up a few interesting points that many people, in their haste to condemn the Evil Sexual Predator, missed.

Back up a bit.

Speaking as a guy, I have to admit: I sometimes find it difficult figuring out whether a woman is attracted to me. Is Helen just being friendly, or is she waiting for me to make the first move? Was Jennifer’s offer to meet for coffee purely platonic? If Alison constantly complains about her lame boyfriend in front of me, should I take that as a hint?

Trying to read a woman’s desire sometimes feels like taking an intense Berlitz lesson in female double-speak. But unless you want to spend your life waiting to be approached by women, at some point, you have to reach out, seize the initiative … and take that chance.

And, like millions of men before you, you will fail.


But if you think about it - it's inevitable. Simple evolutionary psychology/biology: sperm is cheap, eggs are expensive – and men and women approach each other accordingly. Dust yourself off and move on – hopefully a bit wiser.

So, what’s the point that digression?

How many of you met your S.O. through the workplace? Of those (speaking to the guys), how many rejections did you go through before you met your current paramour? Unfortunately, in a P.C. age, each instance of rejection also means an equal and opposite incident of Unwanted Sexual Advance™.

The hell of it is, I don’t think it even qualifies as completely "unwanted."

I’m going to catch some heat for saying this, but I think it’s important and relevant: while I agree that the guy who cornered the girl and kissed her was rude and grotesquely unprofessional, he did read the girl well enough to know she’s attracted to him at some level.

I don’t think she’d ever cop to it (blame social conditioning – a woman who admits attraction to a lot of men (particularly if she currently has a boyfriend) is looked down upon as being ‘easy.’) , but you don’t kiss back people who you aren’t attracted to.

If some guy kissed me at work, you can bet I wouldn’t be blushing and stammering … and you know damn well I would never give him a chance to kiss me again.

I know what my response would have been: “Look – I’m flattered on an abstract level that you find me desirable, but what you just did gave me some major league heebie-jeebies. If I catch you trying anything like that again, I will kick your ass. Now can we continue with this project, or should we just agree to meet at a later time when others in the room?”

That would be the end of it.

Far as I can tell, the guy didn’t offer “favorable compensation, terms of conditions, promotions, or privileges” (the legal definition of sexual harassment) if she responded positively to his come-ons.

Whatever else his sins, he read her attraction to him correctly (but, clearly, not her intentions) – and propositioned her in a clumsy and unprofessional manner. Should this be a legal issue? I think not – but Political Correctness has inflated transgressions against good taste and manners into criminal offenses. I believe this is a terrible mistake.

We are rightly appalled at uncouth behavior – but lumping such things into the category of “sexual harassment” cheapens the term and diminishes the struggles of those who’ve dealt with genuine issues working for people who abuse their positions to extract sexual favors from subordinates.

Not every instance of multiple killings is a ‘genocide.’
Not every ethnic joke is a ‘hate crime.’
And not every unreciprocated sexual proposition (however tacky) ought to be considered ‘sexual harassment.’
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