Sunday, December 3, 2017

Rules

With all the sexual harassment in the news, I believe the amount of sexual harassment will decline. That's a good thing. However, do you think there will also be a backlash?
 - question asked on an "Ask Men" forum on [redacted

I have a very simple rule about relationships in the workplace.

1. No.

I don't flirt, I don't tease, I don't make innuendoes. I don't touch people beyond a handshake or a fist bump. I'm friendly and that's as far as it goes.

It ruins plenty of opportunities of my own, especially since outside of work, my social life is mostly online and hardly at all face-to-face, but I've seen it blow up in too many other people's faces to take that kind of chance.

I'm not convinced that all the sexual harassment shaming in the media will reduce the amount it happens. I think what will change is how we define sexual harassment, and I think it's going to get worse. If we continue at this rate, I worry that asking a woman out will be perceived as harassment if it's merely unwanted. Did I do anything wrong? No. Did I touch her in any way? No. Did I make any assumptions about her character? No. Did I look at her improperly? No. And yet, she may still perceive it as harassment.

I think the media giving soapboxes to everybody who thinks or claims they've been harassed is going to cause us problems. I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.

It's also going to change some things, and one of them may actually be for the better.

Gone will be the days when a woman can flutter her eyes and make subtle references in order to get your attention. She's going to have to be direct in her pursuit of interest, because anything less than that, guys are going to perceive it as a trap. You're acting this way to get me to break a rule, and then you're going to claim harassment. Guys are going to have to be defensive against the trap, and to counter-navigate it, women are going to need to be less subtle. 

And if we can't adapt, well, there are too many people on the planet. It might not do the economy any good to have an elderly-heavy population, but fewer guys picking up on hints might just be the break nature needs.

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