Quantcast

«

»

Feb 28 2013

It’s all so easy

Rod Liddle is going for the contemptuously sexist asshole prize again. All this fuss about Rennard and his way of pestering women; pish tosh, old bean, what a lot of bother about nothing.

I don’t doubt that it is sometimes unpleasant for women to work in some male-dominated trades and professions, because of the behaviour and attitudes of some of the majority gender. Nor do I doubt that plenty of professions are still rife with sexism and discrimination, politics almost certainly being one of them. But I am not convinced that Rennard’s alleged crimes give us much evidence of this. One of the accusations against Rennard is that he ‘propositioned’ a couple of women, despite apparently being aware that they were in long-standing relationships.

Now, it may slightly turn the stomach to be propositioned by a sweating Europhile lardbucket with breath that could stun a badger at 30 paces, but — hell — a cat can look at a king. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, etc. Sometimes if you ask you also don’t get. All the time, it would seem, in the case of Lord Rennard. But the poor bloke should be allowed to ask, shouldn’t he? Over the past 30 years the workplace has become the venue within which we meet our sexual mates, as Chris Huhne will confirm for you. Obviously these relationships have to start, you know, somehow, don’t they? And asking nicely seems to me a reasonable means of finding out if they are going to start at all.

I have the distinct suspicion that Lord Rennard’s overtures might have been considered less obnoxious if he more closely resembled, say, Orlando Bloom or Joaquin Phoenix than Jabba The Hutt. And a similar suspicion that the anger of the women would have been less deeply felt if they hadn’t discovered he’d tried it on with loads of others and that they weren’t special after all. The hand-on-the-knee business is not especially pleasant, for sure; but is it too antediluvian, too chauvinistic, to suggest that it might easily be brushed off?

Give that man the prize.

46 comments

1 ping

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    It is like the sexist assholes go to a meeting and pick up a pamphlet of BS rationalizations. If anyone needed evidence that sexism is cultural, look no further than that fact.

  2. 2
    Landon

    Among many, many other things wrong with this, I love how this asshole goes from suggesting it’s no big deal if someone “asks nicely” to equating it with “[t]he hand-on-the-knee business,” as if a polite enquiry as to someone’s relationship status were at all the same thing as TOUCHING SOMEONE UNINVITED. Holy cats, man. I mean, there’s a LOT of other shit to deal with in this, but that stood out to me right away.

  3. 3
    iknklast

    This brings back horrible memories! When I was subjected to unwelcome sexual approaches at the office, and I complained to management, I was told I should be flattered! Why? I don’t know, they didn’t explain that. Just, I should be flattered. Were they saying I was ugly? Almost certainly not. They just didn’t know what else to say to excuse the behavior.

    Then, they said that I must have been at fault because I was friendly with people around the office. The people they mentioned were all good friends, all female, and we talked about lots of things. Because I complained to one of my female colleagues about the sexual behavior of a male superior, I created an environment where he felt I was interested. Wow. And double wow.

  4. 4
    DumbDrunkAndRacist

    The laws protecting people from discrimination and harassment in the workplace have come a long way in the last 30 years but there are still people who bring an old-fashioned sexist attitude to work (and the other areas of their life) with them. Every time something like this happens it needs to be brought forward not covered up or dismissed. Everyone who sees this happening or is a victim should do this. That way we can affect an attitudinal change, as we already have a lot of the laws in place.

    Well done to the ladies who stood up to this man and complained about his actions.

    Thankyou Ophelia for highlighting Mr Liddle’s article. Even though it does give him some oxygen it also brings his attitudes to public notice and shows them up for being sexist and old-fashioned. People should call him on his attitude and his choice to defend someone like Lord Rennard.

  5. 5
    bad Jim

    Simple answers to simple questions:

    The hand-on-the-knee business is not especially pleasant, for sure; but is it too antediluvian, too chauvinistic, to suggest that it might easily be brushed off?

    Yes, actually, since it might just as easily be stabbed with the handiest sharp object.

  6. 6
    barrypearson

    I became seriously interested in a married woman at work when she stood next to where I was sitting, rubbing her thumbs against her skirt “twanging” her suspenders through the skirt.

    I think that counts as a bit more than “asking nicely”!

    She moved in with me with her daughter within a year and we had a house built together and lived there for several years until we separated.

    (I’ve been patted on the bottom by a secretary, and it was disconcerting and embarrassing. But in different circumstances it might have had satisfactory and longer-term consequences. I do not resemble Orlando Bloom; but being skinny, nor do I resemble Jabba The Hutt).

  7. 7
    testostyrannical

    I do think there is something to the notion that certain kinds of ostensible violations of sexual propriety are more likely to be understood as violations depending on who is engaging in them. Like, if you’re working in an office, and a hot guy shows some interest in you, are you going to feel the same way about it than if it’s an unattractive person? I think the mistake here is in thinking that women are obliged to some kind of permissive egalitarianism in this context. There is a place and time for awkward sexual advances, and it’s not at work-if a woman is less likely to be annoyed by that kind of behavior depending on who is engaging in it, that isn’t evidence of anything important.

  8. 8
    throwaway

    Like, if you’re working in an office, and a hot guy shows some interest in you, are you going to feel the same way about it than if it’s an unattractive person?

    Why is the attractiveness important? It’s like you think of women as sex-crazed teenagers just dying for their moment with One Direction and will sacrifice their long-held principles of “Don’t violate my space, don’t take my polite refusal as acknowledgment, stop harassing me.” That’s the vibe I get from that quote of yours and from Liddle as well. That women will just be punishing the uncharismatic perpetual awkward loner by reacting disproportionately negative toward similar advances.

  9. 9
    throwaway

    I think the mistake here is in thinking that women are obliged to some kind of permissive egalitarianism in this context.

    In what context, exactly? Can you define permissive egalitarianism? Is there a form of ‘restricted equality’ which is its counter? How does it manifest? Can you give examples?

    I can’t understand what you mean, and that is not to suggest that the failing is yours, it may in fact be entirely my fault. Do not think my questions as meaning to instill hostility into the conversation. I simply want to be clear on what you were saying.

  10. 10
    barrypearson

    Having worked in offices for decades before I “retired” I’ve seen a lot of things that would raise eyebrows here.

    There was a large spectrum of behaviour, and a large spectrum of attitudes and responses to any given behaviour. We read and hear about the cases that go wrong, but sometimes they are hard to distinguish from cases that end up in long-term relationships. Some of the latter would not look good written down!

    One of my managers was a (non muslim) woman of Iraqi origin. She appeared to feel it was her duty to help single people working for her to become “attached”. (I believe the same applies to Japanese managers who feel it is their duty to help unmarried women along the path to marriage once they reach some particular age).

    She would “help” me with suggestions of her single friends. When I eventually pointed out that her suggestions were all significantly younger than me, she paused for about 5 seconds then said “Ah … well, I have these other friends who are a bit older”! I have no idea how that would appear in the press nowadays.

    At one extreme are cases where there is a “power relationship” and the intent is almost certainly a short-term one-sided relationship. These should be condemned. But others are “human life” transplanted into the workplace. And human life isn’t conducted entirely according to simple bland rules.

    (Lots of other aspects of human life get transplanted into the workplace, such as evangelising and commercial activities. I bought my first house from a colleague at work. Inappropriate?)

  11. 11
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit

    Why is the attractiveness important? It’s like you think of women as sex-crazed teenagers just dying for their moment with One Direction and will sacrifice their long-held principles of “Don’t violate my space, don’t take my polite refusal as acknowledgment, stop harassing me.” That’s the vibe I get from that quote of yours and from Liddle as well. That women will just be punishing the uncharismatic perpetual awkward loner by reacting disproportionately negative toward similar advances.

    Because the unspoken assumption is that women are “sex vending machines.” According to that idea, women exist for the sole purpose of attracting and then judging men. So in that view every action a woman makes is about drawing in men, rather than stuff a woman does because she’s a person. And by the same theory, good looking men are born with extra “sex tokens” that they can dump into a woman and get sex, like a vending machine. Less-attractive men have to deposit more tokens, by buying women things and treating them well… but if a less-attractive man does those things and still doesn’t get sex, it means that the woman cheated him out of his due reward.

  12. 12
    throwaway

    OH! I think I get it now! Thanks to Joe for spurring some thinking gears. Testos means permissive egalitarianism – in the context of hot men approaching a woman inappropriately – that men won’t be getting any, while women be holding all the strings!

    Testotyrannical:
    Basically, if I’m reading right, you mean to say that women are totally capable of having agency, and since they have agency then applying their agency as they see fit – such that sexual advances are not all equally acceptable depending on mutual attraction, and will be responded to accordingly based on them exercising their right to autonomous decision making – is TOTES unfair to the guys whom they might not be attracted to for any number of reasons.

    Maybe I violated the principle of charity with this. Its late. I will make an apology if you were not in fact saying that.

  13. 13
    Matt Penfold

    I’m pretty sure Rod Liddle has a lifetime achievement award for services to sexism, misogyny and outright being an arsehole. It would be more noteworthy had he said something that was not anti-women.

  14. 14
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I’ve got a Bingo!

    Yeah, we’re such hypocrites, us women. If it only were a hot guy who harassed us. It’s just us pesky women riding the cock-caroussel who diss all the poor beta to omega males…

    barrypearson

    There was a large spectrum of behaviour, and a large spectrum of attitudes and responses to any given behaviour. We read and hear about the cases that go wrong, but sometimes they are hard to distinguish from cases that end up in long-term relationships. Some of the latter would not look good written down!

    That’s because you’re not looking at the right things.
    The difference might very simply be consent.
    The difference might be that one person was couragous enough to stand up and the other wasn’t.
    The difference might be that one person bought into the internalized sexism and yes, actually took persistent advances and inappropriate behaviour as compliments and signs of sincerity.
    And please stop making that stupid point that seems to be that women are mysterious creatures and you can never know and how was the poor guy supposed to know?
    If people can’t tell the difference between flirting or showing interest and sexual harassment, they should not do any of it. I don’t think that anybody has ever said that you aren’t allowed to make some polite advances.
    There’s nothing criminal about asking your colleague “would you like to come for a drink after work some time?” But there is something very wrong about asking it for the 5th (or actually, even 2nd) time after you’ve been told “no”, and it is inappropriate if you are in a position of power.
    Also, you might realize that in your own example you didn’t tell your boss that you disapproved of her behaviour, you told her you disapproved of her choices.

  15. 15
    mildlymagnificent

    barrypearson

    Having worked in offices for decades before I “retired” I’ve seen a lot of things that would raise eyebrows here.

    I too put in several decades in offices, most of them quite large. I also spent a few of those years as a committee member/unofficial counsellor for the Sexual Harassment Team.

    “Raise eyebrows”? More like raise a clenched fist, half salute, half righteous anger.

    Perhaps no-one ever brought to your attention the more egregious incidents and the worst people with the worst behaviour. But if your office was of any reasonable size, I can assure you that your raised eyebrows response was only because you weren’t aware of what actually happened to some of the women in your organisation. (And yes. Marriage of workmates was also quite common in the organisations I worked in, but so was harassment of several kinds, stalking, physical “approaches” and a few, occasional assaults.).

  16. 16
    rq

    Also, I was under the impression that women go to work to, you know, work. And I was going to say what Giliell said regarding asking once and accepting rejection instead of repeating oneself ad nauseum.

    throwaway
    Your final thought-process seems to be what I got from the original comment – that women having (and exercising) agency (by choosing which advances to accept)

    is TOTES unfair to the guys whom they might not be attracted to for any number of reasons.

    That being said, an attractive guy approaching me inappropriately is still approaching me inappropriately, and even the likes of Orlando-Bloom-resembling men can come off as extremely creepy (and therefore extremely rejectable) if not approaching correctly. That is, not hearing the word no or putting too many hands on knees when undesired. So, really, the attractiveness is not really a factor when weighed against general unwanted persistence and overall creepiness of actions. I mean, honestly, how does the phrase I’d rather be sexually harassed by Joaquin Phoenix sound? Revolting, is what. *shudder* I’d rather not be sexually harassed in any way or any place, especially work.

  17. 17
    AsqJames

    So Rod Little is still an adolescent arsehole then? Plus ca change…

    Re “they wouldn’t mind if it was a hot guy coming on to them.”

    Having been the subject of unwelcome advances from an attractive woman, I can tell you I certainly did mind. In fact in some ways it was worse because I felt the cultural and peer group pressure to welcome the advances which added an extra layer of discomfort. I can only imagine all the other cultural conditioning and baggage heaped on women makes such situations even worse for them.

  18. 18
    eric

    There seems to be a a fundamental flaw in his reasoning; just because some people get away with bad behavior does not mean its not bad. Just because a cop doesn’t stop every speeder, doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have the right to stop you. He or she does. Some other guy getting away with harassing a woman in their office does not give you a licence to harass. Doesn’t matter what they look like. Doesn’t matter what you look like. If you’re the person who gets pulled over, acknowledge you did something wrong and most importantly, in the future, slow down.

  19. 19
    tonyinbatavia

    Cha-ching! On behalf of saramayhew, who Tweeted instructions to Ophelia about how Ophelia should write Ophelia’s blog — funny that, since this is Ophelia’s blog and not Sara’s, but apparently Sara’s superior superiority complex allows for her to feel justified in demanding things of other people — I have just donated more money to the “You Hate, Ophelia Profits” fund. Thanks to Sara for inspiring a donation that helps Ophelia line her pockets. And thanks, Ophelia, for a “lazy” post in which you quote extensively, which meant that I didn’t have to give that author an extra page view; I really appreciate your approach of letting small people speak for themselves.

  20. 20
    Ophelia Benson

    She did? Good grief. Why is Sara Mayhew so interested in me? I’m not at all interested in her; why is she so interested in me?

  21. 21
    Ophelia Benson

    So she did.

    Sara E. Mayhew‏@saramayhew

    Learn to summarize someone else’s point instead of quoting huge blocks of text. Lazy blogging. Bad writing. Examples: @OpheliaBenson @szvan

    Stupid. Very, very stupid. The whole point is to show exactly what he said, the way he said it – in short, to quote him exactly. It’s a perfectly normal thing to do on a blog (and elsewhere on the internet). Granted, it wasn’t a perfectly normal thing to do before the internet, because there was no ideal medium for it. But now there is, so people do it. It’s not the only thing I do, but it’s one of the things I do. I don’t need to “learn to summarize”; I know how to summarize; summarizing wasn’t what I wanted to do there, I wanted to give a sample of Liddle’s gratingly smug, blokey, dismissive, entitled way of writing.

    Man, she’s determined to get in my face. All I want to do is ignore her, but she won’t let me. What’s that about?

  22. 22
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Ophelia, I’ve apparently picked up a similar barnacle… and I keep asking the same question: WHY? When it is so easy to not pay any attention to other people, why follow them around. And how likely is it that you’re the bully when they are the one constantly talking about you and trying to get your attention?

  23. 23
    noxiousnan

    Saramayhew, it only looks that way when Ophelia quotes Vacula. He takes 600 words to get to a 15 word point.

  24. 24
    Nepenthe

    Uh, I think we have a case of friendly fire here.

    To clarify, I think, testotyrannical:

    I think the mistake [made by Liddle et al.] here is in thinking that women are obliged to some kind of permissive egalitarianism in this context.


    @barry

    And if you drug and violate enough women in bars, you may eventually come across one who has fantasized about that all her life. This does not indicate that it’s okay to drug and violate women in bars. And if you sexually harass enough co-workers, you may find one who likes it. This does not indicate that it’s okay to sexually harass co-workers.

    Louis CK has an amusing bit about this difficult philosophical problem. (I think this is the bit; I’m in public and unable to listen to the audio.)

  25. 25
    Nepenthe

    But Ophelia, if you quote and don’t summarize, how can your opponents accuse you of quote-mining and misconstruing your opponents’ arguments!? How inconsiderate!

  26. 26
    noxiousnan

    Liddle had a point? That’s what threw me; I thought Mayhew was talking about Vacula’s writing tips. It makes more sense than her referring to this post showing someone’s writing.

  27. 27
    noxiousnan

    On the nose, Nepenthe.

  28. 28
    Don Quijote

    OT. @4 DumbDrunkAndRacist.

    Not a name to win you friends, or is that another name for SteveR.

  29. 29
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    Testro, yes it was still gross to have been harassed at work by a conventionally attractive man. He was younger than me and quite fit. He was still a disgusting asshole. I quit my job. He still has his.

    Please stop searching for reasons why it might, sometimes , maybe be OK to sexually harass women. Please, please don’t make the argument that it might be OK because maybe women really like it under the right circumstances.

  30. 30
    freemage

    Yeah, Nepenthe has the right of it. People who gripe about extensive quotes do so mainly because it denies them the ability to claim that something else was meant, or that the quote was taken out of context, or that you’re putting words in the original writer’s mouth.

    I do think folks need to go back and read Testostyrranical @7, though. While he does suggest that an inappropriate come-on from someone the target finds to be attractive is less likely to offend than one from someone the target finds unattractive (that might actually be a reasonable psychological study, if you could quantify the attraction variable somehow), he also does state clearly that this does not make the inappropriate come-on any less inappropriate. “There is a place and time for awkward sexual advances, and it’s not at work” is a pretty definitive statement.

  31. 31
    rowanvt

    I was stalked by a man who was conventionally attractive when I was 17. When I was 20, a very attractive male friend decided that I should be his girlfriend, despite the fact I was engaged and became creepy-stalkerish.
    This was extra not-okay in my brain because I’m not beautiful. I’m not particularly pretty. I’m pretty average. With guy #2, people were telling me I should be flattered. They were *dismissive* of my extreme discomfort and even fear because I was plain, and he was handsome. I’m pretty sure the same thing would have happened with #1 if the cops had actually *done* anything the time he tried to break into my house.

  32. 32
    SallyStrange

    I do think folks need to go back and read Testostyrranical @7, though. While he does suggest that an inappropriate come-on from someone the target finds to be attractive is less likely to offend than one from someone the target finds unattractive (that might actually be a reasonable psychological study, if you could quantify the attraction variable somehow), he also does state clearly that this does not make the inappropriate come-on any less inappropriate. “There is a place and time for awkward sexual advances, and it’s not at work” is a pretty definitive statement.

    Well, I think you and Testotyrannical need to check your privilege.

    It’s pretty well established that treating attractive people nicer is a fairly universal human trait.

    However, this fact is ONLY ever brought up in discussions about sexual harassment as a rhetorical device used to a.) paint women as overreacting, hypocritical bitches and b.) dismiss outright any claims of sexual harassment because “Oh you wouldn’t mind if George Clooney (or Brad Pitt or Channing Tatum or whoever the heartthrob du jour is) did it to you.”

    Seriously, fuck Testotyrannical and fuck you for defending him. If there were no history of that trope being used over and over again to pretend that sexual harassment isn’t a thing, then it would merely be a useful comment. However, since there IS a long history of men using the “You’re just calling it sexual harassment because he’s ugly”, it contributes to and perpetuates sexism and male supremacy. Testotyrannical should apologize and so should you.

  33. 33
    SallyStrange

    Sorry, when I wrote “useful,” I meant “useless.”

    As in, “Testotyrannical, the best thing one could possibly say about your comment is that in an alternate world where sexism wasn’t a problem, it would be useless.”

  34. 34
    SallyStrange

    There are other mistakes in my comment but I trust it’s decipherable. Typing while angry makes my writing suck, and that stupid trope about women crying sexual harassment only when they don’t find the offender attractive is just so common and SOOOO insulting.

  35. 35
    Nepenthe

    @Sally Strange 34

    Sorry Sally, I’ll make sure to check my male privilege. *rolls eyes*

  36. 36
    SallyStrange

    You’re freemage, Nepenthe?

    Sorry, I just… don’t see the point of bringing that up. Yeah, I get that Testotyrannical said “Oh this doesn’t excuse it or anything,” but the problem is that 99% of the time, that’s exactly what it’s being used for: excusing sexual harassment and insulting and denigrating the women who report it.

  37. 37
    Nepenthe

    @Sally

    No, I’m not freemage, but I had defended Testotyrannical, so I assumed that the “check your privilege” applied to me as well.

    Sorry, I just… don’t see the point of bringing that up.

    It’s not like they brought it up out of the blue in order to dismiss harassment. From the quote in the OP:

    I have the distinct suspicion that Lord Rennard’s overtures might have been considered less obnoxious if he more closely resembled, say, Orlando Bloom or Joaquin Phoenix than Jabba The Hutt.

    And barry spewed his “wisdom” 20 minutes before testotyrannical’s post, making it reasonable to conclude that the post was a response to barry. It seems a bit harsh to jump on someone for, y’know, talking about what’s being talked about. But what do I know.

  38. 38
    throwaway

    I stand by what I said. The phrasing of

    I think the mistake here is in thinking that women are obliged to some kind of permissive egalitarianism in this context.

    means that women shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose, based on their urges, what they deem as violations – because, presumably they would be inconsistent.

    The fact that testo says that it shouldn’t take place at work, period, doesn’t detract from my criticism at all.

  39. 39
    testostyrannical

    Maybe for the purpose of stabilizing a helpful norm (like, women being able to work without having to deal with guys hitting them) it would be better if all attempts at romance in the office were rejected and/or reported. I don’t really know. I just don’t think the kind of scenario where a woman who is legitimately interested in a man and happy that he propositioned her at the office is really something that strains credulity, I also don’t think it’s impossible to sometimes be flattered, sometimes be creeped out by what is basically the same activity being performed by two different people. There is no sense in trying to impose a rule of fairness here-all any sort of rule like that is intended to do is to guilt women out of their agency.

  40. 40
    testostyrannical

    I would add that my intent is a kind of analysis of what’s sexist about something a man said. It may be that my analysis is wanting in some regard, or that there’s some really important part of all this I’m missing because I’m a dude. I’m willing to entertain those possibilities. But I have to say my patience is growing thin with the casual accusations of “privilege” that I get because I’m a guy who is trying to think through feminist issues and have conversations about them with other people. This happens an astonishing amount of the time. Presumably, there are a lot of smart women who would like men on board with them when it comes to feminist issues. I have a hard time seeing how feminist critiques of male behavior (when they are warranted) have any chance of actually changing the way guys behave (which would be the desired social end) if the guys themselves are not convinced of the critiques. I’m totally willing to help, but I can’t help if I don’t understand what’s going on, and the way I go about understanding is an essentially agonistic rhetorical process. Which means I’m going to take certain kinds of risks just to see how the arguments go. Explaining what I don’t seem to understand about something is useful. Telling me I’m a dude who just can’t get there without tripping over my dick is not.

  41. 41
    throwaway

    Maybe for the purpose of stabilizing a helpful norm (like, women being able to work without having to deal with guys hitting them) it would be better if all attempts at romance in the office were rejected and/or reported.

    Yes. I totally agree that office romance should be discouraged. And it is in all of the companies I’ve ever worked for, especially where it involved a conflict of interest. But the lecherous behavior which Leddle was describing was not a naturally occurring romance developed over periods of time working with someone. It was his libido spraying and praying. It’s not a case of mixed signals, or anything like that, allegedly Rennard behaved as if he were in a bar room and treated the women like barflies. The women were directly propositioned in a sexual manner. Like sex objects. Not as potential relationship equals. Not as romantic interests. But as sexual-jollies-in-waiting.

    Now, that is unequivocally wrong behavior, particularly at work, disturbingly acceptable in other places. Romance, the kind which is not forced due to a leverage in power dynamics, the kind which isn’t obstructing with the goals of the company which those involved in romance work for, the kind which doesn’t lead to cronyism or nepotism, I don’t see why the permissive nature toward personal autonomy should be trumped when the attractions are mutual and acceptable to those involved and lead to no harm. Restricting romance on all counts is repressive and authoritarian, slightly inhumane, and on the whole entirely unreasonable to be managed with fairness and in due deference to individual autonomy.

    Who is being hurt by the current ‘permissive egalitarianism’ extended to both sides with regard to romance, and do you have any numbers to back that up?

    I don’t really know. I just don’t think the kind of scenario where a woman who is legitimately interested in a man and happy that he propositioned her at the office is really something that strains credulity, I also don’t think it’s impossible to sometimes be flattered, sometimes be creeped out by what is basically the same activity being performed by two different people.

    I never said I didn’t believe the scenario. I acknowledged it, actually. I just don’t think it matters when it comes to determining whether it was fair of a person to acknowledge or admonish the behavior. As SallyStrange mentioned, the tactic has been used by sexual harassers to rationalize their rejection and denigrate their sexual interest as having too high standards. Really? You want ‘standards of attraction’ to play a part in determining whether something was sexual harassment or not? Because that can lede into a discussion of body betrayal…

  42. 42
    testostyrannical

    I kind of don’t want there to be explicit standards for sexual harrassment at all. That’s the thing I’m resisting. There have to be guidelines but they should be as vague as possible. A woman shouldn’t have to explain anything about why the dude who hit on her at work creeped her out. She also shouldn’t have to explain, in another context, why a different dude who hit on her didn’t creep her out. The attraction thing is just an obvious variable that might play into the differences, but it doesn’t matter. For this same reason, I’m not eager to apply an argument that attempts to show that Rennard was objectively creepy in some way. There’s this attempt to explain how explicit features of his conduct are proof that he was engaged in harrassment, including physical contact. I think as soon as you start trying to specify conditions, all this starts getting really legalistic, and you can have scenarios where dudes are out there duding it up, but insist that they are really on their best behavior because they haven’t touched the woman, or have only implied their sexual interest, or whatever. The more general rule here might be something like: no person should have to explain why they don’t wish to be the object of the unwanted attention of some other person. Attempts to convince other people that they have to justify their reasons for wanting to be left alone are always at best veiled attempts at coercion.

  43. 43
    bad Jim

    The basic problem is that women who work someplace, or who are attending a professional conference, would probably prefer to be treated as colleagues rather than potential playthings. As a rule, one should never attempt a sexual advance in a professional setting, and should be cautious and attentive even in a less formal environment.

    More particularly, given that we are all operating in what is still a rather rapacious patriarchal society, guys ought to avoid hitting on girls at work at all, beyond the bare necessity of badinage, because what we’re doing is still pretty effective at keeping women down. Just being cool is still, in effect, fucked up and bullshit, judging by the results.

  44. 44
    And How

    @ Bad Jim

    In the same sentence you refered to women as “girls” and men as “guys”. Why not refer to the men as “boys”? Are women just mere children in your view?

    I’d hate to see you “trip over your own dick” (as testotyrannical so aptly puts it) and hurt yourself. :)

  45. 45
    Deborah

    I’ve not been propositioned at work, but I have been recently through a relatively severe hostile work environment situation I had to deal with through HR, and I’ve previously had to report someone who wouldn’t stop touching me, and I’ve been through some good and some not so good sexual harassment training sessions, so from that experience, here’s my thoughts on the thread:

    You absolutely can have different responses to similar behavior – maybe from different people, because they have different relationships with you or different approaches or different work statuses; from the same person in different environments or at different times or given a different situation, or given repetition of the same behavior. When I’m stooping down to get into my locker and the guy who has the locker above mine makes a sexual reference, the first time I thought it was funny and kind of edgy (eh, maybe it was unwise, but that was my real reaction). The second time, the exact same joke, not so funny maybe a little weird, but not yet offended. The third time a little bewildered. By the fifth time it was really annoying, and after that I found myself getting creeped out, avoiding my locker, avoiding him, feeling threatened. But it was the exact same behavior that a couple weeks before I had found funny the first time it happened – repetition changed it. In another situation, I had two coworkers at the same job. Both touched me without asking first; one I asked to stop and he didn’t, the other I didn’t ask to stop. I reported the first (and in fairness, he was doing it more than the second). The first I had only just met, and was not at the same level of the company I was, the second I had known for years and was friends with and we were colleagues at the same level. I reported the first, and the behavior stopped, finally.

    As to specific, exact, precise standards of what is allowed at work, generally the best harassment policies I’ve seen include the fact that the behavior is unwelcome along with general standards of what is appropriate at work. Generally, if a company or organization wants to actually have a safe and harassment free workplace – as opposed to just looking like they do on paper – they have room for ‘this behavior from this particular person is unwelcome and needs to stop’ rather than ‘no one ever do this absolutely ever’ for grey area stuff.

  46. 46
    throwaway

    OK, I was a complete ass to you Testostyrannical, and wasn’t actually charitable, and I am sorry for that.

    Your word choice was particularly frustrating for me to parse. Perhaps I acted acrimoniously due to that frustration. I’m not saying that your word choice was wrong, I just wanted to lead into a request: that when you communicate you aren’t assuming a verbal knowledge on par with yours. It’s cool that you’re intelligent, probably demonstrably smarter than I was in this post, but damn if you see me (or anyone) having trouble with parsing your words, do them a favor and dumb it down (without being condescending in the process.)

  1. 47
    Lazy blogging. Bad writing. » Butterflies and Wheels

    [...] Mayhew must have wanted more attention, because as tonyinbatavia pointed out in a comment, she posted another random tweet about Stephanie and me, apropos of [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite="" class=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>