There is an interesting conversation going on at ProfLikeSubstance about flirting at conferences. The point of his post is that dudes should stop treating conferences as a fucken singles bar where they are entitled to “Hey, baaaaaby!” every fucken woman they encounter. And then of course there are the whiny motherfuckers in the comments section who are all like “YOU CAN’T BAN FLIRTING!!1111!!1! NO FAIR!!111!!!”.
(1) If you are socially inept, can’t read signals, and are therefore unable to determine how to flirt in a fun and non-threatening way that is appropriately cognizant of both power hierarchies and other people’s personal boundaries, then the responsibility is yours to NOT ATTEMPT TO FLIRT. It is selfish pigge behavior to expect other people to suffer for your social ineptness, and that expectation itself is exactly a symptom of what ails you.
What you need to do is step completely away from the idea that you should be attempting to flirt, look within yourself (with professional help, if necessary), figure out why you are socially inept, why you can’t read signals, and why you can’t express romantic interest in someone without setting off their creep alarm. And then work on those things, and only return to attempting to flirt when you can do it in a way that is safe and comfortable for others.
(2) If you are an intentional harrasser, then you are not flirting, and are only using flirting as cover for being a harrassing pigge. So fucke you: stop being a harrassing pigge.
(3) If you are one of the people who is going on all about how you are a charismatic flirter who hooks up/met your husband-wife/everyone loves at conferences and who makes no one uncomfortable because you are such an adept and subtle flirter: THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT YOU. No one is trying to stop you from flirting in an appropriate manner, if you are not making other people uncomfortable. Although if you are so fucken defensive about this topic, there is probably a decent chance that you *are* making people uncomfortable, and are delusional about your flirting skills, in which case see #1.