Has anyone noticed that we’re not hearing much about the state of the economy, the national debt, the threat from North Korea, or the tax cut legislation proposed by the House and Senate? Evidently, all the news that’s fit to print, or to air on the so-called news shows, is about who’s the latest woman to accuse a politician of sexual harassment. It seems like every day there’s another person who was offended by a comment, a touch, a grope, or the sight of a naked part of the male anatomy. The list of sexual offenses grows daily, giving the impression that it won’t be long before the entire government is brought to its knees, no pun intended. Accusations range from hand gestures to flirtatious comments, to pats on the fanny and everything in between.
Which brings up the question: what exactly constitutes sexual harassment? If a man makes an innocuous comment on the way a woman’s hair looks or how pretty her earrings are; is that offensive? Assuming that most men still have enough testosterone in their blood to notice when a woman looks attractive; are they prohibited from giving a compliment? When did it become obnoxious to recognize and comment on a woman’s looks? It seems to me that compliments only become a problem when they are made as a precursor to overt acts of suggestive behavior. Let’s take the guy working in the typical office environment. One morning, he says to a female co-worker, “I like the way you did your hair today.”
She would probably smile and gladly accept the unsolicited praise. However, suppose the guy said, “You always look very sexy, but the way you did your hair today really turns me on.” That could be viewed as aggressive flirtation! Now, if both parties were unmarried, such flirtation might be considered the natural order of things between the genders, and the type of mating ritual that often results in the continuation of the species. Keep in mind; if the woman isn’t attracted to the man, she’s free to let him know that she doesn’t appreciate his advances. But she’s unlikely to formally charge him with harassment when it happens, or 20 years later. Yet there are people devious enough to turn a harmless comment into a lawsuit if they think they can make a quick buck while appearing to stand up for female values.
During a saner time in our history, women stood up for themselves with a sharp slap to the face of a masher, or else they deftly handled a rude comment with an acerbic comeback. The one in charge was always the woman because she could pick and choose which amorous male to encourage. Additionally, when women are the pursuers, as is often the case these days, they don’t get their faces slapped or end up in court defending a charge of harassment. How many men would be willing to get on the stand and say, “Your honor, that woman fluttered her eyelashes at me and made me feel very uncomfortable?” At this point I feel I must make the obligatory disclaimer by saying I’m totally against any form of sexual abuse. However, I’m also against destroying people merely on the basis of alleged conduct.
Although it’s true that men have become somewhat feminized over the past few decades, I believe that most women have little respect for a guy who has surrendered his manhood to the whims of politically motivated emasculation. In other words, guys are always going to flirt. By the way, women are equally, if not more, bold when it comes to enticing a guy who gets their female hormones in a tizzy. That’s every bit as natural as the X and Y chromosomes that make us who we are, transsexuals notwithstanding. One wonders what would happen if courtship rituals were shut down completely. How would men and women know if there was any chemistry between them? Would there be no other way to find a mate except for arranged marriages?
The problem men have today is that they have a difficult time figuring out what the rules are. If they pay a sincere compliment to a woman, will they be liable for some punishment, be it now or in the future? The fact is that women have the advantage in this area also. Doris Jones says John Doe made a sexist remark about the short skirt she was wearing when she bent over at the water cooler. She doesn’t have any witnesses, but she insists that the incident hurt her self-esteem and made her feel uncomfortable in that working environment. How many personnel directors will refuse to take a report of the alleged occurrence and have it investigated? Whether true or not, John could lose his job and have trouble getting another one. Should he be fired or have his reputation tarnished because of unsubstantiated statements? If that becomes the standard, no man will be safe.
Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.”