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Old 08-21-2007, 07:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Flirting and Sexual Harassment

All:

You may have seen this on Saturday Night Live a few years ago:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRoFzT2slcM

While this video is a bit exaggerated, it brings up a good point. Where exactly is the line between flirting and sexual harassment, or "creepy" behavoir? Sometimes the answer if the woman thinks the guy is good looking or hot, it's flirting. If not, it's harassment, or at best "creepy."

This means that a man's behavoir is defined not by what he does or says, but by how someone else reacts to it.

Thoughts?
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Old 08-21-2007, 07:35 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 08-21-2007, 07:40 AM   #3 (permalink)
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A bit exaggerated?

It's sexual harrassment if it's unwanted attention.

I understand that people are different, everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to flirtation in the workplace. I don't think it has much to do with whether the guy is good-looking or not for most women.

Key is for men to use observation and common sense to their advantage.
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Old 08-21-2007, 10:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:09 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Personally, I draw the line at rape, but I've found out that other people tend to have a lower tolerance.
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:23 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedmedia
A bit exaggerated?

It's sexual harrassment if it's unwanted attention.

I understand that people are different, everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to flirtation in the workplace. I don't think it has much to do with whether the guy is good-looking or not for most women.

Key is for men to use observation and common sense to their advantage.
So until a guy flirts, how can he know for sure if the attention will be wanted or unwanted?

What if the woman likes the atention, but she's being coy by pretending she doesn't?

In your case, is your reaction to flirting from a guy you have no attraction to going to be the same as from a guy you do find attractive, assuming that the way they flirted was exactly the same and not by itself over-the-line?
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:30 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Racnad
So until a guy flirts, how can he know for sure if the attention will be wanted or unwanted?

What if the woman likes the atention, but she's being coy by pretending she doesn't?

In your case, is your reaction to flirting from a guy you have no attraction to going to be the same as from a guy you do find attractive, assuming that the way they flirted was exactly the same and not by itself over-the-line?
I'd say that there is a necessary first step that entails some level of risk. The idea is to make that first step as appropriate as possible. Do it outside of work in a comfortable environment if possible. Be with a large group of people who you both know (witnesses for the defense!).
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:37 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Racnad
This means that a man's behavoir is defined not by what he does or says, but by how someone else reacts to it.
Yes. That's how harassment is legally defined. If the person perceives it as harassment, it's harassment. The "harasser"'s intentions are entirely beside the point.

That's the right way to legally define it, IMO. You could never draw up black and white rules about what constitutes harassment, because the range of human behavior is just way to broad. And you can't go by the accused's intent, because there are all sorts of behaviors that are obviously harassment that are only intended to be jokes or pranks. No, harassment really HAS to be defined "in the eye of the beholder".
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:41 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Racnad
So until a guy flirts, how can he know for sure if the attention will be wanted or unwanted?

What if the woman likes the atention, but she's being coy by pretending she doesn't?

In your case, is your reaction to flirting from a guy you have no attraction to going to be the same as from a guy you do find attractive, assuming that the way they flirted was exactly the same and not by itself over-the-line?
Because you don't flirt with someone unless you know them very well.

I'd say never approach a woman with non-professional interest in her in the workplace unless you are very familiar with her and then, if she shows no interest, drop it immediately. Whether she is being coy or not is totally irrelevant.
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Old 08-21-2007, 12:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I've typed and re-typed a response to this thread and I seem to devolve into hyper-specificity. Essentially, I think people need to develop thicker skin and need to be able to stick up for themselves. A compliment, particularly in the workplace, can be just a compliment. People should be astute enough to differentiate between conversations, compliments, casual flirting and inappropriate behavior and the first step should be to try to take care of it yourself. Defining harassment in the workplace as "any unwanted contact" forces people to make ridiculous guesses about what will be wanted and what won't be and removes from the equation any responsibility on the behalf of the person being approached to make it clear to the other person that the behavior should stop.

If it continues AFTER an initial inappropriate conversation, that's much more what I would call harassment. Isolated incidences don't seem to fit that definition to me. Unless there is some power pressure in play (i.e. a boss threatening to fire you if you don't sleep with him) or an obvious inappropriate sexual reference, I think that the flirting should be the time for the other party to step up and say that they aren't interested. For most people, I think that will be that. Maybe I have too much faith in people not being douchebags.

Last edited by Frosstbyte; 08-21-2007 at 12:25 PM..
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Old 08-21-2007, 12:37 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Well, that is pretty much what I mean by "unwanted attention." But I will go further to say that if the person is unresponsive to flirtation yet doesn't say anything to you about it, for whatever reason - shyness, fear of confrontation, not wanting to offend - the person flirting should stop. Anybody in this day and age who doesn't understand that you shouldn't be pushy with these things is the one with the problem, in my estimation.
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Old 08-21-2007, 03:01 PM   #12 (permalink)
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When a coworker is lying next to you, on your bed, and you're both still fully clothed, is it sexual harassment to start groping her breasts before you've made out?

/had sex with 5 women who were coworkers, 4 of one from one job/store.

And by the way, the SNL skit hit it right on the head. It has nothing to do with what you say, it has everything to do with whether or not the person receiving it wants you to have said it. This is just presenting that fact in a humorous way.
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Old 08-21-2007, 03:44 PM   #13 (permalink)
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when it comes to the workplace, i have to say you read non-verbal cues and give it time. we little peoples have all these fabulous ways of letting other people know we are interested in them. they don't all have to involve laying it on thick. so inviting people from work out for a drink where you can do things like, oh i don't know...talk, smile, tell jokes...i've found these are simple ways to find out who wants to fuck whom. after this is established, then tread very carefully. it's not just fear of a lawsuit...who really wants to be the creepy guy that is always trying to fuck people at work? who really wants to fuck people they actually work with? i mean, i'll do it - but it's usually a lot easier if you don't see each other 9-5, and then 6-12. even if the 6-12 is really only 10-1, and it's just alternate thursdays and a few fridays or saturdays you can't remember.
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Old 08-21-2007, 05:41 PM   #14 (permalink)
 
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If it's unwanted flirting, you should mention it to the other person. Going all crazy and getting a sexual harassement thing going on just for that is fucking extreme!! simple as that.

on the other hand, I love getting hit on by other female coworkers. I have a gf but doesn't mean I hate when girls pay attention to me! girls should be the same way.

but it will always matter who the person is. If he's creepy, it will be taken as a weird and possibly scary thing but if the person is good looking and has a big smile, then it will be taken nicely. it's retarded that way.
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Old 08-21-2007, 06:12 PM   #15 (permalink)
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The problem is that many people have difficulty being assertive and saying that the contact is unwanted. The other problem is that many guys have no clue (or don't care to) about reading women's signals of interest. I think the real lesson that we can take from the SNL skit is that Tom Brady rules.
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Old 08-21-2007, 07:22 PM   #16 (permalink)
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If a guy is doing it... it is sexual harassment.

If a woman's doing it... it is flirting.

...

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Old 08-21-2007, 07:55 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MexicanOnABike
but it will always matter who the person is. If he's creepy, it will be taken as a weird and possibly scary thing but if the person is good looking and has a big smile, then it will be taken nicely. it's retarded that way.
Hehehe, I don't think it's retarded. It's just how it is. The creepy guy puts people off.

I once worked in an office where I could get a way with making flirtatious remarks to the girl on reception. Yet, if the creepy guy in logistics made the same remarks she would slap him down over it. I think the difference is context however. She new I was only mucking around, where is the way creepy guy said it hinted that he was being a bit more serious.

I've seen a lot of things go down in the workplace that were clear cut cases of sexual harassment and the women were thick skinned about it and dealt with it on their own terms. I've also seen some women totally over react to something was perfectly innocent.

But I think the distinction between 'sexual harassment' and just plain old 'harassment' should be made clearer.

I feel sorry for the majority of 'creepy' guys, I honestly don't think they mean any malice or ill intent, they're just shy and awkward. Having said that though some really are just a whole world of creepy and wrong.
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Old 08-22-2007, 06:29 AM   #18 (permalink)
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So exactly is it that makes a guy creepy? How did he hint that he was being "more serious" while you were playing around?

I've observed this too since high school, and it appeared to me that if the guy looked like Brad Pitt or George Clooney, women are flattered by flirty behavoir, and annoyed or threatened if the guy looks like Steve Buscemi. The better looking the guy is, the forward he can be. Although as he gets more forward, more girls would be put off by it.

The irony is that when the girls aren't around, the Pitts and the Clooneys are often more derogatory in how they talk about girls than the guys they find creepy. So I concluded that unless the guy is way over the line (like grabbing a breast or something), the difference between fun flirting & creepy is how attractive the guy is perceived to be - or like the SNL video says: "Be good looking."
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Old 08-22-2007, 06:47 AM   #19 (permalink)
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You seem to have real appearance issues.

No matter how hard this might be to believe, 99.9% of you guys don't look like George Clooney or Brad Pitt. Most of you are decidedly average-looking. Same goes for women. A lot of what you are perceiving, I'm assuming, is confidence and charm. Someone who has a lot of experience interacting with the opposite sex and a way with words is probably better able to communicate in a flirtatious way without the "flirtee" feeling threatened. Whereas, those who don't come off as light-hearted and cavalier are not. I think that's just a fact of life. Which comes back to my former statement that this sort of interaction should be avoided unless you are very sure about the camaraderie you feel with the other person.
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Old 08-22-2007, 06:52 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedmedia
You seem to have real appearance issues.

No matter how hard this might be to believe, 99.9% of you guys don't look like George Clooney or Brad Pitt. Most of you are decidedly average-looking.
Except WillRavel, of course.

His avatar is actually his own portrait.
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:01 AM   #21 (permalink)
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lol, actually I've seen a photo of Will and he looks nothing like Lee Horsley.

*warning: vague early '80s reference...*
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Old 08-22-2007, 06:11 PM   #22 (permalink)
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LOL never seen that one! That was great.
Yeah, how attractive you are is not the main issue, but it definitely greases the gears of interaction.

Quote:
Key is for men to use observation and common sense to their advantage.
This statement, to me, is indicative of the problem for Avarage-Joe who says the wrong thing and inadvertently offends a woman.

What, exactly, is common sense? Can we specifically define it? Hell no.
In this context, it looks to me like a matter of social/gender aptitude. And some people simply have *learned* less of that than others! Those without much sometimes act in a manner that makes women (or anyone, really) uncomfortable without the capability of knowing that it's the response they'll get. They simply don't have the social experience to know where those lines lie. People don't pick up this 'sense' any more than they naturally pick up aptitude with, say, a computer. The lines are inferred through experience and trial & error, Common Sense (rather than specifics) as a guide is as reliable as the rules to Calvin Ball.

Should they have learned it? Yeah... It was their responsibility to, even though men have insufficient 'teachers' on this subject nowadays.
Should they be maligned for having not learned it? Well that's up for grabs.

In reality, whether your flirting is okay is mostly derived from helping women feel comfortable, un-threatened. That process is really socially complex. We often take it for granted.

Quote:
Be with a large group of people who you both know (witnesses for the defense!)
This is actually a factor. Sometimes men have to take this into account. Kinda messed up, if you ask me.
Nonetheless, theres nothing we can really do about it. And women certainly face their own hazards in the courtship game as well... *shrug*
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:29 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Racnad
So exactly is it that makes a guy creepy? How did he hint that he was being "more serious" while you were playing around?
I think everyone has a different interpretation of creepy.

But this guy had absolutely no communication skills. And his social life existed only on Everquest, actually, when he wasn't at work, he was playing Everquest. He doesn't really get out much or talk to people face to face very often.

When I'd flirt it was just for shits and giggles and to try and get a bit of rise. She knew this, and she'd dish it back to me. We used to talk a lot because we had similar tastes in music and just got along.

She did not really know where logistics guy was coming from, nor did she really like him (He was very abrasive a lot of the time). So when he made certain comments, she'd take it differently. But, the tone and the way he said it was completely different to me. This is where the element of context comes into it.

This instance was not a matter of looks or attraction either. The receptionist had a long term boyfriend and a child. And lets be honest, I ain't the best looking bloke around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedmedia
You seem to have real appearance issues.
Who was that directed at?
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:29 PM   #24 (permalink)
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This seems to aply to everyday life too.

It is what it is. People only get with people who like them from the get-go. Why do you always see couples who are usually of the same attractiveness? A not-cute guy ends up with a not-cute girl. A avg guy with an avg girl. A hot girl with a hot or rich guy ($ makes up for looks, for men). A obese man with an obese girl..

So in this video, had the girls been nerdier and dorkier they would have gotten it on with the first dorky guy.

edit: i think one "exception" that can change the equation is the person's self-esteem.. sometimes you see a cute girl with a dorky guy.. what might have happened is that the cute girl has low self esteem for whatever reason (she has small breasts, for example, or a big nose, or something). if the guy is 'cuter' than the girl, more often than not the guy has low self esteem (he is short, or something)..

Last edited by match000; 08-22-2007 at 07:32 PM..
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Old 08-22-2007, 08:25 PM   #25 (permalink)
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It's a hard thing to define because everyone reacts differently. I think a lot of times (from circumstances I have witnessed) a lot of women tend to jump to the conclusion of sexual harassment or call it that, when in my opinion it is not. I think if something is said that makes someone uncomfortable they need to vocalize it and then the other person should obviously stop. Anything further after it is clear that one of the parties is uncomfortable would then be harassment. Then again, I would hate to downplay actual and obvious cases of sexual harassment which would most definitely be a horrible thing to have to experience. I agree that until you are comfortable with a coworker, you need to be careful what you say and do, regardless of whether it is sexual in nature. Personally, in most cases I want a majority of my coworkers to know as little as possible about what I do in my off time. Safer that way. Then again, I have a few coworkers that I can joke and laugh at things that others may deem inappropriate but that we find totally hilarious. There is, to me, some definite truth to that SNL skit. Say the guy who is supposed to be the "less attractive" man hitting on the woman is actually in her opinion MORE attractive to her? When you are attracted to someone (whether this is what society deems generally attractive or not) I would think you are more likely to be open to comments/compliments/etc when they are coming from someone you find attractive or are attractive to. Say the woman in the skit found the Tom Brady character unattractive, perhaps the reaction would be reversed. I dunno, I guess this is one of those things I think has a big ol grey area when it comes to defining what is and isn't. And I guess that's all I have to say about that... for now anyways haha.
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Old 08-23-2007, 01:20 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFriendly
Who was that directed at?
At Racnad. Sorry...I'm terribly delinquent with the quote button.
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Old 08-23-2007, 01:24 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Is all good hehe
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Old 08-23-2007, 01:32 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by match000
This seems to aply to everyday life too.

It is what it is. People only get with people who like them from the get-go. Why do you always see couples who are usually of the same attractiveness? A not-cute guy ends up with a not-cute girl. A avg guy with an avg girl. A hot girl with a hot or rich guy ($ makes up for looks, for men). A obese man with an obese girl..

So in this video, had the girls been nerdier and dorkier they would have gotten it on with the first dorky guy.

edit: i think one "exception" that can change the equation is the person's self-esteem.. sometimes you see a cute girl with a dorky guy.. what might have happened is that the cute girl has low self esteem for whatever reason (she has small breasts, for example, or a big nose, or something). if the guy is 'cuter' than the girl, more often than not the guy has low self esteem (he is short, or something)..
So if a cute girl is with an ugly guy (or vice versa) it is because of low self-esteem? What the?

So cute girls who only go for cute guys (or guys with money?) have high self-esteem? What the?

This theory doesn't hold water for me. To me that says that people have two modes: shallowness or low self-esteem.
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Old 08-23-2007, 07:29 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedmedia
You seem to have real appearance issues.

No matter how hard this might be to believe, 99.9% of you guys don't look like George Clooney or Brad Pitt. Most of you are decidedly average-looking. Same goes for women. A lot of what you are perceiving, I'm assuming, is confidence and charm. Someone who has a lot of experience interacting with the opposite sex and a way with words is probably better able to communicate in a flirtatious way without the "flirtee" feeling threatened. Whereas, those who don't come off as light-hearted and cavalier are not. I think that's just a fact of life. Which comes back to my former statement that this sort of interaction should be avoided unless you are very sure about the camaraderie you feel with the other person.
I'm not talking about 0.1 percent of guys. I'm talking about guys that women generally think of as good looking or "hot." Let's say the 20 percent of guys women generally consider to be better looking than the other 80 percent.

Do you really feel that the way a man looks is completely irrelevent to the way women react to him? Is it really all confidence, charm and having a way with words?
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Old 08-23-2007, 08:00 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Well, lets put it this way:

I think a handsome guy can be creepy depending on what he says and how he says it.

I think an unattractive man can be charming depending on what he says and how he says it.

This is how I see it. I can't speak for every woman.

That is part of the problem.

Which is why I say again, don't even bother with this sort of interaction in the workplace unless you have an easy camaraderie with the other person involved.
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Old 08-23-2007, 08:32 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Generally men want to have sex with women, but women hold all the cards so to speak. Therefore, it doesn't seem unreasonable that we should have to play the game of courtship by their rules no matter how arbitrary or unfair they may seem.
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Old 08-23-2007, 08:45 AM   #32 (permalink)
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If the rules are arbitrary and unfair, then does that not by definition make them unreasonable?
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Old 08-23-2007, 09:04 AM   #33 (permalink)
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I don't think it is unreasonable to refrain from flirting with co-workers unless it is very clearly appropriate. Are you saying that companies should not have sexual harrassment policies?
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Old 08-23-2007, 09:08 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedmedia
I don't think it is unreasonable to refrain from flirting with co-workers unless it is very clearly appropriate. Are you saying that companies should not have sexual harrassment policies?
Yup. If you initiate something and it ends up going south, as most relationships do, you've impacted the work environment for everyone else as well. That's an issue for me as an employer, because I want to pay you guys to WORK.
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Old 08-23-2007, 09:11 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Racnad
If the rules are arbitrary and unfair, then does that not by definition make them unreasonable?
I didn't say anything about the rules being reasonable or unreasonable. I said playing the game their way is reasonable since they essentially hold all the power, and I used a double negative shame on me.
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:19 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frosstbyte
Essentially, I think people need to develop thicker skin and need to be able to stick up for themselves. A compliment, particularly in the workplace, can be just a compliment. People should be astute enough to differentiate between conversations, compliments, casual flirting and inappropriate behavior and the first step should be to try to take care of it yourself. Defining harassment in the workplace as "any unwanted contact" forces people to make ridiculous guesses about what will be wanted and what won't be and removes from the equation any responsibility on the behalf of the person being approached to make it clear to the other person that the behavior should stop.

If it continues AFTER an initial inappropriate conversation, that's much more what I would call harassment. Isolated incidences don't seem to fit that definition to me. Unless there is some power pressure in play (i.e. a boss threatening to fire you if you don't sleep with him) or an obvious inappropriate sexual reference, I think that the flirting should be the time for the other party to step up and say that they aren't interested. For most people, I think that will be that. Maybe I have too much faith in people not being douchebags.
I really doubt that isolated incidents make up the majority of sexual harassment complaints. However, our society is far more interested in picking random outliers that don't represent the group as a means to attack a group than taking on an issue honestly.

The definition has to exist as it is because companies need to be able to say they are tough on the issue.
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:25 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedmedia
I don't think it is unreasonable to refrain from flirting with co-workers unless it is very clearly appropriate. Are you saying that companies should not have sexual harrassment policies?
When sexual harassment was big in the media about 15 years ago, I was concerned because in the over-simplified way the media described it, if a guy asked a woman on a date and she said no it's harassment. But when I read more about it, I don't have a problem with it.

As I understand it, no punitive action is taken unless 1) the person being harassed has asked the harasser to stop, and 2) the behavoir continued after the request to stop. As you have pointed out, anyone with basic social skills can tell if someone is receptive to the kind of interest you're showing a person, and if that interest makes the person uncomfortable, the behavoir should stop. I've also read that much sexual harassment is not motivated by romantic interest, it is more about asserting power by making someone uncomfortable, which is why they keep doing it when it is not positively received.

But the definition of workplace sexual harassment isn't really what interested me in this post. What the SNL clip brought to my mind was a double-standard in male/female inof what is exceptable for guys considered "hot" vs. guys not considered hot. When I was in my teens & early 20s learning how to act with women I found cute, I observed that what seemed to be acceptable for some guys was not acceptable for me. What is acceptable does vary from woman to woman. But the kind of attention women seemd to enjoy from some guys seemed to annoy the same women when I was doing the same things. The difference seemed to be that women liked that attention when it was from good looking guys and didn't like from less-good looking guys. Social skills and confidence are factors too, but in some cases I didn't think the other guys were necessarily more confident or socially skilled than me. (Face it - most 17-19 years olds are nervious around girls they like).

What I'm asking is: when a woman describes a guy who flirts with her or asks her out as creepy, is always his bahavoir that makes him creepy, or is it just that she doesn't find him attractive?
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:52 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedmedia
Well, lets put it this way:

I think a handsome guy can be creepy depending on what he says and how he says it.

I think an unattractive man can be charming depending on what he says and how he says it.

This is how I see it. I can't speak for every woman.

That is part of the problem.

Which is why I say again, don't even bother with this sort of interaction in the workplace unless you have an easy camaraderie with the other person involved.

common sense... thank you.
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Old 08-23-2007, 11:09 AM   #39 (permalink)
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Old 08-24-2007, 01:00 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by match000
This seems to aply to everyday life too.

It is what it is. People only get with people who like them from the get-go. Why do you always see couples who are usually of the same attractiveness? A not-cute guy ends up with a not-cute girl. A avg guy with an avg girl. A hot girl with a hot or rich guy ($ makes up for looks, for men). A obese man with an obese girl..

So in this video, had the girls been nerdier and dorkier they would have gotten it on with the first dorky guy.

edit: i think one "exception" that can change the equation is the person's self-esteem.. sometimes you see a cute girl with a dorky guy.. what might have happened is that the cute girl has low self esteem for whatever reason (she has small breasts, for example, or a big nose, or something). if the guy is 'cuter' than the girl, more often than not the guy has low self esteem (he is short, or something)..
If that's really how you see life working, I feel sorry for you. Physical attraction is not the only factor in relationships.
Quote:
Originally Posted by albania
Generally men want to have sex with women, but women hold all the cards so to speak. Therefore, it doesn't seem unreasonable that we should have to play the game of courtship by their rules no matter how arbitrary or unfair they may seem.
This is one of the persistent misconceptions of how people think, which is unfortunately perpetuated by pop culture and an anti-sex conservative mentality.
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