First off, I believe that sexual harassment of women is a very serious, very widespread, and very real problem. It often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I find most of the stories perfectly believable. I have heard the way the guys talk about women when they aren’t around. I continually receive advice to impose myself on them, pestering and pressuring them in order to have my needs met. There are a lot of creeps out there. I don’t deny that there are those taking advantage of the MeToo movement for political purposes, but the message would not resonate with so many if there were not more than a little truth to it.
Thing is, the phenomenon cannot be fully understood without also understanding the larger context that people in general are jerks to each other. Most people are selfish and rude much of the time. I’ve been sexually harassed by women. I’ve been sexually harassed by men (gay and straight). I’ve been sexually harassed by both coworkers and management. I’ve been groped, fondled, slapped, belittled, asked very personal questions, and told many things I never wanted to know. I know what it’s like. I’ve also been harassed in ways that I took as only annoying, but others told me was actually sexual in nature. I’ve been bullied. I’ve been falsely accused of bullying. I’ve also been falsely accused of sexual harassment – more than once – and this is an equally serious, equally widespread, and equally real problem. Women protest that they are rarely believed when they report bad behavior, but in my experience they are believed far too much. The truth is that some women use the threat of false accusations just as some men use the threat of poor job evaluation scores or poor grades. In some places, women already have a lot of power. Taking their word for it without evidence not only harms men and thwarts truth and justice, but in the long run it harms women as well.
Widespread harassment by men has made women crazy. They are so used to inappropriate behavior that they start to see it when it isn’t even there. Some become so sensitive that it is impossible to compliment them, flirt with them, or ask them on a date without them thinking that more is coming whether they reciprocate or not. It is impossible to even strike up a friendly conversation without them thinking you are hitting on them. You’d think they’d find it flattering to have some attention for a change, but instead they find it very unnerving. I’ve heard the way women talk about other guys when they aren’t there. I also once knew a lady who hid out in back of her bookstore because a customer had left and then came back later wearing nicer clothes. He did nothing more than ask for her number, but this was considered creepy enough for her to flee. Last I heard, she is still single.
It is this oversensitivity that creates hostile environments where men are afraid to speak their affections. Those men that are careful to take things very slow and respectfully watch for subtle signals find opportunities slip by over and over. Introducing the idea of romance always involves abruptly (and rudely) changing the subject. I’m thirty-five now and I’ve been on exactly one date – and I only managed to get it because for once I deliberately pushed things instead of waiting on the natural progression. I still wonder whether we might have had a second date if I had tried harder, but it goes against my nature too much. I would rather have a partner that sticks with me out of affection than manipulation.
When the bad men make women crazy, and the crazy women drive away the bad men and good men both, it leaves many women single for a very long time. I hear them complain when they can’t find a boyfriend and I have even heard (from women) that they like to be pursued. For some, the chase is part of the fun. Some even advise others to play hard-to-get. Women who are too easy are derided as sluts. Even in the twenty-first century, many women think it improper for them to initiate romance. They never ask the guy out; they simply wait for him to ask. Then there are those women who in a moment of nervousness might send out signals of disinterest and regret it later, hoping for a second chance and thinking that any guy who really liked them would try again. No can mean no, but it can also mean not now. The end effect is that millions of men and women live alone, unable to connect with each other. With so many of both sexes so deprived, some become tempted to use unethical means to get what they want, bringing us right back to the beginning.
In conclusion, our dating system is fundamentally broken. There is no love in it. The bad behavior of a few has ruined it for everyone else.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.