Sunday, July 31, 2011

Brief Interviews with Attractive Men, Part 1

This is the first in a series of interviews I'll be posting with men about their experiences with unwanted sexual attention and advances. I was curious if the experience of an attractive man is anything like that of a woman, and how men approach these situations.

My first respondent, below, asked that his answers be kept anonymous.

How often are you the recipient of unwanted sexual advances?

Generally, only when I'm in a gay bar or at a gay event. It doesn't happen every time I go out, but it happens often enough that my boyfriend and I are wary of it when we do go out.

What do you do when someone you’re not interested in (sexually) is interested in you (sexually)? How do you deflect the attention, if you do?

My first defense is to pretend it isn't happening, since a lot of initial flirtation is innuendo. If that doesn't work, I pointedly don't respond. If those two things don't work, I generally find an excuse to leave the conversation or even the place. I once attended a gay networking event with a friend and we were just chatting with each other. A guy came over and said, "My friend thinks you're cute. Come over and say hi." I said I was flattered but not interested. The guy continued to repeat, over and over, "C'mon! Just come say hi" for--no joke--fifteen minutes, using various strategies to encourage me, even after I told him I had a boyfriend and even, finally, just a stern "No." He finally said, "Look, I'm going to walk over there and sit down. You can just follow me." I couldn't believe it! Even when I am straightforward, it doesn't seem to deter people. I had another guy chat with me in a bar when I had just moved to a new city and my partner still lived elsewhere. I explained to him my situation, but that I was looking for friends. After a twenty minute conversation, he looked me in the eye and said, "You WILL be my boyfriend." It was very surreal and uncomfortable.

Have you ever experienced anything you’d describe as harassment?

I worked at a booth at a Pride event one fall. I went to the bathroom and was on my way back when two young guys--around 19--approached me from the other direction. They were staring at me and I tried not to make eye contact with them. As soon as they passed me, the one closest to me grabbed my dick. I couldn't believe it! I was horrified. Is that supposed to be flattering? I've also had guys (try to) unbutton my shirts, and one very awkward encounter when a person I thought was a friend came to visit me, only to discover he'd been plotting to get me to spend the night with him in his hotel room while he was in town. I've had strangers come up to me and ask me if I'm a bottom--no other conversation involved. Once this happened while I was walking my dog in my apartment complex! I'd say most of the attention I receive from men is received as a form of harassment. I rarely have guys strike up conversations with me, and I NEVER get asked out on dates. Ever. Men regard me as an object and they are wholly uninterested in anything below the surface.

What is your advice for a woman who finds herself the recipient of unwanted sexual attention or advances?

I wish I knew. I could use some advice myself. If I was bolder, I would tell a lot more people to fuck off. I can't imagine what it must be like for women since the pool of potential assholes is so much bigger.


  1. Now you've gone and sparked me with this post.

    If the law of physics (like attracting like) is real, does unwanted sexual attention come from nowhere? Is there a way of being (perhaps beyond our surface awareness) that creates this experience?

    I find as I become more confident and, frankly, carry more power in my life, the response of men and women evolves as well. While I receive a lot of solicitous attention - in a 'yes, ma'am' sort of way - I no longer attract the unwanted sexual attention I did when I was younger.

    Obviously, one could chalk this up to the fact that 52-year-old women are not viewed as the sexual hunting ground of the masses. But I consciously began changing my approach to the world (spoken and unspoken)in my 30's. I now determine what attributes are displayed (physical and mental) and the response I receive from others.

    Sometimes, sexual attention is fun and welcomed. At other times, I don't want it.

    Ultimately, we are the victims of nothing if we pay attention to what we're attracting.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Josephine! I think I'm only recently beginning to overcome a kind of naivete when it comes to men, and realizing that what I think of as "just being friendly" clearly reads as quite flirtatious to them, at least single men who are looking for signals anyway. The problem for me is it's tricky to find a balance -- I feel I'm either attracting unwanted attention OR people think of me as a stuck-up snob/bitch. It's like I'm either open or closed and if I'm open, I'm open to stuff I don't want.

  3. Josephine,
    I'm interested in your remark about your mental attributes that you display. Could you please elaborate?
    And Eliza,
    This is such a complex and interesting topic. I'm very much looking forward to all the posts.
    Thank you for putting this topic out there.

  4. Sorry, Elisa. That z snuck in somehow...

  5. Thanks, Carol, I anxiously await answers from another handful of attractive men I've reached out to!

  6. I volunteered to be interviewed, but I realize I don't have much to report--which I guess says a lot. I doubt straight guys ever receive unwanted sexual advances from women. Or any advances, for that matter, if we're talking about strangers. If it did happen, I would assume someone was messing with me, or that I was on a hidden camera tv show (not a far-fetched scenario in NYC). If, however, I could somehow verify that I wasn't being pranked, I think I would welcome the attention and immediately go with her wherever she wanted. It's the kind of thing we straight guys don't dare dream of. And actually, it points out the problem with the golden rule--if a straight guy treats women the way he wants to be treated by them--i.e., objectified--well, that's how problems arise.

  7. (Still, if you have any other questions, I'd be happy to answer them.)

  8. I know for a fact that isn't true (I mean that sexual advances from women are always welcome). For example I know a male teacher whose students sometimes get crushes on him, and while I'm sure it's flattering, it's uncomfortable in equal measures. Also if a man is in a happy relationship I don't think he's just going to have an affair with any woman who makes eyes at him. I mean, unless he's David Duchovny.

    But I do think there is a difference of degree for men vs. women, in terms of how often it happens and how they feel about it, so that's what I'm trying to figure out.

  9. Right, it could be a problem if it could get you in trouble in some way. I was mainly thinking of cat-calling type stuff that happens on the street, and from the perspective of a single guy.

    So far the only unwanted sexual advances I've received have been from men, once in a public bathroom in Indiana, and once while I was walking home at night on 5th Avenue when I first moved to New York. This guy offered to go with me into the park, probably looking to make 20 bucks. I declined, fast-walked home, and vowed never to make eye contact with anyone on the street here ever again. I suppose it was a rite of passage.