Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Brief Interviews with Attractive Men, Part 3

Danny Telgarsky

How often are you the recipient of unwanted sexual advances?

I would say at least once a week, BUT, I think it's probably because I don't realize how much of a vibe I'm giving off when I communicate, I'm so used to flirting in my general day to day conversations that I hardly notice it anymore.

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?

I find that if the person is bold enough, I have a hard time deflecting, because A) I like the attention and B) I have a hard time with letting people down and hurting their feelings.

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

It's hard to say that I've been harassed, given the nature of my last two answers, however, I have definitely had to put up with MEN coming on too strong; again, I like the attention, but for the most part I'm truly not interested in that avenue, and I do get annoyed, not because I'm offended, I just get pissed that the point of the flirtation is designed to make me uncomfortable for amusement (gay guys are relentless sometimes, too!).

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

After the first unsuccessful shutdown, my advice would be to be as clear as possible without any room for error. Don't beat around the bush, don't be nice, don't spare anyone's feelings, kill it and move on. Tell the person that you absolutely aren't interested.


  1. I don't know. Considering the fact that the overwhelming majority of violence and sexual harassment in our world is directed towards women it's almost difficult to take these responses seriously. When this guy says he experiences unwanted sexual advances once a week I did laugh out loud. I actually feel a sense of resentment at the last question re: advice to women who experience unwanted sexual advances. Like I don't need advice from this dude. Sorry. (Just trying to be honest here). You really need to consider the power dynamic between men and women---men almost always have more power--so the idea that unwanted sexual advances towards them (from women) is somehow equivalent to the reverse scenario is entirely false.

  2. Why do you think there is any assumption of equivalence?

  3. To be clear, I definitely do NOT assume it's the same. On the contrary, I assumed that men rarely receive unwanted advances, but then I questioned that assumption so I decided to gather some evidence.

    If men always hold more power, the dynamic between two men (rather than a woman and a man) seems obviously interesting and unpredictable.

    I also think the power dynamic in many _social_ situations (not dark alley encounters) is a lot more nuanced than just "men have more."

  4. You have asked men to give women advice on how they should deal with unwanted sexual advances drawn from their own experiences (which can be assumed from the fact that you have interviewed them and asked them about their experiences of unwanted advances from women) ---their advice can't be translated into our experiences so what could they possibly say to be of any use? I strongly, strongly think that time is best spent on the women who experience sexual harassment, stalking, domestic violence--who end up in the emergency room or dead as a result of male power. There are very, very few men who have to deal with these sorts of end results.

  5. I wasn't asking for advice on that front based on their own experience of the same, I was asking for advice from the other side, like "If you were coming on to someone, what could they do to get you to stop."

    Sandra, I'm not doing this because I want people to feel sorry for these men. I wanted to see if their experience was anything like ours, and I was pretty sure the answer would be "No, it's not." So far that seems to be the case, except that men are also threatened, sexually, by other men.

  6. Right and it would make sense that men would be threatened by other men because other men are a *real* threat because of the equity in power.

  7. Exactly. My objective was to see how a man's experience of the sexual/social world is different, not how it's the same.

  8. Elisa, sort of a side comment here, and not at all to deflect either from what you're trying to do with this series or your discussion with Sandra, but it's interesting to me what would happen if you put, in these questions, "emotional" in the place of "sexual." I find myself fairly frequently the subject of unwanted emotional advances (as I'm sure we all do), some of which have a sexual subtext, but many of which also have the subtext of the other word Sandra and you are using here, "power." Again, this is sort of a side point. But unwanted emotional advances are fascinating (and difficult to deal with) and are maybe similar to the sexual ones in many of their features.

  9. VERY interesting point, Mark -- I think what I mean by "sexual" encompasses "emotional." In any case it's not really well-defined, and I'm not necessarily referring to explicitly physical advances.

    I'm going to answer the questions myself at some point.

  10. I think they're interesting questions, and appreciate you asking them. Though, per what Sandra says, it'd have to be a hot day on Mars before I said much about the last one.

  11. I actually think Danny's advice is excellent. It obviously doesn't pertain to, again, dark alley type encounters.

  12. I salute these interviews--where do you find these dudes? They random bodies at the crosswalk?

    I am rather tired of men and women are aliens to each other discourses, so this seems lovely.

    And maybe "they" are--but that is not anything to be satisfied about and seems wayyyyyyy too like living life like advertisements (with their tiresome segregations).

    I would be fascinated to read interviews with lesbians, to test the theory that they are likely a demographic whose bodies--desires-- are erased at most instances.

    Dumb as this may sound, I suspect if the world would imagine itself a pair of lesbian lenses and then get to work that the world would be trillions of time more fly.

  13. Adam, they are people I know :)

  14. Ok--coolcool. I meant no dismissiveness, was just wondering about how these men became the subjects of the interviews.

    I like the way these interviews cast men as the looked-at-ones, thus altering gender norms, or at-least discoursive norms.

    I--in a way I myself find odd--salute you not excising Travis' rude comment.

    I hope all's well!

  15. I didn't think you were being dismissive at all. Just clarifying they are not dudes off the street. But yes, I think part of my intention here is to make people uncomfortable, because women's looks are almost always "on the table" in a way that men's aren't. So partly, it's like, hey, here's what it feels like to have everyone just talking about your looks, like it's just this accepted thing. (Because really, we notice men's looks too, not just women's -- but we all feel more free to talk about the way women look, I think.)

  16. (Because really, we notice men's looks too, not just women's -- but we all feel more free to talk about the way women look, I think.)

    Yep I agree--tho my personal practice disrupts: I blather on about male looks quite a lot (true, I am gay). The sexual eye, I think, is really bad for a humane world: the way I conceptualize gay men is horrendous, and I am guessing there are numerous heterosexual counterparts to this.

    Basically I agree--in the moralistic drowningdeep unsensualist sense--with Toni M that the invention of romantic love is the worst invention ever.

    Final note: thank you for not expounding on the beauty is in the eye of the beholder lol-lness.

    Standards fascinate me; objectification fascinates me:

    for example I have a friend who is really good looking but I am not--his heterosexuality aside--attracted to him because he is not the precise variant of really good looking I tonguewag for; but he is for sure a high 8 at minimum.

    Do you think trim people feel superior to tubby ones? My guess is yes. Well my guess is I feel so at-least, and I have a suspicion that I am not alone even if many blush and look away.

  17. Oh, certainly -- *personal* attraction is subjective ... but to act like there are no agreed upon standards is silly. I feel it is easy to say about so and so, "He is attractive, but I am not attracted to him."

    And yes, certainly, there's a huge cultural bias against "tubby ones" as you say -- at times in the past, extra weight was a sign of wealth/status (you can afford to gorge!), but now, it's the opposite -- you can afford to have a personal trainer, etc.

  18. Yes-yes-yes:

    but to act like there are no agreed upon standards is silly. I feel it is easy to say about so and so, "He is attractive, but I am not attracted to him."