How often are you the recipient of unwanted sexual advances?
I’d have to say not very often at all. It happened more often in college and when I used to go out to bars more, although even then, it didn’t occur frequently. Also, I don’t work in an office setting and I spend most of my time at home, so I’m not “out and about” much except with friends and family.
To the larger question, I would propose that attractive men get hit on far less than attractive women. I think women can read men better than guys can read women. I’m not a real flirty person and it seems women (the few who might be attracted to me) pick up on the fact that I’m married and not interested. Most guys however aren’t really very skilled at reading the “not interested” signs, whatever they may be. I’m not buying into the guys-are-huge-idiots beer commercial psychology or the myth that beautiful, successful women have obviously flirted/slept their way to success, but the power of sex (whatever that might be, probably a Prince song) or attraction, whatever you want to call it, is used for many reasons. Things like beer ads and contemporary female country stars are easy to interpret, but an attractive co-worker’s glance is much more complex. Misinterpretation abounds. I’m sure this happens for both men and women, but men just seem to act on their misinterpretations more. Why? Maybe it’s the male-as-aggressor role from the traditional dating/courting system that survived the sexual revolution or the woman-as-object ideal present in a patriarchal society. Or maybe evolution is to blame here. Maybe its because men are big dumbasses who like beer and hot chicks and like… beer and stuff. I don’t know.
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?
This is difficult because I haven’t had to do it in a long time and because I think it varies from situation to situation. I mean, I don’t have a “go to” shut-down button because I don’t need one. Now, I would probably start talking about my wife and child and make sure in the future I didn’t give that person any signals that could be interpreted as sexual/romantic interest. This is very vague, I know. If none of this works, then I’d probably avoid the person as much as possible. If that didn’t work, I’d probably get a face transplant and change my name to Terry Paragraph and host a show on public access television called Topic Sentence.
Have you ever experienced anything you’d describe as harassment?
I’ve had my butt grabbed by both women and men (who hasn’t), but I can’t say that I’ve ever been the victim of sexual harassment. I’ve never felt intimidated or made to believe I would benefit somehow from a sexual encounter with somebody. I’ve been made uncomfortable before in a casual setting, but never in a professional situation.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t exist, because I’ve had male friends who have experienced what I’d consider sexual harassment. I doubt they’d describe it as that and there was never any physical harassment (that I know of). Most of it occurred via text message and email.
What is your advice for a woman who finds herself the recipient of unwanted sexual attention or advances?
Try to be as clear as possible that you are not interested while also being kind about it (if that’s possible). You think he “got it,” but he probably didn’t. Attention is a difficult thing to turn away, but if it is truly unwanted then you need to let him know. Be sure its clear that you are not interested, as many dudes will keep at it if you give them any hope at all. Don’t do the “I totally find you attractive, but I’m seeing someone else” thing just to let him down easy. This creates a tiny window he thinks he can crawl into. Also, if alcohol is involved, you need to be more direct. The more alcohol he has consumed, the more overt you need to be. If he’s drunk and hitting on you and won’t give up, you probably need to draw him a map to Fuckoffville (I believe it’s in Wisconsin).
Image via Hee Jin Kang