Have you ever made a sexual comment to a woman and were confused about why it was offensive to her? Admittedly, it’s rare that I come across a man who doesn’t properly understand when making sexual comments about a woman to her face is inappropriate, but unfortunately I find myself living with one these men at the moment. Although he has agreed not to do it again, he does not feel his comments were inappropriate.
It appears my new male roommate is a bit confused about the meaning of sexual harassment. He made some comments about “enjoying the view” of my body after I’d only lived with him for a few days, which was quite upsetting to me. I did my best to explain to him why what he did was harassment, and he disagreed with me. He said it was all a matter of perception. I said he could look up the definition of the term on the Internet. So which is it?
I guess the real question is, at what point does it actually become appropriate to make sexual comments to a woman you’ve recently met? Answer: Once you’ve reached a certain level of intimacy, which must include her clearly signaling sexual interest to you! That means that if you misinterpret her signals and think that she likes you when she doesn’t, she’s going to be very creeped out by your comments. The safest bet is to come right out and ask her if she’s interested in a date, and don’t be vague about it; anything else is a gamble.
The whole creep thing was once very well explained by Joseph Maldonaldo of IAM Center as one person moving too fast down a continuum of relating between two people. On one end are the complete strangers; on the other are intimate partners or friends. Moving along the continuum takes time and a willingness of both parties to move the relationship in that direction. To move too quickly along is to be a creep, literally creeping along the continuum to a point where the other party isn’t comfortable. It’s forcing one’s way past another person’s boundary with no regard for that person’s comfort. Sexual harassment is, in the general sense, being a creep. It means making sexual comments that would only be acceptable if you and the other person were further down the continuum, except that you are not. And after only knowing me for a few days in the context of being roommates, we are still at the level of acquaintance.
I am so grateful that most of you get this, no explanation necessary, but I guess I just needed to vent about how frustrating this can be. He actually said to me, “I thought you were the fun type,” as an excuse for saying what he said. So I guess he is right that it is a matter of perception, the problem is that his perception of our “relationship” was way off, and unfortunately I now perceive him as a creep and he perceives me as uptight. I’m just so disappointed in both of us for not being able to communicate about this better. Thanks for listening.
This post could have also been titled, The Enigmatic Mating Dance of the Human Male, because when I think about guys picking up women I am reminded of those dancing birds of paradise from the BBC’s Planet Earth series. Sometimes a guy just needs his friend to keep the friend of the woman he’s interested in company so he can “do his dance” with her complete attention.
“Taking one for the team,” usually refers to how the male’s friend keeps the female’s friend company during the enigmatic mating dance, but can also work vice versa, though it’s more rare. It is meant to help others and is thus a noble human behaviour. It is making a selfless sacrifice for the rest of humankind! I mean, how awkward and weird would it be if someone didn’t keep the woman’s friend company and she was just left standing there all alone rolling her eyes and mumbling obscenities under her breath?
That said, I have a few observations, and it has nothing to do with the true and awesome definition of taking one for the team, it has to do with using this great and noble behaviour as a ruse! Yes, a ruse! To cover up the fact that you had sex with a) someone you weren’t attracted to, or b) someone you fear your friends wouldn’t approve of.
Now I’m sure many people who’ve indulged in too much alcohol before can name at least one time they hooked up with or slept with a person they weren’t that attracted to. It does happen, and it’s just one of those things, and I totally get that no one wants to admit they got way too blasted to tell the difference. So saying you took one for the team in this case is likely just code for, “I don’t want to talk about it.” No biggie, mistakes happen. Better luck next time.
What is actually of interest to me is the use of the term to describe a liaison for which a person is similarly ashamed, but not because they weren’t attracted to their sex partner, but because they fear their friends wouldn’t approve of their sex partner even though they got their world rocked! Yeah, we are that judgmental.
What does that say about us as a culture that sex has been reduced to such a superficial egotistical expression of status-seeking and friend impressing? That we look outside ourselves for our cues to attraction rather than within? That the simple meeting of two mutually attracted bodies for the sole purpose of pleasure has to be accounted for and explained afterwards? There’s so many other layers involved in attraction, like smell and intellect and other oddities, there’s no way another person can decide who you should sleep with!
If all we’re focused on is trying to impress everyone else than I dare to say we’re literally wasting our lives and are right on track for that impending life crisis to hit. At which point, I might add, you can’t get those wasted years back! So what are you waiting for? Live! Live! When it comes to sex, trust your body, not your friends. And don’t apologize for it – ever!
~ “Sex at age ninety is like trying to shoot pool with a rope.” ~ George Burns
The other night I was looking at the Vancouver city skyline with a friend, and I remarked, “none of this would even exist if men weren’t trying to impress women so they could get laid.” Similar to my observation, Dave Chapelle has said that “if a man could fuck a woman in a cardboard box, he wouldn’t buy a house.” Interesting.
So first of all, pussy, mui importante. Check. But isn’t it kind of strange that after men spend so much of their time and money trying to get pussy, they turn around and use the word “pussy” to insult eachother? I mean I get it, misogyny and patriarchy and such, but isn’t this literally the same as spending all your time and money trying to become a millionaire, and then insulting someone by saying, “hey, fuck you, you millionaire, you!” Is there a fundamental difference here that I’m missing?
Guys? Any opinion on this?
(And Dave, thanks for backing me up on this, but as an aside, I’m not sure I get your reference to pussy as plummeting stock. Don’t people dump stock when it plummets? It’s just that I rarely hear stories of men saying “no” to pussy. I’m a bit confused on that one. And if you’re still perplexed about why women get upset when you act like a creep, this might clarify the meaning of a “whore’s uniform” for you.)
Happy hunting, guys 😉