It will be difficult to stamp out unwanted sex advances, because they (sometimes) work

Stats not available. But this is based on an enormous amount of empirical evidence.

IMO, there are two reasons why this is so.

Firstly, many women deliberately play hard to get, for a number of reasons. (I believe this is the main thesis of The Rules. Or as the older saying goes “he chased and chased her, until she caught him”.) Not all or possibly even most, and not necessarily you (if you happen to be a woman). But some women. So there will be many instances of women who rejected advances, sometimes repeatedly, but eventually acquiesce, since that’s what they were looking for all along.

Second, even for those women whose rejections are genuine, there are some who will be won over. IMO , one big reason for this is that being desired and wanted is itself a big deal for women, much more so than for men. So you can have a guy who might not meet a woman’s initial standards, but by his very persistence he is giving her something that an ostensibly more desirable guy isn’t offering, in that the persistent guy gives more of that feeling of being intensely wanted. Some - again, not all - women will be won over by this.

Bottom line in all this is that persistence in the face of rejection will sometimes work, and people living in society who observe what works and what doesn’t will notice this. And this means that persisting in the face of rejection will be something that carries a risk, but also offers a potential reward as well. And this will make it much harder to suppress.

Of course, the same is true of most crime, which generally persists in the face of risk of punishment because it offers some potential reward. But the difference is that most crime is the preserve of criminals. People steal because they want the rewards of stealing and are willing to accept the risk of jail time, but people who steal know that they’re stealing, and this puts a damper on that activity by people who are not up to criminal behavior. But the thing about persistent overtures is that in cases such as the above they end up being non-criminal. So even people who wouldn’t stoop to criminal activity will be tempted, because they’re hoping - and possibly convincing themselves - that it will all work out for the best with everyone happy at the end.

Sometimes. But non-criminal is not correlated to successful or unsuccessful.

I’m not sure what you’re saying, and perhaps we’re using “criminal” differently.

What I’m saying is that there’s little room for a guy robbing a bank to convince himself that he’s not engaging in a criminal activity. There’s plenty of room for a guy persistently coming on to a woman to convince himself that he’s not. Sometimes he will be right and sometimes he will be wrong, so the number of times men will convince themselves that this is happening will be greater than the number of times it actually will.

Which means that you will get a much greater number of ordinarily law-abiding people engaging in this type of activity, as compared to other criminal activity.

It does sometimes work, but more to the point, that sort of behavior is ingrained into males over thousands of generations where that sort of behavior has been an evolutionary success. This doesn’t excuse assault, but men’s instinct for aggressive sexual advances will always exist. It has to be controlled by societal norms and “decency”.

Yeah, I’m sure if one of those girls had just married Harvey Weinstein, he would’ve stopped al that sexual harassment.

I honestly don’t know what the OP is on about. Of course sexual harassment isn’t going to be stamped out. But when women are empowered to step forward and call it out, and men get prosecuted enough, most guys are going to wise up and we’ll end up with a significant reduction. And guys will start to learn the difference between a harmless offer of a date, and crossing the line into quid-pro-quo type sexual harassment. A lot of us already know where that line is, but apparently not nearly enough.

  1. Sometimes, persistently coming on to someone for sex is criminal harassment.

  2. Sometimes, it might still be criminal harassment, even if the person gets worn out and agrees to have sex in hopes that their pursuer will go away.

  3. What men convince themselves of has no relationship with what is or is not criminal. It’s might still be criminal even if lots of men can rationalize it to themselves.

  4. Not always, of course, but sometimes.

  5. If I were going to speculate without evidence, I would say that men likely are persistent - sometimes to the point of criminal persistence- because they don’t experience any real negative consequences for it. It’s the criminally harassed person who will face social opprobrium over it. The justice system will mostly shrug it off.

  6. If men are going to weigh the odds and decide that there’s no real disadvantage to criminal harassment and that sometimes there are benefits, the way to discourage this behavior is for society apply some disadvantages.

  7. I am not holding my breath.

What exactly do you mean by “unwanted sex advances”? Can you delineate what qualifies (presumably groping or sexual comments) and what does not (presumably asking a co-worker to lunch just once)?

I wouldn’t be so sure if I were you, as it’s not at all clear that the line is where you think it is. See e.g. the OP of this thread, and some subsequent posts.

If you read the OP, it’s pretty clear that I’m talking about “persistence in the face of rejection”. I used that actual phrase a couple of times, and the entire OP is about this topic. Is there any reason this is not one of your options here?

Persistent what? Persistent “hey, how ya doin’?”? Persistent “would you like to get coffee with me?” Persistent “would you like to go back to my place?” Persistent lewd comments? Persistent groping? All of the above? Something else? Some combination?

Makes little or no difference. Call it X. You suggested doing X, the woman made clear she wasn’t interested in X, and you kept suggesting it. You didn’t offer any quid pro quo, and weren’t in a position of authority over her. But you kept offering X. One example - by no means exclusive - is in the OP cited in my prior post.

Whenever I get asked “How can I KNOW the difference between flirting and possible harassment?” Flirting is mutual and fun for both. Harassment is not. Is that a foolproof system? No, so you need to decide if it’s worth it to roll the dice.

In a weird sort of way, I see some overlap between anti-sexual harassment rules, and advice I have seen from the Pick-Up Artist folks.

Repeatedly asking women for dates/sex is seen, often, as sexual harassment. Related to that is advice I have seen - that the PUA does not waste time on trying to pick up any one woman. Give it one good try, if she says No, there are plenty of other fish in the sea, so you don’t waste time on her - you go on to someone else who will fall for your lines. Of course this is not universal, and the PUA advice can be distasteful or disrespectful for plenty of reasons other that being harassing.

But “drop her if she won’t put out right away” tends in the same direction as “it is harassment if you keep asking”, even if it has different motivations.


My impression is that PUA are just guys looking for some action. Sexual harassers of the type I describe are generally people attracted to a particular woman.

OP: there are two fundamentally different situations: 1. One person is in a position of power over another (boss, teacher…) and 2. A person is not in a position of power over another person.

You need to separate the two situations.

Is there value and social benefit to changing behaviour, or, are is there value in continuing to allow its perpetuation?

“It will be difficult” is hardly a good argument for maintaining status quo.

Recent evidence to the contrary.

A similar problem exists in the fact that something that might be considered sexual harassment when coming from one guy can be met with smiles or giggles when coming from another. So a guy sees another guy behaving in a way toward women that is smilingly accepted, but when he tries it he winds up in trouble. (As illustrated in this hilarious SNL video clip.)

So the lines are blurred even more. The biggest problem is that no bright line exists as to what is acceptable and what isn’t. Sometimes persistence pays off and sometimes overtures pay off, but other times they’re problematic, and behavior that as men we aren’t supposed to engage in.

So there needs to be some understanding and give and take on both sides. The way things are going now - with instant career destruction resulting from mere accusation - is not the way to go, and will only be harmful and limiting to women in the long run, as described in this statement by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandburg.

OF COURSE it sometimes works. Wouldn’t exist if it didn’t. I mean, spam (the inedible type) wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for that fraction of recipients who respond. Just about everything I find boring, overbearing, idiotic, juvenile, or offensive in modern life exists basically because some of my fellow humans actually DO like it…even if it’s a tiny fraction of them.

Does he then change his behaviour or does he persist to play the odds?

Yes. They actually do. The issue is men who cross those lines and feign ignorance or simply don’t care.

Give or take? What does that even mean.

Also, did you read the article you quoted for comprehension? It doesn’t at all conclude what you’d like it to conclude.

The problem is that it’s increasingly becoming accepted that harassment is what the woman in question says it is, while at the same time being fluid and not necessarily harassment if coming from someone else. But how are we to know an approach is unwelcome until we try? It becomes a situation where men are expected to read women’s minds, and their careers and possibly even legal problems hang in the balance.

Yes, they actually do what? I don’t understand what saying here

Not give or take but give and take. There’s a big difference. And what it means is that men should be more aware of women’s concerns in this area and be sensitive to how their behavior is met, and women should be more forgiving of the occasional faux pas that a man might make toward her. Each needs to understand that no clear answer exists and that they need to cooperate with each other to maintain the most equitable balance in the workplace

Of course I read it, and it says exactly what I’m talking about regarding the current approach being harmful and limiting to women in the workplace; i.e., they begin to find themselves being excluded from business meetings and trips, or just not hired to begin with, in order to ensure that harassment problems don’t arise in the first place.

There are women in my family and many female friends who’ve done very well in the business world and I’d hate to see their horizons limited because their companies are fearful that a male misstep resulting from the fluidity I mentioned above might lead to expensive and harmful accusations of sexual harassment, and thus to conclude it’s better not to involve women in the first place. Contrary to what you seem to think, I’m not anti-woman at all.