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sexual advances - the big question

(458 Posts)
BramshawHill Sun 03-Mar-13 10:47:20

BBC the big question is currently discussing whether sexual advances should be accepted as a part of life.

The first speaker has said it weakens men and women if women complain about it every time, and that it IS a part of life.

Anyone else watching? Thoughts?

First time posting, hello btw!

StickEmUp Sun 03-Mar-13 10:59:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 11:02:05

I'm not watching as I don't have a TV Licence. What is meant by "sexual advances"? Do they mean a simple kind of hopeful flirting/suggestion kind of thing? In which case I don't see a problem with that at all. If they're talking sexual harrassment (even a one off harrassment) then obviously that's different.

StickEmUp Sun 03-Mar-13 11:06:25

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BramshawHill Sun 03-Mar-13 11:21:37

I liked the last (I think) speaker, a man raising a girl and 2 boys who said he was teaching the boys to respect girls, not teaching his daughter to put up with it.

And by sexual advances, I think they did mean everything - assault and harrassment was certainly mentioned but the title of the segment was literally 'are sexual advances a part of life?' so I'm not sure if some audience members were only thinking about flirting/propositions and basing comments on that, if you see what I mean.

StickEmUp Sun 03-Mar-13 11:25:17

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StickEmUp Sun 03-Mar-13 11:26:04

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meditrina Sun 03-Mar-13 11:26:18

The element of the subjective complicates this (a bit) as one person's flirtation might be another person's harassment.

But there's a clear solution to both - if recipient of advances says no, the requester STOPS. Give a maximum of two minutes for the requester get mind round this, and change gear mentally to realise it's a no. Requester does not try again.

StickEmUp Sun 03-Mar-13 11:35:57

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TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 03-Mar-13 12:06:39

Re the OP - which woman EVER has complained about sexual advances "every time"? That's just exaggeration by the speaker mentioned.

StickEmUp Sun 03-Mar-13 12:10:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SolidGoldBrass Sun 03-Mar-13 12:23:56

Only a very silly individual would take offence at someone politely offering them a drink or asking them to dance in a social situation. After all, if people are going to start relationships, however casual, someone has to make the initial move and plenty of time, an advance is in fact welcome.

The problem lies with the idiots who have no idea of boundaries and no perception that other people and their feelings matter. If you initiate a conversation with someone and s/he is not responsive or actually tells you to go away, it's hardly rocket science to understand that your approach is unwelcome and to go away, after all.

AbigailAdams Sun 03-Mar-13 12:27:13

"What also worried me was the focus on women having the power to say no, not the man to be able to walk away from a knock back." I didn't see it but yes this is a problem. The unacceptable behaviour is a man not walking away from a no yet the solution is to try and make women deal with that rather than tackling that behaviour?? A trick of the patriarchy - keep the focus on women's behaviour and men can carry on behaving as they always have.

<and that is the second time I have written that today. One of those days!>

MooncupGoddess Sun 03-Mar-13 12:32:10

I haven't heard the news item in question... but it sounds like it relies on a very old-fashioned understanding of how sexual relationships begin - that is, initiated by men pressing their attentions on women when they have no idea if the woman is interested or not.

In reality most relationships begin with both the man and woman in question displaying subtle signs of interest until one party grasps the nettle and makes a move. Any man (or woman) who makes a sexual move without having a sense of whether it's likely to be reciprocated is either naive or predatory. It's generally quite easy to tell the difference as the naive ones are mortified at being turned down and learn from their mistake.

Also, any decent man in a position of power would be very careful indeed not to put a woman he fancied into an awkward situation.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 03-Mar-13 12:48:28

YY Mooncup

BubblesOfBliss Sun 03-Mar-13 15:00:32

Agree Mooncup

larrygrylls Mon 04-Mar-13 10:00:06

Surely it is a spectrum?

There is a polite advance which can be either accepted or declined. There is being a little pushy, which strays into bad manners but is not a matter for reporting to employers or police but dealing with strongly. And finally there are men who cannot take no for an answer or make a pass in a way which is threatening. These people should be reported and dealt with.

As long as men are expected to make the first move (which by and large they still are), there has to be some latitude for clumsiness or stupidity. Not every man is going to be Mr Sensitive, after all, especially after a few drinks. And something defined as unacceptable has to be the same definition for all men. So, you cannot say a behaviour exhibited by an attractive man is charming but exhibited by an obese unattractive man is harrassment. I agree with Mooncup that flirtation should escalate from very subtle upwards, with both parties able to read the signals that the other is giving out. It is just not realistic, though, to say that any deviation from this model is "unacceptable". Most women (and men) have dealt with inappropriate advances from the opposite sex in a robust enough way to have their intentions understood, but without feeling it is overly traumatic.

I really don't buy some of the recent political claims which emerge 10 years later of women being distraught because a man made a clumsy pass at them at a dinner party, regardless of his position relative to hers.

namechangeguy Mon 04-Mar-13 10:09:57

Isn't it persistence that is the problem, rather than the act itself? We need a 'one strike and you're out' rule for this stuff.

KRITIQ Mon 04-Mar-13 13:28:31

I don't have a tv so didn't see the programme, but followed tweets about it. It's a religious/ethics type programme, so I think the producers try to frame questions and issues to fit within that, resulting in some considerable awkwardness!

One tweet during the programme was along the lines of, "why do we spend so much time teaching young people they must say no without teaching them that they must accept no?" I think THIS is a big part of the problem.

If you start a conversation with someone (whether because of romantic interest, brokering a business deal or just to pass the time at a bus stop,) you probably won't know what's going on for them and whether they will welcome the approach or see it as an annoyance, intrusion or even a threat. You have to be prepared to accept an outcome different from the one you hope for.

Women and girls know from experience whether they say a firm "no," ignore, be rude or be polite, it can still result in abuse from the bloke if he doesn't get the response he wants. I think "miscommunication" is a total red herring here.

Also, if you read the #everydaysexism hashtag on Twitter, you will see example after example of incidents where it is clear the man's purpose in approaching the woman or girl was to intimidate or abuse. What they want isn't a friendly conversation, or a date or necessarily, even sex. What they want is to see a woman or girl frightened and hurt. No crossed wires about it.

MooncupGoddess Mon 04-Mar-13 14:14:10

I agree that there is a spectrum when it comes to men's suavity of approach to a woman they're interested in having a relationship with. Though that doesn't excuse men who are aggressive or gropey, both behaviours which suggest they don't see the woman as an equal human being.

But powerful men who grope subordinates or try to lure them to a hotel room is quite a different matter. Sometimes they are trying to intimidate them, as Kritiq says; sometimes they are quite clearly motivated by the desire to demonstrate their power and don't care (or indeed are gratified) if the victim is made uncomfortable. Powerful men are not stupid; they have got where they are by being very good at reading situations and taking advantage of them.

I imagine, Larry (though correct me if I'm wrong), that you have never been in a situation where an older, more senior person in your line of work has groped you or invited you to have casual sex. And therefore that you have never experienced the resulting, split-second train of thought: 'Oh GOD. This is horrible. I need to get away, but what if he gets angry - will it scupper my promotion/I really need this deal/he could humiliate me by saying he was just joking and I have no sense of humour'.

I'm also annoyed by all the comments mocking women for being 'distraught' at their treatment by this type of men. I haven't seen any of the women who've spoken up talk about how distraught they are (and none of them have compared their treatment to Jimmy Savile's crimes - another media straw man). What these women are saying or implying is simply that powerful men should not behave like this, and that if they do there should be repercussions. And they're right.

slug Mon 04-Mar-13 15:06:56

Don't forget that frequently in addition to the risk to promotion women have to factor in the fallout if they do make a comment. It's not just immediate. That man may well be the person who provides a reference. In small professions, powerful men can easily make it known a young woman is "difficult" and scupper their chance of ever working in that profession again. That's potentially years of investment in an education, training and career building down the drain the minute he runs his hand up your leg.

And, of course, what larry probably wouldn't consider is every time a man makes an unwanted advance women have to do a calculation. What will happen if I refuse? Is this likely to get violent? A version of this is going through her head the entire time.

SolidGoldBrass Mon 04-Mar-13 15:23:01

There's also there fact that there are times when you just don't want someone making a social advance, sexually-motivated or not. When you are reading or working on your laptop, for instance. When your'e in a funeral parlour or doctor's surgery. When you are moving a heavy piece of equipment, or trying to fix something delicate and fiddly.
Yet there are some men who just don't seem to be able to comprehend that anything a woman is doing matters - they really do see women as available to men at any time and therefore get all arsey at a perfectly civil request to go away.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 04-Mar-13 15:31:38

KRITIQ that is a great point about teaching to accept no.

SirEdmundFrillary Mon 04-Mar-13 15:36:45

I can't see it's that difficult a question to answer, is it?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 04-Mar-13 15:40:20

Drinking in a work context is rarely exempt from professional "rules" such as not swearing when chatting with your boss when you might cheerfully swear at the pub with mates etc.

Most people manage to contain their drinking when out with work to ensure they don't impact their careers. Larry, was your point re a few drinks impacting "sensitivity" meant to be in a professional context?

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