The #MeToo movement has uncovered a lot of poor behavior, mostly by men and mostly aimed at women. There is outrage on all sides, confusion on the part of some men, and an overwhelming sense of “finally!” on the part of most women.
Never one to avoid the fray, let me enter here.
I could list all the personal examples of sexual harassment I’ve endured but I doubt that would add anything to the conversation. It is enough to say that I believe women when they say they have been groped, propositioned in the workplace or by strangers, intimidated by coworkers, bosses, or others in authority over them, or just raped. I believe them.
I also believe that most men are just gob-smacked by all this. There are men who would never think of saying or doing anything inappropriate to any woman. I know a few men like this. There are probably an equal number of men who are simply gross, taking every opportunity to turn an ordinary remark into an innuendo, getting handsy, spewing “compliments” on strangers, and taking offense when such are not greeted well. The majority of men fall somewhere in between.
A woman who smiles brightly is not inviting men to bed. A woman who passes pleasantries with you is not asking you to grope her. If a woman is ignoring you, that’s a good sign that you should stop whatever you are doing and direct your attention elsewhere. If a woman greets your off-color comment with silence, she does not need you to go into detail so that she “gets it.” She needs you to stop. This goes for women you know as well as for strangers. It’s not that hard, guys.
We women are tired of being told how to avoid getting raped. We are tired of being told by strange men to smile. We are tired of up-skirting, chest-staring, stalking, and other tasteless behaviors by men with whom we associate. We are tired of checking our hotel rooms for hidden cameras, and tired of being told how to dress. It is exhausting, demeaning, dehumanizing, and we have had it!
By all means, tell your coworker she looks great. But don’t ask if she’s had a boob job. Ask if she has the report you worked on. Smile at a stranger and then fix your attention elsewhere. Don’t be a creep. It’s not that hard. And when I say “hard,” you know I mean difficult, so don’t turn it around to the status of your dick. Not cool.
Women who don't warm up to your unwelcome shoulder rubs, demands to smile, suggestions on how they might dress so they look sexier, etc. are not humorless lesbians. They are simply uninterested in you! Shocking, I know.
The bottom line here is this: just treat women with respect. That's how real men behave.