Ladies, It’s All In Our Head

Filed in National by on November 3, 2011

Yesterday we learned that sexual harassment is just women not understanding jokes, today we learn it doesn’t even exist. John Derbyshire at the National Review Online:

Is there anyone who thinks sexual harassment is a real thing? Is there anyone who doesn’t know it’s all a lawyers’ ramp, like “racial discrimination“? You pay a girl a compliment nowadays, she runs off and gets lawyered up. Is this any way to live?

Hey, we are just making things up because we love lawsuits! Clown.

Other John Derbyshire greatest hits: Derbyshire told the Black Law Students’ Association at U Penn that white people are smarter than black people.

Derbyshire also wrote a book saying women’s suffrage should be repealed because women don’t vote the right way.

John Derbyshire is paid by somebody to write this stuff.

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Opinionated chemist, troublemaker, blogger on national and Delaware politics.

Comments (57)

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  1. pandora says:

    Ugh. Compliment? There is a difference between you look nice today and what kind of underwear are you wearing.

    When I was in my twenties I had a pig of a boss. It was my first real job and I didn’t do anything about it. Well, actually I did. I quit. Here’s what happened:

    It started with “compliments.” You look nice today morphed into you look hot.

    Which turned into “I hope that man of yours appreciates what he has” then morphed into “I hope that man of yours satisfies your needs.”

    Which then moved onto “If you were my girlfriend I’d treat you like a princess” and then grew to “If you were mine I would make sure you were satisfied every night.”

    Needless to say his comments gave me the creeps. He was also married. In fact, all the times I’ve encountered comments like these they’ve been issued by married men.

    Here’s the thing. No one has a problem with a compliment – it’s what it can turn into. Sexual harassment rarely begins with a flat out sexual proposition. It’s usually a process, conducted over time.

  2. devils advocate says:

    Because im too much of a wimp to use my real fake-name….
    Im under the impression that companies, for the most-part settle out of court in these cases. Sexual harassment is pretty hard to prove, and disprove. Usually the powers that be side with the complainant…. who in most cases is also the victim. (which is the right thing to do… the right thing to do, giving the benefit of the doubt to the victim is the right thing to do…. in my opinion, and in reality) But since men and women are equal, that means there are plenty of money grubbing scum-bags in both genders. (although ive never met a truly despicable transgendered person, so maybe they are on to something)
    Here is my, probably offensive point. given that people already sue for hot coffee burning them, isnt it logical to think a woman could drum up a sexual harassment claim based on a co-worker saying “you look nice today”? If you knew a company would give you a pay-out just to make the problem go away…… and you were a total a-hole, what’s stopping you?

  3. socialistic ben says:

    yeah, that was me.
    Pandora, for the record, i ask EVERYONE what kind of underwear they are wearing…. it’s not sexual, its a genuine interest in cotton vs polyester blend in undergarments. I also am a strong believer in made-in-america and want to know if people are letting their fellow americans cover their butt…. BOOM! so…… there’s that.

  4. pandora says:

    It looks like there were approx. 12,000 claims in 2010. 16% of those were filed by men. The idea that everyone is filing these claims strikes me as nonsensical as Republicans claiming mass voter fraud.

    I do not know one person who has ever filed a sexual harassment complaint. How many people do you know who have filed a complaint?

    Can we please stop acting like these claims are commonplace?

    And, Ben, please get help for your condition. Also, I don’t believe you as everyone. I don’t recall you asking that question when we met. 😉

  5. think123 says:

    The old suing for hot coffee is now the stuff of urban legend, but the coffee was hot enough to cause severe burns requiring hospitalization and weeks of skin grafts. McDonald’s was aware of hundreds of such injuries. They were serving coffee way over dangerous scalding temps. The courts agreed. After that, they lowered the temp. It’s all good. Hurting people bad. Suing people who deserve it good.

  6. socialistic ben says:

    they arent commonplace. devils advocate is just that….. it brings up the POSSIBILITY of abuse of the system since the system is (rightly so) set up so the victim gets justice. this dude is just a conservative pig….as most pigs are… (conservative that is)

    i feel like we often get close on this website talking about how groups of men interact with each other and how groups of women interact with each other. I know ladies talk about things when only ladies are around just as i participate in conversations when there are only men around that change directions quickly when a woman gets within earshot….. not because we are talking about sexually harassing her…. i doubt she wants to hear us bragging about BMs. But that is a sexist remark to think that all women are grossed out by poo. (women of course dont poop… it’s all tulips and glitter)
    The most i can bring myself to do is “see where they are coming from” when conservatives whine about having to accommodate women who “apparently want to be treated equally”. Like i said, i dnt agree with it, but i see where the screwed up logic comes from.

  7. puck says:

    These guys should show more respect for women and just go get a hooker instead.
    …that was a joke, ladies.

  8. Geezer says:

    Think is exactly right. McDonald’s settled hundreds of similar cases, typically for less than $1,000 each. The woman who sued did so because her medical bills were far higher. Her suit was only for the amount of her medical bills. The jurors were the ones who were outraged by McDonald’s behavior, so they added a large sum in punitive damages.

  9. puck says:

    I think a lot of people have sexual harassment confused and combined in their minds with sexual discrimination, which are sometimes related but not the same thing.

    If you’ve ever read Christine O’Donnell’s sexual discrimination suit against ISI, it is actually pretty convincing. I could easily see it from her point of view, if I block out all the other stuff we know about her now.

    • I agree with puck that O’Donnell’s ISI complaint is an interesting read. It gives a peek into that ultra-conservative worldview. What she describes does sound like sex discrimination, especially her replacement by a much-less qualified man. However, like puck says, I have a hard time with COD’s complaint being aware of her complete incompetence.

      Yes, sex discrimination is not the same as harassment though they come from similar beliefs I think. Wal-Mart is in trouble for sex discrimination for managers saying things like they had to promote a man over a woman because the man has a family to feed.

  10. cassandra m says:

    You pay a girl a compliment nowadays, she runs off and gets lawyered up. Is this any way to live?

    So is anybody thinking that this is NOT a perfectly fine way to live for the girl? Because that means that she gets to say No, Hell No, Step the Fuck Off, My big brothers will come to see you and, yes, Meet My Lawyer — it means that she can set boundaries AND reinforce those boundaries. It is only men who need to work out their power issues via women who have the problem with this.

  11. Geezer says:

    If you want to pay a woman a compliment, try telling her she’s a nice person. I don’t think any lawyers will get involved.

    I’m a typically insensitive male on this stuff, but my wife, who’s in management at her company, has told me of several different women who have come to her with stories of unwanted sexual attention. None has been willing to “lawyer up,” because they assume that if they say anything they will have to find another job — not because they’ll be fired, but because the atmosphere will become too hostile to stay. So I’d say those 16,000 actual complaints/lawsuits are just the tip of a much larger iceberg.

  12. socialistic ben says:

    I have a genuine curiosity question for the ladies.
    where do you draw the line between harmless (of if you think there is such a thing) flirting and sexual harassment? Lots of people enter relationships with people at work so that is where my question comes from.

    my guess would be that, for example, flowers sent by the shy guy who’s socially awkward but harmless dont count as sexual harassment. But then again i know a few girls who always say no the first time they are asked out to see if the guy wants the enough to try harder….. I personally have always backed off at the first wif of rejection (their loss) It think there is more of a gray area here than most people want to admit. maybe not on an individual level, but isnt a weak rule if it is defined by the individual?
    yes, some things are without a doubt harassment. “get im my office and strip, or be fired”.
    some things are without a doubt harmless “that is a nice sweater, where did you get it? i would like to purchase one for my wife whom i am completely devoted to”

  13. socialistic ben says:

    that was just riddled with typos (more than usual for me) apologies.

  14. cassandra m says:

    isnt a weak rule if it is defined by the individual

    I don’t even begin to get this. I don’t know how many people I know in RL and don’t treat any of them the same except to try to respect them. It seems a commonplace that everyone’s boundaries and everyone’s sensibilities are different.

  15. pandora says:

    Funny how liberals can tell when political talk crosses a line. Just sayin’

  16. socialistic ben says:

    cassandra, i think laws should be objective. i also don’t think that makes me a teabagger.

    making sex, or something sexual, something that has to be done for a raise or to not be fired, or to get a job is absolutely sexual harassment. No question there. It is despicable and needs to be punished severely, and the victims need to know they should not be afraid of their bosses…… But there is an undeniable gray area. my question a few posts ago was to get an idea, from this particular cross section of very smart women (probably not a great cross section to represent the country…… NOT BECAUSE WOMEN ARE DUMB, but because liberals are smart and most of you here are liberals) what your thoughts on that gray area were. my question was not to try and convince people that inappropriate (also something that isn’t purely objective) comments are ok. ok?

  17. cassandra m says:

    So what is it about Hostile Work Environment is a grey area? Or Quid Pro Quo, for that matter?

  18. Dave says:

    In the workplace, this should be no problem at all. As a guy, I do not pay compliments or otherwise recognize what a woman is wearing, how she looks, what she does, or anything else except as related to the work she is performing and how well she does it. In the work place there are no men and women. There are only people and their only quality is how they perform their work. While it makes the work place less of a community, it is definitely professionally safer – at least for me. I may think a woman looks hot but she will never know that I am thinking it.

    A sign that used to be posted on the bank of a pond in front of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in which an alligator once resided read:

    “Do not feed the alligator. It does not know the difference between a loaf of bread and your arm”

    Since there are going to be some who do not know the difference between a compliment and sexual harassment, I never ever give any one a loaf of bread because I value my arm too much.

  19. socialistic ben says:

    well, like i said in my post, “quid pro quo” is pretty much “do me and you get a raise” no grey area there. I think that also counts as a hostile work environment. That was addressed before I even asked my question. Of course if an individual has a reasonable request that another individual stop a specific behavior, they should be respected.

    “Since there are going to be some who do not know the difference between a compliment and sexual harassment, I never ever give any one a loaf of bread because I value my arm too much.”
    im right there with you.

  20. puck says:

    It’s the Groucho theory of propositioning 10,000 women – eventually one will say yes.

    Crude advances are harassment, as are advances after a “No.”

    But the phrase “unwanted” is annoying. All sexual attention is “unwanted” until it is accepted. There is a low success rate, but the payoff is high enough that (some) men will keep doing it. The girls who say Yes keep them going.

    I guess the assumption is that work should be a place free of propositions. Except the ones you want.

  21. pandora says:

    The girls who say Yes keep them going.

    I despair over our liberal men.

  22. puck says:

    e-Harmony poll:

    37.8% of married couples met at work. It didn’t say how many were married to other people at the time.

    So it looks like if we succeed in stopping all romantic advances in the workplace, society will collapse.

    • Is it a hard concept to grasp that the women you work with want to be treated like a professional, and not your potential date? I do realize that many people meet their spouse at work but I’m assuming they did the work to get to know them outside of work on a personal level.

    • pandora nailed it.

      Also, SB, that was a load of fail. Two men from different sides of the world are more alike than brother & sister. FAIL

      • All I’ve learned is that we haven’t advanced in this area since the 1990s.

        As far as Cain goes – a married CEO asked a much younger, much lower level employee to come to his hotel room to perform sex acts. That’s just “asking for a date.” I can’t believe there is confusion on the appropriateness of this.

  23. socialistic ben says:

    that sounds a little “lump them all togethery” of you, P 🙂

    here’s a filthy little secret… women like sex just as much as men do. *ghasp*

    Here is something else, our society… like most societies, has constructed social roles that make men the peruser of relationships. If, as social norms have dictated for years, men “do the askin out” how do you then say “asking someone out could result in a sexual harassment charge”?

  24. puck says:

    “here’s a filthy little secret… women like sex just as much as men do. *ghasp*”

    The difference is they don’t have to ask 10,000 times. It kind of changes your outlook.

  25. Delaware Dem says:

    Your complaints about “our liberal men” gives credence to the notion that all men are pigs. LOL.

  26. JustSomeGuy says:

    I have always been a “peruser” of relationships.
    Guys it’s really not that difficult everything I need to know here I learned in Kindergarten. Treat everybody the same way. But, if you do want to be better friends ASK in a straight forward appropriate way. No means no. Move on. No trouble, no suits no, TV cameras:)

  27. socialistic ben says:

    That is not unreasonable at all, UI. to that i would say “is it really necessary to treat every dumb thing us dumb guys say as a red flag we might assault you?”

    remember kids, nothing says “good job” like a firm, open-palmed smack on the behind. (men do that to men ALL THE TIME..just sayin)

  28. cassandra m says:

    And I want to come back to this:

    where do you draw the line between harmless (of if you think there is such a thing) flirting and sexual harassment?

    When I responded that you treat people the way they want to be treated, we got a retreat to objective law — when even the question isn’t about objective law.

    But the question *does* rely on alot of urban legend about what constitutes *sexual harassment*. For this narrative to work, you have to assume that women do not know how they want to be treated in a professional environment. And that is somehow different from men who have no problem establishing standards of professional behavior as it applies to them. The other thing that you have to buy into here is that there is some epidemic of women abusing the accusation of sexual harrassment. While there are certainly a minority of women who want to prosecute their hurt feelings, this is not the norm. Women who speak up about harrassment have lived with a fair bit of it before bringing it to the attention of supervisors. Note that this narrative does not have any room for holding accountable men simply working at abuse of power.

    Men with good home training will understand that they shouldn’t treat women in the workplace worse than they’d like to see their wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters treated in the workplace. If you are a man who will lean into your mother’s kitchen and ask her to show you her tits, then you are a man who should have a damn good lawyer. Always.

  29. Geezer says:

    “nothing says “good job” like a firm, open-palmed smack on the behind. (men do that to men ALL THE TIME.”

    Now I have another incentive not to do a good job.

  30. socialistic ben says:

    “dont swear or use foul language… there are women present”
    is that a sexist statement or is is chivalrous?

    im not really talking specifically about “potential date” here. im talking about the overall dynamic between men and women. I think its worth recognizing that you cant much different than man/woman. I think 2 men from opposite sides of the earth are basically more alike than even a brother and sister. it is undeniable fact that our brains and bodies are different… *deep breath* NOT superior or… whatever the opposite of superior is….. just different.
    look, If the rule is “treat men like men, and ladies like ladies” i’m fine with accepting that (even though some see it as special treatment) because I fully accept that there are fundamental differences in how we think.

    but, you gals have to burp and fart around us. 🙂

  31. pandora says:

    This whole thread is based on some sort of fantasy. The fantasy of women constantly declaring sexual harassment. The fantasy of never being able to say anything nice to a woman. The fantasy that these romantic work relationships began with all the finesse of a porno movie. The fantasy of scoring at work because there are some “girls” who say yes – which leads to the fantasy that “girls” will say yes to you. The fantasy of men smacking other men’s butts all the time.

    And, finally, the fantasy that asks us to believe that you don’t modify your behavior in different circumstances – That you act exactly the same at work as you would in a bar, that you don’t censor yourself ever.

  32. puck says:

    “The fantasy of scoring at work because there are some “girls” who say yes – which leads to the fantasy that “girls” will say yes to you.”

    For 37.8% of us, it’s not a fantasy.

    There will always be creeps, but for most of us we don’t know if an advance is unwanted until we try. Perhaps you are just arguing about style.

  33. puck says:

    OK, let’s settle this with a poll.

    Ladies only: Would you rather work in a workplace with nearly all men, or nearly all women?

  34. pandora says:

    I have never even considered such a question.

    I have worked in both types of environments. There were people I liked, and people I didn’t. In both cases, it didn’t break across specific gender lines.

  35. socialistic ben says:

    I am the 37.8%!!!!!
    is it socal construct, or human nature that has created the saying
    “oh you know men……” or “you know women…..” ?
    UI, as per my usual inability to articulate my point the way i want to, what i meant by that is, men (or women) from different ethnicities have almost no differences as far as genetics are concerned. there are slight differences to bone structure and of course skin color, but other than that only highly trained professionals and Bones can tell the difference. Men vs Women however, in addition to vast anatomical differences also display and have displayed throughout history different personality traits…. is it so outlandish to say that a man can say something and honestly not mean it to be offensive, or aggressive, or rude, and the woman hears it and honestly becomes very offended? what about the reverse? who’s right?

  36. socialistic ben says:

    what would you rather have though?
    honestly if i HAD to choose between just those 2 options, I would have all male co-workers or all female co-workers, id go with all guys.

  37. puck says:

    The point is that women have their own passive way of being creeps (more with social and office-politics issues, not sexual advances). And other women seem to bear the brunt of it. I know a lot of women who say outright they hate working in female-dominated workplaces (teaching and nursing come to mind).

    And despite the potential for male harassers, many women thrive in male-dominated workplaces.

    The poll asks you to decide whose bad apples are worse.

  38. pandora says:

    Shame on me for responding to your ridiculous poll.

    What’s infuriating me about this thread is the pretense of men being socially illiterate. You’re not, and my bet is all of you have refrained from saying certain things in certain company. This nonsense of Hey, I’m just a guy doing guy things is BS. And I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard a man call out another man on what he says by telling him, “Man, that ain’t cool.”

    All of you know damn well what’s acceptable and not acceptable in certain situations, and you’re doing yourselves a disservice by pretending otherwise.

    And I’m still waiting to hear about all the women you know who have filed a sexual harassment claim. You must know a lot since you seem to consider it an epidemic.

  39. Geezer says:

    Women: What some of the men are saying here reminds me of the way conservatives vigorously deny racism within the Tea Party movement. Something about “protesting too much.”

    And I’m not patting myself on the back. I’m pretty much a pig, too. But even I know to stay away from sexual comments to women I work with.

    John Derbyshire, on the other hand, reminds me of conservatives’ attitude to global warming: Rather than debate whether or not it’s caused by human activity, they simply deny it’s happening at all.

  40. puck says:

    I’d choose the female workplace, but only if I didn’t really need the job.

  41. MJ says:

    Cass, UI, Pandora – you look nice today. 🙂

  42. Geezer says:

    Doesn’t that imply that they don’t look nice every day? 😉

  43. heragain says:

    Thank you, Pandora. If they didn’t get the 121 post, they’re just in denial.

    Sexual harassment. So subtle. I’ll give you a couple of examples of sexual harassment, that I experienced myself, but did not ‘lawyer up” for.

    I was 19, working as a breakfast cook. Tried to finish washing out the steam pan while everyone else was on break. A coworker, whose name I didn’t even know, came up behind me and took a firm grasp of both my breasts. ‘I knew they were real.” he said.

    I was 20, working in a dinner theatre. One of my bosses felt it was his right to tongue kiss me “to welcome the New Year.” He was probably 60, at the time. Vile. I knew, even though he was married, he was ‘hooking up’ with several women at the theatre… the costumer, a couple of the dancers. I felt lucky we still had audience, and you can bet your bottom dollar I never worked late there.

    I was 22, taking college classes. My technical writing instructor asked me out every damn class for the first 5 weeks. He just thought we should discuss my “obvious potential” over coffee. He needed to stroke my hair in the elevator to suggest that. He only stopped when his #2 pick, who was having a lot more trouble constructing a resume, said yes. After that, he was a little more chill.

    Would I “lawyer up” if I time traveled back? Probably not. I NEEDED those jobs. Any woman who has the labia to do it has my respect.

  44. Dave says:

    I know exactly what is acceptable and not acceptable and I am confident in my knowledge and couth to know what to say and when it is appropriate to say it. I choose to say nothing, not out of social ineptness but as a defense measure because I do not know or trust all those I come in contact with every day.

  45. cassandra m says:

    Frank at From Pine View Farm, gets it. (See the section under Afterthought in his post.)

  46. pandora says:

    Frank is brilliant! I just asked him to pop over here and educate some of our commenters. 🙂

  47. think123 says:

    Real world sexual harassment suits are not about nuances careless talk or misunderstandings. It’s not a thin ice situation. You have to be a total jerk to get sued for bothering a women. It’s usually way over the line stuff that most guys have enough good sense not to do. Remember Bill O’Reilly in 2004? That was not about saying hey nice sweater. Bill O’Reilly accused his female accuser of a multimillion dollar “shakedown” attempt, but she, a Fox News producer, fired back filing a lawsuit claiming that he subjected her to repeated instances of sexual harassment and spoke often, and explicitly, to her about phone sex, vibrators, threesomes, masturbation, the loss of his virginity, and sexual fantasies. She recorded conversations. She won. There’s more than a few Bill O’Reilly big shots and little shots that get off talking dirty to the ladies. Sexual harassment lawsuits are the perfect tool for keeping the bullies at bay. Chance are if you get a restraining order placed against you, get arrested for drunk driving, or somebody sues you for sexual harassment – you are problem. Not the ladies, not the cop, not the judge.

  48. Hear, hear think. Sexual harassment is not a co-worker asking you for a date. It’s a sustained situation creating either a hostile work environment or worse, quid pro quo. Women in the past just had to put up with it and now there’s more awareness, which is a good thing. I’ve heard stories that will curl your hair, like heragain’s. Isn’t it pretty interesting that every woman can tell a story about when they’ve experienced harassment but none have a story of their great payouts? That’s because a settlement is rare, and it only generally happens when it is well-documented.

    Stop pretending that sexual harassment is women who can’t take jokes.

  49. Aoine says:

    hey – a couple of weeks ago someone pawed me:

    imagine his surprise when I did a “Crocodile Dundee”, squeezed REALLY REALLY HARD – then evaluated his equipment for all to hear.

    no cops, no lawyers, and he wont do that again too soon.

    even better – dude wears a uniform in his regular job and had two co-workers with him – he wont be living it down anytime soon


  50. puck says:

    “Sexual harassment is not a co-worker asking you for a date. ”

    But that is exactly what Cain is accused of (until something else comes out, which it probably will).

    “The firestorm started when the website Politico, citing anonymous sources and not naming any of the alleged victims, reported that one of the women was livid over a sexual overture Cain made toward her when he invited her to his room during a trade association event in the 1990s.”

    Maybe that’s not your idea of a date, but it’s not harassment either (unless there are more details).

    “Pawing” on the other hand is a step beyond sexual harassment. When somebody grabs a body part there is no doubt. But I don’t think examples of pawing apply to our discussion of what is and is not verbal harassment.

  51. pandora says:

    Actually, we have no idea what Cain is accused of doing. And while I have no doubt Cain motivated Derbyshire’s article, he’s really not the point of UI’s post, is he?

    But you seem intent on missing the point on this issue, and that confuses me. After going back and reading your comments I’m reaching the conclusion that you agree with Derbyshire.

    Is there anyone who thinks sexual harassment is a real thing? Is there anyone who doesn’t know it’s all a lawyers’ ramp, like “racial discrimination“? You pay a girl a compliment nowadays, she runs off and gets lawyered up. Is this any way to live?

    Could you please give examples of what you consider sexual harassment. I’d be curious to see where you draw the line.

  52. puck says:

    I already did give examples. Pawing is “sexual-harassment-plus.” Repeated verbal advances after a “No” are also harassment.

    Being complimented or asked out for a date by a sweaty, hairy, awkward, older married guy is not harassment; it is just a reflection of your own selection biases. Even crude advances are not necessarily harassment.

    Why do so many women in this thread mention that the guy who made the advance on them is married? Creepy yes, but does that make a difference in determining whether it is harassment or not?

    The EEOC has a very specific definition. Corporations live in fear of sexual harassment complaints and thus their staff training and their policies have a much broader interpretation that goes beyond the EEOC.

    Corporate staff are told that any unwanted advance is harassment, period. If you feel harassed, you are harassed. And corporate training is where a lot of people learn about harassment.

    When you say there were only 12K sexual harassment claims, that leaves out all the uncounted internal corporate complaints where there isn’t even due process. It is cheaper to replace somebody without even investigating, than to deal with an EEOC complaint. This is what makes men uncomfortable, not the lawsuits. Any woman in most workplaces literally has the power to get any man fired.

    There are also a whole lot of girls who take part in the sexual wordplay gleefully. I actually knew a girl and a guy who were completely uninvolved romantically, but while at work they engaged in ferocious flirtatious banter, which was actually hilarious. It was just their way of being friends at work. But a completely different woman, who wasn’t involved in the conversations, filed an internal sexual harassment complaint against the guy, and he is now fired.

  53. puck says:

    Nobody said Cain’s actions (as we know them so far) were “appropriate.” There is enough to talk about without building straw men.

    They were highly inappropriate, based on the power differential. Harassment? Probably, but I don’t know yet. I don’t think it meets the EEOC definition, unless there is more to the story.

    If they had been at the same pay grade, probably not.