Miss Manners on Repeated Advances

I saw this question and answer in the newspaper March 4, 2012.  I emailed Judith Martin (Miss Manners) to see if it was OK to pass them along, but did not hear from her.  I am trusting she will want men and women everywhere to get this.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: “I have a male acquaintance who has tried to get me into private and intimate situations, despite my saying “no” many, many times.  I constantly hear stories from my female friends about men continuing to throw themselves at them, no matter how many times these ladies say they are not interested.  In these cases, the young men are not asking us out on dates; they are asking us to engage in casual sexual activities.  I do not think these men are trying to sexually harass us, although we do feel sexually harassed.  These men are simply used to young women being willing to engage in casual sexual encounters with them.  However, my close friends and I are ladies of propriety and do not desire these advances.  In my own experience when I have responded with a  polite “no, thank you,” the young man chuckles indulgently.  I believe he thinks I am  playing hard-to-get and want to be pursued with more determination  When an increasingly stern “No, thank you” is not working, what is a young lady to say that will stop his undesired attention?

GENTLE READER: “No, thank you” is the proper response for declining a cup of tea or some other gracious or benevolent offer.  It is not the proper response to a lewd proposition.  Even to Miss manners’ sympathetic ears, it sounds as if you are grateful to have been asked.  The proper response is, “How dare you!”

Stop giggling.  The reason this amuses you is that you don’t blame those who ask because their propositions are sometimes accepted.  In that case, you should not be insulted, as perhaps you are not.  You complain only of the repetition.  Miss Manners suggests that you pay more attention to your feelings of being sexually harassed.  Consider whether the assumption that you, who consider yourself a lady of propriety, will engage in sex with anyone who asks constitutes an insult.  Then respond to it as an insult.”

Yes, yes, yes.  These are lewd propositions and we need to respond appropriately as Miss Manners writes.  Our culture has infected both the men and the women in these cases so that the men think it is OK to do what they are doing and the women do not even realize they are being treated horribly.  Or, the real possibility is that at some level the proposition does feel good, and if so, please evaluate yourself honestly.

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