Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply and I’m sorry to hear about your ribs. I hope they heal up soon and I’m also glad that your girlfriend did not abandon you for someone with a more fully evolved rib cage.

I do however want to, in turn, challenge some of the things that you’ve said. Feeling attracted to someone or wanting to engage in idle conversation at the office (or anywhere else) with them is a far cry from sexual harassing them. Patriarchy is a dominance hierarchy and it’s the ocean that we all swim in, but particuarly so for men, which is why it may not be readily apparent that this type of behavior it not really about attraction. One of the ways to establish dominance and control is to make someone else feel uncomfortable and marginalized. This is one of the main purposes of sexual harassement — both on the street and in the workplace; to put someone in their place. It’s why straight men rape other men in prison. In the work world it’s no doubt largely unconscious, but that doesn’t make it any less insidious. A perfect illustration of this is what happened at Pixar to Cassandra Smolcic and other women like her. This is not some feminist theory in a book. It’s what real life experiences clearly illustrate. There are literally thousands of these kinds of stories from women available on the internet right now. It’s also what sex crime profilers know full well. It’s why rape is a frequent weapon of war.

I have to confess, I find it utterly frustrating to be told that this is somehow a female persective! And you aren’t the first guy who has told me that, but the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. And to deny this power component is to excuse this behavior, as if men were simply following their biological urges and couldn’t help themselves. Many women, me included, have some hefty biological urges as well. I do not press myself against men I find attractive. I do not grab their asses or ask to see their abs or their dick. To pretend that men aren’t able to control themselves is to strip them of their agency and infantalize them. You seem like a decent kind of guy. I’ll bet there have been plenty of times where you found a woman attractive and never once leered at her, looked down her blouse, touched her breasts, made sexually charged comments, etc., etc. Right? And yet this happens to all women starting at about age 10 or 11 before most of them are even fully into puberty. Check out the #FirstHarassed on Twitter. There are more than 30,000 women who’ve told their stories.

There’s a huge difference between admiring or desiring women and harassment. A while back I wrote an article about the difference between catcalling and an actual compliment. As someone who has been harassed on the street fully covered up and someone who has been in a sex club wearing not much and been treated with respect, I feel like I know what I’m talking about.

Another one of the most salient examples of this is the Les Moonves case. He allegedly routinely groped, kissed, pressed his body against, and propositioned women he came into contact with at work. On the surface that might look like a guy who just loves beautiful women and can’t control himself. But dig a little deeper and you find a guy who routinely tanked women’s careers if they did not comply or if they gave any indication they might complain about him. He wouldn’t just flirt with or come on to women; he would pin them against the wall or the sofa and otherwise prevent them from leaving. He would go from leering to mean if they weren’t receptive. That’s not attraction; that’s all out aggression!

He said about certain actresses, “If I don’t want to fuck them, why would I want to hire them?” If you haven’t read the Ronan Farrow article, you really should. It’s quite shocking but also highly illustrative of this dynamic. Linda Bloodworth Thomason just penned a scathing expose of her experiences with Moonves in which it was very clear how much he actually despises women rather than loves them.

Sexual harassment is part of a continuum that includes unwanted touching, etc., all the way up to rape. All of the things on that continuum have a power component (rather than a purely or even primary lust component). If not little babies, old nuns, and men in prison would not be raped by heterosexual men. There are studies that show that power tends to warp perceptions and behavior to where you begin to think that everyone wants what you want. In other words, if you are horny, the woman you are with must be too, and it might cloud your judgement and ability to read her actual cues. But that’s not what’s going on in the vast majority of these incredibly prevalent harassment cases. I’d link you a bunch more stuff on this, but I’ve perhaps already overwhelmed your backup reading threshold.

Interested to see what you think, of my story, in particular.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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