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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Complement or Harassment: Where to you draw the line?

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Author Topic: Complement or Harassment: Where to you draw the line?
Lady Moonlight
Member # 384

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The line between appreciation and harassment can sometimes be a fine one. When I first visited Spain, I was shocked and offended by the men openly making appreciative comments about the women in our (mostly female) student tour group. (The comments were the sort stereotypically associated with construction workers here in the States!) Yet when I related the experience to a friend from Argentina, she said that when she first came to the U.S., she was very disappointed that nobody seemed to notice when she dressed up. “I thought, ‘How do I know I look good if men don’t say anything?’” she told me.

I enjoy “dressing sexy” on occasion, and I enjoy getting appreciative looks, especially as I spend most of my days as a conservatively-dressed elementary school librarian. However, there are certain forms of appreciation I don’t appreciate, such as loud comments and whistles. Grabbing is right out!

So for men and women, where are your lines? Do you dress to be appreciated? How often? Are there some types of appreciation that you don’t appreciate? Tell us your opinions and experiences.

Posts: 943 | From: Missouri, USA | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 5317

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I utterly hate wearing suits; I put them on only because I wish to look reasonably respectable at weddings and funerals.

Around the house, I've been known to favor a skirt; not only is it more comfortable to me, but it makes me feel prettier.

I haven't really figured out how I feel about comments, which might be why I've never crossdressed in public beyond lipstick and glitter. Grabbing is definitely a Bad Thing, though--to me, it says that the grabber is too superficial to care about my thoughts and feelings.

Sapphire Cat
The world needs me, to know not everyone is the same.
Artist, poet, programmer, dreamer, and crossdressing bondage kitty

Posts: 235 | From: Louisville KY (St. Matthews) | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 7052

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i "dress sexy" when i go to a club... or once in awhile when i need a good pick-me-up i wear a really cute, low cut shirt wit tight jeans lol ya no... i need to feel sexy once in awhile... anywat... as for the guys... i dunt mind the looks, when they check me out... as long as they're not like twice my age (thats just sick...) and as for comments... and thing more that "that looks really cute" is not taken well with me... my friends all compliment me if i have a new outfit... but when guys on the street stop and say sum cheesy line... its totally not appreciated... the only people i want doing that is my bf or a good friend cause i no they're kidding... and if anyone grabs me... they should expect a smack in the face! ... including my bf! lol
Posts: 239 | From: new york, USA | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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You should go to Italy, Lady Moonlight-not to generalise but, wow, you sure get 'appreciated' there!

As for the compliment/harassment question, I'm not at all comfortable with anybody commenting on my looks. Maybe it's because I can't take someone seriously if they say I look nice, but I just don't like to be 'judged' in that way. Perhaps it's naive to wish that people appreciated me for nice things I did rather than the way I look, but I definitely do.

A kind compliment from someone I know is lovely, but anything physical or too forward from strangers does scare me a bit. When I was in Italy last year I genuinely did feel threatened by some of the attention. But I suppose that's more of a culture shock thing-I dare say italian women learn to brush it off, and they find it odd when they come here. Different cultures have different standards, and it's often hard to adjust.

One more thing-at the moment I've got a massive white bandage on my chin from an accident I had. It's very obivious and people keep staring at me. I know that's not malicious, but it is quite negative attention. And unless it's accompanied by a kind 'get well soon' comment, it makes me feel horrible. So the reactions of strangers to my looks does make a difference-but it's only noticable when it's negative. Oh well...

What is this life, so full of care, we have no time to stop and stare...

Read my diary-what fun you'll have

Posts: 394 | From: Manchester, Lancashire, England | Registered: Dec 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Touch me and DIE. Make an overtly sexual comment, and it'll make me a bit angry, but I'll either deal with it, or tell you where to put it. I don't mind being looked at, but leering just isn't appropriate unless you're paying for the privelege. However, saying something nice is always appreciated. An older guy stopped me once to tell me that I was very beautiful, and I was happy for the rest of the afternoon. I guess it's all about intent. If you say it to be kind, that's a good thing, if you say it to be intimidating, or to objectify me, that's not.
Posts: 5122 | From: I *came* from the land of ice and snow | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Confused boy
Member # 1964

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I wonder if perhaps the Anglican culture can learn a bit from the Mediteranian culture in this way and learn to accept compliments as compliments and not as threats! Of course there should still be a "line" but because it is so drawn forward in many cases people are too scared to make any kind of comment at all! This is not a good situation in societies that believe in freedom of speech.

'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky

Posts: 711 | From: England | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
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It's nice to hear you say that about happy comments, Milke, because a few months ago, I was on the metro with my partner, and a girl about our age came up to her and said something similar. I thought then that there have been times where I wish I was able to do that...

I haven't simply out of worry that it'd be misinterpreted. If I hear of a few more people like you, perhaps I'll take that up.

My God can beat up your God.
-Weights and Measures

Posts: 1515 | From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Celtic Daisy
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A compliment is always nice. When i worked at wal-mart i had a low blood sugar and while i was recovering had a nice chat with an elderly lady. She told me her husband has type 2 diabetes and we talked about that. Just as i was leaving she made a comment about how she thought i was very "beautiful". No one's ever called me beautiful and it made me feel so good for a loooong time afterwords.

No one's ever really crossed the line, but i would feel very uncomfortable if someone were to touch me or start making crude comments about me.

"No self-respecting woman will let a naked man in socks do the squelchy with her'-Jeff Murdock

Erin Jane
~Scarleteen Advocate~

Posts: 1747 | From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
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I hate hate hate having strangers call things out at me. I find it very disrespectful and rude and I do not hesitate to respond with equal rudeness. As for grabbing, woe be it unto anyone that I do not love who decides grabbing me is a Good Idea.

On the other hand, there is nothing I like better than a compliment sincerely given. (Not screamed from a distance.) Those I will gratefully accept from anyone, stranger or otherwise. And the last two people to give me quality compliments were both two to three times my age and instead of finding it sick I was delighted.

I also try to give a compliment any time I think one simply because I know how much I enjoy it. This has resulted in some rather pleasantly surprised strangers before but since I was sincere and respectful all was well.

Really, the only line I see between compliments and harassment is the line of sincerity and respect.

[Fascinating topic btw.]

Posts: 3641 | From: Truckee, CA, US | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lady Moonlight
Member # 384

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BJadeT, When I was in Spain folks kept saying, "Yeah, but the Spanish guys just make comments...the Italians pinch!" I've never been to Italy, though, so I've never experienced it firsthand. (Maybe that's just as well!)

And on the negative side of being noticed, try wearing a breathing mask out in public sometime! I get a special kind of allergy shot, and right around the time of the shot I cannot be exposed to any type of allergen or I risk ruining the shot. Since I'm allergic to almost everything (car fumes, perfume, potpourri, pollen, dust, you name it) and I can't just put my life on hold for 2 or 3 days, everywhere I go I wear a mask designed to filter out fumes. (It looks like a surgeon's mask except it's gray because it has charcoal built in). Talk about being stared at! It made me really self-conscious the first few times; I felt like everybody would think I had tuberculosis or AIDS or something. Now, though, I'm used to it, and I look at it as an opportunity to educate people about allergies, chemical sensitivity, and how perfumes and the like poison the environment.

And on the idea of giving compliments, I try to hand out several a day. Partly this is because I work with kids, and I think that giving and receiving complements is an important skill for kids to learn and building self-esteem is never a bad thing. Also, though, I just like to brighten somebody's day by with a compliment.

Posts: 943 | From: Missouri, USA | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 2658

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Gee, ookuotoe, you'd hate some states in Malaysia. Some guys think anyone who dresses western is a prostitute who needs no respect what so ever - it is awfully horrible the things they call out to you, I dislike having a meal at a fast food joint to have a guy come up to the table and ask/state to one of my friends or myself sometimes degrading things. I think that is harasment - stalking someone around a mall and then interrupting their lunch. People may argue otherwise, but I find it annoying and, at times, an invasion of privacy.

Really, the only line I see between compliments and harassment is the line of sincerity and respect.

I agree with that wholeheartedly. I love being complimented, but that requires sincerity and respect - like ookuotoe, something I seriously doubt there is in harassment.

"Here's how they rated him when they looked back: / sometimes he did this, sometimes he did that."
-Poem, Simon Armitage

Luv, Dahlia

Posts: 194 | From: city of Anghelz | Registered: Feb 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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