Sexual aargh-assment

June 1, 2014 – Frankfurt Am Main, Hessen, Germany – Sexual harassment at work: (Credit Image: © Frank May/DPA via ZUMA Press)

“There is no kind of harassment that a man may not inflict on a woman with impunity in civilized societies.” Denis Diderot

Sexual harassment stories are sweeping across the land and wreaking havoc everywhere. Many well-known powerbrokers are quietly stepping down or running for the hills. As during the McCarthy’s Red Scare era, nobody feels safe… especially those shady characters who abused their influence to coerce vulnerable young people.

Sexual harassment is a form of crass ignorance reflecting a basic lack of education and good manners. It is vastly different from flirting.
Flirting is playful, understated, often amusing. Harassment, on the other hand, is heavy-handed, crude and threatening. If you cannot tell the difference between these two approaches, you are a neanderthal.

Women generally speaking like compliments; it makes them feel good about themselves. In the Spanish-speaking world, men often use original, creative, flirtatious compliments known as “piropos”. It tells a woman how cute, or beautiful she is.

“For you, I would climb to heaven by bicycle and descend without brakes.”

As long as it is lighthearted it is an acceptable form of flirtation; in Argentina, it is even considered an art form.

France used to be known as the land of “galanterie”.
“Gallantry is a set of flattering compliments addressed to women. Many people see it as a form of politeness and savoir-vivre, and it is also considered a means of seduction.”

In the 17th century, some aristocratic French ladies created an imaginary map called “la Carte du Tendre” (the Map of Tendre). It showed would-be lovers how to behave and how to win a lady’s heart. Such a map is sorely missing today. Many men (and women) don’t have the slightest idea how to conduct themselves in a polite society.

While individuals guilty of sexual harassment should be rightly prosecuted, the root of the problem lies with education. Galanterie, the proper way to treat women, should be a mandatory subject taught in high school and beyond.

It is not enough to be proficient in athletics or cybernetics. Being a gentleman (chivalrous and courteous) is more gratifying in the long run than being a bigwig bully in any organization.

Alain