Here’s a problem.
Some people seem to think that sexual or romantic attention is a *gift*. They seem to think that all we do is sit around waiting for someone to tell us that we’re pretty or sexy or that we want to know what they would like to do to us. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but that’s not always the case. There may be some folks for whom shallow superficial comments and spurious advances are flattering. But I daresay those folks are not in the majority.
It’s one thing to say “I like that skirt” or “you look nice in a tie”. It’s another thing entirely to insinuate someone would enjoy a sexual encounter in a broom closet/elevator/soup kitchen/post-nightclub gropefest. And claiming that unwanted sexual advances are compliments is, purely and simply, sexual harassment.
I’m not talking about flirting with someone who likes flirting or who may genuinely be interested in you. I’m talking about the drunken, slurred pass you make at someone in a kitchen when you’ve just come out for a drink of water. I’m not talking about expressing romantic or sexual interest in someone. I’m talking about when you pull someone into an uncomfortable side-hug and whisper disgusting nothings in their ear.
If I’m interested in you romantically or sexually, I’ll tell you. If I’m comfortable with flirting with you around or with you, I’ll let you know that. And if you make a pass at me and I tell you I’m not interested, your further advances *are not compliments*. They are sexual harassment.
Be graceful if you’re rejected. Be graceful even though it hurts and even though it’s embarrassing. Understand that it may be personal. The person you’re interested in may simply not be into you. It may *not* be personal. The person you’re interested in may be involved with someone else and is not interested in concurrent or poly relationships. The person you’re interested in may be asexual; may not be interested in romance or sex at all. There are as many reasons for your rejection as there are reasons why you found that person attractive in the first place.
Just understand that ultimately it doesn’t matter what the reason is that you have been rejected. If your advances are unwanted, claiming they are complimentary is harassment and it’s incredibly cruel and rude. You’re blaming the person you’ve expressed your desires to. By telling them things like “you should be flattered” and “my advances are a a compliment” and “you should be so lucky to get with me”, you’re saying there’s something *wrong* with the other person.
There is nothing wrong with me if I’m not interested in you romantically or sexually. There’s nothing wrong with you. But blaming me and claiming there’s something wrong with me for not wanting that attention is cruel, vindictive, and it’s probably beneath you.
This stemmed from a conversation I overheard in which someone indicated they were uncomfortable with their roommate’s friends hitting on them and making romantic and sexual advances. The person made it clear that they were not interested. And then the roommate said “you should be flattered. Those people hitting on you were giving you a compliment.”
And I thought, “wait, hold the phone, no they weren’t. The roommate’s friends were giving that person unwanted sexual/romantic attention. Claiming it was somehow flattering or complimentary is pretty specious.”
So just keep this in mind. Hitting on someone when they don’t want you to is a little like assuming no comment or answer means “carry on”.
When everyone I knew was super excited to be going to nightclubs and parties in University, I thought for the longest time something was wrong with me because for the most part, I didn’t enjoy it. In examining why I didn’t enjoy it, one thing jumped out at me. I *hated* it when people hit on me. Especially drunks. If someone offered to buy me a drink, my reaction was just to want to leave. I never, EVER went to parties or to the bar to meet people. Who the fuck meets people at a bar?
I didn’t enjoy loud top 40 music. I didn’t like drinking. I didn’t like the crowds of people. I always, ALWAYS felt like livestock being paraded around at an auction. Every eye in that room was sizing up the bodies, the hair, the faces. The straight men stared hungrily at the women; the women glared at one another or made nicey-nicey faces when behind it all was a cloying sense of desperate competition. The non-straight people just did their best to not stand out. Yes, I clued in to this in my late teens and early 20s. I also hated high school dances and parties. And when someone would stumble up to me and ask me to go back to their car or alley or dorm room, I got angry. Then I’d hear “oh come ON, baby” or “you’re so HOOOT”, and if I continued to turn people down (usually I tried to be polite), I got “you’re a frigid bitch”. Sometimes I was groped anyway for my trouble. Sometimes they just said “okay” and moved off. But not very often.
You need to understand. This wasn’t a rare occurrence. This happened at nearly every party or nightclub I ever went to, until I found the underground club. It happened with less frequency at the underground club (but it didn’t stop).
So when someone claims that the unwanted sexual or romantic attention they’re giving me is a compliment, I say bullshit. If you want to compliment me, spend some time with me. Get to know me. Respect me. Learn a bit about who I am and what I like. Meet my other friends. Introduce me to yours. Spend time with me sober, and/or in other places. THAT is a compliment. Taking the time to get to know me is a compliment. Telling me all the things you’d like to do to my vagina after spying me across the dance floor is not a compliment.