Who doesn’t know the difference between flirting and sexual harassment? Very few people I’d guess. But on the off chance you don’t, Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism Project has written a piece distinguish between the two. Of course, as with all newspaper articles discussing sexual harassment there has been a predictable flurry of angry commentators claiming that women think it’s flirting if they find a man attractive and harassment if they don’t. Ho hum. Nope that’s not how it works. It’s harassment when you are aggressive or won’t take no for an answer, no matter how attractive you are.
If you’re too lazy (or busy) to read the article, there’s only one real rule: Flirting should make the other person feel comfortable
If your intended seems uncomfortable something is wrong. Either the context is off (dark bus stop/job interview); perhaps they misunderstood or misheard you; or maybe they’ve just had a bad day and want to be left alone. Back off. Try someone else who’ll be more appreciative of your efforts. Don’t shout at strangers from your car (exceptions apply if you are screaming ‘Up the Dubs’ or similar); don’t make overtly sexual remarks to a stranger, male or female; don’t touch a man or woman you don’t know. And if you ever feel the need to call someone a slut, pansy, asshole or whore because they are not keen on making sweet sweet love with you, get yourself into therapy. That is all.