Love & Sex, Voices

“Just Say No” Works For Sex Too

My advice to women as the #MeToo wave began to swell was: “Hurry up and get that job, lady, because soon the men will decide it’s easier to stop hiring women than to keep their dicks in their pants.” This may be overly pessimistic. A vast number of men have listened, commiserated, and offered support. But some, er, less supportive men have come up with a grand, passive-aggressive tactic for dissuading women from speaking up about workplace harassment. “How will we be able to date at work?” they whine. “Do we have to stop flirting? Can I even be nice to our female colleagues without fear of being accused of sexual misconduct?”

Very sneaky, fellas. Very Lysistrata of you. We insist on our right not to be pressured into sex, and you threaten not to ever compliment our hair again.

Here’s the simple part of the equation that men – okay, some men – pretend not to understand: Unwanted sexual attention is by definition only the unwanted stuff. Trust me, when we want you to want us, we will let you know. At least, us sex and love addicts will.

As a former sex and love addict in the workplace (Note: I’m still a sex and love addict - I’m just no longer in a workplace) I can attest to the fact that I initiated a shitload of inappropriate sexual liaisons. I’m pretty sure I was the subordinate, not the supervisor, in all those cases. If not, I apologize to any interns/assistants/associates I came on to who didn’t feel they could refuse.

Mostly, though, I came on to my bosses. A good love addict, after all, is always looking for a partner who can validate them. Someone to make them look desirable, important, worthy. Who better than an authority figure, preferably an authority figure who already had a wife or girlfriend? That adds a frisson of danger, a dash of rebellion, and the satisfaction of being better than some other woman.

I apologize to those women, too.

But I wasn’t thinking about them back then. All I could think was that I was desperately in love with my biology teacher. Or the editor of the newspaper I worked at. Or the producer of the TV show I was on. Because that’s how I roll. A good love addict doesn’t just become attracted to someone. We fall madly, deeply, soulmatingly in love overnight. In short, we go out of our minds, and have absolutely no idea that we are, at that moment, clinically insane.

And do you know what the professors and editors and producers said when I offered up my ripe, subordinate self? They said “No.” They said, “That wouldn’t be professional” or “I’m flattered but I’m married” or, in the case of my high school biology teacher, “Call me when you graduate college.” Because that’s what good men do. And there are plenty of good men out there, make no mistake. The zeitgeist is currently focusing on the jerks, and it’s about bloody time. But you don’t have to worry, Mr. Whiny Pants; we’re not coming for to you because you asked the receptionist out on a date. As long as you take “no” for an answer, we’re cool.

Sexual abuse is opt-in behavior. Feel free to opt out.


Follow Ethlie on Twitter

Profile photo of Ethlie Ann Vare

Author, Screenwriter, Lecturer, Playwright