Many women ask, "What’s the big deal with a miniskin, perfume, and a little flining in the workplace?" It would not be a big deal for most men if no one were making a big deal of the man’s response.

It is a big deal, though, for the woman – if her goal is to be treated seriously at work Here’s why. Her indirect initiatives signal to the man her tendency to avoid direct responsibility, /ndirect initiatives signal to him that he is dealing with a woman who is traditional. And traditionally, indirect initiatives were designed to lead to marriage and the end of her involve­ment In the workplace. So the miniskin, perfume, and flining uncons­ciously tell the man that this woman wants an end to her involvement in the workplace – or, at least, an end to her involvement by obligation. If you were a boss who had to choose between promoting someone who had the option to work versus someone with the obligation to work (eg., to suppon a spouse and three children), whom would you take more seriously?

None of this female behavior is any more inherently wrong than the male form of direct initiative taking In almost all cultures throughout human history, women’s Indirect initiatives were their way of signaling their desire for men to take direct initiatives. A flirtation was an invitation. In some cultures, lipstick was a woman’s way of signaling her willingness to perform fellatio. In the South Sea islands, a fresh flower in a woman s hair signaled availability. The purpose of the flower, lipstick, or the miniskin is to put the signal out strongly enough to stimulate every man’s interest. It is only when she has every man’s interest that she has real choice – the choice of the best men.

What has been the historical importance of her barriers – her "no, noes"? It was her way of selecting a man who could handle life’s rejections and survive, who cared enough for her to take risks, and who would assume total responsibility should anything go awry. In a sense, sexual harassment lawsuits are just the latest version of the female selection process – allowing her to select for men who care enough for her to put their career at risk; who have enough finesse to initiate without becoming a jerk and enough guts to initiate despite a potential lawsuit During this process, she gets a sense of his trustworthiness, his commitment, his ability to overcome barriers, the way he handles rejection. It allows her to select for men who will perform, who will assume total responsibility. The more things change. . .

In the past, though, the process of his overcoming her barriers was called courtship. Now it is called either courtship or sexual harassment. Here’s how gray the boundary is. . .