“Your lips toll me ‘no, no/ but there’s ‘yes, yes’ In your eyes": the politics of Indirect initiatives
Believe it or not, this is still not the core of what bothers most men. What is? First, men still see women playing their old sexual games. And second, men do not see sexual harassment legislation requiring women to take respoas – ibility for their games. For example, the magazine read by the largest number of single working women – Cosmopolitan – instructs women on how to take indirect initiatives at work to which men unconsciously respond.11 What if the wrong man responds? Other articles tell her how to file a sexual harassment lawsuit should these indirect initiatives elicit direct initiatives from the wrong man!12
I lere are a few indirect initiatives Cosmopolitan tells women to take in tl>e u>orkplace li
"As you pass his desk, drop a pile of papers or a purse, then stoop down to gather them up. He’ll help. Lean close to him, put your hand on his shoulder to steady your balance
"If you have good legs, wear a very tight, short skin and very high heels. Bend over with your back to a man (to pick something up or look in a file drawer, etc.)… "
"Brush up against somebody in the elevator…"
"Say something slightly inappropriate during a business lunch or dinner, such as, "You look great in blue.’ This should be done while you are talking about something else – for example, I was working on the Apex campaign, and did you know you look great in blue?’ "
The power of the woman’s indirect initiative is that it puts neither her ego nor her career on the line. For example, Cosmopolitan advises "immediately after you meet him – within seconds – touch him in some way, even if it’s just to pick off imaginary lint."14 Now, if he responds by asking her out but later calls off the relationship, he’s subject to a harassment suit. (He "initiated") Once in court, few men would feel comfortable telling a judge, "Your Honor, I asked her out because of the way she picked imaginary lint off my jacket.”
What happens if he misses the lint hint? Cosmopolitan advises: "Look down at his crotch. . . with a playful look or smile.”15 And if he misses the
crotch cue? She can "wear gorgeous red underwear, and show it accidentally’ – your blouse is open a bit, so a man gets a peek of red lace bra. . You cross your legs and your skirt rides up…"
It doesn’t stop with Cosmopolitan As women’s workforce participation increased, Harlequin Romances discovered a formula that appealed to the working woman It involves a successful man pursuing a working woman, the working woman resisting, the man overcoming her resistance, and her being “swept away " It was the age-old formula – he: pursue, persist; she: attract, resist. But now it was also the definition of sexual harassment.
Were women buying this new formula? Hardly. The average woman who reads romance not els now reads twenty books per month, about twice as many as in 1983.16 And the Harlequin Romance working-woman formula transformed liarlequin from a company on the verge of bankruptcy in the early 1970s to a company that now accounts for 80 percent of the romance market.17 And the romance market itself has soared – now accounting for 46 percent of all United States mass market paperback sales.18
Being swept away is her fantasy, not his. He is as much victim as perpetrator. A feeling reinforced when he sees a woman reading books called Love at Work. Using Your Job to Find a Mate,19 with the author’s list of the top ten high-powered professions among men and, under each profession, the ten best jobs a woman can get to "target your man."20