Not sure if you’re flirting or harassing?

Not sure if you’re flirting or harassing? Ask yourself if you’d be talking the same way if the woman were in a position of authority. If she were a police officer, who you knew had a gun and a badge, and happened to be off duty, at a bar, or a convention… You’re free to flirt, since she’s not working, but if you cross the line into harassment, she could physically stop you, even arrest you. How do you tell her that you find her attractive?

With your words, not your hands. You introduce yourself. You talk. You tell her you find her attractive. You wait for her response, and if it goes further, you ask for permission to touch her. Simple. Now the same thing with every other woman.

And if you’re not sure she’s available, and you’re a little shy, you can ask one of her friends. Do not say, “Hey, can I hit that?” as if she’s a receptacle for your penis that no one else happens to be using at the time. Say, “Do you know if X is seeing anyone? I like her and I’d like to ask her to spend time with me, but I don’t want her to feel pressured if she’s not available.” You know. Like’s she’s a person.

Carrie Cuinn, “Sexual Harassment at Cons, Part 2: How to Stop It (and other thoughts)”

This is an excerpt from Content Strategy for WordPress.My latest books are Content Strategy for WordPress (2015) and WordPress for Web Developers (2013). Sign up to be notified when I have a new book for you.


  1. says

    Hey Stephanie! It was really fun hanging out with you at WordCamp Chicago this weekend, especially seeing Before Midnight. I’m sort of caught up on sleep finally, hope you are too. :)

    With regard to this post, though: I was having a conversation with a male friend who has come out of a very prudish background and for him trying to figure out flirting is probably the opposite of many con guys who would assume touching is ok. I keep telling him the basic principle is just the golden rule and seeing women as y’know, people, who, like you, might not want to be bothered. Doesn’t matter if you’re pushy or prudish, though, the underlying question “how do I make women do what I want”usually ignores that basic principle.

    I recommended this post by another friend to him, because I think it’s funny and good at stating the obvious: Respecting Women, Being Attracted to Women: You Can Do Both

    • says

      I had such fun hanging out with you! I am getting caught up, but insomnia seems intent on kicking my ass.

      That is a great article. I’m saving all these to Instapaper so I can collate them into something useful for the Women in WP site.

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