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The problem isn't limited to women. Beautiful women and tall men both get a better deal than their average-looking peers.

It's striking how women have monopolized the victim subsidy.


I agree with Damon that putting a stop to a coworker's come-ons is not so easy and can ultimately result in subtle (and not so subtle) retribution on the job. For many women, being on the receiving end of "flirtatious remarks" on the job is a regular, frustrating experience that leads to utter dread, as if other aspects of employment weren't bad enough.

The problem is - contrary to what I've read of late - unwanted advances are part of the sexist dynamic. From top to bottom, certain men behave in in certain ways because they know they can get away with it; more often than not, a woman who complains about someone who won't refrain from lurid innuendo, after having been asked to do so, will be seen as hysterical and a detriment to the morale in the workplace.

John Carter Wood

Interestingly enough there are some suggestions that Germany's not doing all that badly on gender equality, at least in a comparative sense and by some measurements.


Although I agree overall with your post, I'm not sure that I agree with your assessment about what constitutes "harmless" flirtation and the ease with women can dismiss it. In particular, I worry about "flirtation" from clumsy or creepy superiors (and let's face it--in Germany, women are more likely to be subordinates in a rigidly hierarchical system than superiors). Can she turn people down without worrying that her carrier might not advance? What if a promotion is on the table? How can she tell if her career isn't advancing because she refuses to flirt (unacceptable) or just because she's not competent (acceptable). Explicit zero-tolerance policies for flirtation are probably unacceptable because of the likelihood of misinterpretation (i.e. a man not really flirting, but a woman thinks he is). But, unofficially discouraging flirtation, especially between superiors and subordinates, might be a wiser policy.

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