I remember back in the early 1990s, post-Tailhook and the Thomas hearings, when the definition of “sexual harassment” was expanded from extorting sexual favors to cover “hostile, intimidating, and offensive work environments”. We in government service were of course subjected to mandatory harangues on the new rules. I remember during one such session some old guy asking, “You mean we can’t compliment a woman’s appearance anymore?” No, we were assured, there’s nothing wrong with complimenting women, so long as the compliments weren’t grossly sexual.
O, how the worm doth turn!
Last month, during a commander’s call, the senior enlisted advisor was trotted out to inform us that, indeed, complimenting a woman’s appearance was indeed off limits. He specifically called out telling a woman she had “pretty eyes” as a no- no.
The standard, he told us, is that no one should ever say to a woman something he would not say to another man, and eye-compliments fell into that category. On which point I would agree. But the irony here is rich. I’m pretty sure that the modern understanding of “sexual harassment” was mostly invented because men were behaving towards women exactly as they behaved towards each other, i.e., roughly and crudely. But it’s also a waste of time to point this out: the rules will be twisted to mean whatever advances the cause of feminism, nothing more or less.