Thursday, 9 October 2008

No it's not hi-jinks nor a failed pick up line, it's harrasment dumb arses

Fucking hell here we go again.

A team of rugby players harass a female flight attendant and sure enough, the incident is retold in the media as players indulging in hi-jinks or flirtation and the uptight bitch flight attendant has overreacted to just one little phrase, I like the way you walk.


Sit down with ex-expat as she vainly tries to explain why if you think that women should in any way have to put up with or even worse think that this sort of behaviour is a misguided attempt at flattery, you're a dumb ass.

First up it's not up to you, me or anyone to dictate the difference between flirtation and harassment because it is entirely subjective. However in order to avoid being on the wrong side of this fuzzy line, you need to stop making the assumption that a woman should be flattered by your behavior because she wants to have sex with you. I am sorry to break it you, but unless you are a Brad Pitt, you are probably going to have to put some effort into convincing a woman that you are the type of guy she wants to sleep with. And no, making comments about her physical appearance in her place of work is probably not a good way to go about it. At best it is likely to make her slightly embarrassed, at worst she's going to be pissed off. Neither of these outcomes are going to get you laid. Given that you are invading her space, it might be best to err on the side of being polite.

And how might you be polite?

Well first you need to stop using your buddies for moral support if you wish to sleep with a woman you've just met. Making an approach to a women in packs isn’t flattering. In fact, it’s threatening. Being approached by a group of strangers rather than one lone stranger is always far more intimidating prospect. Being suddenly outnumbered by people you don’t know well enough to trust gets your guard up, why the hell would you think that someone who is feeling threatened is going to give up her cellphone number?

Oh that's right, you didn't bother to think about that because you were too busy trying to one-up your mates to stop and think about her feelings. Because lets be honest, more often than not catcalling women is a way men socialize with each other. You’re trying to impress your mates with who can say the most outrageous things, who can get a smile, a glance or even a cellphone number from a passing women. The woman is just part of the scenery, so it’s no surprise at this point you’re oblivious to her feelings or the 'back off buddy' verbal and non-verbal signals she's been giving off to your so-called harmless fun.

Because my friend, it ain't what you do but the way that you do it. Sure in this case there was no overtly sexual comments made, but the secret to flirting is that it is a two-way street. You need to listen and paying attention to the signals the person you’re talking to gives off in response to you. This is something everyone has to do in flirting, yes even women. Is she establishing eye contact with you when you speak to her? Is she smiling? Is her body facing towards to you? Another words does she look like she is enjoying your company? Because right now you are a strange man invading her space in much the same manner as a charity collector on the street, salesperson in a store or if you are really pissing her off, an evangelical Christian all people you liked to be approached by when you are going about day right? Nope didn't think so.


Trouble said...

If the whole team was kicked off, it was more than just one person making a comment, there was a group thing going on, at least in the eyes of the flight attendant. Good on her employer for making her workplace safe from harassment.

I was surprised to hop into a lift recently that was already full of strapping young male window-washers in company uniform. The surprising part was my instant adrenaline spike - I don't usually get danger reactions from being around guys. I put it down to their obvious groupness and my lone-ness. They were perfectly gentlemanly, but if any of them hadn't been, it was a situation in which I'd have had no backup or exits. Not too different on a plane, but at least the flight attendant had her workmates there to back her.

Anna said...

Quite right Trouble - there's a real power dynamic thing which happens when one woman is in the company of several blokes. It can potentially make a dumb comment go from inappropriate to scary.

Deborah said...

I'm so pleased that her employers supported her.

Of all the silly excuses offered, this one really pisses me off:

"One of the guys was trying to use a pick-up line and exchange text numbers."

Wills said the comment was along the lines of "I like the way you walk".

"The boys had a lot of fun on a flight on the way up and one got an air hostess's number so they were all trying to match him," he said.

So the flight attendant is not even a person; she's just someone whose available to be seen as an object of competition. Nice.


South Canterbury coach Ken Wills, who was on the flight but asleep when the incident happened

Well, I believe that.

ideologicallyimpure said...

So ... after an article filled with comments about it being an "overreaction", and "nothing bad happened", who'd like to bet the "dressing down" the team got was something along the lines of, "Hey, guys, what a hysterical bitch, amirite? Probably lesbo. Next time just stick to checking out her ass when her back is turned, kay?"

Anonymous said...

Not sure I agree on this one.
There are some jobs where you've got to expect to be harassed, e.g. the police.

I wouldn't quite call a flight attendant's job that, but you are serving alcohol to people who can over-indulge. There's no police up at 30,000ft to help out if things get sticky. It should be part of a flight attendant's training to deal with obnoxious or drunk people.

A witty put-down would have put the guy in his place.

I'm not saying I agree with his behaviour; I don't - it's something I wouldn't do myself, and I would castigate any immediate travelling companions for doing.

Seems like you're fighting against human nature here, or at least, the way men in groups often act. Especially when travelling in groups. I'm not saying it's right, just that it's not surprising, and expressing disappointment on a blog is hardly likely to change that behaviour.

And it goes both ways - I've been wolf-whistled and cat-called by women out on hens' nights and so forth.

Deborah said...

That's right, anonymous. Teh silly girleez shouldn't be so fussy.

And if teh blokes are just being blokes, why, teh girleez should just laugh it off.

Boyz being boyz. It's all laffz laffz laffz. Suck it up, girleez. Suck it up.

Trouble said...

Anon, occupations where there is likely to be harassment tend to allow the use of sanctions to deal with that harassment, if low-level solutions don't work. Harass the cops, there's a fair chance you might get to see the inside of a cell. Harass the bartender or dancers, meet the bouncer and the pavement outside.

Getting left behind on the connecting flight is mild in comparison with what a flight crew can legally do to a disruptive passenger.

Expressing disappointment on a blog doesn't do a whole lot, but it does make readers aware of the rights and wrongs of the situation, and might inspire them to take action where they otherwise wouldn't. Dismissing or minimising that kind of conduct in comments on a blog, on the other hand, kind of enables it.

The ex-expat said...

Anon, this was morning domestic flight there would have been no alcohol served. But that's not the point, it wasn't just one guy and this was her place of work.

And the policy in place is clear, if the pilot thinks you are causing a disturbance to his/her aircraft, then you don't get to fly. Ditto in a bar if you are giver a waitress shit, a bouncer will throw your sad ass out onto the street. And we all know that if you mess with a female cop you go down.

Quite simple.

But just out of interest if catcalling is ok because it is just 'human nature' then perhaps it would be ok for them to cop a feel of her breasts, or
perhaps her arse, up her legs, that's just human nature after all, men like to have sex with women and how she feels about just doesn't really matter?

Anna said...

Contrary to popular belief, men can control their behaviour.

Why is it human nature that men should misbehave on a plane, as opposed to, for example, a funeral or a graduation ceremony? If men can control themselves in some places, they can control themselves in others.

It's purely a matter of social sanctions. We expect that men will misbehave in certain places so we let them away with it or attribute it to their 'nature'.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to read your replies (even Deborah's curious post).

When I said human nature, I meant that when travelling away from home in groups, men often tend to get up to hi-jinks. There can be an atmosphere of one-upmanship, and it is difficult for somebody to say 'hang on, guys, that's getting out of hand', as they'll be ignored, or called a wuss and ostracised from the group. It's like a kid not listening to their parents until they get hurt.

As I said before, I'm not saying that it's right, just that it happens.
While you can desire a change in societal attitudes to that sort of behaviour, I wouldn't go putting money on it ...

I'd be curious to know what the other passengers thought (and even more curious to know what the players said).
And I'd be curious to know whether they were drunk. Not that that's excusing their behaviour, but there is an onus on any trained beverage server to refuse service to intoxicated people.

I was thinking that wouldn't there be levels of offence; obviously any physical contact like e-e mentioned is right up there as naughty, but is a cheeky flirtatious comment the same as harassment?
e.g. 'You're looking gorgeous today' vs. 'nice arse'
(as I alluded to before, neither of those are comments I would be likely to make to a flight attendant I didn't know)
There may not be a definitive answer to that; as e-e said in the original post it is subjective.
In some ways it would be easier for everyone if there was!

Did the guys get told they were being out of line first?

I guess what else I'd like to know was whether any other solutions were considered first.
E.g. waking and talking to the coach (though may not have been an apparent solution if he was asleep), or separating the players into different seats so they couldn't egg each other on.

I originally wrote thinking that the flight was diverted to Wellington to move these guys off.

Anna said...

Anon, bad behaviour (men's or anyone else's) doesn't 'just happen'. Men are adults and can choose to control their behaviour. They're not like the kids you compare them to. The 'it just happens' excuse gets used a lot, eg Tony Veitch's 'I lashed out'. I don't find myself making derogatory comments at people in their workplace. It doesn't 'just happen' to me. It's a self-control thing.