Even “innocent” or polite sexual attention can be unwelcome if it’s pervasive, or if all parties aren’t mature enough to handle hearing a “no.” Treating a female coworker as a romantic prospect can undermine her confidence or suggest that she's seen more as a sexual prospect than a valued peer.It's also possible that there will be awkwardness, hard feelings, or even retaliation in the wake of a break up or a firm rejection.Given the news that has dominated headlines for close to six months now, considering romantic prospects in the workplace feels like a questionable enterprise.But since it's almost inevitable that two people will hit it off by the water cooler, Google and Facebook have instituted a rule for coworkers who want to date: in short, it's an affirmative consent standard for workplace romance, which means that colleagues are allowed to ask each other out—once—and if they get any answer that isn't a straightforward “yes,” it means no.Sex between coworkers happens, it will continue to happen, and responsible companies must find a way to allow it to happen while also protecting workers from sexual violation, intimidation, or retribution.In the #Me Too moment, we’ve heard copious horror stories about men who used sex as a way to manipulate and abuse the women they work with—accusations that ran the horror gamut from bosses who told female employees their dresses weren't "tight enough" to men who showed women photos of their penises at work parties.Silicon Valley’s gender imbalance is still endemic, and its culture of harassment and toxicity persists.
he problem is it’s p.m., and we are still talking. We aren’t dating, but it doesn’t feel like friendship. I don’t know how to explain why I need a long time, he just wasn’t on my radar. Then we were both going to the same free music show. He asked about me without letting his eyes fall away as he waited for a reply. I would no longer be a woman in the office, but a woman who was sexualized. Who would take me seriously if they could imagine me in someone’s bed? But I wouldn’t sleep with him or try to make plans. But they didn’t sit with the fear of dozens of eyes imagining me naked on another’s bed.
As in affirmative sexual consent policies, it changes the burden of proof: Instead of making it the job of the person who was asked to prove that she (and it is still usually a woman) said "no" clearly enough, the asker must prove that he got a "yes" that would be legible to any reasonable listener.
Of course, this policy assumes that coworkers should be allowed to ask each other out.
He was dedicated, almost worried, about my pleasure. He told me he “couldn’t date right now.”He liked spending time with me.
I can still feel my own surprise when he wanted me to stay the night, and the sweetness on Sunday as he watched me shower, making me feel beautiful. I just wanted time in his apartment, to relive maybe not the first night but the morning after.