DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a single, older, divorced woman, and over the years, I have been the target of inappropriate advances and sexual comments by married male acquaintances. In the past, I have brushed these off, but I now feel that this lack of respect deserves a reply.
In addition, these men (and others) try to attract my attention by being “cute,” which I find most annoying. I do nothing that I can think of to attract this unwanted attention. I am friendly, open, and have an optimistic view of life that seems to attract these type of folks.
What is the appropriate response?
GENTLE READER: Just as there are levels of offensive remarks, from the tasteless joke to the smarmy compliment to the outright proposition, there are levels of responses -- from the cold stare to the abrupt and wordless departure, on up to “How dare you?” said loud enough to attract others’ attention.
Miss Manners assures you that when administered, these are more effective than any lecture about sexism, which such an offender is bound to take as cute.