A ‘no’ is a no, even between quotation marks. In any ambivalent situation, you should not sexually harass any woman – or man – in any way.
But we should start tackling this issue from a positive side…
To me, ‘gentleman’ is still a nice word. I hope it will stay so forever. What it means, might differ over times, cultures, even individuals living at the same time and place. In any case, it mostly conveys beautiful things such as human respect and attention, as well as the art of saying ‘sorry.’
All in all, being a gentleman is an art.
I’m not bragging about optimally understanding this art. What I do know, is that this is not about being Mr. Nice Guy. At least: I see in the latter mainly a lack of strength: a being nice out of fear, not out of human respect.
A gentle-man feels gentleness deep inside, either from education or self-made, but not artificial. His being gentle is genuine, not the result of things-not-to-do. Putting emphasis on what is not allowed, may quickly incarcerate too much, impeding ‘openness’ to human contact. Putting emphasis on what is beautiful invites the fulfillment of human potential, as with any art.
Culturally, striving for ‘being a gentleman’ is therefore the better option.
Boys should be taught this art through deep culture in a positive sense.
Therefore any adult should also take care of locker room talk. If your ‘bragging about pussies’ does come out, then absolutely be(come) a gentleman and apologize appropriately. Otherwise, your influence upon kids is bad.
At the other side, human touch is so important.
Most people like to be touched. Being cold and completely un-touching is also a kind of harassment. Babies die or stay mentally handicapped for life if they are not properly touched. It is very natural to like being touched.
However, for fear of being called a ‘harasser’, people (men and women) may recoil from physically touching other people ‘too much’. This way, touch may become underserved. Then again, being ‘nice and cold’ all the time may be an invitation towards overshoot towards the other end.
Furthermore: letting others dress the way they want.
Sexual harassment is also possible towards a woman’s freedom of clothing. You might compare it with freedom of speech. Such freedom comes with fuzzy borders. The aim should not be to see from which point someone ‘is asking’ to be harassed… It is not because a woman is scarcely clothed that she is asking to be harassed. It’s not at all an excuse, even inter-culturally.
La poupée qui fait non?
If a woman does feel sexually harassed, she should of course clearly say so. It may be that the harasser doesn’t know she feels this way. That has happened to me as I remember – while dancing. I was quickly reminded. My sorry was felt and we both found it funny.
If the woman repeatedly says no, and the man keeps harassing, then it becomes ugly of course, not gentle(manly) at all.
My conclusion is, guys: be a gentleman in all circumstances.
Not-harassing… is by far not good enough.