Herman Cain

Yesterday, the blog/think tank Daily Intel proposed a bold new anti-harassment measure called “No Hermo.” It’s a strange name, but a good cause, intended to nip any potentially creepy misunderstandings in the bud. It would work something like this:

“Sally, you look great in that dress. Um… [uncomfortable pause] Not in a… you know, n-no Hermo.” [disappears silently]

Obviously, this presents various problems—the first one being that invoking obscure, blog-based slang terms tends to make things more awkward. And like any unprompted denial, it tends to only increase suspicion. The simpler track, as always, is just to avoid being creepy.

It’s an offshoot of our all-purpose foot-in-mouth playbook, although the stakes are somewhat higher. But since so many people seem confused on this point, it seems worth spelling it out in detail.

Here’s the secret: a gentleman’s task is putting everyone at ease.

In social circles, that’s simple enough, but it applies even more in the workplace, where there are all manner of political divides and power relations to take into account. It’s more than just not telling dirty jokes; it’s about engaging people within their comfort zone. It’s a complicated dance—and it’s only getting more complex—but it’s surprising how much can be forgiven if there’s a baseline sense of gentlemanly accommodation.

And as a bonus, it’ll let you off with a little more dignity than saying the word “Hermo.”

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom