In JHS, HS, college, and USN, I was the target or observed others rebuffed pleasantly or outright rejected for hitting on girls and women. Thinking on it now enables me to understand what’s happening in background mode. Much of it originates out of default beliefs inherited at birth by two very different sexes.
For this segment I define ‘hit’ as uninvited, unwanted, or overly bold intrusion or invitation, including those that you may find desirable once it happens. Some may offend, others may compliment. But the secret to making yourself more easily respected lies with treating all hitters the same (not all may be men).
OTOH flirting takes place as polite and cautious dialogue and signals that invoke a different decision process. (If a guy hits and claims he’s just flirting, without thinking twice go by your definition. Treat it as a hit without giving him opportunity to defend himself. He needs to learn who’s boss when he screws up by your standards.)
Rebuffing a hitter earns respect for you. Provided you do it for the purpose of protecting your self-respect. You reinforce self-respect by putting him in his place for having overstepped your boundaries as a person. You earn his respect for standing up for yourself and further reinforce your self-respect for having the courage to do it. (God made him wise enough to gain your attention, but He gave you the ability to get double benefit from it. Who said female isn’t the superior sex and irresistible force?)
OTOH, you probably lose respect—and don’t gain self-respect—if you respond to hits for selfish and other reasons. Examples: Reject him to make yourself feel better, put him down, like yourself better, to be liked by the hitter, show off to girlfriends, earn someone’s respect, embarrass him for showing disrespect to a woman, or just treat him disrespectfully for being a man.
Your heart should be full of feminine innocence when hit on. You’ll likely do the right thing for yourself. (Recall how That Horse is Dead reacted when the guy seated next to her brushed his upper arm against her breast. Was it a hit or a hint? She wasn’t suspicious or waiting for a man to go too far. Her feminine innocence guided her to her best advantage, in that case ladylike and dignified silence. A rebuff/rejection/dismissal probably awaits when he next tries to win her interest or second date.)
Moreover, protecting who you are and what you deserve as a person (not a woman) is not as self-centered as the examples shown in second paragraph above. Those spring out of your mind as protection for you as a woman rather than a person. There’s a difference too.
You are respected and earn respect as if you’re three people. 1) As a person, which makes you equal with all others socially, legally and particularly in God’s eyes. You deserve to be treated respectfully as an individual, not member of some group, or like your associates. 2) As a female or woman, which makes you unequal but not inferior with men (in spite of political and impractical claims to the contrary). You deserve to be recognized as very different from a man. 3) As a responsible and accountable person and woman in the various roles you fill in life, such as wife, mother, friend, daughter, employee, date, fiancé, et al. You deserve to be recognized as having primary interest in things other than man-think.
Obvious and purposeful hits can emanate from a guy’s lack of respect of women generally and perhaps you too. In his mind, you may not deserve what others deserve, such as careful or sensitive approach or common courtesy. You may not deserve to be treated fairly as member of opposite sex. You may not deserve to have your marriage honored as ‘hands off’. In every hit like that, the guy subliminally claims you don’t deserve his respect, invites you to compete with him, and so—at least I think this—you should show him how to win the competition.
You deserve equal treatment as a person if not as a woman. You’re equally deserving of what you can earn as a person. It uplifts you more easily in your mind, adds moral virtue to reinforce your courage, and makes you eligible for fair treatment as a woman. As a person you’re blessed with the ability to take charge at all affronts to your comfort and dignity as a woman. But you should initiate by thinking as a person. The cautious nature of women dissuades from initiating at the very moments you need to be self-assertive in the handling of hitters.
Not as easy as it sounds, but you should treat all men alike. It trains you better to gain all the advantages that can accrue to you as a woman.