Being a Woman · Conferences · Hilarious But True · Sexual Harassment

The Seven Guys Who Hit On You At Conferences

As Poli Sci Bitches, we’ve had our fair share of being hit on at conferences. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good flirt, and when we’re in a purely social situation (as opposed to a professional work dinner), I don’t mind guys who hit on me if they have appropriate boundaries.  Some do, some don’t.  And for your benefit, I’ve created a list of The Seven Guys Who Hit On You At Conferences, complete with a Roofie Risk Factor Rating of 1-4*.

The Doofus

This is the most common experience I’ve had at conferences. This guy is your standard issue “goofy academic with minimal social skills.”  He’s a little intimidated by how pretty you are. He doesn’t know how to offer to buy you a drink, so he just makes awkward conversation about his favorite panel presentation of the day and probably peels the label off his domestic beer bottle. You take pity and talk to him for a while, but there’s no chance you’re going upstairs with this guy.

Roofie Risk Factor: 1. Your drink is safe.

The Semi-Stalker

This guy saw you at a panel earlier in the day, and he mysteriously shows up to every other panel you attend.  He manages to insert himself into most of the conversations you have. Depending on his body language, it’s either flattering or disconcerting. He definitely buys you a drink, but he probably has other friends at the conference, so you don’t have to feel cornered. He’s definitely making sure he and his crew are in your line of sight, though, or maybe even at your table.

Roofie Risk Factor: 2. This guy’s probably just into you, for real.

The Aging Rock Star

Probably it’s the deadwood guy who should retire.  He wrote a book in 1981 that people still cite like crazy, and grad students are starstruck to meet him. But, he kind of thinks he’s a bigger deal than he really is. Guys, we’re political scientists. It’s not like he’s George Clooney.  You don’t need his autograph. But, the years of political scientist celebrity have gone to his head, and he really thinks you should sleep with him because he’s a big deal around here.

Roofie Risk Factor: 3. He’s kind of a gross creep. Steer clear.

The Grad Student

Now HE’S the starstruck one.  You’re sort of young. You’re approachable. You’re pretty. He’s trying to figure out what he’s doing at a political science conference anyway, so his flirting is half actual flirting and half desperately-seeking-professional-advice.  Enjoy your time in the spotlight, but buy HIM the drink (he can’t afford one).

Roofie Risk Factor: 1. He has his whole career ahead of him, he can’t risk it.

The Liberal

I LOVE the liberal.  He’s super feminist and totally on your side about that guy who mansplained you when you asked a question about external validity.  He might be a theorist, or maybe he does pedagogical research.  He definitely has a beard, but hopefully not a bushy, unkempt one.  You spend your evening drinking cool cocktails you’ve never heard of and local craft beer, and if you do end up in bed with him, you have a talk about consent first.

Roofie Risk Factor: 0. He’s the one who initiates the consent conversation.

The Hottie

You only WISH this guy was hitting on you. Let’s be real.

Roofie Risk Factor: 1. He has bigger fish to fry.

The Actual Stalker

This one is Trouble with a capital T. He is almost definitely drunk. He keeps putting his arm around you and asking you to have one more beer before you go to bed. Wants to know which floor you’re on. The bartender is keeping a concerned eye on you. He ignores your personal space and your attempts to rebuff him. Male political science friends, please watch out for us, and if you see The Actual Stalker with his arm sloppily draped over our shoulders, help us out.

Roofie Risk Factor: 4. Don’t get off the elevator on the same floor as this guy.


*We might be using the Roofie Rating System as a joke, but sexual assault isn’t funny, and it can be just one more thing women have to worry about at conferences that distracts us from our research.

So feel free to flirt at social events, and as long as you respect boundaries, most of us will enjoy the chance to be hit on. Especially if you’re The Hottie. Please, Hottie. Hit on me.

-Candy Ann Richards


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