My point with my original post was to describe how the system works. The physics, the biology, the signals, the potential violence. I think I did a fairly good job of it too.
I definitely did not want to get into a discussion of the particulars of cleavage with my example (which wasn't about cleavage per se but all possible signals... see shampoo comment above) and I was actually hesitant to add my original example because I know from experience that there's a high risk of turning examples into a debate about particular details while missing the larger insight. FWIW, my original model example was to be considered completely stereotypical for clarity.
DW's point was that eye-contact vs ogling was about respect. However, "respect" is a cultural term. It's therefore not innate to the functional behavior of biologically driven and resource constrained systems. For example, field mice, chipmunks, or elephants don't have a concept called respect. Different human cultures and even different humans have different understandings of what respect is insofar they have one. Therefore one must never assume respect to be universal or even exist in a given person. I refer back to various Overton windows in my original post.
Since their response was mostly about the world as it should be, I want to emphasize https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_M._Cipolla#Essays (referred to in my original post for a good reason) to help explain why "should be" is not a practical life-strategy when dealing with other humans.
First, if the cultural system is in a flux, then it requires individual human effort to deal with it. We have 4 different types of individual males: (I'm not really going to get into arguing the details with what is what in the four quadrants. These descriptions need to be refined.)
- Intelligent: An intelligent male will realize that it's in his best interest and in her best interest (and also the common good) if he expends significant frontal lobe energy to override his primal instincts and adhere to "eyes up here" protocol. This will benefit both parties. An intelligent male will grasp the usefulness of a human construct such as "respect".
- Helpless: A helpless male will consider protocol to be too difficult (might not have the lobe energy to override instinct or whatever) or have other issues/challenges that makes talking to females too difficult, e.g. lack of precision wrt being considerate or assertive. This will hurt this male.
- Bandit: A bandit male will have realized that banditry is sufficiently rewarded to keep going at it. Note that there are intelligent bandits and stupid bandits (refer to Cipolla for details). Someone commented above that if it 19/20 of females hate ogling but 1/20 like it AND bandit-attempts have almost no costs and almost no risk, then continued success is ensured by approaching 20 different females. Important to note that an intelligent bandit will make a deliberate cost-benefit analysis. The bandit can therefore be deterred by changing the prices and probabilities. (I have no idea whether the actual ratio is 1/20. I just know that it's >0.)
- Stupid: A stupid male will not realize that it's in his best interest to stop ogling. This both kills his chances and annoys the female. The stupid person can not be deterred. You can not regulate. You can only avoid (see law 4,5 --- this also applies to enforcement).
Similarly, (and this was also done above by slowtraveler), I could argue that people should respect private property enough so I can wave an expensive smartphone around near a bus stop in a crime-ridden neighborhood. Now that would be really nice for me, but reality is such that by doing so, I'm communicating to any delinquent stupid/bandit within 50 yards that here's a crime of opportunity for them to take (IOW, I'm putting up a sell signal for my smartphone asset). I could argue that my smartphone waving shouldn't be construed as a signal. But the economical/sociological fact is that it is a signal whether I like it or not. And it's not about smartphones either. If I stand around in a sketchy part of town while dressed expensively (another signal), chances are higher that I will be robbed.
Insofar other men should step in ... again, realize that the knight might be/play the role as either intelligent, helpless, stupid, or a bandit. And in particular realize that knight can't know for sure whether he's dealing with a jackass who's stupid or a bandit; or even intelligent or helpless insofar he's misinterpreting the situation (a helpless knight, see slowtravelers example).
Females can, of course, be similarly categorized in terms of how they deal with the underlying physics of the situation. Just realizing that whoever you run into will have either a helpless, stupid, intelligent or banditly (what's the word?) framework is super practical and helpful. See other posters above for examples of various classes of females.
Personally I consider the "should be"/"shouldn't have to" way of looking at the world fall in the helpless(*) category because it ultimately hurts yourself. It's a little bit like driving through a green traffic light w/o checking for cars left and right because "there shouldn't be any cars when I got the green light"(**). Sure ... but that's failing to account for the stupid/bandit drivers that are bound to be out there.
(*) Don't get hung up on words. We're looking at the functionality of the category. Feel free to call it what you want. Wishful? Hopeful? Optimistic? Naive?
(**) There are some humans who seriously believe so much in regulations that their framework becomes the regulations themselves. They are thus incapable of imagining the existence of behavior outside regulations. All booksmarts. No streetsmarts.
It's a general rule that "You can't fix stupid" but ultimately, cultural codes may impose some sanctions or constraints on its effects. However, keep in mind that making theft illegal hasn't eliminated theft. You can't regulate stupid away; and since regulation is not 100% effective, you can't eliminate bandits either. More importantly, though, since the US is currently transitioning, I think it's pertinent to develop a real appreciation of Chesterton's Fence. Lots of fences are currently being torn down w/o understanding why they were there in the first place. Because many of these decisions don't seem to be guided by any systemic insight, the side-effects will come out of unexpected places. So maybe consider why some of the rules that have been eliminated were put in in the first place before worrying about fixing the unintended consequences with new fences. It's a worthwhile exercise if trying to understand why a complex system is breaking.
PS: If there's any interest in clothing based solutions ... just go check out what people came up with in other countries. You'll probably not like it ... but they're human-solutions nevertheless. Compare the Pygmy dress code (I use Pygmies because I saw a documentary on netflix some month ago---but it holds for almost all tropical tribes) with the Iranian dress code. Both are physiologically working hot climate solutions at the opposite ends of the spectrum.