When I was a lot younger, and a hotter dish than I really understood, the comments used to embarrass me. Eventually I learned to simply take them as a compliment. Today, however I think two things may be at play. Firstly, strident Feminism is pure BS and young women today think they are semi-Gods who must have everything their way. The other issue is that guys today may make more explicit and lewd comments than I got to hear as a young women. Things people openly voice today would have been considered incredibly rude a few decades ago.
In all honesty I think guys have a much harder time than they ever used to and girls seem quite happy to destroy guy's egos and natural male tendancies. Glad I'm no longer young.
Young women only call it sexual harassment if the man is unattractive to her - too old, too short, too ordinary...that's the main problem with "sexual harassment" policies. It all depends on a given womans attitude about the men who take notice of her and say so outloud or with a look...it's a completely subjective thing and therefore unjust.
If a man who has attributes that the woman finds desirable then she will not object and in fact will flirt and invite him to say what's on his mind when he looks at her. As if all men are supposed to know intuitively that she's too good for them - or not...lol
Evolution. males among primates compete with each other for female attention and will fight one another for dominance, to gain mating rights. Female primates select. This basic programing is still a part of us. Being offended by a comment from someone that would not be chosen as a partner is part of the selection process, i.e. rejection. If a different person made the same comment, often the individual would not be offended, it all depends on who makes the compliment. To understand human behaviour we need to understand how we evolved. This is why males and females do not think alike (any talk of this is now labeled sexism).
I'm going to assume that by, "unwanted comments," they are unsolicited comments from people that she HAS NOT made clear are unwelcome. Simply put, I don't see any real difference between the reactions of a younger woman and an older woman who've both made it clear with a specific individual that they do not wish to receive such comments.
As to why younger women consider it sexual harassment? Because they've repeatedly been told that it is, whereas older women didn't grow up with that rhetoric. I don't think it has anything to do with personal attractiveness or sensitivity. Women are taught now very early on that men are untrustworthy sexual opportunists who, and I quote, "need to be taught how not to rape." Therefore any compliment coming from a man - for which she has not given him implicit/explicit permission - is viewed through the lens of being predatory and insincere.
Now, you could make the argument that women want to be seen for their accomplishments and not for their appearance or physical attractiveness, but that argument implies that complimenting a woman on her appearance inherently diminishes her as a person or a professional, which is not the case at all. After all, no man would take umbrage that a compliment somehow diminishes him as a man or as a professional, yet women are taught that this is almost certainly the case.
I would also observe that - in my experience - this is another case of the fringe speaking for the entirety. You have a very vocal group saying that approaching a woman to compliment her and ask her out is harassment, followed by a much larger group that laments that men no longer seem have the "courage" to ask women out anymore, and what's up with that?
Older women get a lot less remarks than young women and hence are more appreciative of being flirted with.
Young women are also insecure and don’t know how to interpret when men flirt with them.
Older woman know the script and know when to just laugh or get upset.
"Unwanted comments" are from men who they do not find attractive, and therefore are deemed "unwanted"... instead of bitching like little feminism-indoctrinated girls, try saying "Sorry, I am not interested," like an mature young woman would say... or, as an older woman would say, "Thank you, I am not interested."
While there are many cases that should be taken seriously, where conduct towards women is inappropriate, Misunderstood Feminism, manipulation, a lower threshold, the whole "Believe" philosophy, and the prospect of easy money will encourage some women to make dubious claims that they wouldn't otherwise make.
'Hell has no fury like a woman scorned' ~ and an unwanted comment might be in the form of 'you should quit dressing like a whore or a slut' AND that could be interpreted as harassment. Dress modestly and you won't attract the unwanted attention. If the rebuttal is that's the way everyone else is dressing or its the latest fashion, well that may be true but then that also explains the rise in sexual assaults.
I think there are a multitude of factors, and some good ones listed here already. I will add cultural changes to the mix. I see many people, and mostly young people that I do not understand their views and the way they think. I see how people dress, how they talk to each other, how they are consumed in social media. Young America seems to have different views on Career plans, car ownership, home ownership, this just seems another piece of the puzzle to me.
Older women did not grow up in a time when the claim of being a victim did not come with vast benefits in some parts of society. With the leftists being obsessed with the idea that there are only victims and oppressors in society and the need to overthrow these perceived oppressors, there is incentive for people to claim they are victimized, regardless of whether they actually are or not. Some people have gone as far as to arrange faked crimes against themselves and report it to authorities, such as Jussie Smollet hiring two people to stage a crime against him based on racism. The increase in sensitivity to unwanted comments about appearance is another result of this obsession with perceived oppression.
If anyone has made it clear that comments about them are unwanted then we are assholes for making those comments, regardless of sex or attractiveness.
I think older women don't make their wants known as clearly as younger women and hence will accept things they don't want with more facility.
But when you compliment a younger woman, and she lets you know that that compliment is unwanted, that woman gets labeled as a sensitive, a bitch, standoffish, etc... when all that she's doing is letting her wants be vocally known.
I think culture is also a huge component and why it's lamentable that this site has such little diversity to discuss these differences with. I know that my South American female bretheren react wholly different to comments by men then their North American counterparts. However, I suspect the older versus younger women would also follow along the lines of historical presidents with younger Latino women letting their wants be known more so than older Latino women.
Big topic. Wish there were more younger and older women, white and otherwise, to give us guys a better perspective from their side of things.
Young women have the unearned privilege of the long standing tradition of first refusal. That has grown to include not only the legitimate right to reject sexual advances but rather insane right to punish people who make unwanted sexual advances. In theory that means that men cannot make either unwanted or wanted advances. It means that only women will be able to make sexual advances. Since females general are only interested in high status males the result has been that 20 percent of males are having most of the sex. Creating a new classification of males called involuntary celibates. It leaves both females and males frustrated because females cannot find enough high status males and males cannot find faithful mates. In a natural environment it is a healthy arrangement in a civilized environment not so much. Civilization requires a level of trust and cooperation that provides for both stability and complex organization.
Girls learn from an early age that they have power over men and it is pleasurable for most. It's even more fun if they have the power to punish lower status or undesirable males. As women age there sexual power diminishes and the exercise of it less enjoyable. For three generations now we have lived under the ethos of "if it feels good do it". It probably is neither realistic or optimal.
So there would be "Positive/Wanted Comments", "Neutral Comments", "Negative/Unwanted Comments", and "Harassing Comments". I find the chart incomplete on this basis. Plus, the total rate of comments of any kind. Then, thinking about this further, how would we gage the content of the comments? Compare frequency of comments by commenter's intent vs receiver's reception.