Sexual harassment

Visualization of narrower problems
Sexual provocation
Sexual exhibitionism
Sexual harassment varies widely from demanding sex in exchange for a promotion or a job to lewd language or photos in the work place. It includes repeated, offensive flirtations, advances and propositions; continual or repeated verbal abuse of a sexual nature; graphic verbal commentaries about an individual's body; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; display in the workplace of pornographic or suggestive material; sexually explicit graffiti in bathrooms or other public places and opening meetings or other gatherings with "dirty" jokes. Teachers may harass students. Landlords may harass tenants. Law enforcement personnel may harass defendants or criminals. Wherever one person seeks power over another sexual harassment may be present. To a large degree the driving concern behind sexual harassment is not lust but demonstrating power over people.

In addition to working environment sexual harassment, a [quid pro quo] form of sexual harassment is distinguished in the USA as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, or submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such an individual.

1. Sexual harassment has never been tightly defined; on the contrary, the tendency has been to expand its meanings. In the absence of a tight definition, almost any behaviour can be construed as sexual harassment. A lewd remark, an immodest proposal or an insensitive comment are distasteful and perhaps immoral, but they are not necessarily harassment. An open-ended interpretation of sexual harassment thwarts our capacity to identify and alter conditions that truly deter women's advance in employment and education, and it encourages repression and censorship.

2. Definitions of what may or may not constitute sexual harassment have profound implications for working relationships. With attempts to define the limits of acceptable behaviour comes the image of a society dominated by politically-correct thought police.

3. The fear of sexual harassment lawsuits and political incorrectness restrict relations between men and women to the point that people dare not even acknowledge another's gender. A degree of gracious flirtation eases relations and makes us feel noticed and appreciated.

(D) Detailed problems