Understanding the boundaries of appropriate behavior is essential, in whatever environment you are in. A fundamental part of this understanding is recognizing what constitutes sexual harassment. By definition, sexual harassment refers to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
Gaining clarity about what constitutes sexual harassment is crucial because it can help maintain respect for each other’s boundaries and dignity, and it can protect you and others from inappropriate behaviors.
Sexual harassment can often take verbal forms. This includes making crude or suggestive comments, telling explicit jokes or making unwanted sexual advances. It also includes inappropriate comments about a person’s body or sexual activities. Verbal sexual harassment can occur in person, via phone calls, text messages, emails or social media.
Physical sexual harassment involves any unwanted physical contact or advances. This may include touching, patting or pinching; it can also involve more aggressive behaviors, such as sexual assault. However, physical sexual harassment is not limited to touch. It can also involve inappropriate gestures or body movements.
Visual forms of sexual harassment can include displaying sexually suggestive pictures, drawings or objects in a public or shared space. This type of harassment can also involve sending or sharing explicit images or videos without the recipient’s consent, a practice often referred to as “sexting.”
Quid pro quo
Quid pro quo sexual harassment refers to instances where an employer makes employment decisions based on an employee’s submission to unwelcome sexual conduct. This could involve a supervisor promising a promotion in exchange for sexual favors, or threatening to fire an employee who does not comply with their sexual advances.
Understanding what constitutes sexual harassment is crucial for maintaining a respectful and safe environment for everyone. Remember that these behaviors, whether verbal, physical or visual, are not only inappropriate but also illegal. If you or someone else is experiencing sexual harassment, report the behavior and protect your rights.