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What's the difference between flirting and sexual harassment? How do mark the difference between; over friendly, flirting and harassment?
Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between flirting and sexual harassment? You are not alone! How do mark the difference between; being over-friendly, flirting and harassment?
When a man you hardly know, touches you and gets overfamiliar when you are in your 50s, you are perhaps even more outraged than if you were in your 20s or 30s.
The reason: you’ve come to a comfortable age. A safe age. You are at ease with yourself, and you don’t want anyone violating that sense of comfort.
A recent encounter with an overfamiliar person at a book launch, let’s call him ‘S’, left me both disgusted and angry. S got talking with me and invited my husband and me to a restaurant for idli and coffee.
Till then, it was fine. Then he touched me twice on the shoulder. We were not on such terms that this could be interpreted as an affectionate gesture. I barely knew the man. So why did he touch my shoulder?
When teaching them about safe and unsafe touch, experts tell children that they are the ‘boss’ of their bodies. What about us grown women? Why do we tolerate being touched by men when we haven’t permitted them to touch us?
There is a clear difference between flirting and sexual harassment.
Dr David Henningsen of Northern Illinois University has identified six reasons for flirting:
Dr Henningsen found that men viewed flirting as more sexually-driven, whereas women reported more fun and relationship motives.
In the case of S, if I were to be charitable, I would attribute the following motives:
The questions arise: why should I be charitable?
In an article on BBC, ‘When does flirting become sexual harassment’, Sea Ming Pak, who teaches youngsters about sex and relationships, lists what she thinks constitutes sexual harassment.
In this list, I would say the first three behaviours apply to my recent experience.
Sexual harassment in the workplace has received a lot of attention.
In fact, there is a law in India against it. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act was passed in 2013. It’s commonly known as the POSH Act. But what about sexual harassment in social situations?
Research studies have found that victims perceive sexual harassment as annoying, offensive, upsetting, embarrassing, stressful, and frightening.
My recent encounter with S left me feeling annoyed and upset. In the above situation, I edged as far away from S as I could.
What I should have done was confront him and tell him I did not appreciate his touching me. It’s this inaction that emboldens men to get more familiar, perhaps even to indulge in a worse crime with someone else.
Image source: Triloks, free and edited on CanvaPro
I am a freelance journalist and write on parenting, personalities, women’s issues, environment, and other social causes. read more...
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