Flirting vs Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can be a confusing issue — one individual may be flattered by a comment about their appearance while another may be offended by the same comment. The majority of teens do not sexually harass their peers to be harmful or malicious. Rather, they are testing boundaries or attempting to establish dating relationships without realising that their behaviours are unwanted. However, once you enter the workforce where you are mixing with older men and women, what once was harmless flirting becomes something with a lot more meaning than it had before.
What’s the Difference?
The difference between flirting and sexual harassment can be determined by the following:
- How the behaviour feels to the recipient—is it wanted or unwanted?
- The amount of freedom an individual has to act—can the recipient walk away and no longer be bothered? Can the recipient tell the harasser “no” and the unwanted behaviour stop?
- The power difference between the two parties—do both people have equal power or does one have more power than the other? This may be determined by size of the individuals involved, number of people doing harassing, level in high school (up to school certificate age, or beyond), or the authority the harasser has over the recipient such as employer/employee or teacher/student.
- Who your superiors are and whether they are taking advantage of their position when dealing with you (especially when you first enter the workforce). Do they intimidate you, knowing that quite often you would not be very confident of yourself yet when it comes to your sexuality?
- The comfort level of any physical contact—when flirting, the contact is comfortable for both parties involved.
The “Eye of the Beholder”
Rarely does the individual who is accused of sexual harassment view their behaviour as offensive. Rather, they dismiss it by saying “a lot of people are doing it” (and therefore it is acceptable). They view the behaviour as being “no big deal” or “we were just joking around”. Or, they identify it as flirting. Regardless of the harasser’s intention or perception, it is the recipient’s interpretation of the action or behaviour that is important. This interpretation is known as the “eye of the beholder” standard. It takes into account the effect the behaviour had on the recipient rather than the intent of the harasser.
~.* ♥ *.~
Help Us Raise Funds
If you’d like to help us raise funds, you’re invited to purchase the first novel in our series of seven. The Bravehearts of Belgrave High was published in February 2016. It is a courageous story of a young teen growing up in a home filled with dysfunction and domestic violence. She attends a school where she’s bullied and harassed. The story tells of how she manoeuvres her way through such difficult times.
Click here if you’d like to know more about this novel.
Click here if you’d like to be taken to the site where you can purchase this novel.