Whaleoil Sexual Harassment survey

Before we get started

  • Sexual harassment is not ok
  • Sexual assault is much more serious by an order of magnitude
  • This survey is (mostly) NOT about sexual assault

The bar to what constitutes sexual harassment is fairly low.  This, from our legislation

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person (in the course of that person’s involvement in any of the areas to which this subsection is applied by subsection (3)) by the use of language (whether written or spoken) of a sexual nature, or of visual material of a sexual nature, or by physical behaviour of a sexual nature, to subject any other person to behaviour that—

(a) is unwelcome or offensive to that person (whether or not that is conveyed to the first-mentioned person); and

(b) is either repeated, or of such a significant nature, that it has a detrimental effect on that person in respect of any of the areas to which this subsection is applied by subsection (3).

That casts a very wide net.  Any language of a sexual nature that is unwelcome or offensive to the person whether that is conveyed to the offender or not.

In some cases, it’s a bit like “What is Art?”.  And the answer is “I know it when I see it”, but you can’t actually define what art is in terms of language that is clear and precise.

The same goes for sexual harassment.   It either has to be something obvious so that the average human being would “know it when s/he hears it”, or it has to be a sustained problem over time with statements that by themselves could be ignored when the benefit of doubt is applied.

It may help to point out that the person feeling sexually harassed may not even be the direct or intended recipient.  S/he may simply be in the same area when other people have a consensual conversation that they don’t classify as sexual harassment.

The poll below is going to ask you if you have ever been sexually harassed when you take the standards in the law into account.  It is also going to ask you if you ever felt sexually harassed.

There is going to be an attempt to split the answer by gender, so any of you who have sexual identity ideas other than male/female there is an “other” gender for your convenience.   That in itself could be seen as sexual harassment.  As would leaving the option out altogether.  If you catch my drift.

It is my thesis that nobody goes through life and gets to a mature age without being sexually harassed as per the law’s definition of it.   And my thesis is also that most people would feel they have been genuinely sexually harassed.

The reason for this little experiment is that this Weinstein issue has brought out all sorts of people out of the woodwork doing a “I’ve been sexually harassed too!”.

My proposal, and hopefully the poll will bear it out, is that sexual harassment is the same as feeling insulted.  It happens to all of us.  It doesn’t make you special.  It is in fact the word “sexual” that places unearned gravitas on the phrase, and it is frequently mixed together with sexual assault which is in a totally different league.

To be clear, anything that involves touch is sexual assault.  This includes unwanted hugging, massages and other non consensual physical touch that is out of context and not accidental.

So here goes.  Please answer to the best of your ability, and within a few hours we’ll see if my view of this issue is reflected in our readership.

 

 


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