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Though the lines between acceptable behavior and harassment feel in some ways clearer today than ever, there still isn’t anything close to broad agreement about where all these lines should be drawn.This is why the current moment has both women and men reassessing interactions from their past, wondering if they were on either end of a troubling encounter.What seems like a gray area to one person is outright harassment to another.Many of the anecdotes that respondents described, especially those that involved unwanted physical touch, could easily be filed under the graver labels of sexual abuse or assault.Male friends have contacted me out of the blue to ask me to be honest, to tell them if I think they’ve ever done anything to earn them a spot on one of the many semi-secret lists of sexists and creeps bouncing around the internet.When I told a Lyft driver in Detroit that I was in town for the Women’s Convention in late October, he asked if I was “a #Me Too,” too.
“What happened to me was something that was so casual, I almost didn’t even consider it sexual harassment, even though it was beyond my desire,” wrote the Of course, not every uncomfortable experience is harassment, and not every woman is redefining these experiences as abuse.
It’s not just that our collective understanding of the prevalence of harassment has changed; it’s that our understanding of the very definition of has been called into question.
The definition will grow more capacious as we retrain our antennae to categorize certain male behavior as threatening that we’d previously been conditioned to dismiss or ignore.
To get a handle on how people define, or are redefining, the borders of sexual misconduct, distributed a survey asking people a series of questions about their experiences as targets or perpetrators.
We solicited anecdotes about encounters that didn’t seem like harassment at the time but upon later reflection looked like more serious transgressions.Our current cultural moment has provoked an unprecedented excavation of the female memory.