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What is ‘sexual harassment’? A new poll reveals stunning findings on what qualifies as ‘over the line’

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Everyone knows sexual harassment is bad, but nobody seems to agree on what exactly it IS.

In the wake of an avalanche of sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood celebrities and political figures such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore and Sen. Al Franken, The Economist and YouGov decided to poll people from five different Western countries to find out what behaviors actually are considered sexual harassment.

There was a shocking difference of opinion on questions ranging from seemingly innocent actions such as asking to go for a drink to more sinister ones such as demanding sex.

“Over-friendly, or sexual harassment,” The Economist tweeted. “It depends partly on whom you ask.”

There were difference between countries, such as the fact that three-fourths of Swedish men feel like it’s acceptable to make sexual jokes around women, compared to only one-quarter of American men. “Similarly,” The Economist writes, “a quarter of French women under 30 believe that even asking to go for a drink is harassment, whereas almost none of their counterparts in Britain and Germany share that view.”

But perhaps the most striking difference was the generation gap and the fact that a higher percentage of younger people consider a lot more actions sexual harassment than their older (and wiser?) peers. As an example, over 50 percent of British women under 30 consider wolf-whistling unacceptable, compared to under 20 percent of women over 64-years-old.

Younger Americans especially tend to blur the line between political correctness and genuine sexual harassment. In fact, over one-third of young adults, male and female, consider a non-romantic partner commenting on a woman’s attractiveness to be sexual harassment.

With ‘rules’ like this, one wonders how young Americans are supposed to FIND romantic partners, but that’s a whole other issue.

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There was difference of opinion between the sexes as well. From The Economist:

Both sexes tended to have similar views on whether a man who places his hand on a woman’s lower back or comments on her attractiveness has gone too far. However, female respondents were much less tolerant of men looking at women’s breasts than their male counterparts were: among Americans 64 and older, for example, half of women but just a quarter of men said they would consider such ogling sexual harassment.

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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BizPac Review.

 

Scott Morefield

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