8 Surprising Things That Are Actually Sexual Harassment

The phrase “sexual harassment” might bring about thoughts of cheesy job training videos you have to watch on an ancient television set when you get hired somewhere, but it’s anything but eye-roll worthy. And, unfortunately, when you have a president elect (like Donald Trump) who has been accused of sexually assaulting several women, it’s something that can become an increased presence in our every day lives. Truth be told, I had no idea how many things were considered sexual harassment until I started paying more attention – and now I want to spread the information on, especially since many women are feeling scared for their well-being in this new era of the United States.

As someone who has had some bad things happen to them in school when they were young, I wish I knew that even if it’s people under the age of 18, it’s still harassment, and you deserve protection. Sexual harassment isn’t just about assault or someone telling you they want to sleep with you – it’s more than that. Victim blaming is everywhere, and it can be toxic. You deserve to feel safe and protected no matter who’s in the White House. Obvious examples like unsolicited dick pics and cat calling have probably been present for years, but if you want to protect yourself, these are eight things you maybe didn’t know are sexual harassment.


Asking You Personal Questions About Your Sexuality, Sex Life, Or Sensuality, And Demanding An Answer

Nobody should be allowed to ask you how far you’ve gone, if you're a virgin, what you or your partner are like in bed, how many people you’ve slept with, or what positions you like, and then continue to harass you until you give them an answer. Your sexuality and your sex life are your business and yours alone. People demanding that you give them this information comes from the belief that they have the rights to know what goes on with your body for their own entertainment. It’s a power play and has usually has nothing to do with actually wanting to know information. Power plays and making people uncomfortable are the cornerstone of sexual harassment.

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Someone Repeatedly Asking You Out Even After You’ve Rejected Them

When someone doesn’t listen to you saying no, and they continue to pursue you even though they know it’s unwanted attention, that speaks to their assumption that your body and your voice aren’t yours and that they are entitled to anything they want from you. Please know this for fact: you don’t owe anybody anything. You don’t have to give someone a chance if you don’t want to. You don’t have to be nice to someone who is mean to you. No means no, and when people don’t listen, that’s sexual harassment.

Image Source: iStock

People Making Unsolicited Remarks About Your Sexual Orientation or Gender Based On What You Wear, How You Look, And How You Behave

Others making assumptions and comments about what your gender identity or sexual orientation based on an initial impression is still sexual harassment even though they are not being overtly sexual towards you. They are still harassing you based on your presumed sexuality and assumed sex (meaning whatever genitalia they deem you to have based on... ugh, who knows). Sexual harassment extends beyond the parameters of what we traditionally think of as examples. If you are gender variant, transgender, or queer, you know what I’m talking about. Has anyone ever looked at your haircut and masculine energy and went “Oh, cool. So you’re a dyke?” in an antagonizing way. Did that make you feel uncomfortable? That’s sexual harassment.

Image Source: iStock

Someone Openly Rating Your Desirability On A Scale Of 1-10

Stop it with the points system, it’s not a good look. Even if it’s positive and you’re like “Oh! She’s a 10, I’d definitely hit that,” (first, stop calling her “that.”) it’s still a gross example of sexual harassment. We’ve heard our president elect say that somebody was not even attractive enough to sexually harass and to be honest, it was a harsh attempt at dismissing a very real problem. The validity of someone’s account of what happened to them should not be that easily reduced by rating their attractiveness. That’s like saying ugly girls should be thankful they’re getting raped. See how messed up that sounds? If someone rates you on a sliding scale, they’re still sexually harassing you.

Image Source: iStock

Someone Closing Space On You To Intimidate You

When someone who is either larger or stronger than you, or someone who is in a position of authority to you closes in on you to make you feel small and intimidate you... it's sexual harassment. Even a stranger’s junk intentionally brushing up against you in a crowded place is still harassment despite the fact that their private parts are underneath their clothes. People literally backing you into a corner to get their way or make you feel uncomfortable in your body by imposing their body against yours is sexual harassment even if the whole thing is nonverbal. Harassment doesn’t need to be verbal.

Image Source: iStock

People Using That/It Pronouns In Reference To You Instead Of Your Preferred Ones

Whether it’s used to mock your gender identity (“I don’t want to go into the bathroom with IT”) or to objectify you (“Yeah, I’d hit that”) - and honestly, it’s sometimes both - using object pronouns instead of personified pronouns are meant to exactly that: objectify you. When we talk about objectification, it’s mostly about women being treated as sexual objects for the consumption of men. What we need to talk about when it comes to sexual harassment is that it’s often meant to dehumanize a person so that it’s easier to be awful to them. They are objects you can do whatever you want to. More often than not, this kind of talk is carried out not within earshot of the person they’re referencing (if it’s in front of your face, I’m so sorry), so if you are present when someone speaks like this about another person, speak up.

Image Source: iStock

Unwanted Hugging, Kissing, And Touching

You don’t have to show physical (or emotional tbh) affection to anybody you don’t want to. People going in for a kiss, holding you there until you turn your head around, or suggestively touching you in a way you don’t like is sexual harassment. Physical affection should never be coerced or unwelcome. We’ve all heard the accounts of pageant contestants being non-consensually kissed on the mouth by our president elect, right? You don’t owe anybody anything from your body that you don’t want to give. The same way you don’t have to sleep with someone after a third date, you don’t have to hug, kiss, touch, or let yourself be touched if you don’t want to.

Image Source: iStock

Anyone Saying They’ll Grab You By The Pussy

As a joke in person, on Twitter, saying it’s okay because Trump is the president elect now, it is not okay. If you ask them to stop, and they continue doing it, bring it to someone’s attention or record them if you are alone. People grabbing you by the butt and running, or touching your clothes or hair without your permission, is still sexual assault. The touch does not need to necessarily need to be aggressive or sexual in nature in order to be considered harassment. That stranger standing too close to you who’s hand keeps “accidentally” brushing your breasts? They need to quit that. That’s harassment.

Image Source: iStock

What’s your favorite web series? Were you already watching these ones? Let us know in the comments!

What do you think of these forms of sexual harassment?  Let us know in the comments!

You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.

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