Dating larger people
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 people who’ve experienced harassment and abuse, it’s also an alternate history of our own lives.A friend’s father, who I’ve known for years and hugged at least a dozen times, paused and asked for consent before putting an arm around me at a party this month.“It’s just—you never know how people will feel about being touched these days,” he said with a laugh.Both male and female victims reported feeling pressure to be “chill” when physical touch or sex acts were forced on them.Women are reconsidering sexual contact they’ve had with gay men—both as targets and culprits of misconduct—and contemplating when a compliment becomes street harassment.To these survey respondents,sexual violations in the context of romantic relationships have been some of the hardest examples to recognize as assault in the moment, but they’ve also done some of the deepest and most lasting damage to both survivor and perpetrator.
The variety of behaviors people corralled into the two gray areas identified here—“borderline but ultimately OK” and “borderline but ultimately not OK”—is telling, too.
Actions that once seemed playful or relatively harmless now seem sinister, invisible grease for the wheels of an orchestrated system of humiliation designed to instill self-doubt and fear into women who might have otherwise posed a threat to male control.
“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.
Some of these women had already recognized certain incidents from their past as harassment or abuse.
Others have been forced by this interminable news cycle to relive, reconsider, and reclassify some of the things men have done to them against their will or to search for boundaries in the mess of human interaction.
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.