Defining sexual harassment

May 12, 2021

Sexual harassment is “uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate,” per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

The United Nations characterizes sexual harassment behavior as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature,” with examples including stalking, sexual innuendos and unwanted sexual looks or gestures.

Eva Eichenberger (’23) said sexual harassment occurs regardless of gender and involves any “attention or behavior that is sexual, unwanted and violating.”

Computer Science Teacher Livia Piloto said sexual harassment is a “spectrum” and an umbrella term for all forms of physical and verbal sexual violence, including assault, abuse and rape.

Gabrielle Yurin (’23) said sexual harassment entails a “lack of consent” and is primarily distinguished by the emotions it evokes as opposed to the action itself.

Maddy Whitman

Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Oxford Languages

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