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Sexual harassment is not an expression of attraction, it is an exercise of power.

That’s something I have to keep telling myself. Because we’re told that sexual harassment is harmless fun, or that it’s just teasing, or that it’s a poor expression of interest. It’s not. It’s harassment, and it’s a crime.

Sexual harassment is not an expression of attraction, it is an exercise of power.

It’s designed to embarrass and to cow. That’s why public humiliation is so regularly a feature of it. And public humiliation means that the onus goes on the harassed person to keep the peace. Otherwise you’re told that you’re uptight or overreacting. It’s a calculated strategy, and is as much about humiliating the harassed person as it is about the harasser looking powerful in front of other people.

Sexual harassment is not an expression of attraction, it is an exercise of power.

It’s not sought. It’s not a feature of what you’re wearing or where you are. Sure, I’ve been sexually harassed at bars and in the street. I’ve also been sexually harassed at my own birthday party and at a funeral. Those incidents, actually, were within a few weeks of each other. I had just turned twelve.

Sexual harassment is not an expression of attraction, it is an exercise of power.

It’s about who looks vulnerable, who the harasser wants to remind that they can snap them out of their pride or happiness or complacency at any time.

Sexual harassment is not an expression of attraction, it is an exercise of power.

And it’s not right at all.

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