Lets Get Real About Sexual Harassment

Image result for sexual harassment protest
image from here

I was never really sure when or if I would make a post about this topic when it was first brought under a huge spotlight a few weeks ago, but since then the awareness and allegations have just gotten bigger and bigger and it has reached a point where you really can't ignore it anymore. 
So with that being said I am here with a post about sexual harassment. 
I feel like currently the spotlight is on sexual harassment in the workplace and in certain industries, but I'm here to say sexual harassment is an issue that happens anywhere and everywhere. 

With sexual harassment I feel like it is very hard to distinguish where the line is drawn between being friendly and harassing someone, but with that being said it is so easy to cross that line. 
So what is sexual harassment? 
By definition it is 'harassment in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.' 
That is the definition you get if you Goggle 'what is sexual harassment?' its not very helpful, quite broad and doesn't really give you an idea of where the line is at. 
So I did some more digging to find some examples of what sexual harassment can actually be, here is a list of some things I found:
  • staring 
  • unwelcome touching
  • suggestive comments
  • sexual insults or taunts
  • sending sexually explicit emails or text messages
  • requesting sex or dates
  • inappropriate advances on social media
So these are examples of ways that sexual harassment can take place.
Sexual harassment is a targeted behaviour that is intended to offend, terrorise or annoy you. 

So that is one side of the line, the sexual harassment side of the line. 
Crossing back to the other side, if the interaction is a friendship or its flirting and its a mutual situation that is consented to by both parties, that's not sexual harassment, that is the other side of the line. 

The Australian Human Rights Commission is an institution funded by the Australian government, but it doesn't operate under the government.
The soul purpose of this institution is investigate infringements of Australia's anti-discrimination laws, including the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.
According to this institution nearly one in five of the complaints they receive under this act relate to sexual harassment. 
Just in case you didn't realise, that is a bloody lot of complaints. 

With that all being said, if we look at the workplace for a second, one in five women will experience sexual harassment in the workplace, and so will one in twenty men. 
But sexual harassment doesn't just happen in the workplace- it happens everywhere, it happens when you are doing your weekly shopping, it happens when you take a trip to the beach, it happens when you post a photo on social media, it happens when you walk down the god damn street, no where is a safe place from sexual harassment. 

A few weeks ago it was allegations against American film producer Harvey Weinstein that brought the microscope to this issue. 
In the last two to three weeks he has had many accusations of sexual harassment come out, the list totaling well over fifty, and there has also been accusations of rape.
In many of the cases that I have read about Weinstein used his position of power to take advantage of women in his industry who were just starting out- women who were young, scared and were less likely to speak out against him. 
Many of these women, some who are now well known names have taken a stance against this behaviour and spoken out about their ordeals- which in many cases takes place in his hotel room for a 'business meeting' and involves him asking for a massage.
At 20, Ashley Judd was invited for a breakfast meeting by Weinstein where he requested she give him a massage.
Lauren Sivan, a former Fox News host says he trapped her in a closed restaurant and masturbated in front of her.
Italian actress, Asia Argento has recounted how she was lured to his hotel room under the pretense of a Miramax party, however once she was there Weinstein forcibly preformed oral sex on her.
1998 Angelina Jolie was harassed by Weinstein- yet again in a hotel room. 

It was Alyssa Milano who used her Twitter to bring awareness to sexual harassment through the hashtag #metoo. 
And just like that the internet was flooded with brave men and women telling of their sexual harassment stories through the hashtag #metoo.
People from all over the world were openly sharing their stories of how they were sexually harassed- people that I know were sharing their stories on social media promoting awareness.
We as society stood together for a brief moment and said sexual harassment is not okay.

Anthony Rapp has been the latest person to make a stand and share his story.
As a young fourteen year old boy in 1986 Rapp was invited to a party held by Kevin Spacey- then 26. 
The two had met through their mutual roles in Broadway shows.
The party ended, it was just Rapp and Spacey left in the apartment.
It was then that Papp says Spacey picked him up, placed him on the bed and climbed on top of him, making sexual advances.
"My stomach churns. I still to this day can't wrap my head around so many aspects of it. It's just deeply confusing to me."
How did Kevin Spacey respond?
By posting a statement on Twitter stating that he did not remember the incident.
"But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour."
I'm sorry but no, you cannot use alcohol as an excuse for sexual harassment, no one is allowed to. Own up to your actions, take responsibility for what you did and the pain you caused someone for years. 
Spacey then used this controversial topic to tell the world he now lives his life as a gay man.

Get real here with me for a second.
Should women have to put up with wolf whistles on the street?
Should anyone be made to feel as if they can't speak up because an authority figure has power over them?
Should anyone be subject to being sexually harassed?
The answer is no. Sexual harassment needs to end, whether it be in the workplace or not, all sexual harassment is not okay.

As a society we can't stand by and watch as sexual harassment continues to happen, we need to make a stand against this crime. 
We need to find a way to hold people accountable for their actions, for the pain they cause to others.
Sexual harassment is not and will never be okay.