Along with other forms of sexual misconduct and sexual crime, sexual harassment is first about power, and second about sex (Jones 2). There are both legal and popular definitions of sexual harassment, but one that appealed to me was this simple and basic definition "bothering someone in a sexual way" (Hodgson 2). The key word here is bothering. Nobody has the right to sexually harass you. Sexual harassment is deliberate, unsought, and unwelcome behavior, which is used as a power game, and may lead to sexual abuse (13). .
Teenage sexual harassment ranges from subtle to shocking, in many cases, though, it's easy to miss. As Dr.Nan Stein, a national expert on sexual harassment at Wellesley College explained in a phone interview with Harriet Hodgson, the author of Powerplays, "sexual harassment is often vague and ambitious" (1). What one person may perceive as joking, another finds offensive and degrading. Students and employees are legally protected against sexual harassment (What is Sexual Harassment? 21). The most widely used, common-sense definition of sexual harassment is "deliberate and/or repeated sexual or sex-based behavior that is not welcome, not asked for, and not returned" (18). The word "uncomfortable" echo's throughout all the literature Ive read on sexual harassment. .
Eleanor Linn, Associate director of Programs for Educational Opportunity at the University of Michigan says that the difference between sexual harassment and flirting is simple, "Flirtation feels good, harassment feels bad". (Hodgson 5) The schools definition of sexual harassment broadens to include everything from having clothing torn off and being forced to perform sexual acts, to unwanted sexual jokes, gestures, or looks. On a survey taken by the author of "What is Sexual Harassment?" in reference to the previous description, more than 4/5 of the students defined themselves as victims of sexual harassment.