by the Arts & Community Editorial Staff
Harassment and catcalling in schools turns out to be a lot more common than you think. How do we, The Hoofprint, know this? Well, we didn’t have to look far to find people with stories to tell — we’ve experienced it firsthand.
First, we need to define harassment. Sexual harassment is, by a legal definition, unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive work environment.
So, let’s break that down. Let me turn your attention to “unwanted sexual advances.” They keyword here is “unwanted.” In order to understand the implications of that word, we need to understand consent. By shortened legal definition, consent is voluntary acquiescence to the proposal of another. This means that the person is allowing the other party to do something with them while in a sound mental state and without pressure from the other party. Consent is a firm “yes.” Consent is not a weak “yes.” It is not blatantly ignoring your advances. It is not expressing discomfort through words or actions. It is not the clothes someone wears. It is not answering while delirious. It is not shrugging or shying away from advances. Consent is not unwilling.
In order for your advances to be considered “flirting,” they have to be consensual and wanted.
Those who have continued their advances without consent have committed sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can be physical, such as unwanted touching. This can range from groping to even just a hug someone didn’t want to give. Sexual harassment can also be verbal. Catcalling is a very common version of verbal harassment, but any words you say that make someone feel unsafe or powerless can qualify under the harassment umbrella.
So if you are, say, shouting out of classrooms at people, getting in an uncomfortable person’s personal space, commenting on people’s bodies crudely, or touching someone without their permission, then you are sexually harassing those people.
Believe it or not, this happens at Monticello. Everyone in this editorial group had a story about a friend or they themselves facing sexual harassment in some form or another, whether that may be unwanted touching or catcalling.
This is not an isolated problem, and that is scary. According to the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, 81% of teens will experience some form of sexual harassment while at school. 27% report experiencing sexual harassment often.
Some may say this is just “teenagers being teenagers.” However, statistics show that sexual harassment does not stop when teens graduate and move into the workforce.
The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) took a survey of 500 people of mixed genders from 92 different companies. 54% of those who responded reported facing some sort of sexual harassment at work. Of that number, 27% were harassed by a colleague while 17% were harassed by a superior. 79% of victims were women while 21% were men. 12% of victims reported being threatened with losing their job if they did not comply with the demands.
Despite this scathing editorial, we are willing to be lenient. Maybe the offenders of sexual harassment didn’t know they were sexually harassing someone. However, if you are one of those people, now you know. And, on behalf of anyone who has been harassed, to the harassers: Stop. It’s not flattering. It’s not cute. It’s not a joke. It’s scary, and it’s degrading.