Sexual harassment refers to a range of unwanted sexual behaviors or attention. These can be targeted at an individual and can also impact larger environments. People of all genders can commit sexual harassment, and also be victimized by it.
Types of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can be verbal, visual, relational, or electronic. Some examples of sexual harassment:
gender stereotyping and policing
cat calling or street harassment
sending inappropriate or unwanted pictures
sexual jokes or gender based jokes
repeated advances or come-ons
Some of these behaviors might seem harmless on their own, but they can add up to create a hostile environment in which people feel unsafe, targeted, or unable to go about their daily lives.
Quid Pro Quo
One kind of sexual harassment is “quid pro quo,” meaning “this for that.” Quid pro quo is when someone with more power (formal or informal) uses their position to leverage a sexual interaction. The person with less power may feel unable to resist or refuse based on promises of perks or consequences based on their participation. Examples of quid pro quo might be promising a favorable grade or job review based on sexual engagement.
Ongoing harassment can be particularly difficult to address when it takes place within professional and academic hierarchies—advisors, managers, supervisors, etc.—as the victim may feel that making a complaint will worsen the situation.
Getting Help with Sexual Harassment
If you're being sexually harassed, talk to someone to discuss your options for getting help.