It's too big now for us to ignore it, so it's time to cover some basics on consent and harassment. This is a part of physical and psychological health, and should be discussed whenever you decide to start talking with your kids about sexual health. All of this is true from both the male and female perspective.
- Consent is a verbal affirmative. It is not the absence of protest.
- Some people cannot consent to sexual contact or language. This includes children, people who don't understand sex and its ramifications, people who can't understand you if you talk to them about sex, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and can't express consent, and people who are in a situation where they aren't free to say no.
- Power dynamics change the rules on whether it's okay to ask someone out. If you have power over someone (boss, teacher, mentor, authority figure), your subordinate may not feel that s/he can say no to your advances, and therefore can't consent.
- If you've asked him/her out and s/he said no, don't ask again. Your interest has been noted and if s/he changes his/her mind, s/he'll let you know. Asking more than once can be harassment, particularly if this person sees you often.
If you're experiencing harassment:
- Find someone in authority who can be an ally. Instead of confronting the person yourself, get Human Resources involved, or the owner of the establishment, or the dean of students.
- Document everything.
- Don't wait for it to go away.
- If you are afraid for your safety, get help immediately. The police are used to helping people; they would much prefer to go out to five calls where nothing was wrong than one call for intimate partner violence/assault.
- It is not your fault. No matter what you're wearing, what you did, whether you said yes before, where you are, or who you're dating.
- If the first person you tell doesn't believe you, keep telling people until you find someone who does.
Sweetwater Counseling professionals are available to help you process an experience like this, or to think through your response to harassment.
The above is not intended as psychological advice. Please seek professional help if needed.