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The law currently defines sexual harassment as "unwanted sexual attention. There is more to the definition but in my own workplace the policy specifically defines sexual harassment as "any unwanted sexual attention". However I recently went out on a date with a girl that I wasn't interested in having "casual sex" with. She however proposed that we do just that. I therefor received "unwanted" sexual attention from her. However, I don't believe that I was harassed one bit. I have seen numerous website that declare dogmatically that women have a "right" to not experience "unwanted" sexual attention. I can't help but to think to myself that that is sheer lunacy. In my mind nobody has a right to not experience "unwanted" sexual attention and that "unwanted" sexual attention is not even a big deal. The term "unwanted" is a fairly neutral term and many things which are neither unpleasant nor pleasant can fit into that category. So how can such a obviously poorly defined definition of sexual harassment continue to persist as law and be used as workplace guidelines? I personally believe that I have a right (perhaps even a constitutional first amendment right) to show a sexual interest toward my colleagues (and that involves the risk that I will be rejected) and I feel that the way that the law currently defines sexual harassment is blatantly absurd and unfair.

July 29, 2011

Response from Nicholas D. Smith on August 4, 2011

As I understand it, the issue at stake here is that people (and not just women) want to be able to regard their workplace as just that--a workplace. The minute someone in that place begins to give sexual attention to someone else in that workplace, the environment is changed--and changed in a way that makes the workplace no longer an entirely comfortable place to work.

There are obviously degrees of sexual harassment, and I frankly don't think that giving unwanted sexual attention (that is in no way coersive) on a date could count--either ethically or legally--as harassment. But it is different in a workplace. If you find someone's sexual interest or expressions thereof unwanted on a date, you can always refuse to go out on another date with that person. But if you have to deal with this at a workplace, your only option is to try to find another job--which these days can be a major problem, and which a good worked should not have to feel that he or she has to do, to avoid someone acting in a way that is inappropriate for a workplace. So this is not simply a "freedom of speech" issue. It has to do with making the environment of a workplace no longer comfortable for some other worker working in that place. Please respect this!

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