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What constitutes sexual harassment?

Recently, we were talking about what constitutes sexual harassment. What was interesting from that discussion was how varied everyone's definition is. Which got us thinking. Are the differences due to whether or not the individual has experienced sexual harassment? The effectiveness of the training they have or haven't received? Is it generational, where prior to the #MeToo movement, it was just something we didn't discuss? Is there a tolerance threshold for each of us, where one person isn't bothered by the 'jokes' but their colleague is? Sexual harassment can be subtle. Sexual harassment can be blatant. Either way, it shouldn't be happening, period.

While we don't get to define what sexual harassment means to someone else, here at Define the Line we agree that it is "any act perceived as having sexual intent that makes an individual uncomfortable". Any act, regardless of differing perceptions! We see examples of these acts everyday in movies and tv, but what about the workplace?


  • Touching or groping

  • Someone touching themselves in a sexual manner

  • Someone exposing themselves

  • Blocking someone's path

  • Pushing

  • Tickling


  • Jokes of a sexual nature

  • Flirting

  • Whistling

  • Making kissing sounds

  • Discussing intimate details

  • Unwanted advances

  • Sexual innuendos


  • Quid pro quo or being forced to do something sexual in return for something else

  • Staring or leering

  • Winking

  • Photos of a sexual nature being displayed

  • Sexually explicit photos, emails, or texts

What are some other ways you've experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace? Are there situations or occurrences that now after they've occurred, you can identify that they were wrong. Sexual harassment can show up in many different ways. And in order to prevent it from happening, we must always be ready to speak up for ourselves and others. Need some inspiration on how to speak up? We've got you covered! Check out this curated list of phrases you can use to define the line the next time someone crosses it.

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