if you don't know the difference between flirting and harassment, you're flirting wrong

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Allow me to say this: no, we are not killing romance with allegations of sexual misconduct. No, we are not making it impossible for men to flirt by holding those accountable who intimidate, stalk, harass and grope. If anything, we are in the process of providing some very clear guidelines on appropriate sexual conduct and anyone confused by the matter ought to be paying better attention.

There is a stark difference between flirtation and sexual harassment.

One is the act of being coy and charming with someone you are romantically keen on, the other is an act of intimidation and unsolicited contact. Flirting is a prolonged smile or a cheeky text shared with someone who has signaled in some way that she is interested in you. Harassment is the imposition of verbal or physical contact without any cue that it may be welcome. Harassment is not even truly a sexual act; it is a powerful gesture of entitlement and I strongly suspect the perpetrator knows precisely what he is doing at the time. Accidental harassment is rare because the act depends, to some extent, on the perpetrator believing that he entitled to a woman’s affections, regardless of whether she has indicated that she would like to impart them. Therein lies the great difference between flirtation and sexual harassment: the intent. Men should not be frightened of offending a woman or incriminating themselves as long as they are not trying to force her into paying him attention, talking to him, answering calls, touching him or sleeping with him. Any man who recognises that a woman is a human being with her own agency and autonomy, and treats her with respect, should be relatively safe.

Read more at The Independent