Is it flirting or sexual harassment? | - Leader Development for Army Professionals

Is it flirting or sexual harassment?

Flirting is part of human nature and is not in and of itself sexual harassment. Men flirt and women flirt. If someone flirts with you and you respond by flirting back, it is a two-way street and not sexual harassment. If the flirting is unwanted and you do not return it in kind, most of the time it stops there. But when you have not returned it and the flirting continues, it may be sexual harassment.

army sexual harassment

"Do not mince words or try to spare his feelings. More often than not, he will backpedal..."

As offensive as the behavior may be to you, some people do not readily pick up on the fact that by not responding you do not want more of their attention. At this point it is necessary to tell the individual directly that you do not appreciate the flirting and would like it to stop.

There is a fine line between flirting and sexual harassment. If you believe you are being sexually harassed, you should confront the perpetrator and tell him you do not appreciate his comments. Tell him in clear terms to stop. Do not mince words or try to spare his feelings. More often than not, he will backpedal by telling you that he was “only fooling around and didn’t mean anything serious” or he was “just kidding.” Occasionally, he may say something like, “What’s wrong with you? You don’t like that? You must be a lesbian.” Regardless of the excuse, repeat your message that you consider the behavior sexual harassment and you want it to stop.

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posted on 12/03/2010 under Articles
Jo B. Rusin is a retired soldier, who spent the majority of her career in Regular Army troop units from platoon leader to commander of a support brigade in the Gulf War. As a combat service support soldier, Jo B. served in units composed of both men and women from all racial and ethnic groups. She is a strong believer in the ability of soldiers to succeed, regardless of whether they are men or women or where they came from. Jo B. is the author of a number of military leadership books, including Move Out: The Insider's Guide for Military Leaders; Move to the Front: The Classic Guide for Military Women; and Women on Your Team: A Man's Guide to Leading Women.

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