Christian Business International Newsletter April 2018 No. 121

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Is Flirting a Form of Sexual Harassment?

Nicholas Winton

An article written by Laura Bates in the Guardian back in April 2014 talks about the difference between flirting and harassment. Her article is fairly clear about the difference between the two: context vs. out of context. The extremes of being shouted at across the street (no matter what gender) or taking an interest in someone you meet does depend on the context or setting of the meeting. But is it only about the situation of the encounter?

The Golden Rule

If you feel you are harassed, it might come across to you that you’re not respected – they see you as an object, not a person. The other person is prejudiced to who you are because of how you look or act, even because of what gender you might be. This lack of respect is basically explained in the words of Jesus, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The perpetrator doesn’t see you as a person – only as an object to be used. Now if the harassment happens to them or someone they hold dear, they would be offended.

Once we see a person as a person, we can approach them in a dignified and respectful manner in hopes of starting a relationship -- a consensual relationship. You are attracted to that person for some reason, you want to get to know that person and you want to decide to commit to that person. In all these contexts you are wanting to put the other person first, not seeking what you want from that person. That shows respect – even if they don’t want a relationship.

Dating

With so many dating websites, you’d think it would be easy to find a date or even a partner. The photos and profiles give details (hopefully true!) of what the person likes, and who they are looking for in a partner. It is a guide to the prospective partner. Again the important part is to see the person as a person – someone to get to know in person, not just their profile and lists.

Simply put – relationships are about relating to a person, not an object. It’s a discovery of another person and wanting what is best for that person. Harassment is about power over a person – getting what you want from the person (object). It’s not concerned about what the other person wants or thinks even. It is harsh, domineering, controlling. In my mind that is not a ‘relationship’ it is a perpetrator and victim scenario – a crime. Let’s begin to rise up and start relationships – not crimes. It is a choice and it is the right choice – no matter the sacrifice.