Please Note: Trigger warning for sexual harassment/assault.
With the ongoing stories of sexual harassment flooding the news and our collective consciousness, there have been a lot of people—men and women alike—wondering what constitutes sexual harassment.
Is it ongoing and predatory and perpetrated only by people in a position of power? Or does it also include less overt behaviors?
Oftentimes, women are facing circumstances that they are shocked are even happening in the first place and aren’t quick to react in the moment, let alone even recognize the behavior for what it truly is. It might not be until later that day or week, when thinking back on the events that occurred that the victim thinks, “Did that really just happen?”
It’s simply the honest truth that in the moment, the victim might not realize what’s happening. Of course, other times, it’s crystal clear exactly what is happening.
I recently read a very powerful article in which the author recounts certain moments in her life that she was now questioning whether or not it was actually sexual harassment or sexual assault. The refrain she used after every anecdote was a simple question, “Does it count?” And she asked that question over and over and over again. By the time I finished reading the article, I was exhausted and sickened. And shouting to her in my head, “Yes! It all counts!” Sadly, I know that many others have stories like hers.
So it stands to reason that many men might be asking themselves the same type of question, wondering if any of their behaviors in the past counted as sexual harassment.
The Ad Council recently joined forces with a powerhouse team to help answer that question for all of us.
Actor and producer David Schwimmer, writer and director Sigal Avin, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) all teamed up to launch a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) based on several short films created by the team. The campaign, entitled #ThatsHarassment, is comprised of six short films are only 3-4 minutes in length, and PSAs which are shortened versions, at only 30 seconds.
And while the PSAs are powerful in their own right, the short films really hit the point home. In only a few minutes, the discomfort was enough to make me feel everything from disturbed to actually nauseated.
Watch for yourself and see what you think. I will admit, the ending of the last one shocked me more than I thought was possible.
This is what sexual harassment looks like: