Siri, how can I tell if I’m sex­u­ally ha­rass­ing some­one?

The Denver Post - - OPINION - By Krista Kafer

Amer­ica’s re­cent cul­tural shift re­gard­ing sex­ual harassment in the work­place has caused un­cer­tainty about how men and women should in­ter­act. Ger­aldo Rivera isn’t the only one wor­ried that harassment al­le­ga­tions could “crim­i­nal­ize courtship.”

For­tu­nately, tech­nol­ogy pro­vides so­lu­tions for those un­com­fort­able with chang­ing norms. Yes, there’s an app for that. In fact, there are sev­eral.

Strug­gling to see the line be­tween nor­mal male-fe­male in­ter­ac­tion and sex­ual harassment? The What­sAp­pro­pri­ate app was made for you. Sim­ply type a ques­tion into your smart­phone and get a quick one-word an­swer. Can I tell my em­ployee she looks nice? Yes. Can I tell my em­ployee to wear shorter skirts if she wants to suc­ceed? No. Can I flirt with an agree­able co­worker? Yes. Can I use my cleav­age to sway the com­mit­tee chair­man? No. Can I hug a co­worker who just lost a loved one? Yes. Can I then take off my pants? No. The What­sAp­pro­pri­ate app will save you from em­bar­rass­ment ev­ery time.

There’s also an app for the We­in­steins and the wan­ton of the world. Are you su­per suc­cess­ful and want to hook up but are old, unattrac­tive and mar­ried? You’d like to trade ca­reer ad­vance­ment for fa­vors but are afraid of drop­ping trou in front of a person with scru­ples. Are you at­trac­tive and am­bi­tious but lack the tal­ent and drive to get to the top? You’d like to trade fa­vors for ca­reer ad­vance­ment but don’t know who in the of­fice to ap­proach. The QuidProQuo app en­ables users to dis­creetly iden­tify other en­ter­pris­ing peo­ple in the of­fice, rate their skills and as­sets, and book a ho­tel room or lo­cate an empty sup­ply closet. It’s the es­sen­tial app for get­ting what you want while avoid­ing law­suits, job/elec­tion loss, and PR night­mares.

Fi­nally, the WhichIsWorse app is avail­able for those who fail to see dif­fer­ences in de­gree, par­tic­u­larly when pol­i­tics are at stake. Sim­ply iden­tify the type of sex­ual im­pro­pri­ety and the WhichIsWorse app will clar­ify the dis­tinc­tion for you. Hit­ting on a co­worker af­ter be­ing asked to stop: wrong. Dis­rob­ing in front of a hor­ror-struck em­ployee: worse. Con­sen­sual af­fair: wrong. Sex­ual con­tact by an adult with a minor: worse. Tired of mak­ing moral equiv­a­lence claims to de­fend your fa­vorite politi­cian, pun­dit or ac­tor? The WhichIsWorse app is your go-to app to re­claim your judg­ment.

Con­fes­sion: The apps are made up, but the harassment ex­am­ples are real. Ever since the Bill O’Reilly rev­e­la­tions, I’ve heard oth­er­wise sen­si­ble peo­ple worry that nor­mal male-fe­male in­ter­ac­tions will be con­flated with egregious be­hav­ior. Se­ri­ously, the line isn’t that thin be­tween ac­cept­able and bad be­hav­ior. If re­spect and com­mon sense are your guide, you have lit­tle to worry about at work. Hav­ing a long track record of de­cent be­hav­ior will be your best de­fense in the event of a false al­le­ga­tion or mis­un­der­stand­ing.

Se­condly, while sleazy men un­der­stand­ably have been the fo­cus of rev­e­la­tions, some shady ladies have es­caped scru­tiny. I re­mem­ber from my days as a Capi­tol Hill staffer the way a certain con­gress­woman ap­proached the com­mit­tee chair­man. Let’s put it this way — she didn’t want to be looked in the eyes. She gen­er­ally got what she wanted. The women who trade sex ap­peal or ac­tual sex to get ahead in their ca­reer are a part of the prob­lem.

Fi­nally, there are dif­fer­ences in de­gree, and thus con­se­quences should vary. Some­times say­ing, “Hey I’m not into dirty jokes, so don’t email them to me,” is the right re­sponse. If heeded, it’s enough. Es­ca­la­tion to man­age­ment, su­ing in a court of law, or talk­ing to the press are the right re­sponses to worse ac­tions. While sever­ity is an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion in de­ter­min­ing pun­ish­ment, po­lit­i­cal party should not be. Be­ware of de­fenses that be­gin with, “Ev­ery­one does it.” No, not ev­ery­one does. In fact, most peo­ple don’t sex­u­ally ha­rass their co­work­ers or em­ploy­ees. Thanks to an emerg­ing cul­ture of ex­po­sure and jus­tice, we’re find­ing out just who does and they’re pay­ing for it.

Want to thrive in the new cor­po­rate cul­ture? You can. The app for that is in­tegrity.

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