“I love being flirted with. I don’t like being sexually harassed,” says Kate Willett in a Facebook Post that is going viral.

Men afraid of being accused of harassment while flirting This actors note is for youRepresentational image. By Leon Israel/Wikimedia Commons
Social Social media Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 17:40

"What if my flirtation is taken as sexual harassment?" It’s not really a question that women should have to answer. But believe it or not, after the Harvey Weinstein saga and the #MeToo campaign, some men have been quite afraid of being accused of sexual harassment when they believe they are flirting.

They have accused women who have opened up about sexual harassment of “criminalizing courtship”, threatening romance and carrying out a ‘witch hunt’ against men. They have also responded with paranoia (skipping one-on-one meetings with woman colleagues, for instance), fearing that a ‘misunderstood’ gesture or comment could end their careers.

The concern that flirtation and other friendly interactions may be misconstrued as sexual harassment is itself problematic at various levels. Not only does it speak about how normalised misogyny is, it also reveals a lack of empathy and understanding where men are trying to be 'careful' solely for a self-serving purpose.

But, to those who still have concerns that their flirtation maybe misjudged as harassment, an American woman actor and comedian has the perfect explanation.

Kate Willett wrote a Facebook post on the issue on Sunday, where she gives a brief explanation about the difference between the two. She starts by saying, “I love being flirted with. I don’t like being sexually harassed.”

Read her post here:

The post has gotten over 2,100 shares and over 4,200 likes on Facebook.

The comments on her status are overwhelmingly in support, but a few also raise other good points.

One Facebook user commented for instance, that Kate’s post ignores the fact that two people in a situation can have very different perspectives on what is said and done. But to this, another person responded saying Kate was basing her message on the assumption that we are smart enough to know how perceptions are subjective and have productive conversations about it.

A man who commented on the post observed that many men get angry “because they don’t understand what’s going on.” Shedding light on how most men are not taught to handle rejection, he added that many even considered “grabbing butts” as their right.

Most of the comments thanked Kate for putting this differentiation into words. One comment even said that they should have a high school class on interactions, romance and relationships. 

If you're still confused, read Kate Leaver's piece for The Independent on why you're definitely flirting wrong if you cannot differentiate between flirting and sexual harassment. Or the last paragraph of Aimée Lutkin's article on Jezebel should shed some light on the issue. 

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.