It now takes only one accusation to destroy a man’s life. Just one for him to be tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion, overnight costing him his livelihood and social respectability. We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity. The punishment for sexual harassment is so grave that clearly this crime — like any other serious crime — requires an unambiguous definition.
We have nothing of the sort. Some of the charges sound deadly serious. But others make no sense. Some have been accused of offenses that aren’t offensive, or offenses that are only mildly so.
The things men and women naturally do — flirt, play, lewdly joke, desire, seduce, tease — now become harassment only by virtue of the words that follow the description of the act, one of the generic form: “I froze. I was terrified.” It doesn’t matter how the man felt about it.