When flirting becomes harassment

From the right person at the right time, they can make you feel great, but from the wrong person or at the wrong time, am innuendo-laden text becomes creepy and an unwanted touch can make you feel uncomfortable and ashamed. A number of women around the world are making claims against males that have uncomfortably flirted with them under the #MeToo and #YouAreAnAbuser twitter hash tags. Some of these have been victimized to an extent of being raped. Some people may be wondering whether mere flirting is a big deal but the truth is that flirting can be a gate way that may lead to a promiscuous activity. This topic has a lot of gray area because parties involved may confuse creating rapport to flirting or may read the wrong signals especially when someone is generally nice.

Flirting can be defined as a social and sometimes sexual behaviour involving verbal or written communication, as well as body language, by one person to another, either to suggest interest in a deeper relationship with the other person, or if done playfully, for amusement.
At times, flirting crosses the line when the actions become covert or so emotionally connected that you pursue said behavior over furthering your committed relationship. Making arrangements to spend time with this ‘crush,’ sending suggestive emails or text messages, or intimate, physical behaviors are clearly crossing the line of acceptable if you are in a committed relationship with someone else or even when you have no interest in this particular.
The thin line between flirting and harassment
Harassment can be flirting gone wrong or flirting in and an ‘insensitive’ manner but then surely it can also be unintended. The clear line between the two is only clearly visible in the eyes of a woman. A one Musimenta (@Ms.Pirates) who was physically harassed by a guy she found at the a famous Kampala club took it to twitter to explain how the offender pretended to hug her and extended his hand to her pants, she explains how quick enough she was and in a blink of an eye, this guy had earned himself a hot slap. Imagine the rest of the ladies who have not acted like she did. From that three more ladies have come up stating that the same guy had done that to them before. There is a guarantee that he probably has touched some before and they liked it, maybe he thinks others will like it or may be silent about. Does he know it is harassment or not? Or probably he does not even care. Him and other the perpetrators of ‘harassment simply can’t see it in some cases, leading them crossing over from flirting into harassment territory.

Rightly or wrongly, in the endless dance we call flirting, the man is often the proactive agent. So he is far more likely to act in an unwanted manner if he misreads or misinterprets the body language/ situation. If every time a misled sexual advance is rebuffed, we call it harassment, then men start to feel victimised.
I’m not talking about those who try and pass off harassment as “harmless flirtation” or those who harass because they do not try to understand the woman.  We talking about those who thought they read the woman correctly and genuinely intended on flirting, but were interpreted as harassing.

Reading body language is notoriously difficult and hopeful men are probably more prone to it that most. Unintended harassment is still harassment and the woman has a right to defend herself and criticize it. But it is not the same as intended, malicious or aggressive harassment. We have maintained, there is a blurry line between the two, so both parties have a right to disagree.  But emphasizing, there is no excuse whatsoever if you intentionally harass someone, there is a punishment for this. And of course while discussing this topic; let us not forget that men are also at times disturbed by unwanted flirtations from females.

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