We also asked our respondents to offer examples of incidents that, for them, fell into a “gray area”—a category of behavior that isn’t unequivocally harassment, whether because of the intent of the perpetrator, the reception of the target, or the severity of the offense.They classified each anecdote as “in a gray area but ultimately OK” or “in a gray area but ultimately not OK.” There are a few visible patterns in the stories from our 56 respondents.Before, we were everyday women dealing with everyday creeps.Now, we must contend with the knowledge that the everyday woman, by virtue of existing in the public sphere, has endured untold violations.
When I told a Lyft driver in Detroit that I was in town for the Women’s Convention in late October, he asked if I was “a #Me Too,” too.
It’s not just that our collective understanding of the prevalence of harassment has changed; it’s that our understanding of the very definition of has been called into question.
The definition will grow more capacious as we retrain our antennae to categorize certain male behavior as threatening that we’d previously been conditioned to dismiss or ignore.
Some of these women had already recognized certain incidents from their past as harassment or abuse.
Others have been forced by this interminable news cycle to relive, reconsider, and reclassify some of the things men have done to them against their will or to search for boundaries in the mess of human interaction.