Sexual Harassment / Misconduct


Again, we must look at this from a practical and spiritual perspective. As I write this I am assuming that no law is broken, that is a whole other discussion. I also assume that the attraction between men and women is motivated by both the legitimate seeking of a spouse and the illegitimate (sinful) pursuit of sex outside of marriage. Even though it is illegitimate and sinful according to moral standards, it is not by social, secular, legal standards (unfortunately).

It is natural that men and women are attracted to one another. God made us this way. This said, there is a morality to how we exercise our attractions. There are natural limits that must not be crossed. Some of these are supernatural limits like we may not act on an attraction to a married person. Some limits are natural like the person we are attracted to says no. This “no” has two forms. “No”, not now and “no,” and the door is closed. If it is clear that they are not interested and have closed the door, then we should not bother them again. If the “no” is a not now, you can try again in the future, but do not stalk.

A person should not be offended if they are approached as a potential suitor. Take it as a compliment, they find you desirable. Even if you cannot reciprocate, and even if you are repulsed by the individual, it is still a form of a compliment. Take the attention with humility and say “no” and that you are not interested. Be nice about it. If they bother you again, you can be a little more forthright about it and even say, “please do not ask again.” If they pursue further, they are being inappropriate and you may even be in danger. Do what you have to do in this case.

Then we have the question of a superior setting their designs on a subordinate. This is a tricky situation. Practically, I suggest, don’t go there. If you do, I would start with asking permission. “Can I talk to you about a personal matter. I want you to know that you are free to say no with no repercussions, but I need to ask you something personal and if you say no, I will not ask you again.” See how they respond. If yes, you have an open door. There will still be future dangers though if things go bad in the relationship so I still suggest that you not go there. If they say “no” then you know and you can move on to other interests.

We also have the situation of the subordinate setting their designs on the superior. Again I would say, be nice and polite, but I would not go there. You will have to be careful of their real intentions and their wrath if they do not get their way in the future.

Let us be honest about another issue. Women are aggressors also. I myself, as a priest, have been harassed. One woman even kissed me on the side of the lips once, and trust me she was one I was more repulsed by than anything else. I was polite and walked away. I just knew she was one to stay away from in the future. I did and all was fine. I’m still flattered by it, no real harm was done. If she was attractive to me, it could have been more dangerous to my chastity and I would have had to be more direct than just avoidance and ask her to not do that again. If she were to have continued, then I would have had to go to the bishop and get his advice and assistance.

We also know that women can act not only as aggressors in the bad sense, but also as naturally attracted to men and want to get their attention. One of these attention getters is by the way they dress. Unfortunately many use immodesty to do this. Men act according to the way they dress or act. Is that the man’s fault? Yes, if they are acting as a cad. But no if they honestly think that they are given permission to pursue. The woman is free to say no and the man must back off or it is harassment, even if she acts like what is called a tease.

Some may say that a woman can dress any way she wants, you cannot blame her for unwanted attention. The way we dress and act puts out signals. That is why we say to dress modestly and to not go to places you do not belong (like single bars). If a woman goes to a single bar and a guy hits on here, is he really to blame? Does she have the right to be “offended?” No. The same for the way you dress. Dress can and is a way to give invitation. If a man takes you up on the invitation, can you blame him? The same for the way you act. If you act seductively, flirtatiously or in a come hither kind of way, men will act accordingly. If you act in a loosey-goosey way, expect to be goosed. Everyone is responsible for their actions and the message they give to others. It is also true that people are responsible for their actions when they respond to the baser actions of others. So the man who goosed you, he is a cad, for no man should goose a woman who is not his wife. I guess it is your choice if you want to peruse him or not. He has proven his character, but then again, so have you.

What of these politicians? Some were real cases of harassment. Others are false accusations. These violate the commandment to not bear false witness. Sad for the politician, they pay a high price due to the politically motivated sin of another.

As to the true cases that happened 30 years ago and there are no recent cases coming to light, let them go, people change and there was no crime. I do not know what led to the supposed harassment. Did she invite it and like it but now does not like his politics and wants to use it as a way to stop him? That is just wrong. If you liked the attention at the time, you cannot call it harassment today.

In the end, pursuits happen. They are natural and good so long as appropriate and done for the purpose of finding a spouse and not a sex partner. Be respectful to one another, do not cross moral lines according to your marital state and all should be fine. If you cross moral lines, you bring possible social harm on yourself. You definitely bring moral harm on yourself. So just do not go there. Be appropriate at all times, it is the right thing to do.

Hope this helps.

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