NYC Commission Declares Hugging “Sexual Harassment”


Feminist Activists


The New York City Commission on Human Rights has begun a public information campaign to combat the issue of sexual harassment, especially at the workplace. Ads for display at bus stops, taxi cabs, and public gathering areas. This latest taxpayers’ endeavor is supposed to raise awareness about what actually constitutes harassment.

The design of these ads are simple: they are bright red to catch the eye, with supposedly common phrases excusing sexual harassment being crossed-out and labeled as “harassment.” According to their memo, this is somehow supposed to encourage victims of workplace harassment to report their perpetrators. However, this motive is suspect because the content of the ads are aimed towards the perpetrators themselves, as if they are unaware of their inappropriate behavior.

Controversially, the posters declare jokes, hugs and flirting in the workplace to be harassment, neglecting to provide any further nuance. The Commission’s memo states that these kinds of behaviors may contribute to women feeling “unsafe” at work. While it is certainly possible that those behaviors are indeed harassing in certain inappropriate contexts, that is not how it is construed.

This route of heavy-handed chiding, popular with the far-left, assumes perpetrators of sexual harassment, particularly men, are going about their lives having never been “taught” not to engage in such behavior. Insultingly, it assumes that all men partake in a collective "rape culture", rather than the responsibility being placed on those individuals who actually are the perpetrators. Furthermore, it assumes that once said perpetrators read a government poster or take a government-mandated class, they will suddenly become enlightened enough to change their ways. If it were that simple, it would not be a problem. Instead, this attitude purveys condescending and paternalistic ideas about how peoples’ behaviors are shaped and influenced.

There is little evidence these mere billboards and bus ads will accomplish much of anything. After all, it does nothing to fix the stated reasons why victims of harassment don’t speak out, such as fear of being fired or harming their career, nor does it change the minds of perpetrators, who already know what they are doing is inappropriate. The only purpose that remains for these posters is for the government to signal their support to people who already agree that the problem exists, but don’t want to do much more than simply be upset about it and harass the general public.

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