What exactly is Sexual Misconduct?

 What exactly is Sexual Misconduct?

Businessman embracing his pretty secretary at work, she looking at his hand

In an age where you might find ‘Sexual Misconduct’ getting tossed around and jumbled in with a slew of other terminology, meaning can seem elusive. Invoked in the wake of the #Metoo movement, Kevin Spacey and even Katy Perry (accused by a male model who claimed the singer exposed his private parts at a roller skating rink), legal definitions and social definitions drag the debate down like quicksand. 

There’s an assertion that women (and men) of all sizes, races and gender identities are vulnerable since harassers of the sexual kind do not discriminate. Allies are invited to embrace a message of accountability, transparency, and inclusion. However, healthy relationships are what everyone should be aiming for.

In trying to understand just what Sexual Misconduct should mean, there are three points to consider: 

  • Predatory behavior 
  • Power imbalance
  • Coercion

Consent is a key part of the equation and Sexual Misconduct includes any conduct of a sexual nature that is without consent. So, proceed when there’s no consent and you could very well end up in the Sexual Misconduct boat. 

What does the Law say?

First off, when it comes to State Law, there can be some variation. A careful reading of state statutes is required. Significant overlap with other sex crimes and a lack of ‘fit’ with exact definitions of sexual assault or rape could be some of the things you’d face when dealing with Sexual Misconduct on a legal front. 

Identifying associated behavior

Using Kevin Spacey as an example (again), power imbalance can be found when a boss (or powerful actor on set) sexually harasses an employee. Power imbalance can also be said to include the exploitation of authority or trust.

Behavior falling within the Sexual Misconduct ‘space’ can include touching, kissing, and grabbing in a sexually suggestive way. What about Egregious Sexual Misconduct? This could include pressing against a woman suggestively while threatening or implying career damage. Sexual Misconduct can include sexual assault, dating violence, voyeurism, sex discrimination, domestic violence, sexual harassment, stalking, and any other non-consensual conduct of a sexual nature.

Let’s try to make Sexual Misconduct simple (without oversimplifying it)

So, to make things simple, if you feel forced by someone with more power, authority or social status into a sexually compromising situation, Sexual Misconduct is the correct allegation to make. Seek proper help immediately if you feel that you’ve been the victim of Sexual Misconduct. Join the SAFE Movement and help empower others to learn more about sexual education, consent, and to help end the spread and stigma of STIs in our lifetime.

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