A national survey found significant differences of opinion between men and women on what constitutes sexual harassment.
In a list of 20 actions ranging from groping to light-hearted flirting, men in all cases but one were less likely than women to rate a specific act as sexual harassment. The exception – light-hearted flirting – was considered sexual harassment by 12 percent of both men and women. In all other cases, however, women were 10 to 20 percent more likely to rate an action as sexual harassment than men.
The Barna Group asked more than 1,000 Americans what constitutes sexual harassment in an online survey in October, shortly after a flood of accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein sparked the “#metoo” movement and led to an ongoing series of dismissals and resignations of powerful men facing similar allegations.
The survey found that 96 percent of women and 86 percent of men consider touching or groping to be sexual harassment, while 91 percent of women and 83 percent of men rate being forced to do something sexual as sexual harassment.
Nine in 10 women and three out of four men consider someone masturbating or exposing themselves to be sexual harassment. And 85 percent of women and 71 percent of men define sharing intimate photos or videos of someone without their permission, sometimes known as “revenge porn,” as sexual harassment.
According to the survey, 83 percent of women and 69 percent of men find sexually explicit emails or texts to be sexual harassment, while 77 percent of women and 68 percent of men say pinching or poking constitutes sexual harassment.
The survey shows that seven in 10 women but just half of men consider pushing up against someone on a bus or subway to be sexual harassment.
Other behaviors, however, were less likely to be defined as sexual harassment by women or men. Only 29 percent of women and 23 percent of men consider whistling to be sexual harassment, and fewer than 1 in 5 men and women define staring or winking as sexual harassment.
The survey also found that three in 10 U.S. adults say they have been sexually harassed. Within that group, women reported experiencing sexual harassment three times more than men. Millennials and Gen Xers are twice as likely as seniors to say they have been sexually harassed, the Barna Group said.
In addition, 15 percent said they had witnessed sexual harassment and 23 percent said they knew someone who had been sexually harassed. But 52 percent of U.S. adults said they had never encountered sexual harassment.
An NBC News poll released Thursday found that four out of five Americans think sexual harassment occurs in the workplace, but just 9 percent think it’s a problem in their own workplace. And two-thirds of Americans say sexual harassment has not increased in recent years, attributing the rise in reported incidents to more victims being willing to speak out.
A poll released Nov. 21 by Quinnipiac University found that 60 percent of American women and 20 percent of men say they have experienced sexual harassment.
The Barna Group, founded in 1984, is a research company based in Ventura, Calif., that focuses on the role of faith in the United States.