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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Sexual Harassment and Rape

Among the recent unsavory harassment revelations was a woman’s (“A”) disgust and discomfort when her boss thrust his tongue into her mouth. This reminded me of my different reaction when, as a newly arrived graduate school TA (Teaching Associate), a fellow TA who I had never met suddenly appeared at my carrel, threw her arms around my neck and thrust her tongue into my mouth. To her regret, my mind was consumed by a widely feared statistics class and I brushed her off (the class really scared me). She briefly persisted but stopped in view of my disinterest.

Now though this woman related to me identically as the man had to A, I felt no hint of harassment. Instead, we were simply on the wrong page at that time. Had she entered my life a month later, my reaction would have been different. Years later I learned with amusement that this former TA, as a psychologist, specialized in sexual problems.

The difference between these similar incidents is that our ages and position were similar whereas these differed greatly with A and her boss. She felt threatened and I did not. What surprises me at the publicized harassment accusations is that many of these men already had a sexual partner in their life. And, if not, were attractive enough to easily acquire one. Still, their boorish sexual behavior persisted, making their motivation similar to rape where the underlying motive is not sex but anger, and the goals are to control, humiliate, and wound.
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