Tricking Someone Into Bed Is Sexual Harassment. Period.

Why is that women's intent is questioned when they call out harassment, but male predatory behaviour is conveniently downplayed? 

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao
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Some incidences prompt us to have deeper discussions on issues on which many of us have contrasting opinions. Sadly, but not surprisingly, sex and consent are two such subjects. Despite all the awareness that we have tried to build around the issue the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not, when it comes to sex is still debated by many.

Recently, a woman with a disability shared on social media how she faced sexual harassment at the hands of a "producer" to whom she had reached out for a casting call. The man reportedly responded to her messages saying that she was pretty, but he wasn’t looking for "someone on a wheelchair" for that specific modelling gig, but he would keep her in mind for future projects. When she reached out to him again after a few months for a different project, their interactions reportedly took a sleazy turn, as the so-called producer allegedly told her that if it wasn’t for her "condition", he’d be horny for her.

"You have such a amazing lips and face," read one of the messages. While another one read, "If you were normal and not with your condition i would be darn horny for you." The alleged responses of this producer are problematic on so many levels. He not only told a person with a disability that their "condition" made them less attractive but also sexualised an interaction that had been initiated for work purposes. Isn't this a classic case of a person with power and apparent influence, using their position to gain sexual favours or get away with sexualising another person? In a better world, there would at least be no argument about the fact that this is sexual harassment. But alas! we live in an imperfect world where people would rather gaslight women than accept how disturbingly normalised predatory behaviour is in our society.

Suggested Reading: Who Is Virali Modi? Disability Rights Activist Accuses Businessman Of Harassment

Responding to this model's thread, one faceless and nameless user wrote, "He just said that the he would be horny. Only for one statement you made a person sexual harasser. I don't agree with demeaning disability of a person, but same is not sexual harassment. Also tricking someone into bed is also not sexual harasment."


Tricking someone into bed: Not as trivial as it is made out to be by men

It is appalling that someone out there in the world is so convinced that tricking someone into bed is not sexual harassment. Proposing sex as a trade-off for providing work opportunities, making a professional conversation uncomfortable for another person by talking about their face and lips and using words like horny- crosses all boundaries of professionalism and transgresses into misconduct. Just because a woman seeks to work in entertainment industry, does it give men the right to objectify her? Why is sleezy behaviour of men still glossed over as harmless? Why is that women's intent is questioned when they call out harassment, but male predatory behaviour is conveniently downplayed? 

Besides, to trick someone into having an intimate relationship can't ever be justified. Attraction and desire have many parameters, many of which are based on how the other person presents themselves to the individual they are interested in. Hiding marital status, posing as an influential person, or an employer, promising modeling opportunities- this is fraudulent behaviour which violates a person's trust and uses a false pretext to gain sexual favours. It can't be just a trick. Pulling a bunny out of a hat is a trick. So we need to get our definitions straight.

And that's something one can't insist enough. No amount of discussion on all the ways a person can feel sexually violated is enough, besides this is not a one time dialogue. Tricking someone into sex is a breach of their consent, and thus a serious crime. It is not as simplistic or laughable as trickery - we have to repeat this again and again. Hopefully, there will come a day when women wouldn't have to constantly worry about their sexual safety during work-related interactions and men will know where the line is drawn for appropriate professional conduct.

Views expressed are the author's own.

Sexual harassment