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One-third of working women in Japan sexually harassed: study

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By YURI KAGEYAMA

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such as being subjected to unwanted physical contact or degrading comments.....

What makes this worse is that in some cases it's women who are harassing other women.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

I would suppose that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just those who chose to report the activity, the actual numbers are much higher.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Quite conservative numbers I believe.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Definitely some conservative numbers. I'm sure it's a much hire rate than 1/3rd. This is definitely a social issue Japan really needs to work on.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I would suppose that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just those who chose to report the activity, the actual numbers are much higher.

Have to agree here, seeing as how roughly 82% did not respond.

Or, was the survey given to 9,600 women and 18% of them responded? Either way there are plenty that did not respond and the actual numbers are, as you noted, conservative to say the least.

The study, released Tuesday and the first of its kind, examined responses from more than 9,600 women employees, submitted by mail or online. The response rate was 18%. It did not give a margin of error.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Only an 18% response rate. No margin of error given.

If asking a girl out on a date or to dinner is sexual harassment, then the translation for sexual harrassment is beyond me here in Japanese.

7 ( +14 / -8 )

In USA it is gone too far. Even opposite gender friendly hugs is "questionable behavior". What about bro hugs?

1 ( +8 / -8 )

People need to stand up for themselves or it won't stop. I was at a party and one of my drunk (expat) friends was really laying into the poor waitress every time she'd come and asking her all kinds of nonsense. She was clearly not enjoying it and very embarrassed and I got a bit pissed at the dude for being that way, but I couldn't help thinking that I'd seen this all too often. She didn't know how to react and that just emboldened him. Many people in Japan do not stand up for themselves when they are being wronged. If you don't stand up for yourself then nobody will.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Asking a lady out to dinner is not abussive. In fact half the criteria for harassement in this article isn't harassment in Japanese culture. I would speculate that half the respondents said yes to stuff they didn't find abussive. Or the only respondents were the minority that don't have the same libido as Japanese men. See... Women in Japan are equal in sexuality.

0 ( +8 / -9 )

I have seen instances in which something that shouldn't be construed as sexual harrassment is often labeled as such where as things that are clearly sexual harrassment go unchecked, so I think first Japan needs to set concrete guidelines on what is and isn't sexual, power, or maternity harrassement. Not doing that is part of the reason we can't enact concrete steps to combat this disgusting habit.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

No surprise there, but the results are much higher. This is ONLY the workplace.

A while ago I asked a couple of my female friends if they ever had bad experience on the train (chikan), of which 70% had. Add that to the workplace harassment, and the numbers are shocking.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

and what if the women considers the guy attractive? is asking for a date or touch also then harassment? compliments on appearance? the problem with the questions asked is that its all in the eye of the beholder. nowadays anything someone doesn't like gets called some kind of harassment/discrimination/bullying.

-1 ( +7 / -9 )

I asked a couple of my female friends if they ever had bad experience on the train (chikan), of which 70% had.

I think you asked more than a "couple" friends ;)

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Perhaps they shouldn't teach woman are objects in universities

1 ( +5 / -3 )

Eighteen percent response rate is very low for any survey. Internet surveys are unreliable for two reasons: (1) you cannot generally verify the stated characteristics (age, gender, etc.) of the person replying; (2) only people with some interest or grievance bother to reply.

The idea of "sexual harassment" given in this article is so vague that almost anyone can claim sexual harassment. I can claim "sexual harassment" using one of the examples cited in this article. My age has been a topic of conversation. So to has my view of Japanese women. I have also been asked how and where I met my Japanese wife. Those who asked have always been Japanese women. Needless to say, I feel "violated."

It would be most useful if Japan Today would provide the URL for the original surveys behind articles like this so readers could make their own interpretation of not only the results but the validity of the survey.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I reckon the main problem is the passive aggressive cultural attitude that you so often see here in Japan, as barely anyone thinks there's anything wrong with it. Talking about a woman's appearance, age, stereotypes, etc. is one of the worst forms of harassment as it attempts to convince the victims that it's right and normal. It's a stepping stone to more overt and direct forms of harassment

The passive aggressive harassment always happens with foreign expats here as well

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The study, released Tuesday and the first of its kind...

The first of its kind??? Need I say more?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Also doesn't help that some people think it's OK to call women and racial minorities by first names without "san", whereas men are called by last name with title, like the old days in the US. Creates hierarchical thinking.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

really more info is needed. Like was the survey done in the government sector of private sector. This is very important. Plus I did not know that asking someone, either male or female to share a meal is deem as sexual harassment. I think that the people who think so are being a bit precious. But I do see touching has sexual harassment. It is not body language nor a way of communicating but sometime in confine (Trains) spaces the intention can be misinterpreted.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

One-third of working women in Japan sexually harassed

No surprise here. Women are subservient in this culture. This is why only something like 7% of women are in corporate management positions compared to the 30% in the US.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

People need to stand up for themselves or it won't stop. I was at a party and one of my drunk (expat) friends was really laying into the poor waitress every time she'd come and asking her all kinds of nonsense. She was clearly not enjoying it and very embarrassed and I got a bit pissed at the dude for being that way, but I couldn't help thinking that I'd seen this all too often.

@thepersoniamnow So did you do something about it or you just let your friend continue to harass the poor waitress?

I have to agree, 18% is pretty low for a response rate. No doubt there are more cases out there and the women are just unwilling to speak up. This is a social problem Japan has and has had for a long time now. Frankly I don't expect much to change anytime soon as it's embedded in the culture.

At the same time, they need to clarify the definition of sexual harassment. It's hazy and prone to be misunderstood and abused. Simply asking someone out to a date or dinner (not pester them) and be accused of harassment is a bit extreme. With such a mentality is it any wonder there are fewer people getting married and having children. No help at all to the decreasing birth rate.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Only a third? I don't think I know a single woman here who hasn't been creeped on by a boss or co-worker. These are incredibly stingy numbers. Heck one of my friends in here 30's just told me the other day that her supervisor keeps commenting on how much he likes when she wears skirts and pantyhose to work and that she should do it more often.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

People commenting stuff like "asking someone out is not harassment". Workplace is not the place to do that kind of thing. Also, stop ignoring the obvious consequences of that kind of behaviour in the workplace, like disrupting working relations or subsequent moral and power harassments when the "invitation" is turned down.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

First of all the term "sexual harassment" is used VERY loosely here... I recall a complaint made to JR due to them having a poster which showed a man with some chest hair... apparently this poster was somehow sexually harassing some commuters and it had to be removed on all stations.

Its pretty simple in the office... if you are not appealing to the person you are approaching, tread lightly and don't push it or the sexual harassment alarms will sound...

On the other hand with the amount of marriages and inter office relationships I have witnessed here I would say the office seems to be an integral place to date/meet people in Japan...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I have witnessed here I would say the office seems to be an integral place to date/meet people in Japan...

. . .guess these guys haven't heard that ole' saying: Never crap and fish in the same pond.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

No one has yet called out the author for stating that

Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made encouraging women to work and get promoted one of the pillars of his policies, progress has been gradual.

Abe has only stated that workplace equality would boost the economy. He has not actually done anything that could be construed as making it "one of the pillars of his policies." There is no policy behind his words. Therefore, they are empty, perhaps cynical and mocking even.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@ chinpira, the man with chest hair had nothing to do with "sexual harassment", that was about some people finding chest hair somewhat dirty and offensive.... Oz's Scarecrow.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@ danalawton1, Obviously I don't think its sexual harassment either but unfortunately some did...

www.japanprobe.com/2008/01/08/jr-naked-festival-posters-sexual-harassment/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If asking a girl out on a date or to dinner is sexual harassment, it is if the man knows the woman already has a partner or is married.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This 'study' is useless. It doesn't appear to follow any scientific principles whatsoever that would allow the results to be meaningful in any way, and is no better than an internet poll put on a random website. As such, no realistic conclusions can be gleamed from it, as we have no idea as to the accuracy of the results.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Considering Japans world rating for women's rights, not surprising.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This being Japan bump this number up by 25% - international researchers often site difficulties in getting accurate results with north-east Asian respondents not being open with sensitive topics like this. I'd say it's more like 75%.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Been living in Japan for 3 years and coming for over 15 years in several places, worked in 99.5% Japanese populated company and never heard of any chikan or harassment story. So it is not widespread at all as some shouts. Experience speaks. Moreover, if you tried mating, you can see that anything you may say about personal taste to anyone not exactly your age and in your life/work environment is threatening to Japanese. Any physical contact can be seen as violent since they hardly ever ever have contact (even in family for your info!) whereas in my country, we may kiss to say hello, even at work! Japanese ladies are shocked by anything out of the instructions box. You need to know them to understand that. Of course, there are quite a lot of rather bullying cases, that is harassment clearly. For both sexes by the way. No wonder why birth rate drops at the same time...

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

The speculation of numbers in this thread is about as accurate as the numbers given in the article.

Entirely baseless, and pretty much meaningless.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

a survey reported being sexually harassed on the job, such as being subjected to unwanted physical contact or degrading comments.

I am often called an a$$h0le in real life. Not sure if I should be offended being harassed sexually being referred as such.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As is usual the results of a lot of surveys or stats are usually off by an order of magnitude or more so I am going to say overall harassment likely falls between 60-70%

Twenty-seven percent were asked out for meals and dates

Also a LOT of these being ""asked put"" thingys are NOT what westerners think of as asking someone out for a date, as one poster CORRECTLY pointed out this is often done by men who may well be married themselves ""asking"" women who also may be married or not single, BUT even if they were its still straight out power/sexual harassment, this crap happens.

The results are women will often just quit & try working elsewhere hoping the problem wont follow them however..........well TIJ!!! A very poor record wrt to women being harassed as shown on its abysmal record when compared to the rest of the world.........

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In school and IT I was taught that each survey is designed to show a certain result, starting with selecting who you interview, etc.

Ditto for statistics they usually show what the Client wants.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The fact left out of this article is the percentage of Japanese women that are worthy of sexual harassment. I'd guess that around a third of Japanese women are very pretty and sexy. This would mean that, every attractive woman is being sexually harassed in the workplace. Think about it people!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Asking some one out" for me is too much to become a sexual harassment. If you like the girl and you ask her out it is normal, even if you are in the same workplace. Maybe they are pointing about their seniors forcing them to eat with them, becase here in Japan its rude to refuse your senior (WHICH IS TOTAL BS). I watched a tv show last month I think, that tell you how to politely refuse your senior if he ask you out. I mean just saying "I'm sorry, I have plans." is considered rude if you are ask out by your senior.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Asking for a date isn't harassment unless they react negatively to your turning him down. How is talking about age sexual harassment. Ive been asked my age by quite a few people at work and not once did I think "OMG IM BEING HARRASSED! IM SO BUTTHURT!" I think the definition needs to be narrowed to a prescribed "starting point" to be considered harassment. People LOOK for reasons to be offended, anything can be warped into harassment if you try hard enough.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Don't the offices make the girls attend sexual harassment orientations where they learn how to take it, grin and bear shouganai it

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

if you read this JT tabloid, you'll notice that japan is the land of extremes. as a for-instance:

nobody has sex in japan, but all men harass all women

one of the countries with lowest crime rate, but all cops are perverts and take pictures up skirts

cheating with food quality, all restaurant kitchens full of rats and cockroaches, but longest and healthiest life span

and on and on and i'll JT so angry that they will delete my comment

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@DarkKnghtZ

Exactly! How was asking someone out for lunch a form of sexual harassment? If you are forcing her and asking her until she says "yes" then that's harassment.

As for the age, I think it is really rude to ask for a woman about her age.. In Japan it is a form of sexual harassment (I watched about it a few years back) that's why I don't ask their age unless they asked mine first...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

General rule even overseas, you don't ask a woman about her age.

Just a social no-no.

But agree an inquiry about a shared cuppa or meal is not harrasment.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Jonathan PrinMAR. 02, 2016 - 01:48PM JST Been living in Japan for 3 years and coming for over 15 years in several places, worked in 99.5% Japanese populated company and never heard of any chikan or harassment story. So it is not widespread at all as some shouts. Experience speaks.

All I can say then is perhaps you don't talk with many people on a level that they would reveal such information. I lived in Japan for 15 years and every single woman I dated had experienced chikan and many of them knew of a friend or family member who had been sexually harassed, molested or raped.

Not saying Japan is that different to anywhere else but I do know being sexually assaulted on public transportation is many times worse in Japan than anywhere else in the world - what conclusions can you draw from that?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I resigned in a factory some 2 yrs ago. The bucho san, when I was o my first 3 months would go to my area and would say sabisu. I just let it pass silently until on my 10th month when I was told that my shift would be changed and my work would have to end at 3am. I don't know how to bike nor drive a car. I used to walk 35 mins in going to work and another 35 in coming home. There were times when I walk home at 12MN, 1am or even 2am. But it wasn't on a daily basis. The change would make me walk home at 3am everyday. Imagine walking on that hr passing along 1.5kms between ricefields. I need to work to feed myself and a relative back home but I have to prioritize my security. Hence, I resigned. Just add up the word he used to say sabishi and sabisu and a change in my sked. If that isn't sexual harassment then what is? I just find it funny when that man would try his way. Iam old, definitely not that beautiful. Don't they feel kimochi warui trying to have their way on me. Funny but they meddle in generating income for me. Don7t they know where they can buy women younger and beautiful to soothe their senses?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

DarkKnghtZMAR. 02, 2016 - 04:27PM JST Asking for a date isn't harassment unless they react negatively to your turning him down.

Asking for a date can be sexual harassment if it's "unwanted". How do you know if your approach is unwanted? Sorry, them's the breaks - if you can't even figure that much out, you probably shouldn't be asking out your coworkers. There is also the potential for trouble if there is any kind of difference in rank between you and the person being asked out.

How is talking about age sexual harassment.

When you are in a culture when young women are prized over older women, then asking age can be a kind of sexual harassment. I'm assuming by your user name you're male. Men don't have the same "Christmas Cake" baggage in Japan that women do, so it shouldn't be expected that you should feel harassed when someone asks your age.

I think the definition needs to be narrowed to a prescribed "starting point" to be considered harassment. People LOOK for reasons to be offended,

It may well be that a certain minority of people do look for reasons to be offended. That's no excuse for taking away protections from people who legitimately suffer from sexual harassment. I get the sense that a lot of people in this thread don't actually understand the conversation about sexual harassment that is taking place, but because they dislike the idea of feminism or certain extreme stories about feminism they've heard, are rejecting the conversation out of hand.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Genguro

No I didn't do anything about it as that would have caused a bit of a scene. But when I left I apologized to the waitress on the behalf of others and let her know that dude was just a fool.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This figure is probably the tip of the iceberg

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Who sez J-Men treat women as inferior sex objects?

That would include their mothers, wife's, daughters and GF's, quiet the contrary woman hold a LOT of power in a relationship. Like you forgot that hubby gets an allowance decided by the wife.

Similar to a Islamic countries, the hubby is in charge outside the home but inside he has a female boss to answer to.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Disillusioned

I think you have a point. A lot of sexual harassment cases happens in the workplace, but Japanese are not accustomed to say it out aloud or even talk about it because of fear and shame. There are a few laws that protect women and discrimination against women are still present..

4 ( +4 / -0 )

IME, working for a big company it was usually the women coming onto the men and leading them on married or not.

Granted if a guy they don't want it became harrasment, been to too many niji and sanji-kaime where the next stop was the love-hotel.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sure... asking someone out on a date isn't harassment... but considering its a Japanese company... I'd be willing to bet many of the guys were married that were asking these women out.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

eh since when asking someone for dinner or date is a harassment.. wtf?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I didn't read most of the comments so mine has likely been said, but I didn't feel that some of the cases were sexual harassment, unless there is further context that is not being revealed. For example, asking a co-worker or someone else at the workplace out for dinner is not sexual harassment, UNLESS that person is in a position of power and will treat you different based on your answer. Also, talking about age in and of itself is not sexual harassment, and I'm guessing in some cases women just don't want to talk about their age and so consider it harassment. IF, though, it is in a context where the age suddenly matters in the conversation solely because it's a woman, it could be harassment unless it's only the woman it matters to -- or other women, as women harass each other just as much as men do and vice-versa.

That said, I agree with the first few posters that said this is probably just the tip of the iceberg in cases though WOULD count as sexual harassment, and any kind of physical contact, just as one example, has to be done with care, male or female, because improper physical contact is inexcusable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Igloobuyer Ha ha ha , you asked every woman and all of them were harassed ? 100% Like if I was unable to understand the situation in Japan. It's like about burglars and thiefs: most Japanese would tell you they have been stolen and heard acquaintance been too. I am not trying to mitigate the punishment for any harassment, but life is about social and physical interactions. In a country where it is rejected by most, no wonder why everyone feels harassed. Problem is the real ones are left without help... Also like someone already said, it is real harassment when you complain about it to others. Keeping it to yourself only has no meaning. Without any sort of proof nor witness, it cannot make others guilty. Asking age or dining out, you need to be kidding me if you cannot say just a clear "no thank you".

Respect and be respected, if Japanese ladies are adults, they all can live happily.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

No, no, no - this survey is nonsense.

The responders are self-selecting. Now just think about it: who is most likely to respnd? Answer: those with a grievance, of course. So we can reasonably conclude that all those who were 'sexually harassed' did respond, and all the 82% who did not respond were NOT 'sexually harassed'. This means that the percentage who were 'sexually harassed' is actually only 5.2%.

And yet even this is not reasonable, since the definition of 'sexual harassment' is so loose. The idea that a critical comment about your appearance is sexual harassment is nonsense. This might just be friendly joshiing, or it might be critical, but either way men are as likely to target other men as they are women, and women also often make comments about other women's appearance. This is NOT sexual. And men often slap each other on the shoulder - this is just being friendly. So it is just the same when they do so to a woman. These women should not be so paranoid.

As for the idea that asking someone for a date can be 'sexual harassment' - this is just plain bonkers! You spend more time at work than anywhere else, and you know and meet more people in the workplace than elsewhere, so of course that is where you are going to look for a spouse! This obsession with claiming that any unwelcome attention a woman gets is 'sexual harassment' is just feminist paranoia.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Bill Adams

I agree that their definition of what are the grounds for sexual harassment are loose. My girlfriend was on her job interview before, when one of the interviewer asked her if she will be getting married soon and have children. After the interview she told me that the interviewer was "sexually harassing" her and its a no-no to ask about those kind of question (she also asked her mom about it). I just listened to her but in my mind I was thinking that maybe the interviewer was just concerned if she will quit once she gets married and they will have to find another one to replace her which will affect the company.

As I observed, just asking personal questions to a Japanese is considered harassment, regardless of if it is sexually offensive or not.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I have to admit I am rather surprised by the number of the posts by people who cant see the obvious, either there are a lot of posters are new to Japan or have never lived here or they haven't worked in places with lots of Japanese.

So I am going to repeat myself. These DATES & AGE questions are very often NOT I repeat NOT what one would think of in a western setting!! Again often the men asking are MARRIED, older (ie POWER harassment also comes into play!), again when discussing age, women hear all kinds of crap about guys talking about young women & how slightly older & elderly women are blah blah......surely if any of you work in J-companies you have witnessed this stuff, I have been hearing for over 2decades & the tone nowadays is only a little better than the past.

Harassment of women is EXTREMELY rampant in J-society!!!!!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@GW You're right, as I also said in my earlier post. They find it as "harassment" when their senior force them to go out with them to lunch or drink together. I have a co-worker who was directly mailed by her manager telling her that she MUST go out and drink with them since she was always refusing due to personal reasons.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

With regard to the Japanese fondness for asking questions about weight, age, and marital status, (often to people they barely know) it's quite possible the women in the study interpreted some of this as harassment

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Bill Adams

Now just think about it: who is most likely to respnd? Answer: those with a grievance, of course. So we can reasonably conclude that all those who were 'sexually harassed' did respond, and all the 82% who did not respond were NOT 'sexually harassed'. This means that the percentage who were 'sexually harassed' is actually only 5.2%.

So by your logic, by not wanting to participate in an internet study you are in affect declaring that you're not a victim of sexual harrassment. Spare me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My girlfriend was on her job interview before, when one of the interviewer asked her if she will be getting married soon and have children. After the interview she told me that the interviewer was "sexually harassing" her and its a no-no to ask about those kind of question (she also asked her mom about it). I just listened to her but in my mind I was thinking that maybe the interviewer was just concerned if she will quit once she gets married and they will have to find another one to replace her which will affect the company.

Sado,

Your girlfriend is RIGHT, your WRONG, it WAS harassment, classic J-harassment!!

What people do in their private lives is PRIVATE!! Companies have no business going there with questioning, BUT THEY DO don't they, just an example of harassment women face constantly here!!!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@GW Thank you for your reply. As I said in my post, "I was thinking that maybe", I am not saying its not a harassment, but thinking of other possible reasons why he asked. I didn't point out that my girlfriend told them first that she went to here to live with me. So I think that was one of the reasons that he asked it.

So if I was the interviewer and knew that she moved here to live with his boyfriend, maybe I would ask the same question. Yes it's a private question and for me its not a good thing to ask, but knowing this is Japan and a lot of women who gets married stop working (due to discrimination, etc), I would ask if she will stay in the company or not for long, maybe she will go and get married after 2 months, then whats the point of hiring her if she will leave 2 months after? What if you hire her not knowing she would get married after 2 months, then she quits after getting married, then it will leave a hole in whatever you are doing right?

This were the things that run into my mind those times. I just kept an open mind and thinking of the other possibilities. But as you said you are here for 2 decades and has far more experience if you think that is harassment, then I will leave it to you.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Similar to a Islamic countries, the hubby is in charge outside the home but inside he has a female boss to answer to.

But on the other side, outside the house, she has the males/bosses to answer to; she's the subservient.

So she should just stay home.

So if I was the interviewer and knew that she moved here to live with his boyfriend, maybe I would ask the same question. Yes it's a private question and for me its not a good thing to ask, but knowing this is Japan and a lot of women who gets married stop working (due to discrimination, etc), I would ask if she will stay in the company or not for long, maybe she will go and get married after 2 months, then whats the point of hiring her if she will leave 2 months after? What if you hire her not knowing she would get married after 2 months, then she quits after getting married, then it will leave a hole in whatever you are doing right?

Maybe a different question to ask is "what do you see yourself in this company a year from now, 2 years from now, 5 years from now," etc. That gives the interviewer some idea what a job candidate's career plans are, or if he/she has any plans at all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@lostrune2 There a lot of ways to make the question non-offensive that still gives you the same answer.. Thank you for your reply!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you want to pressure a woman or man where you work for a date should you not change your workplace first?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There's nothing harassing about asking someone out on a date (married or otherwise), work is a natural place to meet a potential mate. It becomes harassment when you can't take no for an answer, you shouldn't ever pressure anyone for a date. Of course it's not appropriate for anyone who exercises power over someone to ask for a date.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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