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Sometimes it all depends on where you live.

The #MeToo movement has sparked a new level of social awareness around sex and power — and prompted new questions about how exactly we define the transgressions we’ve all been reading about.

Google searches for “what is sexual harassment?” reached a five-year high in the final week of November, according to Google Trends analytics. It showed a similar spike in searches for “sexual assault” and “sexual misconduct” around that time.


Google Trends
Google searches for “what is sexual harassment?” in the past five years.

But what do these terms actually mean? Some have panicked that workplace romance is being criminalized. Others have suggested that firing men based on allegations of sexual misconduct is a violation of their constitutional rights.

“In our current climate, to be accused is to be convicted. Due process is nowhere to be found,” wrote novelist Daphne Merkin in a New York Times op-ed.

A lot of the backlash against the #MeToo movement seems centered on a widespread misunderstanding of what, exactly, men are being accused of: Is it a crime? A civil violation? Or is it just sleazy behavior?

Which sexual conduct falls into which category varies. Some of the allegations that have surfaced recently in the press involve all three. Some — like the Aziz Ansari story — are more clearly in the realm of gross (if legal) behavior. And while there are some gray areas in what behavior is illegal, understanding how these acts are defined under the law can offer some clarity and nuance as we navigate the #MeToo moment.

Sexual misconduct

This is probably the most commonly used term in media Read More Here