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When my husband, John, and I started dating, we weren’t sure it was OK.

We kept it secret from our colleagues for awhile, though we did ask another editor to manage me.

Better to—as Gessen characterized this line of thinking—“have ten times less sex than to risk having a nonconsensual sexual experience.” But this calculation doesn’t just protect women from abuse; it protects us from experiences that I’m not sure I’d relish giving up.

Women (and men) feel safer coming forward with stories of abuse and are being believed.

But a byproduct of these welcome developments has been an expansion of our collective definition of harassment.

It turns out a long, long time ago, he thought I was hot.

But when John took me to a dark bar after we closed our first story together, or when he made his move on the steps of the subway station, in the romantic glow of the Duane Reade sign, why wasn’t that harassment?

I have those fears too, but I also fear the consequences of correction, of the concept of harassment ballooning to include perfectly legitimate attempts at seduction—the initial touch, the scooting closer in the booth, the drunken sloppy first kiss, the occasional bad call or failed pass. The sheriff and the guy who talked to the are telling us that there is confusion in the culture about what is and isn’t OK.

Writing in the , Masha Gessen has talked about the risks of classifying these as actions that, if unwanted, could land you on a viral spreadsheet or be used to establish a pattern of abuse that can get you suspended or fired. We certainly shouldn’t elevate those concerns over the need to protect women, but why ignore that confusion with an eye-roll?Brushing past each other in the office and sitting with our legs touching under the table at after-work gatherings where no one knew we were together was the most exciting time in our early relationship, a glorious phase that ended when a colleague spotted us holding hands on the sidewalk outside of a West Village bar and blew our cover.We eventually told our bosses that we were in love, and they were happy for us.Is it always wrong when a man is attracted to a woman at work, and acts on that attraction?If that man tries to, say, kiss the woman he is attracted to, and she’s not into it, and they leave it at that, was that forcible kissing?When I was 23 years old, my boss would look down the gap at the waistband of my jeans when he walked past my desk.


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