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Poll Results: This Is Where You Draw the Line on Sexual Misconduct

Next Tribe woman contemplates how to draw the line on sexual misconduct


As we went to tabulate your responses to our survey about sexual misconduct, the news was still rife with stories of misconduct. Famous names in publishing, politics, the performing arts, and elsewhere were dismissed from their jobs or investigated.  We saw Salma Hayek speak up, heard calls for Al Franken not to resign from the Senate after all, and waded through still more lurid Matt Lauer revelations.

We are clearly at a tipping point in our culture. But which way is the wind blowing—in the right direction or are we being blown off course? Clearly the former, based on our survey (and what’s in our team’s hearts). Your responses said, “It’s about damn time for justice!”

While 75 percent of you thought lewd comments and jokes and unwanted but non-sexual touching were sexual misconduct, only 30 percent thought they should be grounds for job loss.

Who’s Been There

For starters, you told us you’d been victimized

  •  84 percent of you said you’d been sexually harassed.
  • 41 percent of you kept quiet about it. Only 1 percent of you said you reported the offense and the harasser was punished, while 12 percent said you reported it and nothing was done.
  • 98 percent of you completely understand why a woman wouldn’t report misconduct when it happened.
  • 55 percent called B.S. on the idea that times were different in the past and that we now consider actions inappropriate that we didn’t back then. .

More than half of you (57 percent) spoke out that the #Metoo movement is a necessary moment of reckoning, not a witch hunt, while 27 percent worried that it might be seen as women’s complaints are going too far.

Teasing Out the Issue

We checked in with you about what qualifies as sexual misconduct in the workplace, and we saw a few distinctions.

  • Ogling was considered misconduct by 57 percent of you, with only 13 percent saying it should lead to the perpetrator’s dismissal.
  • Three-quarters of you thought that lewd comments and jokes and unwanted but non-sexual touching (hugs, shoulder massages and squeezes) were misconduct, but only 30 percent thought these acts should be grounds for job loss.
  • Almost 100 percent of you thought unwanted kissing and flashing—the kind of behavior we’re hearing that Mario Batali and Louis C.K. engaged in—and being coerced into sexual relations should get a guy fired ASAP. We’re in total agreement.

What Will Change

“The words, ‘Please stop. That makes me uncomfortable,’ should be sufficient.”

This is a hard moment for many of us—old memories of being victimized are being stirred up, and we have to reckon with the fact that men we like are capable of such awful behavior. But overall, you NextTribers told us that you think this is a vital and positive movement. A whopping 77 percent of you said you thought women will now be believed when we report this kind of abuse. Almost 70 percent of you felt #Metoo will make men more aware of what sexual harassment is and will get them to curb their predatory behavior.

We’re going to leave you with one last comment from a respondent that we felt needed to be heard: “The words, ‘Please stop. That makes me uncomfortable’ should be sufficient. Sadly, they are not. THAT is the issue. People have different notions and thresholds about being touched or about jokes. That statement should be all it takes for it to cease.”

We say, “Amen” to that—and “Brava” that the seeds of change have been sown.

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Good read. I think I would drop the please when telling someone to stop their behavior. I am not asking politely, I am telling you no.

Good point!

Yeah… stop being squirmy and stand your ground everyone… no means NO

Exactly. Offenders would hear “please” and assume the person didn’t really mean it. Firm and concise so the message is clear.


Amen. One needn’t ask
Permission nor beg nor apologize for saying “No”

Had a friend who commented to me that “no” is a complete sentence. You don’t need to justify etc. Its ok to just say “no”!
Love that!!

It is easier for some than for others. This kind of thing takes work and practice. The important thing we need is for people to be allies when women try to defend themselves and not jump on them when the words come out a way you think is “wrong.”

Karen Underwood agree. So tired of having to defend myself saying no in a manner that is understood, accepted and not try to make me feel like I’m the a## for respecting myself. I have heard that people treat you how you let them treat you. It is hard when you’ve grown accustomed to being in competition with each other. And for what?

And, people who are shyer, more introverted, and/or have communication issues do not need the pile-on of people who are supposed to be allies dissing them for imperfect assertiveness.

This is where the lines of your free speech versus my personal comfort levels converge. Management has the right to enact rules that address what is acceptable behavior for their workplace. The individual who is bothered or offended by a coworker’s comments or actions, that are not prohibited, can not demand that a coworker adhere to the individuals’ standard. Hence, the “please.” You may demand a change in their behavior , but they are not necessarily required to comply.

Julia Bern sounds politically correct when you put it that way. No will always mean no to me. Depending on the offensive or abusive behavior I may or may not say please in a workplace, public arena or in private. I had a coworker shake their finger in my face and told to watch myself. Management did nothing to diffuse this hostile environment because that person was valuable to the company. I will not let that happen again.

I dont care how it offends them…
I say “no” loud and clear..
I say, “no, i dont want to date you” loud and clear too.
I dont need to give an explanation, either…

In the Marine Corps in the early 80s we learned to just say “Red light”, and the person was supposed to know their conduct was crossing the line.

Unfortunately… Marine Corps.

Yes. This makes so much sense. Why do some people make it so hard.

Joanie Medert, what we were discussing

Trish Marcrum

I am so in agreement with so much of this and at the same time am scared that we are forcing a genderless society where flirtation becomes a crime, probably from both sides when the backlash happens. Although, much the same way I feel about race relations, I sometimes think the pendulum has to swing wide before coming back to center, if that’s even possible. Humans are so weird. I am a female who has been both harassed and assaulted but never in regard to my professional advancement, unless you count being uncomfortable in the workplace being detrimental to advancement.… Read more »

Thank you. I’m happy to hear the results of your poll. I’m hoping that after this moment in history, the words Please Stop will be easier for women to say.

How about asking if you would do this to a man? Or, would you do it in front of your boss or want news of your behavior to get back to him. Or her?


Initially this sounds like a good idea, but by doing do you invite conversation, which may (ironically) feel like permission is being given to.pursue. There can’t be opportunities for mixed messaging.

I meant you should ask yourself. No second party needed. The answer should be self evident.

I read this comment as: Ask yourself before you touch someone (if you don’t know where the line is).

Well, if you HAVE to ask yourself…err on the side of caution and don’t touch.

Would tell our sons, would you like to explain this to Grandma.

And 99% of the time it IS the boss conducting / allowing inappropriate behaviour

In my daycare, I teach “your hands, feet – on your body only.” Seems pretty easy for toddlers to grasp.

Melinda Snyder

I agree with Pandora Baldree. One does not need to include “please” when informing someone/co-worker that their actions or speech are making someone uncomfortable and it needs to stop. When said in a neutral but firm tone, one can get the message across without judgment, anger or resentment. And again, to summarize, all we want is for the behavior to stop. Don’t need a discussion. Just stop.

People..take hold of your own life…

Guess what? I’m not confused.

Becky Fallon

I agree with this article. If something personally directly sexually insinuating said, that uncomfortable with? Make that clear. If nothing said, and just do so physically, risking getting whacked upside the head. Its a complicated subject because depends on if know them or not, and what their intentions are that make you believe, and in comes truthful or deceitful that determines outcome. I’d probably push away, than hit someone, that’s more me. I haven’t ever really had a problem with physical sexual assault, I think just looking at me, makes any man think twice about that. I thank God for… Read more »

If you’re at work, you should say “please,” because you will have to continue working with that person.

Never, never should anyone say “please”. You may still draw firm lines for conduct and may choose to be diplomatic, but never should you say please. By definition the word implies a request.

I wouldn’t mind giving someone the benefit of the doubt the first time….say please. After that no more need to be polite.

When a man 60 years my senior oversteps the line NO “please” is necessary. EVER.

You’re insane. I should never have to say please.

Good read. Please stop that makes me uncomfortable, is probably way too nice. No, should do it.

I think it depends on what you are responding to. If you are responding to jokes, lewd or vulgar language that is not directed explicitly at or about you, a please would certainly be appropriate the first time you are asking a coworker to stop because it makes you uncomfortable. If you come across as rude or overbearing and it’s the first time you have ever addressed it, you may end up creating a bigger issue. If it happens again after that then please is definitely off the table.

Depends on how you pronounce please

Well, I think this is kind of ridiculous. Talk is Not misconduct. I have worked around both women and men. The women talk as bad, or worse than the men, but then get offended at what the men say. They wear provocative clothing, then get offended when a man looks. So, here’s my take: if you don’t want men saying offensive things, make sure you aren’t saying them yourself. If you don’t want men looking, don’t wear clothes designed to make them look. And if you weren’t touched, you were just offended. You will get over it. Suck it up,… Read more »

Best response by far!!

I’m not responsible for trying to read some jerks mind so I don’t wear something he thinks is ‘provocative’. Not for nothing, I’ve received my share of unwelcome attention and inappropriate comments when what I was wearing couldn’t possibly be misconstrued as provocative. People should know how to act appropriately all on their own regardless of whether I’m covered head to toe or in a bikini.

Lol. So you got some looks and some comments. Wow, I hope you recover.

Are you suggesting women should wear burkas?

Stop blaming women. Life is tough enough with the uneven playing field. Women need to support one another. There is never a valid ‘excuse’ for sexual harassment, assault, or rape. This is one of the reasons rape culture continues… women (and men) finding a justification for men’s unacceptable behavior. It is never okay to give them a pass.

I’m not blaming women. What I’m saying is learn the difference between remarks and actual harassment. If women want an equal playing field with men, we need to stop acting like fragile flowers over words. If you weren’t physically assaulted or threatened with bodily harm, you are fine. And, I say this as a woman, toughen up.

And, I will add that i not only say this as a woman, but as a woman who has been both physically assaulted, and had offensive words said. There is no comparison between the two. Every woman who gets offended by words and wants to act like she is the same as someone physically assaulted is an insult to me. You make things harder on every woman in the workplace.

You are not in my sisterhood Jeannie Rie. Why do you feel the need to diminish the impact that sexual harrassment has on a women versus sexual assault. Stop comparing the two. They both deeply wound and can have lasting effects on the victims and their families. And stop blaming women for what they chose to wear. The notion that any mans sexual desire is rendered uncontrollable because of a women clothing is just another way of victim blaming.

I don’t care what “sisterhood” you want to put me in, everything I’ve said is true.

Jeannie Rie your truth is not mine and it’s not many other women’s as well. I feel sad for you in your lack of compassion for other females pain. Would you tell your mother, sister, daughter or granddaughter to suck it up if they were being sexually harassed?

Truth is not relative. I’m sure I won’t change your mind, so there is no point in discussing it further. Maybe one day you’ll see the hypocrisy of expecting to be treated as equals, while also expecting the privileges of being treated with kid gloves. I hope so.

Jeannie Rie and maybe one day you will see that you are one of reasons women did not share their stories of abuse for so long. This is about building a culture of respect where it is sorely lacking.

I have total respect for women who were abused. I just don’t have much for those who got their widdle feelings hurt.

Just an FYI: the original poster didn’t say anything remotely close to women being fully covered in a burqa. She also said nothing about men losing control to sexual urges. What she said was if you’re offended by men *looking* then don’t wear clothing designed specifically to catch a man’s attention. Women don’t show a lot of cleavage for comfort. It’s to appear attractive to the opposite sex. Which is perfectly fine to do! You got it and want to flaunt it, go right ahead! But…men will look. Now if a man decided to then touch? Tear that hand off… Read more »

You want respect, you need to act & talk respectfully. Why would a woman wear a bikini? They are not very comfortable, bikinis are worn for attention

I spent 25 years in a field that was predominantly male. I knew women who were very purposefully using their “feminine wiles” to have to do little actual work and still get a raise, get promoted…have to wonder how many of them are now posting #metoo since male-bashing and sexual harrassment charges are in vogue. As horrible as true abuse is, it’s not nearly as one sided as it’s being made out to be.

Jeannie Rie YOU are part of the problem.

Debra Fleischer no she’s not. I cant think of a single reason that a woman needs to show cleavage at work. A man looking at said cleavage is not committing assault. Now if he makes a sexual remark about said cleavage, still not assault, but if I’m the manager I’m disciplining him to stop and telling her to stop showing cleavage or I will institute a dress code. But looking and words arent assault. Unless the words come from a boss, not a coworker.

Jeannie Rie, why so insulting? Why is it so wrong to raise the bar of behavior for men just a bit, rather than expecting women to always have to man up. Glad you are tough as old shoe leather, I wasn’t when harassed as a young girl. Why is it ok to hold girls to a higher standard of morality and behavior than boys? I would rather hold men to higher standards rather than seek equality in the gutter with them.

It’s always up to the target of insults to make sure the other knows boundaries. Many women as well as men need to learn this. Male bashing doesn’t help the narrative.

Zackari Daoust Santoro this is true. I would like to say though that there are a whole bunch of women out there who wear what they do to deliberately draw attention to themselves and their ‘assets’. If you were to hear them talk you might actually be a little disgusted. They do nothing but make the situation worse. They invite the attention, they revel in the attention and they get their kicks out of then slapping the men down like a dog they have no use for. It’s no wonder that men get confused.

Jan Whitman you are right there isn’t but it shouldn’t be ok for women to deliberately dress for attention and then turn around and scream harassment when they get it. I am referring specifically to those women who do it on purpose. They exist. I have seen and unfortunately had to hear them. They know exactly what they are doing. Teasing men to get that sort of reaction just makes the situation worse.


Provocative is in the eye of the beholder. Each of us has a duty to basic polite behavior, like not groping, ogling or commenting on someone’s provocativeness outside of an appropriate relationship.


When George W bush came up from behind German Prime Minister, Angela Merkle and started to rub her shoulders, you gotta know the problem knows no bounds.

I don’t know how you define provocative clothes. But I don’t care what I am wearing it isn’t an invitation. Yes, insulting sexual talk is misconduct.

If we don’t want men to ogle, we don’t give them something to see. Keep cleavage to yourself.

Misconduct, yes, assault, no

Kathy McCann I have large breasts that show cleavage in most clothes. It isn’t a fucking invite, never has been. Men don’t need to ogle and I am personally sick of hearing that Women are inviting it, especially from other women. I look at nice look men, but I don’t ogle them. And here is a video to show I have a sense of humor on the subject

I think women have been quiet too long. I also think the idea of me policing my behavior and clothes so that I am protected from men’s bad behavior is part of the problem not a solution as I heard that from my own mother and it never fixed a damn thing.

My personal go-to: “Don’t do that again” while giving my death-stare. My grpwn kids say it is very intimidating, and it must be. It works.

Why do women have to say please stop. No! fucking stop right now. I’m calling the police. Stop I’m reporting you right now.

The big part is having her do something about it. They have protected the men in the past. We need consequences and we need them to be enforced.

If you’re just walking down the street and some guy catcalls you, get over it. That’s not misconduct, it’s just rude. If you’re in the workplace and some guy says something offensive, tell him to stop. Then get over it. If he doesn’t stop, THEN it’s misconduct. If he touches you non-sexually and it makes you uncomfortable, tell him to stop. Then get over it. If he does it again, THEN it’s misconduct. Why are people so eager to be offended about every freaking thing all the time? Lighten up! You’ll be happier for it.

It’s not a question that men are unaware or confused about sexual harassment. They knowingly choose to abuse their power. Abuse in the home and abuse in the workplace and on the street and anywhere else is THE SAME THING. There is no “please stop “. Just NO STOP, Knock it off NOW. Then TELL. No more being polite. NO second chances. This is another way of bring deferential. Wrong. No more. Times up. Don’t forget polite in the face of abuse. Time to be aggressively assertive. Stand your especially young ground ladies (and men ) – and speak out.

I feel because the boundaries have not been clear, looking, talking, and simple touching, there should be a warning. If the thing happens again report it. Be forceful, not a lot of pleases required. Some things are clearly beyond a warning, everyone understands, then give them hell.

I’ve been saying “ Don’t Weinstein me” lately. Extremely effective

That’s a good one!

Love it

No warning. No “please stop.” No tolerance. Misconduct is misconduct. Women must not be subjected to abuse of any kind from men—-it’s never acceptable. It’s never excusable. Any woman who allows even one “second chance” is contributing to the abuse perpetuated by our patriarchal society.

I agree

There’s no “please”. I would say…knock it off asshole! Also…..women can be just as guilty as men.

Knee them in the naynays theyll figure it out..and it will stick.wont b forgetting that

We have already made it practically a crime for a teacher to hug a 6 year old who just needs a hug. The path we are going down is too extreme. Many good men are terrified of one misunderstood comment or gesture of friendship that could be turned into something construed as sexual misconduct. BAM! A life ruined.
I do not condone physical assault of any kind. But a hug is not an assault.
This mentality of no second chances is absurd.

I agree. Someone actually accused Sexual Misconduct because someone asked them out …. twice! I was watching this on the news and almost spit my coffee out!

Don’t put your hands on anyone without their consent…..I’m sorry but you don’t get to decide I need a hug to smile or get the joke. Why do you need an explanation of the word no?

I am socially aware enough to know, usually, when someone does not want their personal space invaded. And I certainly do not hug strangers or new acquaintances. However, not everyone can read social cues. Or their culture or nature equates a hug with a friendly handshake. Yes, you have the right to say no. And I have the obligation to respect your no. My point was not that everyone should be allowed to hug at will. My point is that the current climate seems to require a legal, signed docment before one person can safely speak to another much less… Read more »

Ask to hug. I hug People everyday in my work, but I ask for their permission. Also if a 6 year old has been sexually molested their boundaries are often unhealthy. Good men have nothing to be terrified by and I don’t think they are. And I will add, I am tired of women telling me we have gone to far. We haven’t gone far enough

Bert Dodson I believe kind proper touch can be positive and healing. A pat on the back, a touch to a hand, even a proper hug with permission. The key is permission and sensitivity to the others reaction and listening to any negative reaction. This idea of no tolerance or warning seems like an over reaction. Men, women, and especially children, need to feel safe and autonomous in their bodies. That being said, everyone does not have the same boundaries, everyone is not as aware of other’s boundaries, and no means no. Proper behaviour is learned and many have not… Read more »

I think a lot of what is going on has gotten a bit petty. Some of this Louis C K and Weinstein type of behavior is exactly what I consider serious and very scary. Whenever you fear for your safety or your job security and future, you need help and these people need to be relieved of their positions. However, some of these incidents are easily taken care of by a confident, capable adult woman. I personally have been touched in public and loudly and quickly dealt with and berated those people in front of everyone. I have also dealt… Read more »

Love you!

I teach in an adult ed program. We have a dress code that requires both males and females to “cover it up” simply because I don’t want to deal with complaints from either side about “ogling” and inappropriate remarks. I believe it IS our responsibility to consider how we dress in the work or school setting. Not that guys have an excuse to behave badly, just that we do ourselves no favors when we expose our tops and bottoms and expect them not to notice and/or to keep quiet about it. I hope men will show respect, but if a… Read more »

Very judgmental to infer how much a women respects herself by measuring her dress style by your standards . Every woman has the right to dress however she dam pleases . She also has the right to be respected just because she is a human being .By dressing how she wants she is setting the example that she decides what she wants wear and was not put on this earth to please anyone or put up with condescending attitudes of people who have a different style then she does .

Stop treating people like your personal play things. No means no. If someone is asleep, or passed out, don’t touch them for your sexual gratification. If a person is not yet 18, keep your damn hands off them.

I’m not a prude, but has anyone considered the level of pornography viewed by young men and the justification for sexual misconduct.

No, I don’t think their is a correlation.

Jill Jorgensen just thinking about how much is influenced by household dynamics (children see how adults behave toward each other) and personality. Power dynamics and sexuality.

How about creepy uncles?


How about adultery and exposing your wife to STDs? Should that be considered sexual misconduct or sexual assault?

Hi all: Just want to make sure we keep this fascinating dialogue respectful. We’ve noticed a bit of name calling, and we don’t think that’s who we really are. People have complicated feelings about this and the process of moving forward isn’t always clean and easy. We learn and do better by listening.

Please ladies, let’s support each other!

I tell women who bare their breast in public that I’m offended and uncomfortable and it doesn’t do any good!!!

I work for a law firm that won a huge sexual harassment settlement against an employer. The two women who were targeted by their boss were not raped, were not physically assaulted, but with his comments, looks, and other actions, he made their lives a living hell. If you read the journal that one of the women kept, you would weep. There are many ways to create a hostile work environment. All these women wanted was to come in to the office and DO THEIR JOB, but this asshole wouldn’t let them. To those who say that a man has… Read more »

Thank you for this Joy Eaton. Words can profoundly damage someone. I too was harassed at work. But the worst of it all was management wanted nothing to do with it. They viewed me as a trouble maker. It even went as far as the president of the company telling me that as an employee you sometimes have to deal with things like this. It was so disheartening. I forced their hand and they finally dealt with the situation. This was after I filed a formal written complaint with documentation of every incident with dates and times included. After all… Read more »

Joette, I’m so very sorry that you had to deal with this. I think people who have never experienced it just don’t get it. Maybe with more and more women coming forward, these cowards will get the message that mistreating female employees will not be tolerated. But it’s very hard when you need that job.

Joy Eaton thank you for your kind words.

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