"The good old days" weren't always good for a number of people. A lot of people talk about how we've gone soft as a society, can't take jokes or do inappropriate things and get away with them like we used to, back in those "good old days."

Truth is, wrong now was also wrong then, it's just that nobody ever really stepped up to say so. If you've ever had someone do it to you and did step up to say it was wrong: good for you. That person has probably - hopefully - never done it again.

TV shows like Mad Men and others set in yesteryear show the kind of behavior I'm talking about and how it was normalized before a time when people were empowered to speak up, and even today there are still quite a few people who don't know where the line is and how not to cross it.

So the question becomes - when is it innocent flirting and when is it sexual harassment? The law is actually quite clear. Specifically we're talking about physical contact, and how some people feel they can reach out to touch, grab or pinch anyone they want, anywhere, at any time. So until someone tells you otherwise and you learn a valuable lesson, here's some actual legal speak on what you cannot do. Not only is it wrong, it's illegal.

Colorado Revised Statute 18-3-404 states:

(1) Any actor who knowingly subjects a victim to any sexual contact commits unlawful sexual contact if:

(a) The actor knows that the victim does not consent; or

(b) The actor knows that the victim is incapable of appraising the nature of the victim’s conduct; or

(c) The victim is physically helpless and the actor knows that the victim is physically helpless and the victim has not consented; or

(d) The actor has substantially impaired the victim’s power to appraise or control the victim’s conduct by employing, without the victim’s consent, any drug, intoxicant, or other means for the purpose of causing submission

Unlawful sexual contact extends far, far beyond blatantly reaching out and grabbing someone, by the way. Examples given include "incidental" contact in a crowded bar or public transportation, grabbing someone's hand and forcing them to touch you even as a joke, or even simply touching the clothing covering any intimate parts of their body.

18-3-401 (4) CRS states that: “Sexual contact” means the knowing touching of the victim’s intimate parts by the actor, or of the actor’s intimate parts by the victim, or the knowing touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the victim’s or actor’s intimate parts if that sexual contact is for:

sexual arousal,

gratification, or

abuse.

 

This also includes something you see on TV during any professional sporting event - namely, a friendly pat of someone else's butt. However in the vast majority of those cases you see during every game, that's consensual. If that's confusing for you, in real life, walking the aisles at the local grocery store with complete strangers and friendly patting someone anywhere on their body? Not consensual, and definitely not acceptable.

Punishments for these crimes vary dependent upon circumstances, but even the less severe punishments include up to a year in jail.

Moral of the story? What you think is innocent may not be viewed the same by someone else, so the default "move" is to keep your hands to yourself.

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