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A matter of intent

Sexual innuendo is defined as a "risqué" double entendre; a hint of a sexual insinuation, an otherwise innocent uttering with possible derogatory or romantic applications.

Sexual innuendo typically refers to talks about sex or some sex-related subject but in a more implicit way where sexual harassment is explicit.

Where sexual innuendo is defined as having a derogatory implication, the exception is where the inference is romantically inspired, a slanting expression of attraction, where it is the lover’s quest expressed in a positive light and not as a means of critical implied disparagement.

In this context, sexual innuendo’s meaning — as a romantic expression — is where it is perceived as an expression of attraction, a flirtation, or an invitation to solicit sexual consent.

This may apply during either the most innocent exchanges between two persons or in the most intimate circumstance.

As Christ discerned regarding lust where titillating sex and no love exists, “ but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart …”

Therefore, the meaning of sexual innuendo is separated in terms of its derogatory interpretation compared to that where the inference is romantically inclined. Both instances are differentiated from the predations of sexual harassment.

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When does innuendo in either of its derogatory or romantic intents cross the line as being an act of sexual harassment?

The apparent answer is the line is crossed where implicit innuendo is expressed explicitly as a pressured, coerced inducement, or where the expression is clothed as a subtle or specific compelled intimidation.

Such experiences are especially prevalent in the media and politics today.

Otis Page

Arroyo Grande