Gender microaggressions as a gateway to sexual harassment and sexual assault: Expanding the conceptualization of youth sexual violenceedit
A problem with the current conceptualization of youth sexual violence is its exclusion of chronic, “low-severity” forms of violence known as gender microaggressions. A review of the sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gender microaggression literatures is undertaken to identify the unique and overlapping characteristics of each construct. A theoretically grounded conceptualization of youth sexual violence is presented with gender microaggressions, sexual harassment, and sexual assault existing along a continuum from chronic, low-severity to infrequent, “high-severity” offenses. In this reconceptualization, gender microaggressions exist as a unique form of youth sexual violence and function as a potential “gateway mechanism” to legally actionable offenses.