The 1992 presidential race was once summed up in a pointed phrase: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Today, as headlines are dominated by stories about sexual harassment and sexual assault at work, a similar phrase comes to mind: “It’s the power, stupid.”

At 48 years old, I’m lucky that I’ve never been sexually harassed or assaulted by anyone I worked for. The fact that this could be considered lucky is a problem in itself, but based on the numbers, I am lucky. I’ve only ever worked for men, and all of my bosses have been not just respectful, but deeply supportive.

Still, like almost every woman – and some men – I know, I have experienced sexual harassment in the form of unwanted sexual advances in the course of doing my job. A hand on my leg under the table at a meeting. Married men – all decades older than I – offering “career advice” and then suggesting that they could share it with me alone late at night. The conference where a man I declined leaving a dinner with came to my hotel room late at night and banged on my door until I called security.

I didn’t work for any of these men. But in every single one of these situations, they had more power than I did. That’s not a coincidence. It’s why they felt free to cross that line.

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