Sexual scripts exist on multiple levels. Two levels of interest are widely known cultural scenarios—collectively held scripts such as hetero­sexuality, and interpersonal scripts, or expectations about behaviors to be used in a specific context (Simon & Gagnon, 1986). With their interper­sonal sexual scripts, individuals may follow or violate traditionally held collective scripts. In the United States, men and women are aware that men initiate dates. Further, the man arrives at the woman’s residence, takes her home, and sets up future dates (Pryor &. Merluzzi, 1985); the woman’s task is to respond. At the broad level, men initiate heterosexual relations and women acquiesce. On the individual level, a couple may negotiate specific aspects of a dating episode.

When people generally follow the rules or norms sanctioned for a situation, the scripted nature of behavior may be unnoticed. Problems oc­cur when situations and the rules governing them are defined differently by the participants (e. g., a teacher-student conference is sexualized). Men may behave in ways that do not fit women’s definitions of situations, and the women may experience feelings ranging from powerlessness to degra­dation. “What men often experience as fun or flirtation, women often experience as degrading and demanding. And, it is male experience that has shaped the law’s traditional responses to sexual harassment” (Rhode, 1989, p. 233). Understanding the content of scripts and their links with gender-based role differentiation is helpful in deconstructing why some people engage in harassing behavior, as well as understanding why the targets of the behavior may choose certain responses (e. g., assertively thwarting the behaviors, ending, or enduring them).