There's been a bit of a scandal at one of the universities, involving teachers behaving inappropriately with students. A fun experiment is to ask people what they think, whereby you learn some things they might not otherwise volunteer. If I were a better experimenter I'd keep my own thoughts to myself but it's hard. Finally I guess I'll just write them down here.
I think that there is an emerging perception of women as helpless victims with little to no agency, and I am not a fan of this perception. I think that while men tend to have more power (physically, if nothing else), it's disingenuous to pretend like women do not have access to the tools, including vocabulary, to get out of doing things that they do not want to do, when the playing field is otherwise fairly level. That is, when a man and a woman are at the same approximate social level and a man tries to behave inappropriately, I believe that a woman can usually reject the attempt with minimal repercussions. I don't say always, but usually. I've definitely done things because it was easier to do than to deal with the fallout of not doing them, and I've regretted those choices, the choice of ease in the moment over my own preference, but I perceive it as a choice. I don't think it's helpful to see women as always at the mercy of men, unable to speak up for themselves, but I recognize that not everyone agrees. I'm talking here about relations outside of the workplace/ school, where there is always a power imbalance between bosses/employees and teachers/students.
I also think that there is a view, possibly more prevalent in Europe than in the US, that people in positions of (real or perceived) power are also human beings who want and deserve to be treated as such. That they may be in positions of power in one area but fallible, imperfect, equal or even weaker, in other areas. I think there is a greater tendency here for bosses to socialize with their employees, teachers with their students, etc., outside of the workplace, in an effort to make that imbalance of power in one arena somewhat less crushing. I don't think the intention is to bring the power into the social relationship, but to humanize the powerful.
Finally, I want to acknowledge that some of my oldest and dearest friendships were born when there was a power differential (my boss, my student, etc.). So this may affect my view of things somewhat, because I see the lines between power and non-power as blurry and mutable.
THAT SAID: Comments on appearance, particularly the aspects of appearance that are not chosen, have no business in the workplace or amongst people who are not otherwise friends (and "socializing" does not make you "friends" and if you are not sure, assume you are not friends). Sex should not be transactional except for sex workers. Extra credit can be earned by doing tasks related to the field, not to sexual favors or even friendship. Friendship can happen, but it can't be traded for advancement in the field; nor can sexual attraction. Power can feel sexual, if you're tilted that way, but using power to get sex is something people do when they can't get it any other way, and that's at minimum distasteful, and offers of sex in exchange for power need to be politely rebuffed. When you are in a position of power, the people who have to defer to that power should be as attractive to you as when my friend's dog was humping my leg last night: they're cute as heck, but they're a different species. Everyone honestly knows this and sentences like "Oh, we can't even say hello anymore?" are the kinds of things a predator says and you know that, so knock it off.
THAT SAID: I reject on principle the idea that someone who complains some time after an event is somehow culpable for not complaining at the time. I had very bad things happen to me that I thought I had caused and was too embarrassed to talk about for a long time because I would have had to acknowledge that I caused them (I did not). I had men in positions of power tell me secrets that I thought I had to keep. I know better now, but they were (correctly) counting on my not knowing. I felt vaguely sorry for them, or vaguely uncertain about what to do, or vaguely special for drawing their attention. There was nothing vague about it for them.
Are there gray areas? Of course there are. But I want some people to stop advancing a premise that implies that women never want sex, never want power, never have power, never consider using what power they have, and I really, really want people to stop acting like they don't see lines where the lines very much are, or that they're not in a position to stop things that cross those lines. "We're all adults" they said, in their defense. Excellent: act like that, then.