"What a revolting development this is." Jackie Gleason's famous line from the ' 50s sitcom "The Life of Riley," could be the headline for our times in more ways than one. We’re knee-deep in charges of Sexual Harassment yet we don’t have a fixed definition of the term. Does it include unwelcome flirting or a suggestive comment? Should rape and groping be lumped together? And even if you get past such asks, when it comes to prosecution, interpretation of the word “no” varies. How worrisome is this? If the law can parse rejection and question whether “no” means “yes,” the onus of victimization falls on the victim?

Reportedly, the varying shades of gray in rejection will form Harvey Weinstein’s defense in court.

He-said, she-said

But wait. What if intimidation plays a role in the responses of those preyed-upon and persons of authority are the predators? Is compliance consent then? To hear New York University law professor Erin Murphy tell it in an Associated Press report last week, the answer seems to be “maybe”: "One person's idea of consent is that no one is screaming or crying. Another person's idea of consent is someone saying, 'Yes, I want to do this.' And in between, of course, is an enormous spectrum of behavior, both verbal and nonverbal, that people engage in to communicate desire or lack of desire." Murphy is working to pen a penal code on sexual harassment for the American Law Institute.

So far, though, the arguments appear to cave in on themselves. Is inappropriate behavior all that complicated? Does it just come down to he-said-she-said?

And the hits keep coming

I bring all this up because a news report on Dec. 24 had Vice Media founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi apologizing for not stopping sexual misconduct at their company.

A New York Times story cited four settlements – payoffs to silence the abused. Chris Matthews, longtime host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” also bought silence for a harassment charge from an assistant producer on his show in 1999. What was his offense - unwanted touching, a pushy come-on? Would you believe it was because he joked about her in the company of others?

Is that really harassment?

What does sexual harassment look like?

Let’s be clear. I’m one of the walking wounded, not insensitive to crossed boundaries; but when it comes to unwanted advances, I think of Paul Cezanne’s “The Abduction,” said to be his take on Pluto raping Proserpine in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The scene looks particularly sinister because it's pictured from a distance, as if Cezanne were observing in a detached way. Even his famous still lifes of apples are rendered closer. If definitions of sexual harassment get too ornate, we’ll end up with what Donald Trump said about assault in the military: “What did the geniuses expect when they put men and women together?”