Have a couple of quick heuristics to make your life easier.
Test One: Are you blaming victims?
Sure, sometimes you do have to explain how to do some basic things. I have friends who didn’t grow up in the U.S. I have friends who were very sheltered for religious or other reasons. Sometimes you say things that some across as condescendingly obvious for a good reason.
When these things are about not, say, getting drugged by someone who may want to rape you, you may be told that giving that kind of advice is victim-blaming. You may be tempted to shrug off that idea. Before you do that, ask yourself one question: What do you have left to say to the person who doesn’t care to take your advice about a class of behavior. When someone tells you, “Thanks, but I enjoy dressing up/chatting with strangers/expressing my opinion/walking around at night/getting drunk every now and then”, what do you say?
If all you have left to do about the problem is throw up your hands and tell someone you can’t help them, you’re victim blaming.
Test Two: Does your group have a problem?
Sexual harassment is being fought on many fronts right now. Pretty much anywhere that men have considered themselves to be entitled to a social, vocational, or physical space and women are contesting that entitlement, harassment is a big deal. Because harassment is one of the tools used to deny women these spaces, we’re mounting campaigns to identify and fight the harassment in these spaces.
When that happens, you may feel a need to stick up for those spaces. You may want to disavow the association with harassment that comes from being part of one of those spaces. Before you do that, ask yourself one question: Is the harassment effective in your particular space? Are women leaving because they can find something else to do that doesn’t expose them to the harassment, event if that doesn’t happen in that part of this space that is under your direct control? Are there people you don’t have the opportunity to work with/hear from/be challenged by because of the harassment?
If you lose out on any of that because of harassment, your space–and you–have a sexual harassment problem, even if you didn’t create it.