Monday, October 16, 2017

What is Sexual Harassment?

Most often, sexual harassment happens to females and is instigated by males. This is not always the case: Men can be affected by this problem, too. This can also be referred to as 'gender harassment.' Basically, it's bullying that involves insulting, frightening, or intimidating someone based on his or her gender and by the amount of power the harasser possesses. It isn't usually a one-time occurence: It is often repetitive. And it doesn't only happen in big businesses: it's about power.
 
What does it "look like"? Here are some examples-
 
Comments, often ending in "Sweetheart" "Honey" or other terms of endearment
  • "Why don't you smile?"
  • "Your (fill in body part here) looks great in that skirt"
  • "I like a high heel on a woman, the higher the better"
  • "If you want to make an impression, you gotta show more leg"
  • 'You're too pretty to bother your head about that"
  • Catcalls and wolf whistles as a woman walks down the street
  • "Can I have your number? No? Why not?"
  • Obscene gestures, remarks, and insults; calling women insulting names
  • Sometimes those making the remarks claim they're compliments. They're not.




It can be in the form of texts, e-mails, posted notices, or pictures that are sexually explicit/offensive, especially in the workplace, or anywhere. These may even contain threats if the victim tells or doesn't cooperate.
 The audacity of men who overtly state their 'power' over women:
  • "You were by far the best looking candidate, so we hired you."
  • "Your ideas don't really matter, honey. Just sit there and look pretty."
  • "Men have always run this company: Don't try to play with the guys."
  • "You're good eye candy even if you're never going to go any further."
  • "It's so cute how you think you know this business."
  • "Let's be clear: I'm in charge, and you never will be. You're too pretty for that anyway."
  • "You don't need to be an executive, let your husband do that."
  • "If you really want the promotion, you'll let me."
  • "Women can't do that."
  • "Maybe if you wore a shorter skirt, you'd get a raise."


 Unwanted touching-This can be called assault
  • Someone slaps your behind with a laugh and a wink
  • Someone puts a hand on your back to guide you into a room
  • Someone puts a hand on the back of your neck as he speaks to you
  • Someone gives you a hug you didn't ask for
  • Someone kisses you-anywhere
  • Someone surrounds you such as up against a wall, or in the pretense of showing you something on your computer
  • Someone pats your knee
  • Someone 'adjusts' your clothes: Buttons a button, unzips or zips a zipper
  • Someone fusses with your hair
  • Someone plots to get you alone somewhere so that you have no way out


There are people who carry it much further and have raped women because they know they can 'get away with it,' the women feel powerless when left alone with a powerful man, believing all he wants is to have a drink with her and then finding he is forcing himself on her: no matter how fit a woman is, she will almost always be less physically powerful and unable to fight him off, plus he has placed her in a frightened and vulnerable position. He may give her a drug without her knowledge that makes her unable to refuse, or to be unaware what is happening.


Fear of having the public know about the assault, fear of the rapist and all the money he has, will often lead to the silence of women and the ability for the rapist to continue to do it to others. She may be afraid no one will believe her, as well. Sadly, there's still a tendency to blame the victim:
  • She must have been asking for it.
  • Why did she dress like that? What did she expect?
  • She brought it on herself
  • She's a tease
How pervasive is sexual harassment?
The EEOC (Equal Opportunity Commission) says that in 2012 there were about 15,000 sexual harassment complaints filed. Of these....
  • 79% of people with sexual harassment complaints were women, 21% men
  • 51% of these people experienced the harassment from a supervisor
  • 38% of these people were harassed by someone of a higher rank on the job
  • 12% of these people were threatened with being fired if they spoke out
  • There were 26,000 cases of sexual harassment reported in the armed forces in 2012 (a traditionally male-dominant field)
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act lays out the law against sexual harassment, a form of discrimination. This bill was passed in 1964.
How can we stop it?
  • If you're considering a rude remark, stop and think first: Would it be OK if someone said that to your mother/wife/daughter/sister? No? Then don't say it
  • Respect: it's what's for everyday living
  • Don't join a "good ole boys" group. It's stupid.
  • Just because someone else said it or did it, doesn't mean it's OK
  • Put some thought into your remarks, your actions, how you conduct yourself. Be the honorable one.
  • Be a role model: Let others see how you conduct yourself, including younger boys and men
  • Better to have never done it, but an apology is the next best thing
                               Not just applicable to street harassment
For those who are victims of sexual harassment, remember:
  • Your personal space is just that. You have every right to say, don't do that or don't talk to me that way.
  • Your body is not for anyone to touch unless you want them to. You can very firmly and loudly say, stop that right now. It's probably a good idea to leave the area immediately as well.
  • You don't have to listen to or read anything that bullies you.
  • Report the person and the situation. It doesn't matter if you have no witnesses.
  • Don't ever let yourself believe that a person in a position of power has the right to assault you.
There are resources available to help you fight the harrassment:
Here are some:
http://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/legal-resources/know-your-rights-at-work/workplace-sexual-harassment/
http://www.feminist.org/911/harass.html
https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm