Menstuff® has compiled information, books and resources on the
issue of sexual harassment.
What Sexual Harassment is
What Sexual Harassment Isn't
Is This Sexual Harassment?
Is This Sexual Harassment? - 2
Getting Physical: The Rules of Workplace Touching
What we Don't want to Look at
Workplace Sexual Harassment Toward Men Is on the Rise
Teen Sexual Harassment
Assault at the role of men. YouTube 1:39
Issues - Related on Abuse -
Ritual, Abuse - Sexual, Circumcision,
Violence, Womens' Violence and
Books - Related Topics on Abuse - Boys, Abuse - Children, Abuse - Ritual, Abuse - Sexual, Circumcision, Anger, Violence, Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, and Womens' Violence,
In all of the press I have read since the hearings, I have yet to see one article that let's me, as a man, know what sexual harassment is. And I truly believe that most men would not sexually harass a woman if they realized they were doing it. And, when told that what they were doing was being received as sexual harassment, would stop. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find much information on sexual harassment out of the workplace, so apply workplace laws, to be safe.
I started with a book, published in 1981, called Sexual Harassment on the Job, How to avoid the working woman's nightmare by Contance Backhouse & Leah Cohen and went through Friedman, Boumil, Taylor's Sexual Harassment, published in 1992. (See bibliography.) Also, check with your company, which has its own guidelines or contact the District Equal Employment Commission - there's one in every state - for the Federal guidelines.) Here's what I learned. Use these, not as law, but as guidelines, since it varies by city and the judges personal bias, as was clear in the Senate hearings.
What Sexual Harassment is: Simply stated, "Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature."
This is typically experienced in the context of a relationship of power or authority. The victims are subjected to verbal comments of a sexual nature, unconsented touching, and requests for sexual favors. The perpetrator is in a superior position at work and is able to threaten the victims' job. a promotion or some employment benefit. A single incident is usually not enough to "make a case* unless it is a violent one, but repeated acts may be. Even the usual male/female pursuit may cross the boundary to reach the level of harassment. The alleged victim must indicate displeasure in definite terms and if the perpetrator continues, that constitutes sexual harassment.
What Sexual Harassment Isn't: It's not flirtatiousness, hormones or sexual desire" says Working Woman magazine. 'Most harassers share a common goal - intimidation."
However, the legal standard constituting sexual harassment is in a state of flux. The courts, faced with this issue, are beginning to give greater attention to the alleged victim's point-of-view. It's clear, however. that a single incident of sexual advance or even a request for a sexual favor is not harassment unless it is backed by a work-related threat. I revert to terms in baseball. If I get three strikes, I'm out. If she is interested, then it's up to her to make the next, "clear pitch". Otherwise, the game is over.
What are you willing to do about the part you play in sexual harassment to (1) Insure that you never sexually harass another person, under any circumstance? (2) Intervene when you see colleagues participating in sexual harassment? and (3) Intervene when you see sexual harassment happening out in the world?
Before I go on I want you to know that I believe that (1) by far the majority of sexual harassment is done by men towards working women (50-67%). And I really want you to know that we. as men, must clean up our part of this whole thing. (2) 1 also believe that sexual harassment does happen to working men (15-30%) and that laws and guidelines are often written and languaged as if sexual harassment is only a male to female thing. And, the legal system and services just aren't available for victims who are male.
Three areas where male victims aren't treated equally are statutory rape, sexual harassment and spousal abuse. In some states there are laws that say sex between minors and men over 18 is statutory rape but between minors and women over 18, isn't. Regarding Sexual Harassment, the language makes it appear strictly a man to woman thing. A good example is the handout being advertised on ABC-TV that's available at every library in the U.S., called "Stop Sexual Harassment". The real danger in this document is the languaging. The only acknowledgment that it happens to men is in the second paragraph which states "Studies show that as many as one-half to two-thirds of all working women and some working men have experienced sexual harassment." However, from there on, ALL examples are "guy", "men", "his advances, "he knows she", etc. And further, under resources it clearly states, "This resource list is provided for women who are victims of sexual harassment" and it lives up to that statement, on both a local and national level. Not one example or resource for a man. (Of course, the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund contributed in the development of the materials, so that may explain the sexist assumption.) Even spousal abuse carries the implication that men are not the recipient of spousal abuse, contrary to most research on the subject. However, even when state and local agencies work to be inclusive, the old thinking slips in as a man to woman thing. An example is form CP-536 Jan 90, published by the Concord California Police Department entitled "Resource Information for Victims of Domestic Violence". While attempting to not be sex specific, it only offers resources for women, i.e., "E. Pressing Charges/Victim Assistance - call Battered Women's Alternatives. F. Suing the Offender - call a lawyer or Battered Women's Alternatives. Shelter and Crisis Counseling: If you need a place to stay or advice." 10 women's shelters, four care centers, one nursery. "Counseling for Offenders:" 5 men's abuser services, nothing for women. "How Much Does It Cost? Battered Women's Alternatives offers clinics to women in filling out application for Temporary Restraining Order", nothing for men. And most telling, "What Do I Do If The Defendant Violates the Restraining Order? Point 3. If the defendant is still there when the police arrive, and he is aware of the restraining order, the police may arrest him/her..."(See "Alternatives to Violence" which includes some resources for women perpetrators and male victims as well as the standard fare.)
It's in the collective psyche that only men abuse. Our collective denial says that women aren't violent or when they are violent, there's an excuse but when men are violent, there's no excuse. Regardless of the sex, there's no excuse!
The reason, however, that subjects like sexual harassment, spousal abuse, incest and rape are coming out and being addressed is primarily because some courageous women are standing up to make it public and then fighting and organizing and providing services to help those affected. The Women's Shelter-movement happened because individual women got together and did something about it. Then , year's later, "some" aid was provided.
As long as men stay in the closet about being incested or molested or physically or psychologically abuse as a child, being battered in a relationship, or being sexually harassed on the job, it's going to continue to be seen as - only men abuse and only women can get help. And, when men do come out about it we need to make the support services available without expecting city, state or federal aid to do it. In essence, we need to prove that there is a need and take care of it on our own.
And we all must come to understand that our entire culture is becoming a very violent culture (witness the recent Life Time special, "Jennifer's in Jail" which spent an hour profiling teen-age girl violence - including knifings, shootings, etc.) Think twice about having your son circumcised. Think again about how appropriate that war toy is. Think again about buying that high powered water gun or the camouflage jeans for the little tyke. Think about how you handle your child's pent-up anger. "What anger" you say? While the rebels definitely cause alot of problems, know that the quiet ones are the ones that killed the 14 women in Montreal or shoot the kids in McDonalds. Anger stuffed destroys.
Our collective denial has left us with a world where schools and
the penal system don't know how to deal with violent boys much less
the incredible influx of violent girls. Denial can no longer be
tolerated. The violence must stop! What can you do? Think about it! -
Is This Sexual Harassment?
Is that pat on the back from the boss a sign of appreciation or a sign of inappropriateness? The possibility of sexual harassment in the workplace is often on the mind of both male and female employees, but sometimes it can be frustrating to figure out the difference between when your mind is playing tricks on you and when to put a stop to things.
Here are a few examples of possible sexual harassment scenarios that are commonly encountered in the workplace. Whether you already think your understanding is there or you're worried that you're totally unaware, take this quiz and see how your sexual harassment knowledge scores.
Q. You're the receptionist in a small consulting firm. Whever you call one of the consultants to relay a message, she always ends the call by saying, "Thanks Sexy." Is this sexual harassment?
A. Yes. Sexual harassment can be described as any gesture, conduct, comment or phusical contact that is unwanted and of a sexual nature. This includes nicknames.
Q. You coworker of the other sex will not stop talking about their romantic relationship, constantly sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of every conversation and fight they have. Is this sexual harassment?
A. No. While this is annoying, unless they're graphically explaining their sex life or referring to you, it';s not sexual harassment.
Q. Whenever you greet your coworkers with a handshake, one of them always pushes your hand aside and leans in for a tight hug, in spirt of your obvious discomfort and that of your coworkers. Is this sexual harassment?
A. Yes. Sexual harassment can be described as any gesture, conduct, comment or physical contaact that is unwanted and of a sexual nature. This includes hugging.
Q. Every time a project is successfully completed, your boss sends you an email thanking you and jokingly suggesting you take her up on her generous offer of a private dinner or massage as a rewardd for all of your hard work. Is this sexual harassment?
A. Yes. While sexual harassment often involves blatantly lewd comments and obvious inappropriate toughing, there are also more subtle forms that both genders can experience.
Q. Your gender is in the minority and you feel as though you're given more assignments, worked hareder, and held more accountable than other employees and are not being appropriately promoted or rewarded justly. Is this sexual harassment?
A. No. While you might be experiencing discrimination because of your gender or just being given a hard time for an unknown reason, this is not sexual harassment.
Q. Your coworker has a screensaver covered in dirty jokes that makes you uncomfortable whenever you go into their office and have to come around to their side of the desk. Is this sexual harassment?
A. No. Unless your coworker specifically invites you to come around their desk and/or makes an effort to get you to notice their screensaver, this is not sexual harassment.
Q. The mailroom clerk is constantly begging you to find a friend for them to date, saying that they know that anyone you'd associate with would be a classy person. Is this sexual harassment?
A. No. If they're not referencing your gender or sexuality but only your personality and intelligence, though it may be embarrasing or \uncomfortable, this is not sexual harassment.
Q. When passing a fellow worker's desk, they say to you, "If you'd just fix yourself up a bit and get some better cloes, I'd totally date you." Is this sexual harassment?
A. Yes. Sexual harassment can be described as any gesture, conduct, comment or phsiesal contact that is unwanted and of a sexual nature. This includes blatant disrespect and hypothetical situations poisted to you by others.
Q. In coed group meetings, the team leader often refers to defeats and sucecess in sexual terms, like "We're going to make them scream like a porn star:" or "We blew that opportunity harder than Monica Lewinsky." Is this sexual harassment?
A. Yes. Sexual harassment can be described as any gesture, conduct, comment or physical contacat that is unwanted and of a sexual nature. This includes offensive statements made in a motivational or explanatory context.
Q. Knowing that you are gay, your straight boss of the same sex frequenyly asks you whether or not you find them attractice and if you want to have sex with them. Is this sexual harassment?
A. Yes. Sexual harassment can be described as any gesture,
conduct, comment or physical contact that is unwanted and of a sexual
nature. This includes derogatory or disrespectful remarks regarding
your sexual orientation.
Source: by N. Bhatta, jobs.aol.com/quiz/sexual_harassment
Is This Sexual Harassment?
Never ignore sexual harassment when it happens to you. If you dont let the harasser know that you are displeased by what they said, they will continue to make the lives of other workers miserable with their behavior. Also be sure to carefully document the encounter in an email or on paper so that you have a clear recollection of the experience that cant be watered down with time.
Follow Company Directions
Before pressing forward with a company complaint, make sure that you know the proper channels to go through. Jump through every hoop and cross every T to ensure that your complaint gets the attention and treatment it deserves.
Encourage Other Victims
If youre incensed by someones behavior enough to fight back, chances are you arent the only one in the office to have a bad experience. Theres always strength in numbers, so carefully and privately ask others if they, too, have been harassed to help them fight back, too.
A harassment-free workplace is a happy workplace, and though the
process of acknowledging and punishing sexual harassment may be
stressful, removing the harasser as soon as possible is better for
everyone in the long run. So what are you waiting for? Stop sexual
Harassment Toward Men Is on the Rise
I always thought this kind of stuff only happened to women with male bosses, Brian complained, years later. But being the only guy in the office, I was the target of a lot of rude comments about my appearance -- both good and bad -- and the fact that I was a male secretary was joked about incessantly.
After being subjected to a lengthy bosses lecture on how he was too cute to wear the boring clothes he wore and how he should spruce up to give the girls some eye candy, Brian quit. However, he didnt mention the offenses to the higher-ups at the company or at his temping agency. I wanted to tell someone, but every time I tried to explain I just felt so stupid, so emasculated. I felt better just sweeping it all underneath the rug.
Test Yourself: Can you tell if it's sexual harassment?
Studies show that for the first time in four years, harassment in the workplace from both male and female bosses and co-workers is on the rise. Tragically, stories like Brians are not uncommon (the vast majority of all sexual harassment complaints go unreported) but as more and more men realize that they are not the only ones dealing with an unprofessional work environment, men are starting to briskly fight against unfair treatment from female superiors. In 2007, a record number of cases -- nearly 16 percent -- were filed by men, a number that has practically doubled in a mere decade. And these are just the documented incidents.
A recent telephone survey found that up to 20% of men have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, but a whopping 62% took no action. This hesitation to complain stems from a variety of reasons, with the fear of losing ones job being just one of them. Concepts of masculinity prevent many male workers from reaching out for help against a harasser, as it can be perceived as emasculating to admit that belittling from a female affects them. As attention from women is coveted amongst heterosexual men, male harassment victims might be afraid to admit to receiving too much or the wrong type of attention because this acknowledgment might call the victims sexuality into question.
Weve all snickered at how Steve Carrells regional manager character on The Office demeans Ryan the temp in a pseudo-sexual way, but the rising levels of harassment in the real world is no laughing matter. While many male harassment complaints are against other men, as more women take on executive and leadership roles that were previously held solely by men, it is understandable that complaints against these corporate cougars (women in powerful professional positions) might potentially rise. But is it acceptable that the numbers have risen by so much, and in this short amount of time?
Its safe to say that in todays workplace, employees of all genders need to keep their guard up about protecting their personal space and respect. Everyone has the right to feel comfortable and to be treated professionally on their job. Whether youre male or female, take this quiz to test your sexual harassment awareness and to learn more about what to do if sexual harassment happens to you. Remember, you are not alone!
*Name has been changed to protect the innocent.
What we Don't want to Look at
re: Sexual Harassment
Getting Physical: The Rules of
With President Bush's bizarre "massage" of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the recent G8 Summit, it might be a good time to review what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate touching at work. The rules may seem obvious, but if the president can get it wrong at a meeting of the world's most powerful leaders, chances are your co-workers are slipping up too.
Further confusing the issue are the mixed messages found in sexual harassment data. The number of harassment charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has declined 20% from when they peaked in 1997.
No studies accurately explain the decline, says David Grinberg, an EEOC spokesman. But he credits companies with increasing awareness of the issue and an increase in the number of women managers. Still, sexual harassment is a "serious problem in today's workplace," according to Grinberg who notes that the number of employees who have been fired or demoted as a result of filing a harassment complaint has doubled since 1992.
So how do you avoid awkward and actionable touching? The first--and most important--rule to remember is that beyond the handshake there are only three locations on the body where skin-to-skin contact is acceptable among co-workers: the forearm, the wrist and the upper back. The only exception is if you're on a professional baseball team and hit a home run. If you accomplish that, your teammates are not only allowed, they're virtually required to smack you on the tush. That also applies if you're on an NFL team and have just scored the game-winning touchdown.
But not everyone works in a contact sport. In nearly all other arenas, touching should be kept to a minimum, says Jill Bremer, an image etiquette and communication skills instructor with Bremer Communications. "Longer than a couple of seconds and it can become sexual," says Bremer. "[It makes the receiver wonder], what is this person trying to tell me?"
From the look on Merkel's face, she didn't like what Bush's hands told her. Gail Houck, a business consultant with Select, Assess and Train is even stricter. "Don't go below the elbow and stay on the upper arm and nowhere else."
If you are particularly happy with an employee's work or want to offer congratulations, feel free to give the office version of a hug: the two-handed hand shake. That's when you shake the person's hand and put your other hand on their forearm. "I don't think male or female colleagues should ever kiss unless it's someone who has known them forever and even then, they're probably taking a chance," says Houck.
Boundaries aren't getting much help from casual Fridays. "Since we've gotten very casual in dress we've gotten very casual in our behavior," says Bremer. "We're on a first name basis with everybody. We can assume we can touch anybody. I long for the days when there was more formality...There need to be boundaries."
Of course, boundaries and political correctness differ from culture to culture. A post on Arianna Huffington's blog says the media attention on the Bush-Merkel incident is hooey. After all, Bush is a Texan and they are a touchy-feely people. "Texans hug one another, kiss one another, place their hands on other's shoulders, and give hand squeezes all the time. You libs are always talking about understanding the culture of others and it's time for you to start understanding Texas culture. We're not cold and frigid like you Yankees are. "
Actually, the physical frigidity level of a culture should be taken into account. Northern Europeans--that includes Germany--are considered "low contact" cultures, says Bremer. So are many Asians. Remember, many don't even shake hands, they bow when greeting someone. Contrast that with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures that are extremely close talkers and regularly touch people.
When you take that into consideration, Bush may have a more
receptive massage recipient in Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
There are only three areas on the body that are acceptable when it comes to touching a co-worker: wrist, forearm and back.
The Office Hug
Never hug or kiss a co-worker to congratulate them. To express appreciation or kudos give the "office hug." That's when you shake with one hand and put your other hand on the recipient's forearm.
A Light, Fast Touch
When engaging in skin-to-skin contact, remember to keep it light and fast. Anything more than that can result in the recipient wondering what your intentions are.
Take into consideration different cultures when meeting with a colleague from another country. Certain cultures feel more comfortable touching while others prefer more room for personal space.
In the U.S., adequate personal space is generally considered arm's length. If you can reach your arm out and touch someone, you're too close. Take a step back!.
Stick To Handshakes
Generally, northern and western European countries are considered low contact cultures. If you're going to congratulate someone who hails from those places, a hearty handshake will do just fine.
Bowing Works Too
Asian cultures are low contact too. Typically members of those cultures don't shake hands, they bow when greeting someone. "Your bubble of space is quite large," says Jill Bremer, an image and etiquette teacher. Also, the lower the bow, the more respect and familiarity you're showing. When greeting someone with a bow that you haven't developed a relationship with, a small bow is appropriate.
Signal When You Need Space
Mediterranean cultures tend to feel comfortable with limited bubbles of personal space. If you're interacting on a business level and feel crowded, Bremer suggests taking a step back or actually putting your hand up to signal that you need more personal space.
Source: In Pictures: Appropriate
Men Behaving Badly
Alert: evidence of common sense at
But for the moment, don't blink, Harvard has done an astonishing thing. A few days ago, Harvard administrators unveiled a new sexual misconduct policy that gives a nod rather than a wink to due process.
The new policy raises the standard of proof for students who file rape and assault charges, as opposed to the old policy, which more or less allowed a student to accuse another without any evidence. Beginning in the fall, Harvard will ask for what one might expect a school like Harvard to ask for: physical evidence, eyewitnesses and other "sufficient independent corroboration" before they'll investigate a complaint in the university's campus judiciary system.
Absent such details, the school may drop the complaint or refer the accusing student to a district attorney or to a new process the faculty also just approved, called "confidential mediation."
For those who've been paying taxes the past 20 or 30 years - and for whom nearly everything is astonishing these days - things have changed. Back when I was a student oh so long ago, kids were known to take a little drink, smoke a little dope and make a little love over the noise of war protesters. Not that I did any of the above, mind you; I was in the library translating Hippocrates' notes into Modern Greek.
Nowadays, they tell me, kids get really really stoned, really really drunk, and sex is mostly a rape thing. Hence the need for strict policies defining what rape is, how rape happens (usually large quantities of drugs and/or alcohol are involved, and the word "No" sounds a lot like "N'yeth"), and totalitarian rules that stripped the accused of due-process protection.
At most institutions, young men accused by young women were not permitted an attorney, could not face their accuser or cross-examine witnesses. At Columbia University, which caught flak a few years ago for its Stalinist policy, an accused was allowed only to bring a "morale booster," who otherwise had to keep his trap shut.
All of these measures are the gift of the hardest-core feminists, who, in spite of insisting that women are equal to men, depend for their livelihood on the notion that women are helpless victims of predatory men. Follow the money, specifically the federal Violence Against Women Act, and you'll quickly discover that propagating myths of campus rape is a meal ticket for a variety women's advocacy groups. Congressmen who keep funding the Act are either dense or terrified, or possibly both. Jesse Jackson didn't invent the shakedown.
The biggest myth that won't die is that one of four college women is raped on campuses each year. A drop of Harvard's newfound common sense would reveal this claim to be ludicrous. If 25 percent of Daddy's little girls were being sexually assaulted at college, there wouldn't be any girls on campus.
In fact, the figure was based on spurious research, which included a question using the following definition of rape: "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs." Hmmmm. I can count on two hands, no toes, the number of women who would answer "no" to this question. How about this as an answer: "Yes, we drank a few beers and I wasn't in the mood, but I did it anyway."
Rape is a problem, but it isn't close to the epidemic some rape crisis advocates would have us believe. Some campuses report exactly zero rapes in a given year. Others report one or two. Even huge statewide university systems such as California's reported, for example, 13 rapes in 1995, according to the Department of Education's Campus Crime Statistics.
But isn't 13 a lot, even if there are more that may go unreported? Yes, and it's awful. But it's not close to one in four. Such figures might invite scrutiny and preventive measures, but they hardly justify the hysteria and draconian measures that have emerged in recent years.
We can argue all day about the statistics on date rape. Absent physical evidence, which Harvard now demands, he said/she said doesn't work very well, especially when he/she is/are drunk. But even if date rape were epidemic, no crime justifies stripping an accused person of his right to due process. Given the existence of such prejudicial, unfair, totalitarian policies, the really perplexing question is, why are guys still going to college?
Source: Kathleen Parker, email@example.com or www.townhall.com/columnists/kathleenparker/kp20020513.shtml