Social Ramifications of Sexual Harassment

Published: 31st July 2009
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While women have gained several rights and recognition for their social and economic contributions, they are still the traditional victims of sexual harassment in different social settings, especially in the workplace.

According to a study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2007, sexual harassment mainly targets women who do not want to conform to gender stereotypes.

After interviewing more than 500 students and professionals, the researchers concluded that women with masculine traits are more vulnerable to sexual harassment than those who have obvious feminine personalities.

Professor Jennifer Berdahl, the leader of the research group, also revealed another surprising finding: men, who are traditionally perceived as the harasser, sexually harass women not because of desire, but due to the feeling of being threatened by someone belonging from the opposite sex who possesses determination, ambitions, talents, skills, intelligence, and other strong personalities.

Berdahl said that male harassers are usually not attracted to their victims; instead, they harass independent and career-driven women to punish them. With this comes a dilemma: a lady with obvious feminine characters is dismissed as too weak while a woman with strong personalities is scorned and hated.

Responsibilities of Employers

According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers should protect all workers from sexual discrimination and harassment. Failing to do so will make them liable for any economic and physical damage a victim will sustain.

Because sexual harassment can happen to anyone, even to male workers, EEOC urges companies to include guidelines in its employment policy on how it will prevent and deal with harassment and other abuses. Having this policy will also show that a company will not tolerate such unlawful acts in the workplace.

Today, 62 percent of employers provide prevention training programs while another 97 percent have a written sexual harassment policy, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

With combined efforts from the government, private organizations, and employers, the number of cases of sexual harassment and discrimination has drastically declined over the past decades. In 2007, there were more than 12,500 sexual harassment cases compared to 16,000 in 1997.

New Face of Harassment Victims

While women are traditionally perceived as victims, statistics show that harassment cases filed by men against their female superiors are increasing. In 2007, EEOC reported that 16 percent of sexual harassment charges were filed by male workers.

This shifting trend is supported by a study conducted by Glamor Magazine and which revealed that more than 17 percent of men said they had experienced sexual harassment compared to 35 percent of women in the US.

Meanwhile, UK has also reported the same changing trend that a recent study revealed that 2 out of 5 victims of sexual harassment in 2006 were men. But just like any patriarchal society where men are often perceived as unlikely targets of sexual harassment, only 8 percent of them had filed a legal complaint against their offenders.

To help you deal with the issues on employment sexual harassment charges, consult with our expert employment attorneys. Visit our website and call us toll free for legal assistance.

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