Sexual Harassment: Review of Contemporary Literature on Sexual Harassment
Sexual Harassment: Review of Contemporary Literature on Sexual Harassment
The Women’s National Law Center defines sexual harassment as a form of sexual discrimination which includes unwelcome advances, propositions involving sexual favors and verbal or physical conduct of sexual behavior or innuendo. It is very significant that the term is very clearly and broadly qualified to include the slightest of misconduct with such nature. Recall that for the longest time sexual harassment has been taken to mean only grave sexual advances and such a definition as put forth by the Women’s National Law Center is really helpful in protecting the preys of such acts.
To drive the point, they also remember to mention that sexual harassment need not necessarily involve physical contact. A thorough study on the matter is quite relevant because a movement toward resolving the problem of such gravity is needed urgently. The same source tells us that almost half of the working women have responded that they have indeed experienced sexual harassment in the workplace since the 90’s.
Such a staggering figure undoubtedly registers to this researcher as a cry for help of a patriarchal society, the importance of the patriarchal status to the case of sexual harassment shall be discussed later by a Gabor’s (2004) study. The areas in which the researcher wishes to shed light are three and simple. Firstly, the factors surrounding the situations of sexual harassment that contribute to its taking places. Secondly, the areas in which current measures of addressing the problem of sexual harassment are lacking. And thirdly, the best directions of movement to be taking in addressing the problem.
Hertzog, Wright, and Beat (2008) conducted a study on the several environmental factors that may contribute to sexual harassment in the workplace. Their study, “There’s a Policy for That: A Comparison of the Organizational Culture of Workplaces Reporting Incidents of Sexual Harassment” focused on the interpersonal climate variables that contribute harassment of such nature, these variables varied by, Hertzog et. Al posit, organizational structures of companies. In the said study, the authors utilized organizational level data to compare the culture of companies.
Multiple measures of organizational structures with utilized in combination with additional focus on three particular workplace culture characteristics namely, threatening, bullying and incivility. The study is operating from the notion that better understanding of environmental factors for developing more effective behavioral interventions. The findings indicated the importance of negative interpersonal climate variables in differentiating companies who experience formal complaints of sexual harassment from those that do not..
The authors propose that organizational policies are not enough to deter sexual harassment o their own. They further posit that behavioral intervention should by two-pronged. It should aspire to reduce, if not eliminate, sexual harassment behaviors and it should also promote the reporting of incidents of sexual harassments incidents on the grounds that low number of reports do not necessarily mean low number of incidents. They found that organizations with higher levels of negative relational climate variables were one and a half times more likely to have formal sexual harassment complaints filed against them.
Therefore, I order to actualize real changes, policies must also target several types of negative behavior in addition to sexual harassment. In all of this, the study suggests the importance of expanding current organizational structures of sexual harassment. All this is well, good, and logical, however one must express one’s concern over the fact that said expansion might border on becoming too wide, hopefully not to the extent of becoming to punitive of fairly light misgivings which, by the said expansion itself, might fall under the umbrella of sexual harassment behavior or relating to that.
It is, on the other hand, pleasing to note that although sexual harassment and workplace harassment has been repeatedly differentiated in so much literature, there still are contemporary studies finding sufficient link and interconnection between the two. A 2008 study by Elissavet Symeonidou-Kastanidou entitled “Sexual Harassment in the Greek Criminal Law” studies, in particular, sexual harassment in the workplace. It examines the extent of the problem and how it is addressed by the European Union and the local Law, particularly Law 3488/2006, a recent piece of legislation.
In a nut shell, so to speak, it finds that the problem of sexual harassment as real and urgent and the legislation addressing the problem to be lacking. The Law 3488/2006 albeit new, is lacking, says Symeonidou-Kastanidou (2008). This study was done very recently but still it found the legislation to be inadequate. As serious as the problem is in Greece, it seems that interest on the matter has not gained much impetus hence the poor legislation. Chroni et. al.
(2007) conducted a review of the definitions of sexual harassment as posed by the European Union and international women’s sports orgs coupled with records of psychological, social and daily consequences of sexual harassment experience for female athletes. The researcher decided to include this study due to the fact that athletics is not always regarded as an employment but it actually is for many and should there fore be studied for sexual harassment in the workplace, in this case, the workplace being the arena in which the sports takes place and that which surrounds it.
The authors highlight the absence of harassment free policies in Greece and suggest that this gap be filled accordingly. The thrust of the article is to promote “safe sporting experiences” (Chroni et. al. , 2007) for girl and women. Findings from this study deeply supports the suggestion of enacting aforementioned polices and the urgency of such a campaign given 70 % of reported having been through some form of sexual harassment at one time or another. (Chroni et.
al) The study, albeit new, basically reiterates the call of so many studies before it to create policies where there are none. Two things concern the researcher. First is the specificity of the campaign as being for girls and women. Having been done at the time that it was, it should have adopted a wider definition of sexual harassment. It seems equally logical to recognize the need of protection of men, particular young boys for protection from sexual harassment as well. As stated by Hertzog et. al. in their own study, low levels of reporting does not necessarily mean low incidents.
This can also be true for the sexual harassment of males in Greece, a country, from the ancient times known for homosexuality (as seen in popular texts reviewing earliest records of homosexuals). Assuming that most aggressors in sexual harassment against males as homosexual males and conceding that women are less likely to be aggressors in such events. Second is the lack of direction to take in making these policies. Note the recurrence of the dilemma concerning legislation and policies addressing sexual harassment in Greece recurring in contemporary literature on the matter.
Gabor (2006) studied implications prevailing ideologies in the workplace on sexual harassment or rather, the degree to which it is condoned therein. This was done by exploring and qualifying certain conditions that favor sexual harassment. The she closely studies the case of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs. Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America in her research. Like Herztzog, Gabor studies elements surrounding sexual harassment and their effects on or how they contribute to it.
She cites the two ideologies, namely patriarchy and consumerism, as hand in hand in contributing to creating environments that are tolerant of, if not condone, sexual harassment. She further posited that these two ideologies, “hand in hand” (Gabor 2006), created the outrageous situation. This outrageous situation being one in which hundreds were filing complaints of sexual harassment. It certainly makes very good sense that a patriarchal and corollarily chauvinistic environment contributes to sexual harassment. Such a study provides backbone to such a widely accepted belief.
Also, such a study would greatly help campaigns denouncing the status quo of patriarchy. However, the stress on patriarchy might, similar to Chroni’s study, take away from the recognition of sexual harassment as a problem not exclusive to females. The 2004 study “Female Nurses’ and Educators’ Reactions to Sexual Harassment Charges; A Cross-Cultural Perspective” by DeSouza et. al. differs from the previous studies discussed not on due to its cross-cultural perspective but also on its punitive focus. It explored the dynamics between sexual harassment, power relation and how women perceive it.
The study surveyed a pool of women nurses and educators, one group were a pool of Brazilian Women and another of American Women. The women were then presented with a fictional case of a male teacher sexually harassing a female student of his wherein power, romantic interest and discrimination concerns were manipulated. They found that within the pool of their respondents, the American women voted for more punishment than their Brazilian counterparts. This speaks to the cultural factor and how it affects treatment of sexual harassment. It showed how different cultures show varying levels of tolerance of sexual harassment.
This is a very interesting take on the matter at hand because of the fact that although sexual harassment is almost universally considered wrong, seldom do we consider how wrong we perceive such acts to be. This is a very important distinctions because wrongness has a very wide range on which we base punishments. And punishments help in preventing these acts depending on how grave they are. In addition, considering the cultural factor involved in the perception of sexual harassment can also be indicators of how much we let slide, so to speak.
In the researcher’s survey of literature, one could not help but notice the gaping lack, if not total absence, of literature of sexual harassment in the workplace wherein males are victimized. The wide perception the preys in sexual harassment incidents are exclusively female. However, given the definition by the Women’s National Law Center, such acts directed toward the male of the species would qualify as sexual harassment still. Popular culture makes a punch line out of elderly women bosses conduct quid pro quo harassment toward their male subordinates. It would be noteworthy if one was to find out if there is any truth to such a scenario.
Also, sexual harassment toward or by gay employees or co-workers would be fertile ground for studies as evidenced by the numerous anecdotes we see the gay population give on T. V. or in print. Finally studies on ideologies contributing to sexual harassment would be profoundly beneficial. Attempts to stop sexual harassment right from the socialization process would be profoundly helpful to the situation if successful. As a summary, the researcher found that environmental factors such as the co-workers’ behavior in the workplace and the ideologies therein are qualified contributors to sexual harassment incidents.
Furthermore, cultural difference, be it on a national or organizational level create within its members varying treatments of sexual harassments notwithstanding the fact that it is considered almost universally to be wrong. These problems and flaws are part of the status quo, and many, if not most, of the existing body of policies have been found lacking and these gaps need to be filled. Therefore, further study focused on creating policies in legislation concerning sexual harassment is the launch pad of solving the problem. Bibliography: Chroni, S.
, Kourtesopoulou, A. , Kouli, O. (2007). Sexual Harassment Consequences for Female Athletes and Prevention in Greek sports. Inquiries in Sport & Physical Education, 5 (2), 83-93. DeSouza, E. , Pryor, J. , Ribiero, j. , Mello, J. , Camino, C. (2004). Female Nurses’ and Educators’ Reactions to Sexual Harassment Charges; A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Revista Interamericana de Psicologia, 38 (1), 33-40. Gabor, G. (2006). Sexual Harassment at the Workplace: Converging Ideologies, Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, 14, 100-109. Hertzog, J.
, Wright, D. , Beat, D. (2008). There’s a Policy for Than: A Comparison of the Organizational Culture of the Workplaces Reporting Incidents of Sexual Harassment. Behavior and Social Issues, 17, Fall/Winter 8. Retrieved May 31, 2009, from http://www. uic. edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index. php/bsi/article/view/2175. Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. (n. d. ) Retrieved June 3, 2009, from http://www. nwlc. org/details. cfm? id=459§ion=employment Symeonidou-Kastanidou, E. (2008). Sexual Harassment in Greek Criminal Law. Intelectum, 03 (3), 15-25.
Subject: Sexual harassment,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 24 September 2016
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