The term Sexual Harassment has become a pretty common term in recent memory. In 2017 alone, there were dozens of cases involving sexual harassment in Hollywood that stripped away the career of famous film producer, Harvey Weinstein. It is also common amongst the basic workplace and might have the ability to create a hostile work environment. However, Sexual Harassment doesn’t always have to do with sex specifically. It can be rude remarks about another person’s gender or something along the lines of repeated compliments. It is quite interesting to dig up the reasons for what would drive a person to commit these actions. They could be unsatisfied with their current partner; have a specific fantasy they want fulfilled, or just plain crazy and have the urge they need to unleash.
Sexual Harassment comes in many forms. Some of it might be incredibly obvious like unwanted kissing, requesting for sexual favors, explicit comments, or uninvited messages, but nowadays it is far more subtle (Barrieo, 2019). To avoid trouble, the perpetrator might go for something along the lines of making constant sexual jokes, repeatedly sending sexually suggestive emails, or going as far to spread sexual rumors about another employee (Barrieo, 2019). All these factors can potentially be the birth of a hostile work environment, but the actions must be reasonable and not petty. For example, a woman can play victim and act as if she has been harassed to get the other employee in trouble. It could be something so small as a compliment about the makeup the female employee might be wearing that she could take to corporate and get the male employee in serious trouble.
Along with a possible hostile work environment, the affects that sexual harassment can cause on a single woman can be incredibly tragic. According to data compiled by Equal Rights Advocates, a women’s law center in the U.S., 90 to 95% of sexually harassed women suffer from some debilitating stress reaction, including anxiety, depression, headaches, sleep disorders, weight loss or gain, nausea, lowered self-esteem and sexual dysfunction. (Sexual Harassment, 2003) If a woman is under the authority of someone that is constantly harassing her, she could risk losing her job is she doesn’t do what the perpetrator wants her to do. She might also not be able to do her job properly given the stress put on her shoulders.
It is incredibly rare to see a harassment case involving a man. Women are often the victims simply out of the fact that they lack manpower and are very vulnerable, making them an easy target for some men. There are many different reasons why men sexually assault women. One factor might be that they want to “protect occupational territory”. According to Psychology Professor Shawn Burn, Ph.D. “sometimes, sexual harassment is used to intimidate, disempower, and discourage women in traditionally male-dominated occupations.” (Connley, 2017) For example, the perpetrator might sexually harass a woman who might have just been hired to a mostly male dominated job discourage her to keep things the same among the rest of the workplace. Another possible reason that a man might use sexual harassment is the approval of sexual objectification. Shawn Burn goes onto argue that certain jobs that women have, usually those involving physical appearance, face increased levels of sexual harassment. Burn also goes onto state that a man might harass a woman out of abuse of power. According to actress Ashely Judd, “Not all people handle power and money with grace. Some use their power to exploit and maltreat others, knowing they can get away with it, and some getting off on it.” (Connley, 2017)
As has been the case for so many years, workers and regular people have been trying everything to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. While there has been little in the way of research evaluating the effectiveness of sexual harassment training programs, some of the best methods have been identified. According to Chris Kilmartin, PhD, employees should learn about company policies and laws relating to sexual harassment, procedures for filing complaints, and expectations of behavior for all employees (Monitor on Psychology, 2018). Bystander intervention is also highly regarded. If a regular employee happens to hear about possible harassment happening, they should immediately report what they know and hopefully turn things around. According to Elissa Perry, PhD, a successful training program could result in more sexual harassment complaints coming in at a record time. However, a drawback of that is an elevated level of complaints for an extended period may indicate the training hasn’t helped (Monitor on Psychology, 2018).
Sexual Harassment in the workplace is incredibly detrimental to the success of a business. It could lead to a hostile work environment meaning not only will people leave the company, but your companies name and reputation might be forever ruined. As stated previously, the effects of harassment that a woman might endure can sometimes be more brutal than the harassment itself. Loss of work time, lost wages, stress, headaches, nausea, and possible the loss of her job. Many factors play into why a man might sexual harass a woman, but many people have been trying to stop this trend before it spreads any further using awareness, workplace training, and the simple tactic of just speaking up.