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A Lesson in Sexual Harassment

Samantha Durham, Assistant Opinion Editor

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Sexual harassment hasn’t faded from everyday life as many would like you to believe. It occurs in all places, for all people and different times but the real question is why is happens at all. According to The Huffington Post, one in three women can expect to be sexually harassed in the workplace during her lifetime. So, it’s clear that women are facing sexual harassment, especially in a work environment even though companies are trying desperately to protect those who face sexual harassment.

I am not sure how many of you work for a larger company but one of the first things I had to do when I got my job was watch a series of video modules that addressed all forms of harassment and discrimination. It was made explicitly clear that the company had a zero tolerance policy for harassment or discrimination of any form. I, of course, am happy that companies are taking all the steps they can to protect their employees from unwanted treatment, but that doesn’t stop it from happening.

However, as The Huffington Post addresses in their article, sexual harassment is not just a man in a position of authority hitting on a woman of less power, it is a lot more than that. Without understanding the full extent of sexual harassment we cannot combat it or discover why preventative methods are not stopping the harassment.

I know that most people look at sexual harassment and think of a woman has the victim, but let’s be very honest, this is a different world. We live in a society where women may face various forms of inequality but also women can own businesses and hold positions of power as well. Therefore, women can be the harassers just as much as they are capable of being the victim of sexual harassment.

The root of this whole problem with sexual harassment or harassment of almost any form is that it’s not about what most people think it is. It’s about power and control. The Huffington Post said it well,“sexual harassment if rarely just about sex. It’s about power.”

It might be hard to identify sexual harassment at times, especially when it comes from a woman but there are signs reported The Huffington Post. This could be for a multitude of reasons for example women are able to hold positions of authority but when compared to men they do less often. Therefore, potentially making them less likely to be the perpetrator but not impossible. Women also are viewed as less sexually aggressive than men, making it hard for some to recognize if they are being harassed or not.

Also, let’s not forget that sexual harassment does not just have to be between two people of the opposite sex. It can and does happen between those of the same sex, more often than most people care to recognize. Women make comments about other women’s bodies as do men. Even if they are sexual advances that are made as a joke or as “locker room talk” they are still considered sexual harassment.

Hopefully, as time goes on more people will be aware that just because it is a joke, does not make it funny, nor does it make it excusable. You are in control of your actions and what you say. I always say that if you have to think about the behavior being inappropriate then most likely it is. Also, if you wouldn’t like someone speaking to you or acting towards you in that fashion then do not do it to someone else, even if it is supposed to be light hearted. The implications might be greater than you expect.

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The news site of UNC Wilmington
A Lesson in Sexual Harassment