When most of us think of sexual harassment in the workplace, we usually think of a man subjecting a woman to unwanted sexual advances. Sometimes these advances are subtle comments or jokes, and sometimes they are in the form of groping, assault, or rape. In fact, sexual harassment is defined as any unwanted sexual advance toward another.
Recent allegations against actress Asia Argento bring the notion that most of us have unrealistic ideas of who perpetrates this crime. Sexual harassment is not about one gender dominating another, but rather it is about those wielding their power over a subordinate. Sexual harassment can and does occur between:
- Man and woman
- Man and man
- Woman and woman
Men as Victims
Asia Argento is not the only woman to be recently accused of sexual harassment. In fact, experts believe that female perpetrators are rare but largely undocumented. Complicating things even further, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission only records the gender of the accusers and not of the alleged perpetrators.
However, the fact that the percentage of known female perpetrators is low does not necessarily indicate that females are more moral than their male counterparts. Instead the low rate of female perpetrators could be due to several other factors:
- Women are less often in positions of power
- Men want to avoid the social stigma of victimization
- Fear of retaliation or losing a job
- Avoidance of stress and anxiety
In a recent article, Marketplace-Edison Research reports that one out of every seven men have been sexually harassed in the workplace. The article goes on to provide a detailed account of a young man who was slowly coerced into a sexual relationship with his female boss. When he finally tried to report the incident, he was met with disbelief and encouraging comments from other men.
This story illuminates the fact that male victims of sexual harassment are often met by a predominant male ideology that sexual advances from women are not only welcome but are fantasized. The truth is that sexual assault can happen to anyone at any time. All allegations of sexual misconduct need to be taken seriously so that more males and females are encouraged to come forward in the workplace and other social situations.
Protecting Yourself from Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Although it is a company’s duty to have clear policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, there are several steps that an employee can take to protect themselves:
- Understand the definition of sexual harassment
- Find your company’s institutional policies and reporting procedures regarding sexual harassment
- Report any behavior that makes you uncomfortable to a supervisor or Human Resources department
- If possible, tell the individual directly that their behavior is inappropriate
- Document the harassment in writing as soon as possible
South Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Victims of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
If you or a loved one is experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, contact a dedicated South Jersey sexual harassment lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation. We are in Philadelphia, and we serve clients from the surrounding areas, including the state of New Jersey.