The Myth of the Plague of Sexual Harassment Essay

Published: 2021-06-29 02:10:05
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One of the most talked-about issues of the past few years has been the issue ofsexual harassment, and it supposed prevalence in all workplaces. Pushed to the nationalspotlight by the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, in which Ms.
Hill accused her bossJustice Thomas of sexual harassment, it has become popular belief that sexual harassmentoccurs in all workplaces, and that the vast majority of female office -workers have beensexually harassed. Feminist groups have taken in upon themselves to interject in manyoffices, leading sensitivity training sessions on sexual harassment, and promoting thecause of those who charge others with sexual harassment. Despite the claims of feministgroups about merely educating and “sensitizing” people on sexual harassment, the newstate guidelines have only succeeded in trivializing the issue, and are actually verydetrimental to powerful women. According to a pamphlet by the California Department of Fair Employment andHousing, one of the legally defined situations of sexual harassment involves such verbalconduct as “making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, and jokes. ” While suchexamples of speech may be considered offensive or crude behavior, it is not the role ofthe federal, state, or county government to legislate what people can say, and where theycan say these things. By adopting verbal comments as part of the state guidelines onsexual harassment, the state of California is actually encouraging stifling free speech,which should be considered unconstitutional.
If a woman walks in on a conversationbetween co-workers in an office, in which sexual jokes and lewd comments are featured,this does not constitute sexual harassment. Katie Roiphe, author of The Morning After:Sex, Fear, and Feminism, states it best when she proclaims that “feminists. . . seem to haveforgotten childhood’s words of wisdom: sticks and stones may break my bones, but nameswill never harm me” (101). If a woman or man finds particular speech, jokes, orcomments offensive, they should speak up, and voice their opposition, instead of cryingharassment and calling their lawyer.
As renegade feminist professor and society criticCamille Paglia proclaimed, in her book Vamps and Tramps, “If someone offends you byspeech you must learn to defend yourself by speech. . . and not beg for outside help tocurtail your opponent’s free movement” (51). “Sexual Harassment is Forbidden by Law” continues its definition of sexualharassment, by proclaiming that “verbal sexual advances or propositions” are consideredsexual harassment in California.
While many people may consider this sexual harassment,this should be looked at as more about every day, normal behavior being consideredcriminal. If one finds another person attractive, regardless of position of power or status, aproposition is generally issued for a date, dinner, or cocktails. Asking your secretary outon a date is not sexual harassment, just as it would not be sexual harassment if thesecretary asked the boss or co-worker out on a date. It should not be considered sexualharassment unless work-related advancement is denied to whomever refused the dateoffer.
Author Katie Roiphe contends that a proposition for a date is normal, healthybehavior between a man and a woman. “To find wanted sexual attention, you have to giveand receive a certain amount of unwanted sexual attention. Clearly, the truth is that if noone was ever allowed to risk offering unsolicited sexual attention, we would all besolitary creatures” (Roiphe 87). None of us would exist if no one ever risked unwantedsexual advances. The criminalization of innocent date propositions is another example ofthe trivialization of sexual harassment. By focusing on this type of proposition as typicalof sexual harassment, feminists are demonstrating that their objective is not stamping outsexual harassment, but stamping out innocent heterosexual behavior.
One final example of the extreme nature of the sexual harassment guidelines is itscharacterization of such visual conduct as “leering, making sexual gestures, displaying ofsexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons or posters” as sexual harassment. Itastounds me that anyone could support such a Stalinesque proposal. The banning ofsexually suggestive objects or posters is a clear violation of our constitutional rights offreedom of speech and expression. As Camille Paglia once wrote, “we can never fullylegislate the human psyche” (Vamps and Tramps, 47).
Who is to determine whatconstitutes leering? This is, as Katie Roiphe wrote, “an ominous, not to mention difficult,prospect” (91). Our courts will be even more inundated with frivolous claims of sexualharassment, charging some man walking down the hall .

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