Sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior with serious, long-lasting repercussions. (Zimbroff; Richman). More importantly, sexual harassment is a perpetual problem in American society. The issue was present in the days of Susan B. Anthony, and it is still present today in the everyday lives of both men and women (Yzurdiaga et al). Although there are many challenges presented in rectifying this problem, it is possible to accomplish this goal through effective leadership.
There are several varying definitions of sexual harassment, but almost all of them agree that cases of sexual harassment involve unwanted verbal or physical sexual advances. Some even widen the definition to include discrimination on the basis of gender. Madeline Yzurdiaga said about the differences in sexual harassment qualifications, “What is common to all these definitions is that sexual harassment is a product of environment, of gendered action, an invasion of privacy, a structural power struggle, and a form of domination.” This specific type of harassment was termed “sexual harassment” by the feminist movement in the 1960s (Tindigarukayo).
Though it is primarily seen as a problem for women, both men and women experience sexual harassment. Often, this harassment is in the form of verbal, visual, or written harassment, and it is usually something that happens multiple times (Yzurdiaga). Further, the harasser can be the same or opposite sex as the victim, and the victim can be anyone affected by the harassment; not only the one being harassed, but also witnesses of the harassment are victims (Tindigarukayo).
Different cultures are affected differently by sexual harassment. Occupation, race, and sexual preference all contribute to sexual harassment (Richman). For example, Gloria Desole added that, “Women of color, particularly African American women, have played a crucial role in defining sexual harassment as well as fighting some of the most significant battles that brought the issue into national prominence.”
Sexual harassment is known to be common in the field of academia, but it has reached many other professional fields as well (Leiter). Tindigarukayo lists government departments, private firms, NGOs and CBOs, and places of worship as other institutions in which sexual harassment is common. Leiter added the fields of law, medicine, engineering, and sciences. It has been suggested that sexual harassment is the product of gender roles being enforced in the workplace (Richman).
Sexual harassment is a statement of power, not an act of sexual satisfaction. The victim is irrelevant to the harasser. Instead, it is the harassment itself that provides the feeling of control that the harasser is looking for (Yzurdiaga).
As I alluded to above, sexual harassment has been a problem in our society for hundreds of years. This is why I feel that it is such a prevalent issue for our generation and future generations. The trend of sexual harassment will continue until someone puts an end to it, so that is exactly what our generation should do.