Main | Thursday, January 14, 2010

Male-On-Male Sexual Harassment Rises

According to a Newsweek report, reported incidences of workplace male-on-male sexual harassment are on the rise. The story notes that most of the cases don't arise from flirting gone too far, but from actions meant to sexually humiliate the victim.
The EEOC tracks the number of men and women who file claims with the agency, but doesn't always keep track of the gender of the harasser. However, Grinberg confirms that the EEOC has recognized a growing trend in the number of men alleging same-sex sexual harassment. "The classic image of sexual harassment is Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill; it's not two men or even two women," says Dr. Liza H. Gold, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University who serves as an expert in sexual-harassment suits. And yet the experience of men harassed by men may help to illustrate the realities of all such cases. When women are the victims, they may face assumptions that the abuse is the result of an affair gone wrong, hurt feelings, or mixed signals. In truth, sexual harassment of both genders has more to do with issues of control and abuses of power for the purpose of humiliation than with sexual attraction. By exposing the men to taunts about their genitalia, sexually suggestive simulations, and lewd comments, the men perpetrating the harassment are seeking to embarrass and target the male victims—not sexually stimulate or "flirt" with them.
It wasn't until 1998 that the Supreme Court even recognized the possibility of same-sex sexual harassment. Empowerment to report such incidents may account for the rise in EEOC cases.

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