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Common Sense Talk About Sexual Harassment

first_img Share 65 Views   no discussions Every woman I know of a certain age remembers being sexually harassed. Except we didn’t call it sexual harassment way back then. We remembered the time when guys–our co-workers, our customers, and, yes, our bosses—were often making passes, hitting on us, telling an off-color joke, saying a lot of suggestive things, endlessly trying it on. And, yes, a lot of times it was upsetting and most of the time demeaning. Once in a while, maybe, even frightening, especially if one was young or felt insecure and powerless and really, really needed the job or wanted the promotion.And at the same time, let’ s not forget, there were women who turned sexual harassment around and used it to their own advantage. It was called sleeping your way to the top. A lot of very smart, very capable women, some of whom are now very respected and admired women of a certain age, did exactly that though, of course, they would now deny it. But most of us just said no or laughed it off, and most guys took no for an answer and maybe went on and tried with someone else and didn’t hold it against us. Yes, you thought less of him and for all I know, he might have thought more of you for slapping his hands away or telling him how much you liked his wife and his adorable kiddies when he was trying to pull you close. But the awkward moment was between the two of you. You didn’t complain to H.R. You didn’t file a lawsuit. And if you really did have a pig of a boss who was that unrelentingly aggressive, you knew you had to find another job because you realized it wasn’t smart to work in a place that would let such a jerk have power. Of course the reason my friends and I were talking again about sexual harassment was because of the accusations against Herman Cain. And though a couple said it just shows that guys in power never learn, most thought the women making the accusations were not the most appealing examples of woman-as-victim. The blonde from Chicago with a cloudy past seemed just too eager for her press conference moment. And the other seems to be a serial plaintiff who thinks recompense for possible sexual harassment is a free year at Harvard. What’s more, these days men can be as vulnerable to charges of sexual harassment as women are vulnerable to being harassed. Maybe, in some ways, even more so. If a young man works in almost any company today and a woman reports that he is harassing her, whether it is true or not, the guy is usually fired. It is not worth the trouble for most companies to find out the truth.They are more afraid of the woman suing, the automatic sympathy she would get, and the enormous legal expenses the company would entail. Far easier to dump the man, sidetrack his career, and seem so very protective of a woman’s rights. And when the man, who is accused, is in a powerful position, it is easier to just pay off the woman in some way than fight her in court. It may leave a shadow on him but it saves a lot of big lawyer’s bills. Was it better the way it used to be? No, of course not.There was tolerance of what was truly unacceptable behavior. But it is still far from perfect now. These days the assumption seems to be that women are so vulnerable and defenseless they always need a lawsuit and a payoff to protect them from even questionable behavior. Rather than–in most cases– simply having the good sense to say, “Cut it out.” Myrna Blyth is editor-in-chief of ThirdAge. LifestyleRelationships Common Sense Talk About Sexual Harassment by: – November 16, 2011 Sharecenter_img Sharing is caring! Share Tweetlast_img read more