“Sexual Harassment” has been a word being thrown around lately as though it’s a thing or even a crime. Thanks to Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton (some time ago), Bill Cosby and previous president George HW Bush (tho on a way smaller scale) among many others, my morning weather and traffic reports are routinely followed up by some actress coming outta the woodwork accusing him of something that I’m not sure is even a crime. Don’t get me wrong here, there’s sufficient, even abundant evidence that these guys are arrogant, narcissistic borderline perverts who take advantage of their powerful positions in order to satisfy their own sexual desires, but have they violated the law?
Fear not, for your not so indefatigueable journalist/blogger is on top of it. In studying this matter I asked my three female bartenders to answer the question of “What IS sexual harassment?” (almost sounds like an NFL penalty when you say it enough times. “The offense is penalized 10 yards for sexual misconduct! The ball will be placed at the 34 yard line! Please reset the game clock to 2 minutes and 34 seconds!”). The aforementioned bartendresses couldn’t quite come up with a definition themselves despite my lurid and depraved examples, but they all felt that they just know it when they hear or see it.
Fair enough. So let’s delve deeper into this issue by searching the internet for an accurate, fair description…
“harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.”
The EEOC (“you’re tax dollars at work!”) came up with an actual definition of the legality of this question:
“It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.
Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.”
AHA!! Now we have a clear definition!! Unfortunately, these rules would necessitate the incarceration of every male in the USA, so let’s probe further. Let’s say that a guy who’s not so great lookin’ (let us call him “Gus”) busts a move on a way overly made-up, leopard-skinned clad, fake blond floozy of a woman while simply asking her out for dinner (let us call her “Wanda”) and gets rejected. Is Gus guilty of “an unwanted sexual advance”? Next, let’s say a total douchebag of a moron named “Iggy” says the exact same thing to Wanda only this time she accepts. Is Iggy off the hook here because Wanda accepted his advances while Gus is suddenly in trouble?
Here’s why I setup this example. Gus apparently made an “unwanted sexual advance” simply because he got shot down by Wanda whereas Iggy’s cool insomuch as his advance was accepted by Wanda and therefore must be considered a wanted advance.
Now let’s consider Gus to be outta the picture seeing as he may or may not have sudden legal problems requiring a lawyer under the rules previously mentioned and concentrate on Iggy. Taking this further, let’s also say Iggy is Wanda’s boss and could promote her career in ways that Gus never could leading to Wanda’s acceptance of Iggy’s advance. Heh, heh, NOW WE’RE TALKIN’!
Here’s where Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, and every other self-entitled semi-molester in a position of power is gonna get it. Or so you would think…
The key here seems to be that the guy inflicting the harassment has to be in a position of power. A studio executive, a politician, a rock music star (funny that rock stars rarely seem to have this issue. Maybe their “aquaintances” don’t aspire to anything I guess) or a person of heavy influence over their targets careers. Can Iggy and Wanda have a relationship just because they love each other and want to be together? What if it is at first and things go downhill inside of a month and they just break it off? Is Iggy guilty here?
If sexual harassment is so pervasive and so humiliating why does it seem to take forever for the victims to say something? What changed after all these years? Were they too young and hopeful at the time or are they just looking to cash in on an opportunity to stick it to that guy? Maybe the women were so humiliated that they felt ashamed and just wouldn’t admit it until they’d grown up. To be blunt, are we talking about female golddiggers here or powerful, manipulative men taking advantage of vulnerable young women?
I still wonder how you define this. It seems to boil down to “he said, she said” and lacking Monica Lewinsky’s dress, how do you know for sure?
Please hit Mamemagazine.com when you have a chance. Great writing and top-notch photo content.
Until next time,