Friday, May 13, 2011

How Important Is Sexual Harrassment To You?

Sexual harassment, is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. In some contexts or circumstances, sexual harassment may be illegal. It includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and annoyances to actual sexual abuse or sexual assault. Sexual harassment is a form of illegal employment discrimination in many countries, and is a form of abuse (sexual and psychological) and bullying. For many businesses, preventing sexual harassment, and defending employees from sexual harassment charges, have become key goals of legal decision-making.
Sexual harassments can occur in a variety of circumstances. Often, but not always, the harasser is in a position of power or authority over the victim (due to differences in age, or social, political, educational or employment relationships). [wikipedia]
Many times we turn a blind eye to certain situations for various reasons: we don't care enough to get involved, we don't know the person(s), we figure "if i don't say anything i won't be a snitch, get into any trouble myself". We don't know what is like to be a tough spot until  it happens to us. What if that was you? What if you were being forced to do something against your will and no one was around to help you, even worst, people ARE around and they all just walk away...? Bet you'll regret all the times you've turned a blind eye, or acted like you didn't see anything.
The harasser can be anyone, such as a client, a co-worker, a parent or legal guardian, a teacher or professor, a student, a friend, or a stranger. The victim does not have to be the person directly harassed but can be anyone who finds the behavior offensive and is affected by it. Adverse affects on the target are common: The victim can be any gender. The harasser can be any gender. The harasser does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser may be completely unaware that his or her behavior is offensive or constitutes sexual harassment or may be completely unaware that his or her actions could be unlawful.
*****Misunderstanding: It can result from a situation where one thinks he/she is making themselves clear, but is not understood the way they intended. The misunderstanding can either be reasonable or unreasonable. An example of unreasonable is when a man holds a certain stereotypical view of a woman such that he did not understand the woman’s explicit message to stop.(Heyman, 1994).
One of the difficulties in understanding sexual harassment is that it involves a range of behavior, and is often difficult for the recipient to describe to themselves, and to others, exactly what they are experiencing. Moreover, behavior and motives vary between individual harassers.[wikipedia]
How can you ever understand someone that has been a victim of sexual harassment, when you haven't experienced it yourself? And what do we do? How do we know when someone is sexually harrassing someone esle, or being harassed?

Types of Harassers: Public harassers are flagrant in their seductive or sexist attitudes towards colleagues, subordinates, students, etc.
Private harassers carefully cultivate a restrained and respectable image on the surface, but when alone with their target, their demeanor changes.
Langelan describes three different classes of harassers:

Predatory harasser who gets sexual thrills from humiliating others. This harasser may become involved in sexual extortion, and may frequently harass just to see how targets respond. Those who don't resist may even become targets for rape.

Dominance harasser: the most common type, who engages in harassing behaviour as an ego boost.
strategic or **territorial harassers who seek to maintain privilege in jobs or physical locations, for example a man's harassing female employees in a predominantly male occupation.
There is often more than one type of harassing behavior present, so a single harasser may fit more than one category. These are brief summations of each type.[wiki]
Power-player - Legally termed "quid pro quo" harassment, these harassers insist on sexual favors in exchange for benefits they can dispense because of their positions in hierarchies: getting or keeping a job, favorable grades, recommendations, credentials, projects, promotion, orders, and other types of opportunities.
Mother/Father Figure (a.k.a. The Counselor-Helper) - These harassers will try to create mentor-like relationships with their targets, all the while masking their sexual intentions with pretenses towards personal, professional, or academic attention.
One-of-the-Gang - Harassment occurs when groups of men or women embarrass others with lewd comments, physical evaluations, or other unwanted sexual attention. Harassers may act individually in order to belong or impress the others, or groups may gang up on a particular target.
Serial Harasser - Harassers of this type carefully build up an image so that people would find it hard to believe they would do anyone any harm. They plan their approaches carefully, and strike in private so that it is their word against that of their victims.
Groper - Whenever the opportunity presents itself, these harassers' eyes and hands begin to wander, engaging in unwanted physical contact that may start innocuous but lead to worse.
Opportunist - Opportunist use physical settings and circumstances, or infrequently occurring opportunities, to mask premeditated or intentional sexual behavior towards targets. This will often involve changing the environment in order to minimize inhibitory effects of the workplace or school or taking advantage of physical tasks to 'accidentally' grope a target.
Bully - In this case, a harasser uses physical threats to frighten and separate two would be lovers who willfully are engaging with each other. The intent of the harasser can be due to a range of reasons such as jealousy, racism, or their own hidden sexual agendas. Normally the harasser attempts to physically separate the two using their size or threats of physical violence and remains until they are satisfied by the separation or can pursue their own sexual agenda against one of the victims.
Confidante - Harassers of this type approach subordinates, or students, as equals or friends, sharing about their own life experiences and difficulties, sharing stories to win admiration and sympathy, and inviting subordinates to share theirs so as to make them feel valued and trusted. Soon these relationships move into an intimate domain.
Situational Harasser - Harassing behavior begins when the perpetrator endures a traumatic event (psychological), or begins to experience very stressful life situations, such as psychological or medical problems, marital problems, or divorce. The harassment will usually stop if the situation changes or the pressures are removed.
Pest - This is the stereotypical "won't take 'no' for an answer" harasser who persists in hounding a target for attention and dates even after persistent rejections. This behavior is usually misguided, with no malicious intent.
Great Gallant - This mostly verbal harassment involves excessive compliments and personal comments that focus on appearance and gender, and are out of place or embarrassing to the recipient. Such comments are sometimes accompanied by leering looks.
Intellectual Seducer - Most often found in educational settings, these harassers will try to use their knowledge and skills as an avenue to gain access to students, or information about students, for sexual purposes. They may require students participate in exercises or "studies" that reveal information about their sexual experiences, preferences, and habits.
Incompetent - These are socially inept individuals who desire the attentions of their targets, who do not reciprocate these feelings. They may display a sense of entitlement, believing their targets should feel flattered by their attentions. When rejected, this type of harasser may use bullying methods as a form of revenge.
Stalking - Persistent watching, following, contacting or observing of an individual, sometimes motivated by what the stalker believes to be love, or by sexual obsession, or by anger and hostility.
Unintentional - Acts or comments of a sexual nature, not intended to harass, can constitute sexual harassment if another person feels uncomfortable with such subjects.
                                            Retaliation and backlash
Retaliation and backlash against a victim are very common, particularly a complainant. Victims who speak out against sexual harassment are often labeled troublemakers who are on their own power trips, or who are looking for attention. Similar to cases of rape or sexual assault, the victim often becomes the accused, with their appearance, private life, and character likely to fall under intrusive scrutiny and attack.[4] They risk hostility and isolation from colleagues, supervisors, teachers, fellow students, and even friends. They may become the targets of mobbing or relational aggression.[wiki]
Word From The Blogger: This isn't something that should be taken lightly. Sexual harassment is an offense. Not only is it the act of unwelcome actions, and comments as well as remarks and looks, but we never know how our actions affect others. Someone can be walking down the street and look perfectly normal, but what do we know? Maybe that person is dying inside, drowing in a pool of pain  and sorrow, feeling dispair and emptiness. There's a new law: "If you SEE something, SAY something" this doesn't only implicate bullying, but sexual harassment and anything else for that matter. As a human being why wouldn't you want to help someone else? I feel so strongly about this for various reasons from friends and family who have gone through this painful ordeal to just a personal "mission". I'm determined to be LOUD about this! If you can comment, please do, if not spread the word! Sometimes victims from S.H are too afraid to say anything, they feel somehow responsible for whats happened to them or they simply feel too embarrased to talk about this with anyone else. Help, you never know when (GOD forbid) is you in that spot. Say something, lend a shoulder, reach out! No one should be forced into anything they are not in agreement with. And NO MEANS NO!!! Find yourself in a situation similar to this, but not to the point of an assault yet, what are you waiting for? SPEAK UP! REACH OUT! TELL SOMEONE! Take care of yourselves, becareful and help others always!
                 XOXOXO K.Regina

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