History of Sexual Harassment: Argumentative Essay

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In trying to understand sexual harassment one first has to learn where it derived from and what the roots of sexual harassment are. Sexism nowadays has a prevailing importance in many people’s lives. But what exactly does sexism mean? As sexism, one can understand discrimination based on someone’s gender or sex. Sexism can affect anyone no matter their age, nationality, belief, or gender, but it mainly affects girls and women (Masequesmay, no date). Even girls at a young age already get sexualized and objectified. Sexism is usually applied to show and maintain male dominance through oppression or exploitation (Masequesmay, no date). This is caused by the remaining stereotypes and gender roles that have existed for a very long time in our society. The main belief in this practice is that one gender is superior to another (Napikoski, 2019) and this is mainly caused, in the case of sexism towards girls and women, by misogynist thinking.

Misogyny means hate towards women and the term is derived from the Ancient Greek name “mīsoguníā” (Srivastava, Chaudhury, Bhat, & Sahu, 2017). Misogyny basically is apathy toward the female person that is applied in several forms such as belittling, harassing, downgrading, violating and threatening, and even more (Srivastava, Chaudhury, Bhat, & Sahu, 2017). Looking back at history women always have been suppressed by society and their rights have always been rejected and ignored. (Srivastava, Chaudhury, Bhat, & Sahu, 2017). Even great, well-known philosophers such as Aristotle were misogynists. Aristotle had a very negative view and women and portrayed them as inferior to men and that men always shall lead and women always shall follow (Srivastava, Chaudhury, Bhat, & Sahu, 2017). Women have always been treated as the lower individual that does not have a say or is not allowed to their own opinions and needs. This kind of discrimination containing oppression, inequality, and injustice led to many rising voices in society which resulted in the longest movement in history (Srivastava, Chaudhury, Bhat, & Sahu, 2017) of the meanwhile widespread concept of feminism.

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Concluding one can say that both sexism and misogyny continuously contribute to the objectification and sexualization of women. Furthermore, both concepts show how society sees and portrays women and they play a significant role in designating and illustrating the background of modern sexual discrimination.

Despite decades of attention in the media and courts, sexual harassment remains a significant and costly problem in today's business environment. The law defines sexual harassment as unwelcome verbal, visual, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature or based on someone’s sex that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment (Equal Rights Advocates). It is a direct violation of human rights laws, additionally, it negatively impacts the workplace by undermining the integrity of the employment relationship, harming employee morale, and interfering with the company's or organization’s productivity. It is considered sexual harassment when it takes place at work, at work-related events, or where people are carrying out work-related functions and between people sharing the same workplace (Humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au, 2019). Both state and federal laws, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, protect employees from sexual harassment at work. There are two recognized types of sexual harassment “quid pro quo” and hostile work environment (Findlaw, n.d.). Under the “quid pro quo” form of harassment, a person in authority, usually a supervisor, demands that subordinates tolerate sexual harassment as a condition of getting or keeping a job or job benefit, including promotions and raises (Findlaw, n.d.). A single instance of harassment is sufficient to sustain a “quid pro quo” claim (e.g., a superior demands you kiss her/him in order to keep your job), while a pattern of harassment is typically required to qualify as a hostile work environment (Findlaw, n.d.). Only employers with 15 or more employees are subject to Title VII. For companies with fewer than 15 employees, state law governs - and most states have enacted laws covering such circumstances (Findlaw, n.d.). Even a single incident is enough to constitute sexual harassment – it doesn’t have to be repeated (Humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au, 2019). In the case of such events, while the person who sexually harasses someone else is liable for their own behavior, employers can also be held vicariously liable for acts of sexual harassment by their employees or agents (Humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au, 2019). Sexual harassment can happen to both men and women, yet it affects them at disproportionate rates. Women are four times more likely to experience sexual assault or unwanted touching on the job than men, no matter what occupation or industry they work in (Smith, n.d.). In a study conducted by Canada’s General Social Survey, 6.7 women and 1.6 men per 1,000 workers reported being sexually assaulted at work. In the vast majority of cases, men (whether clients, customers, patients, strangers, or work colleagues) are the perpetrators of workplace violence. Among the overall rate of 11 assaults per 1,000 workers — both physical and sexual against both men and women — nine are committed by men and only two by women (Smith, n.d.). These numbers illustrate that women are more likely to be sexually harassed at work than men. That again shows that men try to express their superiority by oppressing women to satisfy their own needs.

It is quite important to discuss ways, which will help an individual to prevent sexual harassment. The actual problem is - harassment does not appear on its own. In fact, it is more likely to worsen and become more difficult to remedy when it is not addressed and people are left alone with their feelings and no help to overcome their experiences in the future.

The most important rule is definitely “No means no”, which also includes consent through fear is not consent, consent through guilt is not consent, and consent through pestering, begging, or pleading is not consent. You should never try to persuade someone. Whenever you feel like they are not sure about their decision it does not mean, that they want to be convinced or put under pressure to make a clear decision. Especially when alcohol is involved, you cannot be sure about someone’s consent to the situation. This “chance” should not be exploited, because no clear answer or no definite “no” does not equal a “yes”, in particular when the person is drunk and cannot consent to anything.

Moreover, if you are observing certain behavior when being with your friends or family members, do not make up excuses for them. Call them out for acting inappropriately towards others. Staying quiet perpetuates the problem and makes you part of it. Thinking “Boys will be boys” and acting like it is reasonable for anyone to hurt another individual's personal space, body, or “only” their soul does not only mean neglecting the victim and the consequences they have to face, but supporting destructive and hurtful behavior. On the other hand, making jokes about the problem equals being quiet because it normalizes the violence people have to deal with every single day and turns the tables making the victim the one who is acting wrong and irrationally.

Unfortunately, sexual assaults do happen between people with a steady relationship, too. Giving consent one, two, seven, or one thousand times, does not assume that your (sex)partner will always want to have sex with you or do certain sexual actions they once did or said they would do. Having a relationship and emotionally or financially investing in someone will never make them owe you sex or sexual actions as a kind of payment.

Sexual harassment is not only based on actions, but on words as well. Stop judging people by their sexuality. It is your decision to have a certain number of sex partners and so it is theirs too. You are not in the position to judge someone’s preferences as long as it happens in consent. It is absolutely wrong to shame someone for liking sex, not liking sex, or having too much or too little sex. None of these actions make them a “whore”, “easy to have” or “prudish”. Furthermore, this also applies to men, who are sex-repulsed, do not enjoy sex, or are too uncomfortable to have sex, who are coping in a society that associates maleness with strong sexual desires, leaving them like they are doing/ being wrong.

That is exactly why you should always use your privilege to stand up for others. If you see someone in danger, being uncomfortable, or being harassed, step in and help that person out. If someone decides to open up to you and tell you they were assaulted, do not assume they are exaggerating or that it was their fault they had to experience harassment. Instead, listen to them, believe them, and try to make them feel understood and safe with you. False accusations are definitely illegal and should never be supported, but the fear of facing claims does not compare to the fear of walking alone, being catcalled and touched, or the fear of walking alone in the dark.

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History of Sexual Harassment: Argumentative Essay. (2023, October 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/history-of-sexual-harassment-argumentative-essay/
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