Sexual Harassment Vs Sexual Assault: Critical Essay

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One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped during their lives. (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). Sexual harassment/assault becomes a problem when it is a common event that occurs daily. If you were to turn on the television to the news, you would more than likely hear about a case that must deal with sexual harassment/ assault. It happens too often that the world just brushes it off and acts as if it isn’t important. This doesn’t only happen in workplaces with coworkers, but also with school staff and students and sadly with infants and toddlers. Anyone can experience sexual harassment/assault, no matter their age, gender, race, etc. This is a topic that people will be affected by this forever and must face when it is brought up, and today’s world doesn’t do as much as it could for the victims. Sexual harassment/assault is a problem in the United States of America because of socialization, power games, lack of company policy, and victim blaming.

Many people face this throughout their life. Sexual harassment/ assault violates Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964 (U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Many people assume that it is mainly women, which is true. 91% of victims are females (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). Sexual harassment/assault can be many different things. Those things include rape, forcible sodomy, marital rape, unwanted sexual touching, any sexual contact with a minor, whether given consent or not, incest, or any unwanted sexual contact (Women’s Center). Sexual harassment/assault started in the 19th and early 20th century in South America, where African American women who were slaves were being sexually harassed without legal protection (Dorau). During the early 1840s unequal economic and political relationships were said to be caused, by activists (Dorau). Today we have a movement, which is called the #MeToo movement to show how sexual harassment affects our society (Higginbottom).

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One of the main cases of sexual harassment/assault would be socialization. Socialization starts during your childhood at which you learn the values, habits, and attitudes of society (Webster). But many are taught these things in different ways. The world has gone through different changes over the years. To where society thinks it’s “okay” to discriminate (Western Cape Government). Meaning no one hesitates to pick out people because of their sexuality, gender, ethnicity, disability, age, social class, etc. When it comes to sexual harassment/assault eight of ten victims knew the perpetrator (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). Showing that the victim has come in some type of contact with the suspect. 51% of females were raped by an intimate and 40.8% were by an acquaintance/partner. While males were 52.4% by an acquaintance and 15.1% by a stranger (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). Women are attacked more by people who they know or come in contact. During college 20%-25% of females and 15% of males were shown to be victims of sex that were forced. Many victims do not report it, and 90% of college students do not report being assaulted (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). Many believe that women are supposed to “please men” (Western Cape Government). Or that this happens because of what a woman wears, while men will do this no matter what the girl is wearing. Women should be able to wear whatever without a man thinking sexually.

The second main cause would be power games. When our first government system was created, men were the face of it. Not only government jobs but also farming, blacksmith, etc, Women were expected to stay home and tend to the house and children. Since 1950 the population of women in the workforce has increased (Tossii and Morsisi). With that being said, during the career advancement of women, men started to feel threatened (Western Cape Government). In the past, men had a higher amount of in the world and could get away with a lot more. As a result, women would be blamed for “flirting” (Dorau). People would believe that the men did nothing wrong and assume that the women were making it up. Whereas in today’s world, women are believed more than men. With men feeling threatened, they would harass women to prove themselves, they also referred to it as “fringe benefit.” Which meant they felt that their sex, power, and position entitled them (Western Cape Government). Allyson Zimmermann said that when you see females out-populating men in jobs, you see sexual harassment increase, but when the roles are separated equally, you see sexual harassment decrease (Higginbottom). This also happens when men as if they can get away with it because of who they are. For example, Donald Trump, when videos of him kissing females without their consent were seen. Trump considered it “locker room talk” (Yonack). This made women want to speak up and talk about them going through being sexually harassed or assaulted.

The final reason would be credibility and victim blaming. Credibility is how reliable something is (Webster). Credibility and victim blaming can be broken down into many different parts. Females will become embarrassed and not tell anyone until they’re in the situation and it becomes harsh and unbearable. Not only do they become embarrassed, but females also start blaming themselves for what happened (Western Cape Government). Victims may never know why they were targeted, but some do. Whenever someone goes through being a victim of sexual assault/harassment, they have to live with it for the rest of their lives and question why there was the victim. Although sexual harassment/assault can happen anywhere, the main place this occurs is in the workplace. As big of a problem as this is, many companies do not create policies to help deal with harassment (Western Cape Government). There are two basic types of sexual harassment in the workplace. This includes, “This for that,” which can be used to prevent someone from being fired from a job, and a hostile work environment, which is when supervisors perform unwanted conduct such as being hostile, offensive, or intimidating (United States Department of Labor). The companies could be doing a lot more to prevent sexual harassment/assault from happening. But since that is not the case, eight percent of the cases occur while the victim is at the workplace (National Sexual Violence Resource Center). So, women either feel that this is their fault or hide it until it becomes harshly unbearable.

Sexual harassment/assault can be resolved in many ways. One way could be having the victims join groups to talk about it with each other and punish the ones who perform it (U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Companies should also step to the plate, and let their employees know that there is no tolerance for sexual harassment/assault, and they should list the consequences up front, and also supply support groups for those in need. Men feel as if they’re higher than women, some men just simply do not care how they come across, and others take mixed signals from females (What Causes Sexual Harassment). So, providing employees with the consequences upfront could prevent them from trying to sexually harass/assault another coworker. As far as when it comes to sexual harassment/assault outside of the workplace, the government and court systems could be punishing the suspects harsher and longer, to show the community that it is not okay to do you will be punished. The groups of victims coming together could make one another feel a lot better. As mentioned before, victims find it hard to open up and explain what happened but being in a group where everyone has experienced something very similar, it may be easier to know no one will be judged and everyone is there for one another. Creating a group of people who have been in those shoes and can relate to how each person is feeling. And being able to understand it is not easy opening up about this type of situation in life, especially to someone who wouldn’t understand.

In conclusion socialization, power games, credibility, and victim blaming are all reasons why America has the issue of sexual harassment/assault. Suspects feel that it is okay to perform this because the victims are scared to speak up. The suspects get away easily when found guilty when they should be punished much harder. When it comes to the workplace, companies could make policies that could potentially decrease the cases of sexual harassment/assault. Today the world acts as if it is completely “okay” to discriminate, men feel threatened by how much the females have increased in the workforce, and women do not open up until the sexual assault becomes harsh and unbearable. As each day goes by more and more people are affected by this. Once someone is affected by this, they may never want to be out again. If it were to happen at the workplace, those victims may never want to go back to work again. This could lose trust in the government and leaders, for not taking this seriously and punishing suspects harshly. Walking down the street, passing people, and the majority could very easily be affected by sexual harassment/assault.


    1. “Credibility.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,
    2. “Cures.” Western Cape Government,
    3. “Get Statistics.” Sexual Assault Statistics | National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC),
    5. Information about the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA),
    6. “Marshall University.” Womens Center,
    7. Toossi, Mitra. “Women in the Workforce, before, during and after the Great Recession.” Spotlight on Statistics, 2017,
    8. “What Causes Sexual Harassment?” The Women's Code, 9 Feb. 2018,
    9. “What Do I Need to Know about... WORKPLACE HARASSMENT.” United States Department of Labor,
    10. Yonack, Lyn. “Sexual Assault Is About Power.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers,
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