You may have been among the many in California and across the country who followed the #MeToo movement at its height a few years ago. Perhaps you had a special interest in the outcome of the movement, which sought to bring awareness to the magnitude of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. If the #MeToo movement spoke to you but did little to change your situation, you are not alone.
In fact, even researchers continue to seek answers to the questions that sexual harassment raises concerning those who harass and their victims. What some studies show is that many myths exist about sexual harassment in the workplace despite the #MeToo movement and other efforts to spread awareness. These myths may also serve to perpetrate the abuse.
It’s about power, not sex
If you are the victim of sexual harassment on the job, you likely feel powerless. That is because the perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault are often those who have power over their victims. This may be the reason why so many decide not to file complaints when they are harassed on the job since those abusers are the ones in power. Additionally, the pervasive myths related to sexual harassment may add to the problem, so it is important to understand the following:
- Sexual harassment may occur in every industry and in any economic sector, from high-wage businesses to retail and service-oriented jobs.
- The process of reporting harassment in most workplaces contains serious deficiencies that often leave the victim vulnerable to further mistreatment.
- Since harassment is more about power than sex, women are not the only victims of harassment, and more men are reporting sexual abuse on the job.
- Women may also be the perpetrators of harassment.
- Those who are most likely to be victims of sexual harassment in the workplace are minorities, especially women of color.
- Sexual harassment on the job is rarely an individual issue.
Studies show that when someone at work is sexually harassing others, it is often evidence of a systemic issue. You may realize in your workplace that other supervisors turn a blind eye, make excuses or even encourage behavior that is offensive and harassing. Additionally, harassment does not always come from an employer or co-worker, but your boss may allow customers, clients, vendors or others to mistreat you. This is never acceptable, and employers who permit, promote or perform acts of sexual harassment may be responsible for the outcome.