People often assume that sexual harassment is about lust or attraction. One person is attracted to a co-worker, and the way that they express this becomes harassment. A boss makes comments about his female worker’s appearance, for instance, or a co-worker repeatedly asks a person out even though they’ve constantly said no.
It is true that these situations exist, and there are cases where these actions have happened. But research has found that sex is not usually at the heart of sexual harassment cases. Instead, they’re typically about power.
The dynamic in the workplace
What you have to remember is that these sexual harassment cases are taking place in the workplace. This is a situation in which there is already a hierarchy in place, and power dynamics are constantly in play. Some people are always looking for ways to “climb the corporate ladder” or gain more power and station in their job – things considered very important in American work culture.
In order to do that, some people use sexual harassment as a way to demonstrate their power over others. They may simply want to do this to show the power that they have, or they may feel that treating someone else this way helps to push them up that ladder a little farther. This is also a reason why victims tend to be women more often than men, as men seek to retain their level of control in the workplace.
Whether it’s about power or sex, it’s unfair to you for you to be discriminated against or harassed on the job. If this has happened or is happening, you need to know about your legal options.