Sexual Harassment

Myths & Facts

Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. Men and women can be victims and perpetrators. It is probably sexual harassment if you feel uncomfortable or threatened.

Debunking Myths About Sexual Harassment

Myth: If a woman dresses or behaves in a sexy way she is asking to be sexually harassed.
Reality: When a businessman gets robbed, we don’t blame him for being well-dressed; we blame the robber. Yet when a woman is sexually harassed, we blame her for the way she looks! Studies have found that victims of sexual harassment vary in physical appearance, type of dress, age, and behavior.

Myth: It’s a small matter and a bit of fun and flirting. Anyway, women enjoy it even if they pretend not to!
Reality: Women who are harassed definitely don’t agree with this! Sexual harassment is not flirting. Studies indicate that most harassment has nothing to do with flirtation or sincere sexual or social interest on the part of the perpetrators. Sexual harassment is a power play that uses sexuality to degrade another person. Research shows that victims often leave their jobs to avoid harassment.

Myth: Only young women get harassed.
Reality: Sexual harassment happens to all women at some time in their lives, regardless of age, physical appearance, or marital status. Sexual harassment is about abuse of power – those who feel and are more powerful, harass and intimidate those who are not. For example, an employee who often harasses will usually NOT harass his employer, but would not be afraid to harass a fellow employee, especially if he knows no action will be taken.

Myth: If you ignore harassment, it will go away.
Reality: It will not. Research has shown that simply ignoring the behavior is ineffective; harassers generally will not stop on their own. Ignoring such behavior may even be seen as agreement or encouragement.

Myth: Sexual harassment rarely occurs.
Reality: Sexual harassment is extremely widespread. It touches the lives of 40 – 60 % of working women, and similar proportions of female students in colleges and universities.

Myth: Many women make up and report false stories of sexual harassment to get back at their employers or others who have angered them.
Reality: Research shows that less than 1% of complaints are false. Women rarely file complaints even when they’re are justified in doing so.

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