How Do Men and Women See Sexual Harassment?


Posted by: Chris

One of the most controversial, headline-getting issues in the past year or so has been the #MeToo movement. The phrase #MeToo went viral after allegations were made against film producer Harvey Weinstein, followed by a host of allegations against other public figures. This movement seeks to increase awareness of sexual assault and sexual harassment, especially in the workplace. According to a recent study, though, men and women see sexual harassment differently.

What is Sexual Harassment?

The answer may seem simple. Sexual harassment can be defined as:

“behavior characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situation.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines it as:

“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.” (EEOC)

What kind of behavior actually constitutes sexual harassment may be difficult to determine. Cultural and gender differences play a role. In fact, a recent American Family Survey resulted in surprising findings about how men and women see sexual harassment.

And the Survey Says . . .

Whether behavior rises to the level of sexual harassment may depend on your gender and your age. Overall, men and younger people were less likely to view behavior as inappropriate than older Americans and women.

When asked whether certain types of behavior were harassment, men and women gave very different answers for the most part:

  • Telling Sexual Jokes is sexual harassment for 17 percent of men and almost one-third of women.
  • Placing Hand on Back is sexual harassment for 27% of women and 20% of men.
  • Asking for Sexual Favors is sexual harassment for 71% of women and only 49% of men.

The full report published by the Brookings Institution clearly shows that women have higher standards for this type of behavior than men. Characterizing behavior as sexual harassment may come down to whether the recipient of the questionable behavior is male or female.

Have You Experienced Sexual Harassment?

You don’t have to tolerate this type of behavior, especially in the workplace. Seek legal representation from the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.