If you are a man who has experienced sexual harassment at work, it may seem like you are alone, but you are not. The percentage of sexual harassment charges filed by men with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has increased steadily since 1997. We understand that this does not necessarily mean that the harassment is occurring more frequently. It may mean that more male victims are choosing to come forward.
Nevertheless, even in light of the recent movement to raise awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace and empower victims, some misconceptions about sexual harassment of men may still exist. KQED attempts to dispel some of the most persistent of these erroneous perceptions.
- Only men commit sexual harassment
While more people are beginning to understand that both men and women can be victims of harassment, there is still a persistent belief that only men commit sexual harassment. This is not true. According to a professor of gender studies, female-on-male sexual harassment may be a more commonplace occurrence than most people realize.
- Sexual attention from a woman is always welcome
The perception is that a healthy, heterosexual male views all sexual attention from a woman as positive regardless of the form it takes or the circumstances in which it occurs. As a result, unfortunately, men who report sexual harassment by a woman may meet with confusion, scorn and derision. Women who profess to condemn sexual harassment in the workplace may nevertheless prove unsympathetic, although this is not always the case.
- Sexual harassment is a part of life that men just have to accept
This is no more true for male victims of sexual harassment than it is for female victims. We have seen how men who are subject to harassment experience the same feelings of dehumanization and devaluation that women do. However, no one should have to endure such treatment. The law protects all victims equally, regardless of the gender of either the victim or aggressor.