Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can come from anyone of any sex, age, or background and be directed towards anyone of any sex (opposite or the same), age or background. Although most law claims come from women, it can be men that get harassed (social conditioning to be sexually available or shame may prevent them saying anything).
For sexual harassment to be illegal, the target does not have to be affected or offended (they may be desensitised for instance). A witness who finds it offensive is also in their rights to take action.

Their are several behavioural groups that sexual harassment falls into.
1. Public harasser, who is openly sexist or seductive (the guy in the pub who makes sexual advances in repulsive ways).
2. Private harasser, who carefully cultivate a restrained, respectable image, but transform when alone with the target (the person who is all charm in public, and then is all over the usually younger person in private).
3. Predatory harasser, who gets thrills from humiliating others. They harass to get a reaction, which is sexual extortion. A lack of resistance can escalate into rape, i.e. the baiting.
4. Dominance harasser, gets an ego boost from harassing target(s), i.e. the stand over.
5. Strategic or territorial harasser does it so they remove threats to or gain job privilege or location (in the hope the the other leaves), i.e. jobs for the boys.

Harassment types

Power player uses what is legally termed "qid pro quo" or this for that. They insist on sexual favours exchanged for benefits coming from their position (usually of authority).
Mother/father figure, will create mentor like relationship with their target, masking sexual intention.
One-of-the gang, are men or women who embarrass others with lewd comments, physical evaluations or other unwanted sexual attention. Can be an individual wanting to "belong" or impress, or can be a gang up on the target.
Serial harasser, carefully builds up a reputation as respectable so people are disbelieving that they could harass. Carefully strategies to strike in private so it is their word against the targets.
Groper will use opportunities when they present themselves for their eyes and hands to wander in unwelcome ways.
Opportunist, use physical settings and circumstances to mask premeditated intentional sexual behaviour towards target. May involve changing the environment to reduce inhibitory effects or "accidental" groping.
Bully, sexual harassment is used as a "punishment" for rejection or other "transgression" or to make the target feel inadequate. It's a way to put the target "in their place".
Confidante, shares their story and difficulty to get the target to open up and then make the relationship intimate and often unhealthy.
Situational harasser, when the perpetrator goes through a traumatic or very stressful life event (such as psychological, medical, or marital problems). Usually stops when the pressure decreases or the circumstances change.
Pest classically "won't take 'no' for an answer" type. Hounds for attention and dates after persistent rejection. Misguided but not malicious, usually.
Great Gallant is mostly a verbal harassment using excessive compliments and personal comments that are gender appearance based that are embarrassing or out of place. Often with leering.
Intellectual seducer usually educational authority situations where the perpetrator uses knowledge and access to information on students for sexual purposes. May take exercises to uncomfortable levels of personal exposure.
Incompetents are socially inept who desire the attention of the target, which is not reciprocated. Sense of entitlement, believe the target should be flattered. Rejected they may bully for revenge.
Stalking consists of persistent watching, following, contacting or observing target. The harasser believes it's love, or it is sexual obsession or anger and hostility.
Unintentional acts and comments that were of a sexual nature, and were not intended as harassment can constitute sexual harassment if the other was offended.

Sexualised environments have sexual "joking", obscenities, sexually explicit graffiti, degrading posters, pornography of any source and sexual objects can create an offensive environment.
Rituals and initiations is where sexual harassment is part of an sexually explicit or abusive ceremony or ritual like initiation or "hazing", commonly associated with first year students, members of the armed forces, sporting clubs, bucks nights etc. They are all illegal.

Retaliation for speaking up or taking legal action.

When people complain about harassment there is commonly a backlash against the harassed, compounding the problem. Often labeled "trouble makers" and power trippers, they are often made out to be the problem. The victim becomes the accused. There private life, appearance and character become a target, often when they are not at their former best. This scrutiny often does not happen to the perpetrator. They often get isolation and anger from bosses, teachers, work and classmates, friends and family. They risk relational aggression and even mobbing. Women are often as bad as the men in the condemning of the outspoken target, although this can change as circumstances develop, especially if others have been targeted.
Complainants can have their projects sabotaged, poor grades given, denied work or academic chances, be bullied and harassed until their productivity is greatly reduced, be fired or suspended, and the perpetrator or associate(s) sometimes successfully execute the threat temporarily that they will "never work anywhere again". Vengeance based stalking may occur.
If the target is prepared to open such a can of worms, they speak up with success. If they are not, silence and damage control is the way for the faint hearted.

Mostly harassment is just annoying. However, cases of severe and/or chronic harassment can be deadly. This is some of the things it can lead to:
1. Increased absenteeism
2. Decreased performance
3. Loss of work and income.
4. Leaving education, changing plans.
5. Personal life is attacked (appearance, lifestyle, private life)
6. Humiliation and objectification by public.
7. Publicly sexuality (are they "worth" the attention or risk to career)
8. Defamation.
9. Loss of trust in similar environments
10. Extreme stress in relationships with significant others, peers, work/classmates.
11. Weakening of networks of support, alienation.
12. Relocation to other locations and jobs (if possible)
13. Loss of recommendations and opportunities

Emotional and psychological effects are:
1. Depression
2. Panic attacks
3. Anxiety
4. Sleeplessness
5. Nightmares
6. Shame
7. Guilt
8. Difficulty concentrating
9. Fatigue
10. Loss of motivation
11. Headaches
12. Eating disorders
13. Stomach upsets
14. Alcoholism, excessive smoking, or drug addiction
15. Feeling violated and/or betrayed
16. Anger or violent feeling towards the perpetrator
17. Feeling out of control or powerless
18. Raised blood pressure and other stress related health problems
19. Loss of self esteem
20. Isolation and withdrawal.
21. Severe loss of trust in people
22. Traumatic stress
23. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.)
24. Complex P.T.S.D.
25. Suicidal thoughts
26. Attempted or successful suicide.

Perpetrators eventually get busted or reap some other karma, even if they seem to get away with it. The smirking, leering young man of today is the unwanted filthy old man of tomorrow. Just know that if you have experienced harassment, like most of us have, male and female, that you did not "ask" for it, no matter what is said or insinuated. You have a right to you own, healthy sexuality and freedom to be as you are. Often nice "decent" people are targeted for that very reason. Because they find it offensive and blush, or refuse to accept the demands, the indecent love to poke fun at them and bring them down. In fact, the more harassed you have been can be an indication of the strength of your basic innate decency.

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