Sexual Harassment and how to Stop it

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Background Information

Sexual harassment is sexual discrimination that violates Title 7 of the civil rights act of 1964. This title is for employers with more than 15 employees, which also includes state and local governments, employment agencies as well as the federal government. Sexual harassment is the unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors as well as verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment occurs in many of ways, such as: (1) “the victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man.

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The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.” (2) “the harraser can be the victim’s supervisor, and agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.” (3) “The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.” (4) “unlawful seual harassment may occur with economic injury to or discharge of the victim.” (5) “the harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.” (Facts About Sexual Harassment)

The victim can inform the harasser directly about their conduct and that is needs to stop. The victim also needs to any form of employer complaint department or the law should that not work. Prevention is a very good tool to eliminate sexual harassment at work. Employers should take the necessary steps to keep this from occurring. Employers also need to make it clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in the work place. In order to accomplish this they can provide specific sexual harassment seminars for their employees and also to establish complaint departments as well as taking quick and accurate punishment when an employee has a complaint.


Majority of sexual harassment victims are women. They either experience it first hand or know someone who has been a victim of sexual harassment. As most sexual harassment cases are not surprising, it is nasty and sexual harassment PTSD is very prevalent. Forty-five percent of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Or EEOC, harassment claims were sex- based (Jennifer Koza). In 2015, the EEOC received more than 28,000 harassment claims for private and public employers, which most of this was sex-based claims. Twenty-five percent of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace (Jennifer Koza). That averages out to be 1 out of every 4 women in a workplace. That is very unsettling. Seventy-five percent of harassment victims experienced retaliation when they reported it (Jennifer Koza). Somewhere between eighty-seven and ninety-four percent of employees that experience sexual harassment do not file a formal complaint (Jennifer Koza). Lastly, Sexual harassment cost companies millions of dollars (Jennifer Koza). Also in 2015, The EEOC recovered $164.5 million for workers alleging harassment claims.


One thing stands out in sexual harassment cases, and that is men are the accused. “One of the reasons it is men who harass women, and sometimes other men, is that this is about power and overwhelmingly upper management is male, so the positions of power are disproportionately occupied by men and the bottom is disproportionately occupied by women,” says Abigail Saguy, Professor of sociology and gender studies at UCLA and author of the 2003 book, What is Sexual Harassment?

Most people think that women could not possibly act like disgusting pigs such as men. But this is not one hundred percent the truth. Franklin Raddish, a South Carolina Baptist pastor, recently said that accusations of sexual harassment against men in politics and Hollywood has created a “war on men.”

A democratic candidate, Andrea Ramsey, for congress in Kansas recently dropped out of her race after the local newspaper found her lawsuit. She was accused of sexually assaulting and retaliating against a male who rejected her advances when she was a corporate executive. Although she was not apart of the lawsuit, and it was closed and settled, she dropped out due to the pressure from her democratic party’s “zero tolerance standard” (Maria Puente). She has become the only woman to be accused publicly.

This begs the questions: “ what are the numbers on the women accused of sexual harassment? Has anyone conducted scientific surveys and found some? What’s the reason why it appears the vast majority of people accused of workplace sexual harassment are men? And why don’t men ever file formal complaints? (Maria Puente) The answer is men are too prideful to come forward.

There is few statistics about women sexual harassers, and the ones available are more than 10 years old. Although it may be very rare, it does happen. Men can easily be victims as well as women can be abusers. Many government agencies keep track of complaints in the workplace but mostly focus on the accusers, and not those being accused. The EEOC provided information on allegations. There were 6,758 complaints of sexual harassments in 2016. Sixteen percent of complaints were filed by men. The data doesn’t say who they were harassed by another man, or a woman. Few men reported they experienced unwanted sexual attention, but most of men that did report said they were harassed by women.

Athletes and Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in sports is unique due to the relationships between athletes and coaches. Athletes and coaches both share a necessary passion for their physique. The international Olympic committee issued a statement in 2007. This report stated: “sexual harassment and abuse happen in all sports and at all levels. Prevalence appears to be higher in elite sport. Members of the athlete’s entourage who are in positions of power and authority appear to be the primary perpetrators. Peer athletes have also been identified as perpetrators. Males are more often reported as perpetrators than females…Research demonstrates that sexual harassment and abuse in sport seriously and negatively impact on athletes’ physical and psychological health. It can result in impaired performance and lead to athlete drop-out. Clinical data indicate that psychosomatic illnesses, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self harm and suicide are some of the serious health consequences.” (sexual harassment in sport)

Laws regarding sexual harassment need to be extended to sporting activities if they have not already been covered by general laws. These laws should lure general principles for sexual harassment and take account of: The varied environments in which women and girls participate in sport; The fact that sexual harassment can be perpetrated by coaches, other athletes, or other parties involved in supporting and training athletes; and the special power dynamics between athletes and coaches. (Sexual harassment in sport)

Michigan State University and the NCAA are facing problems over actions of a doctor who abused scores of women, as well as athletes who allegedly raped and assaulted others. Both the university and NCAA are accused of “looking the other way.” ESPN led an investigation and found that there were many cases that the university knew of but did very little about these cases. Michigan State also took legal action to keep these cases out of the public eye.

ESPN sued the university after they did not comply with the state’s open record laws and gave a broadcaster with police records that involved football players as well as basketball players. Two well-known coaches, Mark Dantonio of the football team and Tom Izzo of the basketball team, led their teams in the mist of sexual assault allegations against their athletes that were over looked. The schools sexual assault counselor resigned due to her frustration of officials not handling the cases properly. The school gave the athletic department the authority of handling the cases.

Lauren allswede, the schools sexual assault counselor, told ESPN ‘Whatever protocol or policy was in place, whatever front-line staff might normally be involved in response or investigation, it all got kind of swept away and it was handled more by administration [and] athletic department officials, It was all happening behind closed doors … None of it was transparent or included people who would normally be involved in certain decisions’ (Grace Bird).

The NCAA was criticized about the allegations as they were told about the cases involving Michigan State athletes and did nothing to them. The NCAA president, Mark Emmert, received a letter from Kathy Redmond, an advocate for rape and sexual assault victims, begging him to investigate Michigan State’s handling of sexual assault. Kathy stated there were 37 cases of sexual assault committed by athletes at the university that went undisciplined. The president defended himself in a letter to university presidents. He admitted the NCAA still had a long ways to go in preventing sexual assault on campuses, and stated that any claims that he or the NCAA were not reporting crimes were “ blatantly false.”

Politicians and Sexual Harassment

Politicians are also commonly accused of sexual harassment. These are people of high standing in our government. They should be held to a higher standard. Why would we trust them to run our government if they cannot be trusted behind closed doors? Both political parties are combating the current #metoo movement of sexual misconduct.

One hundred and forty political women in California signed a letter that complained about unwanted physical contact and promises, or threats made to them and did not complain about their treatment. Another 160 political women signed a similar letter in Illinois. Also, a female state representative of Arizona came forward with disturbing complaints of unwanted sexual advances and lewd and suggestive comments regarding her body and appearance ever since she was elected in 2011.

These complaints are similar in the facts that if women complained, they wouldn’t get far. One women was told she couldn’t be helped. No one bothered to report their incidents. Women are being doubted in their complaints against their colleagues. These complaints are shrugged off and acted as if they are typical behavior.

Men are now coming forward and saying that protocol needs to be changed. They are proposing for mandatory sexual harassment raining for legislators, staffers, and lobbyists (Helaine olen). There are also proposals for the protocol regarding the reporting and evaluating sexual harassment claims in the political setting.

One way to combat sexual harassment in politics is to elect more women into office. Women only make up twenty percent of congress. The percentage of women in statehouses are dramatically lower. It’s not just a few bad people that allow sexual harassment to continue, it is also how politics is structured, as well as those in charge don’t questions ones behavior until the pressure of others forces them to.

Sexual harassment in Hollywood

Hollywood is the current sexual harassment epicenter. The recent allegations have sparked many victims to come forward and state there claims so they can begin their healing process. Sexual harassers do not act alone. Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault crimes were widely known across the industry.

Harvey Weinstein had more than 10 years of allegations against him. More than eighty-five women accused him of inappropriate requests for massages and intimidating sexual advances as well as rape. He has denied all allegations.

Women in the film industry are also dominated by men. Behind the camera, only four percent of directors are women, eleven percent of writers are women, and nineteen percent of producers are women. In front of the camera, only thirty percent of speaking characters are women, twenty-eight percent of female actresses wore sexually revealing clothing as opposed to seven percent of men, and twenty-six percent of women actors performed partially naked, while only nine percent of men did.

Sexual harassment on College campuses

Sexual harassment on college campuses is very common and usually goes unreported. Sexual harassment on college campuses fall under the Title IX amendment of 1972. This educational amendment is “ a comprehensive federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education” (Know Your Rights). College women are the most effected by sexual harassment.

The most important thing universities can do is have very clearly stated sexual harassment policies. “There’s clearly ambiguity in that arena, so universities should focus on defining what’s acceptable and what’s not” (james campbell). A recent study reveals that graduate and professional students are predominantly vulnerable to sexual harassment from faculty. In the AAU Campus climate survey on sexual assault and sexual misconduct, that polled more than 150,000 students, female graduate students that fell victim to sexual harassment, identified their abusers as teachers or advisors. Undergraduate women are more likely to be harassed by fellow students (zara abrams).

The reason for this epidemic is because of the faculty and advisors position for these graduate students. They are a gateway into their careers once graduated. They are pressured to do whatever it takes to make them happy in order to help them jumpstart their careers. If they do not make these people happy, their careers are in jeopardy.

Students need to know how to see signs of possible sexual harassment and be able to get out of the situation before a true problem arises. Students should have one advisor they can confide in. These advisors can help them decide on whether to file a formal complaint or not. These advisors can also help students confront their abusers.

Students have many options on filing a formal complaint. First, they need to consult the school’s Title IX coordinator. The Title IX coordinator can give them other options as well. Students can also report their incident to local police. Students may not report to police because police officers do not take these complaints seriously. “In some cases, students also qualify for protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace sexual harassment in organizations with 15 or more employees. A student who faces harassment or misconduct while completing paid work for the university should file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), says Ernie Haffner, attorney adviser in the EEOC’s Office of Legal Counsel.” ( Zara Abrams)

Sexual harassment in Public

Sexual harassment in public is also a very common assault. It is often referred to as street harassment. It is known as the unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a strangers in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation (street harassment). People are also objectified bas on their race, nationality, religion, and class. Harassment is about power and control over another. Street harassment is a human rights issue as it limits ones ability to be in a public place. The LGBQT community is also restricted due to harassment.

“Street harassment often begins around puberty.

  • In a 2014, nationally representative survey of street harassment in the USA, half of harassed persons were harassed by age 17.
  • In an informal international online 2008 study of 811 women conducted by Stop Street Harassment, almost 1 in 4 women had experienced street harassment by age 12 (7th grade) and nearly 90% by age 19.” (street harassment)

While women also may harass men in public, gender inequality means that the power dynamics at play, frequency of the harassment, the underlying threat of rape, and the impact on the harassed person’s life is rarely comparable. For these reasons, the work of Stop Street Harassment focuses mostly on men harassing women (cis and transwomen) or people perceived to be female, with secondary focus on the harassment of LGBQT individuals as a whole. (Street harassment)

Also, while public harassment motivated by racism, homophobia, transphobia, or classism—types of deplorable harassment which men can be the target of and sometimes women perpetrate—is recognized as socially unacceptable behavior, men’s harassment of women motivated by gender and sexism is not. Instead it is portrayed as complimentary, a joke, or “only” a trivial annoyance. Plus people tend to blame women for its occurrence based on what they are wearing or what time of day they are in public. Additionally, there are already many great groups working to address the other forms of harassment, but there are few addressing gender-based harassment. These are additional reasons why Stop Street Harassment focuses on this type of harassment – but is an ally to all groups and people working to end every type of harassment. (street harassment)


The alarming truth is, sexual harassment is everywhere. As a growing epidemic I don’t think we can ever truly stop it from happening ever again. There will always be those disgusting people that must use that in order to fulfill their power and control desire. I do believe we can dramatically reduce the number of assaults.

From a woman’s perspective, here is how you can combat sexual harassment:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings. Is someone is constantly invading your space, create distance.
  2. Communicate verbally about what you want.
  3. State what you expect going forward.
  4. Communicate your agreement again if it is disrespected.
  5. Have an unbiased 3rd party to decide harassment outcomes.

Men are a very important player when it comes to sexual assault prevention. From a mans perspective, here is how we can stop sexually assaulting women:

  1. Be aware of language used by men toward women.
  2. Communicate with other men and women about possible issues.
  3. Speak up against sexual assault abusers, regardless of how you know them. 
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Sexual Harassment and How to Stop It. (2021, Aug 04). Retrieved from