Anna North: sexual harassment is not sex, it is abuse of power at work

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com

Interesting:

Melissa Gira Grant puts it well at the New York Review of Books: “Sexual harassment is a form of discipline, and it has already led to so many women being cast out from their work and the attention that is rightfully theirs. When men use sex to push women into inferior, undervalued, and invisible roles, that isn’t sex; that’s punishment.”

It’s become common, as #MeToo matures, to ask what we should do about behaviors that fall short of violent sexual assault. For most women, Bret Stephens argued recently at the New York Times, “the unwanted sight of a man’s genitals” is far less traumatic than “the unspeakably violent experience of rape.”

Whether or not that’s the case, sheer emotional trauma is not the only way we should be measuring the impact of harassment. “Patting someone on the butt,” as Matt Damon recently put it, may or may not do lasting psychological harm. But if the patter is your boss, and the pat is one of the ways he treats you differently than your male colleagues, then it certainly affects your ability to do your job.

When an editor sent her sexualized AIM messages late at night, Grant writes, “my job was to respond, to be available, even if that meant being available to one-sided sex talk when what I wanted was the next round of edits on a story. A co-worker’s or boss’s actions, I know now, don’t have to feel like a profound violation to be harassment. They can feel more like a waste of time.”

In the months since the New York Times first published women’s reports about Harvey Weinstein, I’ve learned from people who have experienced deep trauma as a result of workplace sexual harassment and violence. I’ve also learned from people — sometimes the same people — who have had to change fields or careers to get away from powerful men whose harassment also functioned, practically speaking, as a form of discrimination.

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