Sexual harassment still exists in the workplace

Growing up, you are supposed to worry about getting good grades, who is going to ask you to prom and whether or not you wowed your potential boss at that one job interview.

Growing up, you are supposed to look forward to the opportunities you can create for yourself in life not based on gender, age, appearance, sexual preference or any other discriminating factor.

Growing up, you are not supposed to fear those who allow you to have those opportunities. And yet, the Huffington Post reports 1 in 3 women are reported to have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, and the number of men reporting sexual harassment they have experienced from women has more than tripled in past years.

We are shown videos upon employment of how to identify and avoid that type of harassment — “Why, Jane, your hair looks lovely today” — but why aren’t we targeting the real problem: the people perpetuating the issue, the harassers?

I remember laughing the first time I watched a sexual harassment video as a mandatory portion of training for my first job when I was 16 years old. At the time, telling someone his or her hair looked nice that day seemed amusing. What kind of sexual harassment was that?

I didn’t even know sexual harassment was still a thing. At that age, I had only ever witnessed it in dramatic made-for-TV movies and stories my mom told me about life in the 1970s.

Fast forward a couple years. I am standing in the hallway at one of my jobs, and my male boss is standing entirely too close for comfort — stroking my hair — telling me over and over how everything I do is
“adorable.”

Suddenly, I am not laughing anymore.

In America, we have a backward culture where instead of stopping the issue at the root, we try and prevent the backlash due to a fear of legal action. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states, “Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace.” The burden of prevention is placed on the victims, and absolutely nothing is being done to the perpetrators.

Sexual harassment training (or prevention, as most workplaces like to call it), is not even required under federal law.

There is a problem, and it is not being stopped under current policy. If the EEOC is really that concerned about curbing the tide of sexual harassment, and if people really do care as much as they seem to in open forums and the comments of Facebook articles and videos, then a law needs to be made to make sexual harassment training mandatory, and it needs to be training, not prevention.

It should be an indicator there is a problem when many victims do not even speak out when they are experiencing issues in the workplace.

People who live in fear of abrasive or downright inappropriate comments and actions are not the product of a successful policy.

Going into a new job, many people do not even dream sexual harassment is going to occur, until one day, you are alone in your boss’s office and he or she is making a comment to you that makes your skin crawl. When you relay the day’s events to a friend or a family member, only then do you realize “creepy comments my boss said” should not be a normal topic of conversation.

It is not just a feminist cry to curb the tide of harassment in the workplace.

The problem extends to both males and females.

The problem is perpetuated by both males and females.

People need to be educated on how to not sexually harass, not just how to identify the harassment that could be happening to them. The root needs to be addressed, not the aftermath. Only then can we begin to lower the statistics and deal with the problem at hand.

About Bekka Wiedenmeyer

Editor-in-Chief

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