Monday, July 09, 2007

Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

An interesting bit from the Psychology Today feed - Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature:

# Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

An unfortunate consequence of the ever-growing number of women joining the labor force and working side by side with men is the increasing number of sexual harassment cases. Why must sexual harassment be a necessary consequence of the sexual integration of the workplace?

Psychologist Kingsley R. Browne identifies two types of sexual harassment cases: the quid pro quo ("You must sleep with me if you want to keep your job or be promoted") and the "hostile environment" (the workplace is deemed too sexualized for workers to feel safe and comfortable). While feminists and social scientists tend to explain sexual harassment in terms of "patriarchy" and other ideologies, Browne locates the ultimate cause of both types of sexual harassment in sex differences in mating strategies.

Studies demonstrate unequivocally that men are far more interested in short-term casual sex than women. In one now-classic study, 75 percent of undergraduate men approached by an attractive female stranger agreed to have sex with her; none of the women approached by an attractive male stranger did. Many men who would not date the stranger nonetheless agreed to have sex with her.

The quid pro quo types of harassment are manifestations of men's greater desire for short-term casual sex and their willingness to use any available means to achieve that goal. Feminists often claim that sexual harassment is "not about sex but about power;" Browne contends it is both—men using power to get sex. "To say that it is only about power makes no more sense than saying that bank robbery is only about guns, not about money."

Sexual harassment cases of the hostile-environment variety result from sex differences in what men and women perceive as "overly sexual" or "hostile" behavior. Many women legitimately complain that they have been subjected to abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment by their male coworkers. Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment.

Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men—the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls—but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.


Zowie. There is other interesting stuff in there.

I certainly agree that many feminists employ the 'not about sex but about power' argument all too often. Never made any sense to me. After some research, I quickly admitted that yes, power did seem to be part of the equation, but my rational side always told me that sex had to be part of the equation, too.

1 comment:

cest.la.vie said...

Ok...you're walking on thin ice when you quote the "Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature". For starters, always be wary of a source that tries to pander "theories" as "facts". Especially when said "theories" are fabricated nonsense.

They begin by saying sexual harassment has to do with both sex and power. Then, they go on to say "men are treating women the same as men", and are only interested in asserting power.

Which is it? If sexual harassment is driven by both power and sex, the behavior *is* sexist because it involves treating women differently than men (since they claim men in the workplace are aggressive with one another because they desire power, not sex).

As a rule, it is generally a bad idea to try to pinpoint any one "cause" for behavior. I'm sure power is often a cause for sexual misconduct, as is the desire for sex. But there are also various social practices, learned behaviors, and cultural views that also come to play. This article is simplistic and faulty, and I strongly suspect their intention was simply to cause controversy, not promote education.