Posts Tagged ‘Senator Al Frankin’

UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT

What do movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Senator Al Frankin, Congressman John Conners, and President Donald J. Trump, all have in common?  All have been accused of sexual harrassment!  From hearing victims’ sexual harassment stories, I believe it’s very important to first clearly define exactly what sexual harassment is.  Having done EEO counseling collateral-duty (part-time)  while working full-time as a program analyst with the U.S. Department of the Interior, I’m familiar with the clear definition of sexual harassment by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, at 29 C.F.R. 1604.11, as follows:

Sexual Harassment is conduct in the form of “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostlite, or offensive working environment.” 

Except for its legal implications, it’s not important to someone who feels harassed, frightened, or intimidated, whether s/he has been technically and legally sexually harassed. The following very relevant quote is taken from an article by Mortimer Zuckerman that appeared in the May 23, 1994, issue of US News and World Report:

“That sexual harassment exists is unquestionable, but that many acts of sexual misconduct are overdramatized is also true.  To avoid trivializing those who suffer the real thing, we must reject the idea that any unwanted advance or remark constitutes harassment.  There is a difference between an unwanted encounter, which may upset a woman, and pressure applied — such as threatening a woman’s job security — or ongoing demeaning treatment.  Those wrongly accused have their own ordreal in trying to prove a negative.”

When I was working for a U.S. Department of the Interior bureau in Denver in 1991, I also belonged to a public speaking club where someone accused me of “inappropriate behavior.”  Moreover, even before hearing my rebuttal, the club voted me out, whereupon I hired a lawyer to help me get my “due process” rights that were listed in the club’s charter.  In working through the details of the case, the accuser could not cite any examples of what I did that was inappropriate.  I sought advice from many people on how to handle the incident.  The psychiatrist I consulted advised that, since the woman had recently went through a horrible divorce,  she was taking out her anger on me.  I also read many books on communication problems, including the excellent, You Just Don’t Understand, by Deborah Tannen.

CONCLUSION

Both men and women need to learn how to deal with sexual harassment.  Men need to understand that women can destroy their lives and therefore they need to be more considerate of women’s feelings and perceptions and educate themselves on how and when many women become uncomfortable with some of their actions, such as using foul language, coming on too strong, and being too aggressive.  One of man’s basic evolutionary roles was to protect women; it’s wrong to harass them.

Women need to educate themselves on sexual harassment and how to handle various situations in a manner that eliminates the problem with a minimum of anguish.

Finally, for those trying to judge what the truth is in a potential sexual harassment encounter, remember to not completely believe anyone regardless of his/her gender; just follow the evidence.

 

 

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