Thursday, February 18, 2021

When Men Are the Victims of Workplace Sexual Harassment

Speaking of sexism-- there must be something in the water today-- a new study has found that male victims of sexual harassment are seen as less worthy of sympathy than are female victims. In most cases, this applies to males who have been harassed by female superiors. And to women who have been harassed by male superiors.

The study is reported by Christian Rigg for PsyPost.

Take a slight variation on this theme. Our legal system, more egalitarian than thou, tends to punish female teachers who engage in sexual intimacy with male high school students as harshly as it punishes male teachers who engage in sexual intimacy with female students. The former, the older woman/ younger male paradigm used to be called courtly love. It is the basis for courtship and dating behaviors. Now it’s a felony.

Anyway, the researchers have found that men who are harassed by women will receive less sympathy than women who are harassed by men. The research seems to be based on two theories. The first involves traditional gender roles, which makes sense, even though I had thought that we overcame them a long time ago. 

The second involves what they call a “normative script” of social conventions and rules. 

The researchers did not consider another salient hypothesis-- namely, that we all now understand that men are promiscuous chauvinist pigs who have no real standards.

Rigg reports:

Two theories served to frame the author’s hypothesis that male victims would be generally received with less sympathy. Social Role Theory (SRT) describes how social forces indicate how men and women should behave according to traditional gender roles, and how they are rewarded (punished) with compliance (deviation).

Script Theory (ST) postulates that sexual behaviors follow a ‘normative script’ of social conventions and rules, and that men should seek out and enjoy sexual encounters. Deviation is seen unfavorably. Both SRT and ST thus suggest that male victims of sexual harassment are likely to be received with less sympathy.

Here is how the study was conducted:

To test this hypothesis, 837 participants (56% female; 80% white; 57% college-educated) were recruited and instructed to read a brief vignette describing a situation of sexual harassment between two coworkers (either harasser or victim could be male or female, resulting in 8 vignettes). Attitudes were assessed with a questionnaire.

The results confirm the hypothesis that male victims are generally regarded less favorably than female victims of sexual harassment. ...In addition, male victims were believed to have suffered less and to require less time to recover.

Strangely, or not so strangely, when a woman harasses a man it is not considered to be an especially traumatic event. It is not considered to be an attack on his male honor. Even if he accedes to the harassment, most people, for reasons that go beyond the scope of this blog, do not feel an especial degree of outrage when a man has to suffer a not-entirely wanted sexual experience.

When a male manager harasses a female employee it is generally understood as something like a violation, an assault on her honor, based on an assumption that she would willingly sell herself for a promotion or a raise. Even in our woke age, this is rightly considered a grievous insult.

Of course, the researchers believe that all victims must be treated equally, a curious assumption after they have demonstrated that all forms of sexual harassment are not equal.


Sam L. said...

Men can be beasts. Women can be witches. Life: It just ain't FAIR.

Sam L. said...

Cognitive dissonance for THE WIN!!!!!