Sexual harassment: the myths, Part 1

Sexual harassment is a complicated issue to unpack. It deals with an area of human behavior that most people find uncomfortable and therefore difficult to analyze and discuss. But, just because something is uncomfortable, does not mean that it does not happen every day to millions of people (women and men). Unfortunately, since society is doing a poor job of addressing sexual harassment, myths have arisen that discourage many people from coming forward. This post will go over some of those myths.

One of the most common myths surrounding sexual harassment is that it only happens to women. While the vast majority of victims are female and perpetrators men, a substantial portion of victims are also men. Sexual harassment can occur to anyone, regardless of gender or sex. 

Second, building on the prior myth, many people believe that men harass women. While true, many men are the perpetrators. Women also sexually harass other males and females. Sexual harassment can occur between people of the same gender or different genders; it happens every day.

Third, the victim of harassment is only the person who was the target of the harassment. The target of the harassment is, of course, the victim, but victims of sexual harassment are anyone who is negatively affected by the behavior. If the perpetrators put third party bystanders into fear or make them feel uncomfortable, then those bystanders are also victims.

Furthermore, many people believe that harassment requires a physical touch. That also is not true. Telling lewd jokes, posting inappropriate pictures, or refusing to promote someone could all be forms of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is any behavior that objectives a person due to their sex or gender, it does not require physical touching or attacks.

If you were the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, then you may want to contact a lawyer. The law protects you if you decide to report it but what the law requires and what your employer does are two different things. You may want the advice and protection of a lawyer before you decide to confront your harasser. 

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