Making passes, non-consensual sexual advances, catcalling, and unwelcome physical gestures are behaviours that can be categorized under sexual harassment. When submission or refusal to this behaviour negatively impacts an employee’s performance or produces an inauspicious, intimidating, and tense work environment, the harassment should be made known to the appropriate department.
Most common are sexual harassment cases where women are victims. However, often overlooked and dismissed are cases where men are victimized by women. This can be attributed to the predominance of men-to-women incidences which constitute an estimated 80% of all sexual harassment cases in the United States. As a result, women-to-men cases are seldom taken seriously. Statistics from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) show that sexual harassment cases filed by men against comprise only 10%.
Seriously obfuscated are cases of harassment towards men by men. The mistake of judging such cases as simply homosexual in nature prematurely eradicates all opportunities to re-examine from a more impartial perspective. While there are indeed men-to-men sexual harassment cases, men-to-men non-sexual harassment cases are prevalent, most of the time victimizing men who do not fit the “male prototype,” perceived as “different” or simply effeminate. Most of the time, victims are subjected to harassment that ranges from offensive pranks to character assassination, bullying, or worse, career sabotage, including blackmail.
Fear of ridicule prompts a sizeable number of male victims to stay silent about harassment experienced in the workplace. Instead of reporting, victims simply elect to make career maneuvers to steer clear of further harassment, automatically leaving harassers no accountability for the harm inflicted. The victims’ decision to keep quiet perniciously perpetuates a vicious cycle of impunity that grants harassers future opportunities to victimize.
Harassment in the workplace, or anywhere else for that matter, irrespective of nature, is harassment, and must be reported. Anyone, regardless of gender, can be a victim. In the workplace, harassers are often in positions of power, thereby instilling in them the impression of impunity. Women and men alike should report harassment without fear. Legislators and businesses alike should take a more serious look at this issue and take appropriate action at the soonest. The cycle must stop.