Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment 7

SexualHarassment

Thedefinitionof sexualharassment has evolvedover theyears,not onlyto clarifythemeaningof thisheinousactbutalsoto enablephilosophers,laymenandcourtofficialsto understandthetrueeffectsof thiscriminaloffence(WordPress, 2010).However,a majorityof thesedefinitionsare highlyobjectivebutneverthelessprovidesufficientevidenceof theincreasedincidencesof sexualharassment. Mostdefinitionsconsiderscertainbehaviorsas constitutingsexualviolenceis therecipientof theactionhas madeitclearthatsuchbehaviorsare offensiveiftheperpetratorknowsorshould haveknownthatsuchbehaviorsare unacceptable.Accordingto WordPress (2010), a majority of definitionsof sexual harrrasmentaresubjectiveandtheburdenof establishingwhethersexualharassment has indeedtranspiredlayssolelyon thevictim.This givesthevictimpowerover thecase,a factorthat madeAnita Superson to craft her meaningof thecrime.Accordingto Superson,sexualharassment is anybehavior,verbalorphysicalthat isperpetratedby themembersof thedominantclassanddirectedtowards membersof thesubjugatedclass.Thesebehaviorsare meantto expressorperpetuatethefallacythatthemembersof thesubjugatedclassare inferiorby thevirtualof their sexualorientations,therebyharmingthemembersof thesubjugatedsexualorientation(Superson, 2008).Thesepapersassesstheadequacyof Anita Superson`s definitionof sexualharassment.

Ratherthan definingsexualharassment as an annoying,disturbingandunwantedgestures,demandsorthreatsas doesothersocio-psychologists, Supersondefinesthecrimeas a formof sexism that is about thedominationof a groupof menover a groupof women.Unlikethesubjectivedefinitionsthat leavesitto thevictimto determinewhethershewassexually harassedornot, Supersonobjectivedefinitionseeksto establishwhetherornot a behavior(verbalorphysical)is meantto perpetuateorexpresstheattitudethatthevictimormembersof thatsexualorientationsare inferior(Superson, 2008).Inotherwords,objectivedefinitionsdetermineswhethercertainbehaviorsconstitutessexualharassment by askingthevictimwhethershehas beenharassed,a factorthat is stronglyrefutedby Superson,postulates thata womanmay be harassedandnot stillnot be awareof theharassment (WordPress, 2010).Thisisevidenced by theMeritorSaving Bank v.Vinsoncase,wherethetrial court ruled thatthecomplainant (Vinson) wasnot a victim of sexually harassmentowingto her alleged voluntariness of her participationin previoussexualharassments. Thiserroneousdecisionby thetrialcourtwasreacheddue to theerroneoussubjectiveviewof sexualharassmentthattendsto placetheburdenof proofto thevictim,whohas to provethatshehas beenharassed.However,thedecisionof thetrialcourtwasoverturnedby theSupreme Court.According to the Supreme Court, thoughinvoluntary,thesexualadvancesfrom Vinson’s employerwereunwantedhence amounted to sexual harassment.Placingtheburdenof proofto thevictimcontinuestheexistingstructureof poweramong thedifferentsexualorientationsanddoesnot explorethepossibilitythatperpetrators actionsprojecttheerroneousviewthatindividualsare unequalowingto their genderdifferences.Supersondefinitionadequatelyexploresthispossibility,henceis theappropriatedefinitionof sexualharassment (WordPress, 2010).

Accordingto Superson,subjectivedefinitionsof sexualharassments evidence theexistingsexistundercurrentsinthesociety.Thesesexist undercurrentsare visibleevenamong thejudgeswhohavean attitudethat womenshould developa thickskinto counter orcontendwith harassments, since menareviewedas sexualpredators andthewomentheweakerprey.Thiserroneousbeliefmakesthemale‘predatorybehavior’acceptable,a naturalfactthatalleged womenshould contend(WordPress, 2010). However,Supersonhasevidencedthatwomensexualdesiresarenolessstrongerthan men’s,hencethetheorythatmenare sexualpredatorsisbased on historicalratherthan scientificfoundations.Herdefinitionis allinclusive,characterizingsexualharassments as behaviorsthat are perpetratedby anyindividualto a subjugatedvictimto expressorpropelthefeelingof inferioritytowards theindividual,ormembersof thatparticularsexualorientation.Assuch,allindividualscan be perpetrators orvictimsof sexualviolence,as longas theactionsexpressorpropelthefallacythatacertaingendergroupis inferiorto theotheron basisof their gender(Francis, 2001).

Supersondefinessexualharassment along genderlines,wherethemenare seenas theperpetrators whilethewomenare thevictims.Whilesheacknowledgesthatmencan alsobe victimsof violence,sheexhumesthatsuchviolencecannot amount to sexualviolencesince behaviorsaredeemedto amount to sexualharassment onlywhentheymakean individualora groupof individualsfeelsinferior(Francis, 2001).Accordingto Superson,thefemalegenderis not capableof harming,degradingordominatingmenas a group.Thesesentimentsare truesince thesocietyisnot structuredin such a wayto makemenfeelinferiorto their femalecounterparts.Whilethisis true,itis erroneousto discreditotherformsofsexualharassment. However,her definitionrecognizesthatsexualharassment directedtowards thewomenhas profoundlynegativeimpactson theindividualwomanandthewomenas a group,impactswhichare uncommonwith theothertypesof harassment (Francis, 2001).

Inher definition,Supersonstatesthatsexualharassment is allabout poweranddominationandthatithas nothingto dowith sexualattraction.Itis a directmanifestationanda reinforcementofthepowerthat thedominating sexhasoverthenon-dominating sexin thesociety.Thefemalegenderisoftenremindedof her submissivesexualrolein thesociety,erroneousbeliefsthat are foundedon traditionalsexist beliefs.Herdefinitioncounteractsthesesexists beliefsandprovidesa solutionto theproblemof sexualviolencecooperationamong womenandaideachotheras co-complainers, therebyhelpingto holdtheperpetrators accountablefortheir crimes(Francis, 2001).Thedefinitionofferstherightremedyforthecrime,since shiftingthebodyof proofto thevictimleadsto her beinglabeledas oversensitive. Thelabeling offersampleopportunitiesto discredittheseverityof thepunishmentby comparingthereactionof thevictimto theharassmentagainsttheconceptof whatan individualwould be ableto endure.However,as Supersonstates,a reasonablemanstandardwould not be a goodmeasureof harassment since itwould be definedby men,accordingto thewomengeneralreactionto sexualharassments, as doesotherdefinitions(WordPress, 2010).

Unfortunately,like manyothertheories,Superson’s definitionfacessomeobjectionsowingto its problems.However,sheacknowledgesthather definitionis onlyprogrammatic andlike others may be proneto definitionproblems.Themainchallengeof Supersondefinitionis thatitmay leadto aunimaginablenumberof claims(WordPress, 2010). Despite her objectivedefinitionthat isnotbasedon victimsproof,fixedcriteriafordeterminingtheoccurrenceof sexualharassment is stillsomewhatmissing.Thismaybeoverexploited,andmay leadto compensatory justice,which accordingis in nowayjust.Additionally, her definitionis somewhatan impairment ofthefreedomof speechandexpression.Ithas alsobeenquestionedwhethermenwhoare awareof sexualharassment are allowedto flirt,andifyes,to what extentis theflirtingnot considereda formof sexualharassment (WordPress, 2010).

Despitetheseensuing problems,Superson’s definitionis theadequatedescriptionof sexualharassment. Itoffersa goodstartingpointthat potentiallybringsout theawarenessof thetruecausesof sexualharassment that is sexualdomination.Superson’s definitionis objectiveandunlike othersubjectivedefinitionsdoesnot shiftthebodyof proofto thevictimsince thuswould increasethechancesof reducingtheseverityof punishment.Thedefinitionrecognizesthatindividualsmay reactdifferentlyto sexualharassment, with somenot realizingwhethertheyare beingharassedornot. Additionally,itofferstheprinciplesfordeterminingwhethercertainbehaviorsamounts to sexualharassment, therebyreducingthelikelihoodof definingsexualharassment accordingto theresponseof thevictimoraccordingto thesexist men’sbeliefs.Accordingto Superson,sexualharassment includesallbehaviors,verbalorphysical,that are directedtowards membersof thesubjugatedclassto expressorperpetuatethesexism beliefthattheyare inferiorby thevirtualof their sexualorientations,therebyharmingthemembersof thesubjugatedsexualorientation.

References

Francis,L. (2001). Sexualharassment as an ethical issue in academic life.Lanham, Md. [u.a.: Rowman &amp Littlefield Publishers.

Superson,A. (2008). A Feminist Definition of . Journalof Social Philosophy,Vol. 24 (1).

WordPress,(2010). SexualHarassment – Philosophical Argument.Retrieved fromhttps://yoshana.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/sexual-harassment-philosophical-argument/