Thursday, December 07, 2006

Some Additional Musings about Sexual Harassment at Yale

The opening sentence of the Hippolytic's post "Yale Prof: I bet it would be fun f*** you" crystallizes one of my fundamental problems with the way we speak and think about sexual harassment.

"Sexual harassment is de rigueur for New Haven's seedier establishments, but now it has reared its head in the university's hallowed halls." While the Hippolytic continues on to make a searing and well-deserved point about the utter unacceptability of Yale's protecting professors who sexual harass employees, students, or fellow staff members, the implications of its opening sentence are that it somewhat surprising that a Yale professor would sexually harass an employee and that it is less surprising that such behavior would occur elsewhere.

As Maggie pointed out, this is certainly not the first, nor will it be the last, accusation that a Yale professor sexually harassed an employee or a student. Thus, it seems sort of silly to express surprise at its occurrence. It seems to me that surprise it could occur here, here at Yale, is indicative of a type of unfortunate elitism.

By conflating acts of ill-expressed sexual desire in New Haven's bars and clubs with quid pro quo sexual harassment in the workplace, we neglect the true potency of sexual harassment in workplaces. Indeed, sexual harassment in workplaces is about far more than sex: it is about exerting power, it is about creating a hostile work environment, it is about feeling threatened by the presence of women, and it is about undermining women's legitimacy as workers.

While the action may be the same (e.g. commenting that it would be fun to have sex with someone), the impact is different because of the different context. The sense of entitlement implicit in making sexual comments or gestures at a club or bar is certainly worth considering, it is fundamentally another animal than using sex to exert power or dominance in the workplace. Discussing the two in the same sentence minimizes these differences, and limits our ability to think of innovative solutions to sexual harassment in workplaces.

Finally, if we assume that sexual harassment is purely about sexual desire, we play into unfortunate stereotypes about male sexuality--that they cannot control themselves and consequently, that women need protection from male desire in the workplace. This creates a negative-feedback loop, because policies that emphasize protectionism further exacerbate a sense that women are fish out of water at work which will, in turn, lead to more sexual harassment.

Certainly, Yale's complicity in any of its employees sexually harassing students or co-workers is heinous, but I wish that the rhetoric in its wake could be more sensitive to the underlying motivation of sexual harassment in the workplace instead of comparing it to someone making a sexual proposition at Toad's.

26 comments:

Maggie said...

Well said, Basha. That's part of what I was getting at when I outlined the problems for Garceau and other women in her situation: they don't have the freedom to object, openly and loudly, to inappropriate sexual conduct. The power dynamics within the workplace prevent them from doing so. I would argue that a university, as well as at other institutions, the power relationships become even more problematic when superiors reach the positions of veritable "gods" because of their "genius" (again, Bloom? anyone?). Sexual harassment is not just about sexual desire, no more than rape is simply an expression of sexual impulse. It is, most often, about men using sex to assert their power over women, and it is something that must be eradicated in order to have women achieve any sort of equality.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why a genuinely intelligent professor (the cancer research etc) would stoop to something so low brow and crude - something about it just doesn't fit right to me.

Maggie said...

I think your question reflects the misconceptions about sexual harassment that Basha talks about in her post. For some reason, we think that sexual harassment is about sex, not power. We think that it is is limited to the "seedier establishments," as the Hippolytic says, when in fact it pervades even the hallowed halls of academia. We think that just because someone is "intelligent" or "educated," they have not absorbed cultural beliefs about gender roles and sexuality. Again, I don't want to make statements about Schlessinger's innocence or guilt in this case, but I would say that his status as a successful researcher does not preclude such "crude" behavior; if anything, I think the power than accompanies that status would only encourage it.

Chelsea said...

Anonymous: While sexual harrassment may be crude, there's nothing "low brow" about it-- in the sense that people of high enough class would never dabble in such low class behavior. And being intelligent doesn't make a person law-abiding or respectful of other people. I agree with Maggie, being in a position of power and authority can often bring out the worst in anyone prone to taking advantage of other people.

That said, we don't know if this particular individual is guilty of anything.

Anonymous said...

Chelsea and Maggie i see what you are saying - i just figured that you could expect better of well educated successfull people.

Chelsea is there any way to contact you in email?

Chelsea said...

Sorry, I don't want to post an email address on a public blog. But I'll respond to posts.

Anonymous said...

As a recent victim of sexual harassment I can attest to the fact that it is NOt about sex. It is about power. This man constantly and consistently used my job as his leverage to grope, fondle, and sexualy harass me. I no longer am employed there and the issue afterwards ( besides getting over the abuse ) is the retaliation - denial of unemployment, threats of several different things to have me arrested, all because I finally got the courage to refuse his advances. This man still wants to control me. That's what this is about - Control and Power. This man is not "low" class... by normal standards anyway - he is, however, slime and scum. Fight back! Keep a diary of incidents, Tape record his (or her) harassment if possible - hidden videos work. I wish all of you who have been through this horrible ordeal the best. See a doctor too - my anxiety and depression is now being controlled. Don't let him leave you powerless - you can win and fight back.... BTW I know a great lawyer!

Anonymous said...

I can sympathise - i've put up with being groped fondled and harassed at school and other places - like i said in the other thread i didn't want to give them the satisfaction of a reaction - and partly also cause i couldn't see how i could change it.

No one seems to care what it's like to have the so-called "bombshell" figure - i feel pretty alone a lot.

Anonymous said...

Whatever settlement Yale will have to pay out in this case will be well worth it terms of clearly establishing that sexual harassment of women does take place in the workplace environment there, that it could be years, if ever, that anything is done about it, and so women who are financially situated to depend solely on their job for an income should think twice about considering employment at Yale in the first place because they will likely have to leave the job when it happens to them. Not exactly equal opportunity, is it? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,20948126-661,00.html - that's just disgusting!

Shain A said...

Lack of sexual intimacy, sexual dysfunctions, frustration, and disappointments repeatedly being rebuffed sexually can emotionally, and eventually physically, stall your sex drive. The same can happen for repeated lack of orgasm, impotence, premature ejaculation, retarded ejaculation, or other disappointments in the bedroom. http://www.levitrabliss.com/

kevin said...

After obtaining a prescription of medicine to treat erectile dysfunction such as viagra or Cialis from the doctor, you need to find out a suitable pharmacy that sells authentic Viagra. However, you can also buy Viagra online straight from your home just by logging into http://www.pill-care.com and ordering Viagra online. Buy Viagra from this online drug store; administer the medicine properly in accordance with the instructions of the doctor and ensure success in your war against erectile dysfunction.

Dr.Harryson said...

As soon as you administer Viagra to the system, its chief chemical component sildenafil citrate springs into action and starts inhibiting the PDE 5 enzyme. Alongside the inhibition of PDE 5 enzyme, the administration of Viagra also accelerates the effect of nitric oxide and leads to the smooth flow of blood to the penis; as a consequence, the person becomes capable of facilitating erections necessary for sexual intercourse.

Joe said...

I have the same problem with erectile dysfunction and imotence try this site powerfull information http://www.starpills.com
For more information about cialis a day find you here http://www.impotencehealthcenter.com If you want to try best ed pill in USA
try this site http://www.levitraportal.com
Viagra Great sites powerfull information about ed medicien impotence cure

Levitra Best online help for impotence problems,

Cialis Perfect night for men and women.

Hail said...

Viagra is the best choice medicine for erectile dysfunction as it can be taken regardless of the age of the patient and works unhindered with most medicines.

Julia F. said...

I am 61 and I've been using Generic Viagra since it was first released. I never had any problems, not even headaches, it only improved my erections!

Columbus Laser said...

At leas I know where to go to get my viagra now ;-)
Stu the lasik ohio surgeon

Anonymous said...

buy Viagra buy Viagra buy Viagra
buy Viagra buy Viagra buy Viagra
buy Viagra buy Viagra buy Viagra
buy Viagra buy Viagra buy Viagra
buy Viagra buy Viagra buy Viagra
buy Viagra buy Viagra buy Viagra
buy Viagra buy Viagra buy Viagra
buy Viagra buy Viagra buy Viagra
buy Viagra buy Viagra buy Viagra

Anonymous said...

Web2Mayhem Review

D'r kepler said...

Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog
Viagra Blog

Anonymous said...

Great Stuff!!
Viagra Online : viagra online

Vigrx Plus Official said...

Hello webmaster! i am really appreciating you for your kindness that you have made a really interesting blog,We Reccomend only the best Male Enhancement , Best Penis Enlargement , Penis Enlargement , Buy Weight Loss Pills ,
Buy Viagra Online , from across the globe Generic Viagra Online and Cheap Viagra Online in market. Visit the site http://www.bestpenisenlargement10.com , http://www.buypenisenlargement.us , http://www.buyweightloss-pills.com , http://www.buyviagra-online.us , http://www.cheapviagra-online.us , http://www.sexualpremature.com , http://www.realpenisenlargement4us.com
We apologize for comments I seen a case of spam, I really hope you do not delete my comment. I will visit your blog again

Anonymous said...

how to lose weight
How to Lose Weight
Weight Loss Tips
How to Lose Weight Fast
How to Lose Weight Quickly
Ways to Lose Weight
How to Lose Weight with Acai Berry
How to Lose Weight with Green Tea
How to Lose Weight in a Week
How to Lose Weight in 10 Days
How to Lose Weight in 2 Weeks
How to Lose Weight in a Month
How to Lose Weight for Kids
How to Lose Weight in Your Face
How to Lose Weight Without Exercise
How to Lose Weight in Your Thighs
Tips to Help You Lose Weight
Exercises to Lose Weight
Do Slimming Belts Work?
Do Diet Pills Work?
Does Weight Lifting Help You Lose Weight?
Weight Loss Gimmicks

Anonymous said...

Generic Viagra contains Sildenafil and it is a prescription drug used to treat erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is the inability of the penis to become rigid, or stay firm long enough to complete the sexual act.Generic Viagra is used to increase blood flow to certain areas of the body, as a muscle relaxant and as a male impotence or erectile dysfunction treatment. Generic Propecia is a one-a-day, FDA-approved, treatment for male pattern hair loss at the crown or in the middle of the scalp (androgenetic alopecia). Generic Viagra is the world renowned medicine for erectile dysfunction and most men have forgotten they ever had a problem with erections after its use. Take it on empty stomach and it will work in 30 minutes. Erections can be achieved on stimulation.Generic Cialis is consumed orally and has quickly become one of the most prescribed medications. Generic Levitra has been clinically proven to improve erectile function, even in men who had other health factors, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes

penis enlargement pills said...

For men who want bigger, harder, longer-lasting erections, there's now VigRX Plus™, a fresh twist on the already popular VigRX™, but designed to further enhance men's sexual functioning with the addition of three exciting new ingredients: Damiana, Tribulus, and Bioperin. Doctor endorsed and rated #1 for results by clients of penis enlargement consumers. rated two penis pills is vimax. if you find about male enhancement this products is the best and proven to work, there products have money-back guarantee in effectiveness and result.

buy viagra online said...

Hello,
This is an interesting blog post here..... I like your blog, Keep posting such an awesome information.

Thanks!