Sexual Harassment of Men

-Aahana Sapkota

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that explicitly or implicitly affect an individual’s employment, unreasonable interferes with an individual’s work performance; or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.” 

Sexual harassment falls into three theoretically distinct, butrelated, categories: sexual coercion, un-wanted sexual attention, and gender harassment. Sexual coercionoccurs when the harasser tries to establish a sexual relationshipusing job-related threats or bribes. This is the most prototypical form of sexualharassment; however, it is the rarest. Unwanted sexual attention occurs when theharasser makes romantic or sexual advances that are unwelcome,unreciprocated, and offensive;examples of this include inappropriate touching and pressure fordates.Gender harassment includes hostile behaviors,insults, and degrading attitudes; examples include makingdeprecating jokes about women or men or using offensive gendered terms. It is the most commonform of sexual harassment.

For most people, when they think of sexual harassment, their mind immediately jumps to an image of a woman being harassed by a male coworker, supervisor or boss.  While most cases of sexual harassment do involve female victims, a growing number of cases of both men and women harassing male employees have emerged.Sexual harassment can be written, verbal or physical, and can happen in person or online. Both men and women can be the victims of sexual harassment. When it happens at work, school or university, it may amount to sex discrimination.

Academic research supports the idea that women do experience more sexual harassment in the workplace than men. However, emerging evidence suggests that sexual harassment against men in the workplace also exists and is on the rise.

Overall, sexual harassment against men is not as widely studied as sexual harassment against women; this has called into question whether the reported figures of men who have been sexually harassed may actually be much higher than currently stated. On top of this, men may be more reluctant to report sexual harassment than women. There are a number of suggested reasons for this – stigma being one of them. Many men may be too embarrassed to report sexual harassment, or they may consider it to be “unmanly” to report such behaviour.And another reason may be perceptual differences.

What does sexual harassment include?
Sexual harassment can include:-
•    Actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.
•    Unwanted pressure for sexual favors. 
•    Unwanted deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering, or pinching. 
•    Unwanted sexual looks or gestures. 
•    Unwanted letters, telephone calls, or materials of a sexual nature. 
•    Unwanted pressure for dates. 
•    Unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, or questions. 
•    Whistling at someone. 
•    Sexual comments. 
•    Turning work discussions to sexual topics. 
•    Asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history. 
•    Personal questions about social or sexual life. 
•    Sexual comments about a person's clothing, anatomy, or looks. 
•    Telling lies or spreading rumors about a person's personal sex life. 
•    Touching an employee's clothing, hair, or body. 
•    Touching or rubbing oneself sexually around another person. 
•    Standing close or brushing up against a person. 
•    Looking a person up and down (elevator eyes). 
•    Staring at someone. 
•    Making sexual gestures with hands or through body movements.

Common Reactions
Men and boys who have been sexually assaulted or abused may have many of the same feelings and reactions as other survivors of sexual assault, but they may also face some additional challenges because of social attitudes and stereotypes about men and masculinity. And they may face other challenges that are more unique to their experience, such as:
•    Anxiety, depression, eating disorders and flashbacks
•    Avoiding people or places that remind of the assault or abuse
•    Concerns about sexual orientation
•    Fear of the worst happening 
•    Feeling like "less of a man" or that you no longer have control over your own body
•    Feeling of being unable to relax
•    Sense of blame or shame over not being able to stop the assault or abuse
•    Withdrawal from relationships or friendships 
•    An increased sense of isolation
•    Worrying about disclosing for fear of judgment or disbelief

How to support male survivor? 

Men can feel difficult to tell someone that he has experienced sexual assault or abuse. He may fear that he will face judgment or not be believed. For many male survivors, stereotypes about masculinity can also make it hard to disclose to friends, family, or the community. 
Below are a few suggestions on how you can support a man or boy who discloses to you that he has experienced sexual assault or abuse.
•    Listen
•    Express concern
•    Provide appropriate resources
•    Consider therapy or other mental health support
•    Visit the helpline
No one deserves, or asks, to be sexually harassed. Everyone has the right to work and live in an environment that’s free from harassment, bullying, discrimination and violence. Sexual harassment is illegal (under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984).

The #MeToo movement has been a powerful force in helping to raise awareness of sexual harassment, especially in the workplace. It has provided a platform for those affected to speak openly about their ordeals. So far, most of the people who have come forward have been women, but there have been a few notable exceptions, including the actors Terry Crewsand James Van Der Beek.

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