Fighting for Women's Equality

Daily Dot: The importance of defining sexual harassment and the uncomfortable grays we call ‘not that bad’

November 10, 2017 | by

The Daily Dot examines the definitions of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape culture and discusses issues of under-reporting and survivor empowerment in light of the recent #MeToo movement.

Noreen Farrell, executive director of women’s nonprofit Equal Rights Advocates, told the Daily Dot that the sexual harassment isn’t limited to actions of “sexual” nature—it also includes degrading and derogatory comments and conduct about someone’s gender that creates a hostile work or educational environment. For example, negative comments about women in general—them being the “weaker” sex, them being “bitches”—could still be considered sexual harassment.

According to a 2016 study from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an estimated 75 percent of all workplace harassment is never reported. Farrell told the Daily Dot she found it unsurprising that so many women forgo reporting workplace harassment and end up having to minimize bad and unlawful behavior.

“It is extremely common for women to tolerate sexual harassment as the price of a paycheck…For decades, women have been shown that there are no real consequences for sexually harassing behavior. When there are no consequences, women become disinclined to challenge harassment and assault, even if the conduct is prohibited by state and federal civil rights laws,” Farrell said. “There is also a very real fear of risking their job by complaining, particularly for low-wage women workers.”

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