Sexual harassment has always been a serious and overlooked problem in the workplace and school environment whether people knew about it or not. For years the issues has gone unnoticed, the cries of the victims unheard, and if noticed it was often and easily avoided and not spoken of. Mary P. Koss, Lisa A. Goodman, Angela Browne, Louise F. Fitzgerald, Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, and Nancy Felipe Russo’s No Safe Haven: Male Violence Against Women talk about problems such as rape and sexual harassment. The authors discuss not only the psychological effects on women, but also their male aggressors and how such violence can be prevented and treated. “Despite the widespread nature of sexual harassment and the seriousness of its consequences, most victims do not repot it and in fact, the model response of women who are harassed is simply to endure the situation and hope it will somehow go away” (Koss et al. 133). For years, victims of sexual harassment were scared to speak up in fear that either no one will believe them or that they will face harsh penalties from their aggressors, so they just kept their mouth shut. This is one of the reasons why the problem continued to go on without action taking place. Author of “Speaking Truth to Power,” American attorney, and current professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management, Anita Hill’s article on sexual harassment covers what the term of sexual harassment really is and the cases that brought that definition forth. Light is beginning to be shed onto sexual harassment, as where before people turned away from it thinking that it was an uncommon and false accusation (Hill). Women, who were and still are the primary victims of sexual harassment, were thought of as inferior, so when they claimed sexual harassment being acted upon them, many people refused to listen or thought that they were lying. Confusion of the term sexual harassment has diminished its meaning and caused it to lose its impact in defending from sexism in the workplace (Hill). Without a clear understanding of what sexual harassment was, it was difficult for victims to take action against the perpetrator. To this day, the term sexual harassment is still unclear and hard to define, having different interpretations all over the globe.
The term sexual harassment, although once ignored and hazy, is a relatively new term in a legal context. In Laura W. Stein’s Sexual Harassment in America: A Documentary History, where she discusses the long journey of sexual harassment and provides cases that display the history, she writes “In 1964 the U.S Congress passed sweeping civil rights legislation. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of certain enumerated characteristics, such as race and sex, by employers who employ at least fifteen workers, unions, and employment agencies” (Stein 32). After this legislation was passed, victims of sexual harassment could finally grasp at something with substance instead of just relying on their own voice, which obviously was not enough for people to take seriously and take action. It was the first step for feminists to get their problems and issues heard in the court room and for justice to be served. Kenneth M. York and Kelly J. Brookhouse, both of whom received their PhD from Bowling Green State University, wrote in the article “The Legal History of Work-Related Sexual Harassment and Implications for Employers” in the peer-reviewed journal Employee Responsibilities and Rights about the rights of employees and legal cases in which these rights were created and listed. The definition of sexual harassment is narrowed down to bothersome and irritated behavior that is sexually driven, sexually offensive, or when the victims suffers because of their sex (York and Brookhouse 227). With a more precise definition of the ambiguous term, victims were able to categorize and specifically point out the issue at hand to bring to the table. Carol Bacchi who graduated from Australian National University and graduate of Northern Territory University Jim Jose’s article “Historcising Sexual Harassment” in the journal Women’s History Review discusses how people, specifically women, have treated and responded to sexual harassment over the course of history. Sexual harassment became a familiarized term by the year 1975 (Bacchi and Jose 263). By naming the act, women had suffered from sexual harassment began to come together because of their shared problem. Political action could finally take place because the concern was named.
Bacchi, Carol, and Jim Jose. “Historcising Sexual Harassment.” Women’s History Review 3.2
(2006): 263-70. Taylor and Francis Online. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.