Sexual Harassment, Adulthood
Sexual harassment is a serious barrier to the personal, social, and financial well-being of women, yet it is so pervasive as to be considered normative and so widely accepted as to be rendered almost invisible. Women have been sexually harassed since they first started working outside the home (Fitzgerald, 1993). Yet, the unwanted sexualization of work, academic, or otherwise non-sexual relationships was not actively labeled as a problem until the late 1970s when Catherine MacKinnon declared that “...lacking a term to express it, sexual harassment [has been] literally unspeakable, which [has] made a generalized, shared and social definition of it inaccessible. The unnamed [however] should not be mistaken for the nonexistent” (1979, p. 27). MacKinnon’s analysis was ground breaking, and over the last two decades, the phenomenon has indeed been labeled, acknowledged in several countries with a legal definition, and received significant attention from media, researchers, and activists. This entry summarizes some of the recent literature by first addressing issues of definition and scope of the problem, and then turning to ways that sexual harassment is explained by various theoretical approaches. The second half of the entry describes intervention strategies, both those that appear to be promising and those that have shown only minimal effectiveness.
KeywordsGender Role Sexual Harassment Sexual Coercion Sexual Aggression Rape Myth
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