I have doing a series of blogs about relationships. I am now going to address the role of sexual harassment & abuse in our culture and relationships. Initially, I had not planned on writing on this topic, but after seeing what is happening in the media, I decided to share my insights on this topic and will be doing several blogs on the following subjects:
- What is sexual harassment & abuse?
- What causes men to treat women this way?
- What causes women to silently put up with it?
- Why is everyone coming forward now about being sexually harassed & abused?
- How do people heal from this as both the victim and the perpetrator?
- How do we create a culture without sexual harassment & abuse?
The dictionary defines these terms as:
Sexual harassment is an uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate (such as an employee or student)
Sexual abuse is the infliction of sexual contact upon a person by forcible compulsion or the engaging in sexual contact with a person who is below a specified age or who is incapable of giving consent because of age or mental or physical incapacity.
I would define these two terms as a selfish act of control, power, intimidation or manipulation toward another person to get what you want. Sex is not the primary purpose for this behavior, sex is just the vehicle used to express it through. It has been going on for so long that this behavior is considered acceptable by those who engage in it. While both men and women can sexually harass and abuse one another, in this series of blogs I am going to refer to the perpetrator as male since this is what is most prevalent in our society. What does sexual harassment or abuse look like?
- Unwelcome verbal or physical sexual advances
- Unwanted physical contact of any kind
- Request for sexual favors
- Making conditions of employment/school/relationship dependent on sexual favors
- Threatening you that if you do not comply or if you tell, something bad will happen to you
- Inappropriate conversations, jokes, emails or other communication with sexual innuendos/verbiage.
- Showing inappropriate sexual cartoons, images, pictures or objects
- Being forced into sexual acts you did not consent to or being forced to watch unwanted sexual acts
Many of you who are reading this may relate to at least one of the above as either a victim or a perpetrator. If so, please continue to read all the blogs I will be writing in this series. Next week I will address what causes men to sexually harass or abuse women.