A Feminist Definition of Sexual Harassment Essay

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Superson’s definition of sexual harassment: Any behaviour (verbal or physical) caused by person A, in the dominant class directed at another B, in the subjugated class, that expresses and perpetuates the attitude that B or members of B’s sex is/are inferior because of their sex, thereby causing harm to either B and/or members of B’s sex Why Superson’s definition implies that men cannot be sexually harassed by women: SH is domination of men over women, it is oppressing to women and is seen in the economic, political, and social spheres of society Women are seen primarily as emotional and bodily beings.

Women are disadvantaged because: 1. They are a social group having a distinct identity and existence apart from their individual identities 2. They occupy, a subordinate position in American society 3. Their political power is severely circumscribed It is shown in school and politics that women are sex objects Women get paid less than men in most professions (viewed as inferior to men) Male behaviour is normally and naturally predatory (stronger desires than women) A myth is that women generally ask for sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment defined in objective terms: What is decisive in determining whether behaviour constitutes SH is not whether the victim is bothered, but whether the behaviour is an instance of a practice that expresses and perpetuates the attitude that the victim and members of her sex are inferior because of their sex The attitudes embedded and reflected in the practice the behaviour is an instance of, not the attitude or intentions of the perpetrator, that makes the behaviour SH SH defined in subjective terms:

Why SH must be defined in objective terms according to Superson: It reflects the correct way power comes into play in SH It gives the courts a way of distinguishing SH from sexual attraction Shifts blame and burden off the victim Why SH need not bother the victim according to Superson: It shows she did not welcome the behaviour through responding and trying to be nice.

Why SH can occur even when the perpetrator does not intend it according to Superson: The harasser can subconsciously enjoy the feeling that power gives him, or might consider his behaviour to be flattering, his behaviour can be directed at a specific person (or group) without implying any ill intention on his part.

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