Newsweek recently ran a story about a survey it conducted about sexual harassment in the news business. The Newsweek reporters heard from numerous women about experiences they had with sexual harassment. The trends were disturbing. Many of the women who responded to the survey said that they were forced to endure sexual advances and sometimes assaults when they were young journalists first starting out in the in the business.
In 2013, the International Women’s Media Foundation issued a study which found that two-thirds of women in journalism have experienced threats, intimidation, and abuse—a majority of which occurred at the hands of male bosses, supervisors, and co-workers.
The trend of male supervisors and senior colleagues sexually harassing women who are just starting out in the journalism industry illustrates the mentality of many sexual harassers. Men who sexually harass women often choose women with less power than them so that the women will be less likely to complain. Furthermore, sexual harassment is often motivated just as much by a desire to exert power over these less powerful women as it is by sexual desire.
It is important for women who face sexual harassment to understand that they are not alone and that, in fact, sexual harassment is quite common. If a man has sexually harassed you, he has likely done the same thing to other women and will continue to sexually harass other women in the future if nothing is done to stop him. Speaking out against sexual harassment has risks and it is nerve racking but it is also essential if we want to make sexual harassment less common.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a task force that has been studying the problem of workplace harassment. Among other things, the task force has found that “placing pressure on companies by buyers, empowering bystanders to be part of the solution, multiple access points for reporting harassment, prompt investigations, and swift disciplinary action when warranted, along with strong support from top leadership, are some of the measures employers can take to prevent workplace harassment.” Unfortunately, the Maine Employee Rights Group has seen many employers that are unwilling to take all of these types of measures to prevent sexual harassment. And these are the employers who the Maine Employee Rights Group has successfully held accountable for subjecting women to sexual harassment.
If you’re a Mainer that has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you should contact the Maine Employee Rights Group for confidential advice. It is important for you to know your rights so that you can make the best choice for addressing the sexual harassment.