Anyone can be victimized by sexual harassment on the job. It’s important to point that out so that all workers know that they have rights. That includes men who get harassed by women or other men.
That said, some experts claim that it’s much more likely that women will become the victims of sexual harassment than men, and that harassment is often at the hands of male coworkers or supervisors. Why does this happen?
Lack of power
One of the main reasons is a simple lack of power in the workplace. It is still more common for men to hold positions of power than for women to have those same jobs. This is true despite the shifts in the workplace over the years that have given women more equality than they enjoyed in the past.
That’s why you have the common stereotype of a male-dominated industry with, say, a female receptionist. In that setting, the woman is far more likely to experience harassment than any of the men.
This lack of power means that women sometimes feel they have no choice but to experience harassment, fearing that speaking up will mean they lose their jobs. Men, also sensing that they hold the power in the relationship, may feel that no one can stop them from using it to act in this manner.
Suffering in silence
Though events in the last few years have shown that women are less willing to suffer through harassment in silence than they used to be — certainly a positive change — society told them for many years that that is exactly what they had to do. Unfortunately, some female workers were made to feel that they had no recourse and that this was just something they had to “deal with” on the job.
Lack of confidence
Women may also feel that their own positions are not that secure, and this can rob them of their confidence. This makes them vulnerable targets for those who harass others.
Again, this is due in large part to the power dynamics in play. If a woman feels like it will be harder for her to get another job if she quits or gets fired, will she then feel more nervous to stand up for herself? If all of the other workers are men, will she worry that no one will believe her or take her seriously?
It is important for workers to understand that they do have rights, they do have protections and they do have legal options. No one has to suffer through harassment in silence. If this happens to you, make sure you understand exactly what steps you can take in Tennessee.