If you have watched Mad Men on the AMC network, you already know how prevalent sexual harassment and the denigration of women was back in the 1960s. We would like to think of that show as a historical time piece and have the old skeleton of sexual harassment in the workplace shoved in the closet for good.
The fact is, it’s simply not that simple of an issue. Sexual harassment is taking place all over the workforce and not just with women. Men are getting sexually harassed by female bosses, the LGBT community faces discrimination all of the time, and young workers are getting abused by their older superiors.
Politicians like to sell us on a clean and pure image, but they are some of the worst sexual harassment offenders of all time. Whenever you turn on the news, you can probably find a story about a politician involved in a lawsuit. Even Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain came under fire for his underhanded methods of dealing with sexual harassment on the campaign trail. The pure image politicians present often suppresses their true actions and causes them to act out in strange ways to satisfy their urges.
Sexual harassment isn’t only relegated to the office these days. Anyone with a mobile device can easily snap risque pictures, post harmful comments, or start a string of lewd advances through instant messaging services. While it is hard to monitor what is happening on social media all of the time, it is important to bring anything you find distasteful or harmful to the attention of an HR department, supervisor, or even the police if the you can not find reliable help.
When dealing with sexual harassment, it is important to know your rights in the workplace. According to the Equal Rights Advocates, if someone simply asks you out once, it is probably not sexual harassment. If they keep on making advances when you continually deny the opportunity, they are encroaching on your workplace comfort and are in turn sexually harassing you. Anything that includes criminal actions constitutes sexual harassment, and should be met with the possibility of jail time.
Prevention is always the best way to deal with damaging attacks. If something doesn’t have to happen in the first place, there will be no need to fix a potentially devastating problem. NOLO, the free online legal database says to have clear guidelines related to sexual harassment policies. They also suggest to have severe penalties for those who break the codes set in place at work.
While the 1960s were a trying time for sexual harassment in the workplace, the threat of creepy advances and misconduct at work will always be there. People all have different conceptions of what is right and wrong. The only way to keep a consistent grasp on how we act is to set up a set of rules that applies to everyone.