Why sexual harassment legislation feels unfair to men
ITEM 1991. The University of Toronto finds a chemical engineering professor guilty of sexual harassment for “prolonged" staring at a female student at the university swimming pool.’ He was guilty of creating a hostile environment for her.
ITEM 1991-2. Graffiti r a high school men’s room which the school neglected to remove resulted in the school being accused of sexual harassment and paying $ I S.000 for “mental angueh" to the girl mentioned in the graffiti.2
ITEM 1992. Six-year-old Chettzie claimed the boys on her bus used nasty language and teased her. So her mom fifed a sexual harassment lawsuit on Cheltzie s behalf. The school superintendent responded. "In the future, we re going to have to consider language sexual harassment’ rather than a cause for discipline."1
In the 1960s, the term "sexual harassment" was unheard of. As women who were divorced in the 60s and 70s began to receive income from the workplace, they began to demand the protection from the workplace that they once had in the home. Almost overnight, workplace rules changed.
Previously, few men even thought of using a lawsuit to protea themselves from an offensive joke. A Polish man who heard a Polish joke was expeaed to laugh, not sue But men did have ways of defending themselves. If a colleague was offensive, they avoided him. If he couldn’t be trusted, they gave him a bad reputation If a boss was authoritarian or overloaded them with work, some became passive-aggressive – saying "yes, sir" and doing half the job; others worked overtime; others took the boss aside and talked with him; others complained in a written evaluation. And if nothing worked, they applied for a transfer or got another job.
Men never thought of suing the mouth that fed them. Why not? The mouth that fed them also fed their families. The fights that men fought almost all helped them better feed their families – either via higher salaries and workers’ compensation when they were alive or via insurance or widows’ benefits when they were dead. In essence, he fought for what protected his family more than for what proteaed him.
In the early 1970s, we began to hear of sexual harassment, but it most often meant a woman being told that if she didn’t have sex with the boss, she’d lose her job. Most everyone agreed that was harassment. Harassment soon came to include a boss promising a quicker-than-earned promotion in exchange for sex. Almost all men were opposed to this because it was mostly men who lost the work favor and whose sexual favors were worth nothing. But because most men felt it was in the company’s interest tofire a boss who exploited the company for personal pleasure, they didn’t feel the necessity for government interference.
While men went about their business, so to speak, the federal government expanded the legal definitk>n of sexual harassment to anything a woman defined as a "hostile work environment 4 Men were oblivious until the Clarence Thomas hearings pulled their heads out of the sand: they saw that the definition of harassment had expanded to include discussing
pornography, telling a dirty joke, calling an employee "honey," or taking a longer look at a shorter skin
Does the federal government actually make a dirty joke potentially illegal? Yes. s And a look? Yes. And calling an employee "honey"? Yes. All these things are illegal if a woman decides she doesn’t like it, and if a man committed the "offense."
Aren’t these guidelines gender neutral5 Sometimes, yes; often, no. For example, the sexual harassment guidelines mandate employers to consider it their affirmative duty to eliminate behavior that women consider hostile or intimidating – behavior such as unwanted sexual advances6 or dirty jokes. The Department of Labor’s guidelines are explained in a publication entitled "A Working Woman’s Guide to Her Job Rights" (emphasis added) not "A Worker’s Guide to Job Rights ‘7 Practically speaking, any man who sued a woman for discussing pornography or for asking him out (& la Hill – Thomas) would be laughed out of the company before the ink on the lawsuit dried.
Who defines "hostile environment"? The woman. Not eten the man’s intent makes a legal difference In all other criminal behavior, intent makes all the difference. Even in homicide. Sexual harassment legislation in its present form makes all men unequal to all women. It is in blatant violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection unthout regard of sex. Thus the political will to protect only women prevails over the constitutional mandate to protea both sexes equally.
Suppose it is her word against his? When the guidelines of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) were first formed, a bare assertion of sexual harassment – a woman’s word against a man s – could not lead to con via ion without factual support. Ironically, when Clarence Thomas was chairman of that commission, he was responsible for reversing that decision – now, if it’s her word against his, a bare assertion of sexual harassment can stand without factual support!8 Clarence Thomas now knows why it is important for lawmakers to have to live by the laws they create.
But it’s worse than that: a woman doesn’t even have to tell the man that he’s bothering her. She can now complain to a girlfriend at work. The EEOC’s decision number 84-1 allows complaining to a girlfriend at work to be "sufficient to support a finding-of harassment"9 That used to be called gossip. Now it’s called evidence.
All this led to the filing of 50,000 sexual harassment lawsuits between 1980 and 1990 alone,10 scaring about three quarters of America’s major companies into developing programs designed to fulfill the EEOC guidelines. In one decade, women had g<rtten more protection against offensive jokes in the workplace than men had gotten in centuries against being killed in the workplace. As women entered the workplace and government became a substitute husband, many men felt it was becoming more profitable to be a victim than an entrepreneur, that this was creating a shift in the nation’s work ethic: from a nation of entrepreneurs to a nation of victims.