Perceiving women as sex objects, and treating them as such, is evidence that sexual harassment is an entrenched cultural problem. Women have endured unwanted advances, inappropriate touching to downright sexual assault, abuse, and rape for decades across generations.
Sexual harassment has occurred, and continues to occur, in the workplace—whether in a domestic environment, business, entertainment, government or the hallowed halls of legislative capitols.
The unending revelations taking place during the last several months, with women speaking out at an unprecedented rate, would make one think, possibly believe, at first blush that, finally something will change. That sexual exploitation will end. That women no longer need to tolerate unwanted sexual encounters to get a promotion, even just keep their job.
Is this a watershed moment? Or, is it news of the day or week until the next explosive incident moves it to the sideline? Perpetrators falling from grace, losing their jobs, public positions of respect, even acknowledging and apologizing for such gross behavior or facing criminal charges will not address the myriad of incidents that happen to women every day that remain hidden from view and go unreported.
On a broader scale it is a gross gender inequality problem—how men perceive women, and sadly how many women perceive themselves.
How has such behavior become so commonplace, so acceptable, and so pervasive? We are all responsible. There is blame to go around.
One would immediately say, the victim should not be blamed, even though there are those who do. But, we as a society share the blame in that we, both men and women, have turned a blind eye. We continue to do so by giving men tacit approval to behave badly toward women without suffering any repercussions. Sexual harassment is an entrenched cultural problem.
It begins when certain thoughts and practices are deliberately or inadvertently passed on to boys about how to treat girls. It is bolstered because girls often are not taught in definitive terms about what treatment they should expect, and more importantly, should not allow from boys or men. We as caring adults share the responsibility of teaching appropriate perceptions and behaviors.
Why have we in our silence, for decades, across generations, granted men such license to behave badly toward women? Until there is a concerted effort to train, train, and train—starting with our children at home, in schools, and then demanding that there is ongoing training in the workplace across industries, real change will continue to elude us.
In addition to training, there must be accountability and appropriate penalties enforced across the board, wherever and whenever an act of sexual harassment occurs.
Sexual harassment is an entrenched cultural problem in our society. Until we acknowledge that gender inequality is at the root of it and do something about it as parents, teachers, employers, and policymakers, it will continue as scandals come and go.
Feature Photo Credit: rape crises blog.wordpress.com