It Happens: Sexual Harassment of Men in the Workplace
For most people, the structure of sexual harassment cases is the same: the woman is the victim, the man is the suspect. The idea of the opposite happening is plausible, but it is rarely taken seriously.
In 2011, out of the 7,809 sexual harassment charges, 16.1% were men. Two years later, the number rose to 17.6%. The cases vary in form: dirty talk, a “harmless caress” on the neck and shoulders, or pinching of the buttocks.
It is likely that the cases filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) represent only a small portion.
Labor experts believe men are less likely to speak up about their experiences compared to women. Some victims take to social media and other platforms to share their stories, instead of talking to authorities or seeking legal employment mediation.
The Impact of Silence
Sexual harassment can come in the form of a sexual advance or unwanted or offensive advances, e.g., touching and pressuring for a date. It can also come in the form of hostile behavior to undermine a person’s gender, e.g. off-color jokes and violent threats.
When men are at the receiving end of such behavior, there is a marked decrease in their psychological wellbeing and job satisfaction.
But why do men stay silent?
Fear is the top reason behind a victim’s fear to file a claim or report harassment. They fear co-workers will mock them, believing that men cannot be sexually harassed by women or harassment of another man implicates their “true” sexuality. The details are too embarrassing; if information spreads in the office, it could hurt their reputation.
Instead of facing such troubles, they think it best to simply not speak up.
Staying silent is never the answer. Authorities encourage victims to speak up and defend themselves against harassers — both male and female. Getting help is the first step in protection, which also lessens the upsetting stories posted online.