It seems like every other day there is another sexual harassment case making headlines. Though the specifics may vary, the case usually goes something like this: female employee or subordinate gets sexually harassed by her male employer or supervisor. What some people might be shocked to hear however, is that 5% of reported sexual harassment cases are actually filed by men against women and 11% of cases are filed by men against other men. According to a study conducted by the QUT Business School, that means more than 1 in 10 sexual harassment claims at work are filed by men.
An overwhelming majority of sexual harassment complaints (9/10) are made by subordinates against their supervisors. The study suggests that women supervisors may be adopting the sexualized banter often found in “old boy’s clubs” as a way to fit in with their male cohorts. Some examples of complaints filed by men subordinates against their female supervisors include: a female manager asks her male employee to expose his abdominal muscles, yells at him in front of co-workers, calls him princess, tells him to ‘toughen up’ or ‘get a tiara’, and tells jokes about rape. Sexual harassment also includes unwarranted touching, hugging, or kissing. In sexual harassment cases filed by men against men, complaints involving homosexual slurs and questions of sexual orientation are the most common.
Though the majority of complaints are still females against males, it’s important to raise awareness about this growing minority. Regardless of who is doing the harassing, sexual harassment in the workplace can have a detrimental affect on the emotional and psychological health of the employees and overall company morale. Because of the stigma associated with men reporting sexual harassment cases, workplaces should place more focus on implementing supportive complaints mechanisms for both men and women alike.
*image by David Tan, Flickr
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