The Changing Way We Look At Sexual Harassment

An HBO movie called Confirmation, which relays the events around Clarence Thomas being confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, is raising new questions about sexual harassment and how the culture of harassment in the workplace has changed since 1991. While most people would agree that the culture is very different since Anita Hill testified against Thomas, some experts don’t see the changes as completely positive.

One psychiatrist says that the words sexual harassment have become “normalized.” Thanks to the 1991 confirmation hearings, intervening awareness campaigns and changes to laws, sexual harassment is no longer the taboo topic it once was. While it’s certainly still difficult to come forward as a victim, especially if you believe you might be retaliated against in the workplace, more and more people are coming forward. And this isn’t just true for women who feel harassed by men; this is true for all types of situations and sexualities.

While it’s a good thing that people feel more comfortable to talk about these issues, Dr. Catherine Tesluk says this has one downside. Once words and language become a normal part of culture or conversation, it’s hard to get people to listen when you say them. When Anita Hill testified in the 90s, there weren’t a series of phrases in common use to describe a sexual harassment experience. Today, there are, but you have to work harder to be heard.

If you believe you have been sexually harassed and no one is listening, then there are options for help. If you believe someone is listening, but the outcome of that communication is retaliation against you in the workplace, then you also have options. Speaking with a legal professional in Sacramento can help you understand what those options are and move forward to recover from these episodes.

Source: Fortune, “What HBO’s Confirmation Says About Sexual Harassment Today,” Amy Cao, April 20, 2016