SEXUAL HARASSMENT 6
is a term that has had numerous definitionsdepending on the person defining it. Whereas some people have viewedsexual harassment as an individual act of harassing the individualvictim while others view it as the harassment of the entire sex ofthe individual being harassed. Anita Superson offers a definition ofthe term that is viewed as a feminist definition. According to Anita,females have been considered as being emotional and bodied andtherefore inferior. This is an indirect way of the author statingthat the women are more likely to be victims of sexual harassmentthan men (Superson, 2008). The definition that is given by Supersonis that sexual harassment should be considered as any behavior, be itphysical or verbal, by a person who is considered as dominant towardsa person who is suppressed and that the said action harms thesuppressed person in terms of their sex. According to Superson, theharassment of this nature should not be considered as against theindividual alone, but as causing harm to all the people belonging tothe sex of the victim.
This definition of sexual harassment by Superson is not adequate.First, Superson admitted that her definition assumes that men cannotbe victims of sexual harassment. This is extremely inadequateconsidering that sexual harassment could go any way. The definitionby Superson seems to place at a dominating position while the femalesare assumed to be inferior. When the author asserts that the womenare emotional and bodied and therefore inferior, it makes herdefinition inadequate. Her definition of sexual harassment seems tobe one sided and does not cater for numerous incidents of sexualharassment where men are the victims (Aggarwal, 2010). Anothercounter argument against Anita’s assertion that people consideredas dominant are the only ones who can perpetuate sexual harassment isthat employees at lower levels ca sexually harass their bosses (Wall,1991). For instance, a secretary may seduce a boss through sendinghim pornographic images while seeking for a promotion or evenoffering to sleep with him for a promotion. This implies that thedefinition by Anita is inadequate and does not cater for some tenetsof sexual harassment. Considering that the senior employees are inthe dominant positions, one would assume according to this definitionthat the junior employees are the ones suppressed and thereforelikely to be abused (Wall, 1991). Additionally, sexual harassment canoccur between employees in the same rank therefore not being a caseof the dominant harassing the suppressed.
Anita continues her definition by asserting that sexual harassmentshould looked at from the perspective of the entire group beingharassed and not just the individual (Superson, 2008). It is evidentthat sexual harassment happens to specific genders and therefore tothis point her argument on the definition of sexual harassment isadequate. However, the point that raises issues is the asserting thatthe person harassed should not be considered. According to Anita, thevictim’s feelings of harm should not be considered and theassessment should only be on the behavior of the perpetrator. Anitaasserts that the behavior should be assessed to find out whether itamounts to harming the victimized gender of the victim. However, thisseems inadequate since there is no measure of how a behavior shouldbe assessed to find out whether it amounts to sexual harassment ornot.
Superson asserts that the way to define sexual harassment is on thebasis of behavior. This is inadequate in the sense that there mightbe two behaviors which are similar but can be both considered assexual harassment or not depending on various factors (Superson,2008). For instance, hugging a college at work that you have beenfriends for a long time might not be considered as sexual harassment.However, the same behavior may be considered sexual harassment when aboss hugs a secretary who they have not been friends and who theyhave respect between them (Argos & Shohov, 2011). Therefore, thedefinition of sexual harassment in terms of behavior seemsinadequate. It is essential to look at the motive of the behaviorrather than the behavior itself. This is because there are somebehaviors which might not be sexual harassment but can be construedto be sexual harassment.
Anita has pointed to the fact that the person being harassed shouldnot be consulted in the determination of whether a behavior amountsto sexual harassment. However, this is totally inadequate. As it hasbeen mentioned above, some behaviors might be construed as beingsexual harassment whereas they are not. More often than not, therelationship between the construed perpetrator and the victim must beconsidered. This relationship can only be established by talking tothe said victim to know whether she has been hurt by the behavior ofthe said perpetrator. Therefore, it would be inadequate to ignore thefeelings of the victim and expect to have an effective definition ofsexual harassment. This aspect of failing to listen to the victim ismade worse by the fact that in order for a person to determine thatsexual harassment occurred, he or she must listen to other people’sconversation or see them acting in a manner suggesting that they aresexually harassing the victim (Wall, 1991). In Canada, sexualharassment comprises of acts such as making comments relating to thesex of a person, unnecessary physical contact, sharing pornographicpictures with another, asking for dates consistently despite beingtold no, making sexual jokes and bragging about sexual powers amongothers. It is clear that some of these actions will need the victimto report and be listened. For instance, it would be extremelydifficult to know that a sexual harassment perpetrator is abusing avictim through sending pornographic images unless one hears it fromthe victim. Therefore, asserting that the victim should not belistened to amounts to inadequacy of the definition of sexualharassment.
Arguing that sexual harassment should be considered as a form ofsexual discrimination is adequate for the definition of sexualharassment. This is because there are numerous cases of sexualharassment where the victim and the perpetrator are of the samegender. Some perpetrators have no intention of hurting the genderwhen perpetrating their crimes. It is therefore essential to continuelooking at the sexual harassment under the tort law and not under thediscrimination law.
In conclusion, it is evident that all the points are clear that thedefinition offered by Anita is inadequate. cannotbe defined on the basis of behavior alone but the intention of thebehavior must be analyzed. Secondly, the victims must give their sideof the story to know whether they were hurt by the actions of theperpetrator (Griffith, 1999). Additionally, it has been made clearthat the issue sexual harassment can be either way and does notnecessarily occur from the dominant group to the suppressed group.
Aggarwal, A. P. (2010).  in the workplace.Toronto: Butterworths.
Argos, V. P., & Shohov, T. (2011). :Analyses and bibliography. Commack, N.Y: Nova SciencePublishers.
Griffith, S. (1999). Sexual Harassment and the Rights of the Accused.Public Affairs Quarterly. Vol. 5, No. 1. Illinois: Universityof Illinois Press.
Superson, A. (2008). A Feminist Definition of Sexual Harassment.Journal of social philosophy. Vol 24, Issue 1.
Wall, E. (1991). The Definition of Sexual Harassment. PublicAffairs Quarterly. Vol. 5, No. 4. Illinois: University ofIllinois Press.