Has Sexual Harassment Become Normalized?

January 23, 2020 | PBAT MAGAZINE

By Zikun Jin, Camilla Carrasco Lopez, Xin Lyu & Aurora Reynoso

“I can let you pass my course, but you have to have sex with me after school.” This was the story one FIHS teacher shared about being sexually harassed by her professor from college. “At that second and I was really scared. I didn't know what to do. Should I hit him, should I call the police, should I run away?” said another FIHS teacher after she was sexually harassed in a subway station late one night, when a man deliberately slapped the teacher's butt. “I can give to you anything you want, just come with me.” a FIHS student recalled one day riding on a bus when a strange man on the bus told the girl that you are so beautiful, then took off his pants, showed his private parts, and started to touch himself.

All three women interviewed were sexually harassed. They were women with different identities, of different ages, and from different places. Despite many differences, they have one thing in common, they don't know what to do when they are sexually harassed. They were just scared and overwhelmed. But, when things like this remain a secret what will be the effect?

 

Today, sexual harassment is serious this problem for everyone and is becoming bigger and affecting more and more people, especially woman. For our investigation into this troubling issue we interviewed an employee from NYU Human Resources. She describes her job as “enforcing NYU policy and local state federal law guidelines as well as NYU policy.”

Keeping employees follow the policy and laws, because there have a police created by government required company, organization, have an orientation about sexual harassment to all employee, keeping all people are be knowlegde what they shouldn’t do, and if something happen it will not just be the person’s fall, the company, organization will also taking the responsible, which push the company or organization put more attention on preventing sexual harassment during the workplace. 

This policy work very well according to the words from employee, she said “ I have been working in Gallatin School for about three years, and have a longer standing relationship with the university from general back over decades for being a student and working at other places. and only one time in NYU only have one sexual harassment case happen, and I think the reason for that is NYU does a very good job of providing a lot of health training and information about sexual harassment.”  However when she tell me there only have one case doesn’t mean sexual harassment only happen one time. 

However, just because there’s is not report of harassment doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Significantly, our investigation found a student willing to speak about her experience in college. She is a female alumnus from FIHS, and right now she is a college student at Stony Brook University. She described an experience where she met her biology professor in his office. The professor was male and about 70 years old. It was the first time she met this professor alone.

“He told me, if I needed any help I can go Tim, and how he can write a letter of recommendation for me for my medical school application. At first I felt he was such a nice man to want to help me.” said the student. However, this professor then started to make some physical contact to her, like touch her leg, and give her his own personal email address. “He also started telling me how beautiful I was and how if I was a little bit older he would love to go out together. He also said that after I finish the class we can go out to eat.” recalled the student.

 

She wasn’t know that is sexual harassment at first. It wasn’t until she told the incident to her friends and family that she realized she has been sexually harassed by her professor. After when she realized she feel so uncomfortable and scared when she saw that professor, and sometimes when there have test going on, when she saw that professor she feel very scared and nervous. She tells us that she has later learned that many girls have had similar experiences with this professor, but that she was scared to report it because he has so much power being a senior professor in the college. 

As the student’s story shows,  the law and policies has become completely useless. According to “Nearly all sexual harassment at work goes unreported – and those who do report often see zero benefit” from The Conversation it tell us base on a national survey data, every year there have about 5 million people have experience sexual harassment in workplace, but on average every year only have 9200 charges are received by EEOC, which shows there have 99.8% of people didn’t report what happen on them. 

As such policy have trying to prevent worker away from sexual harassment, and it putting pressure on school and encourage them to take prevent sexual harassment as part of their responsibility, but sexual harassment still happen, they didn’t report didn’t mean it never happen. In this interview the policy sounds so good and well protected people, but according to data provided by EEOC, in 2010 they have got 12695 sexual harassment charges, then in 2018 this number have increase to 13,055 sexual harassment charges, this policy may work well in some places but overall sexual harassment still happen very oftenly at workplace, and a lot of people didn’t stand up and against it.

Then on the outside, the public, the street, the sexual harassment is more often and powerful. It’s happening everywhere and there don’t have a straight way to stopping this happen. A teacher at FIHS, told us some of her experience about get sexual harassment on street, she didn’t get sexual harassment at workplace, however at outside, when she “just walking on the street, there often have people whistle to her, calling her name, try to get her attention”, it make her feel so uncomfortable and insecure. 

In a national survey made by Stop Street Harassment in February 21, 2018. The survey include 2000 people all over the U.S. there are 81% of women and 43% of men have been sexual harassment before in their life. 77% of women and 34% of men get sexual harassment by inappropriate language, 51% of women and 17% of men are sexual harassment by inappropriate body touching, and 27% of women and 7% of men are have been sexual assault before. 

This type of sexual harassment are more difficult to deal with than workplace sexual harassment, in workplace many sexual harassment can be reported by the victim, the offender can’t run away, but on the street sexual harassment after criminal realize he/she is get into trouble, they can quickly run away and hard to taking evidence, or identify the criminal, they just got away from law, and the victim will feel more fear and insecure because they knew the law cannot protect them.

Furthermore, young people are also victims of sexual harassment. According to the AAUW (American Association of University Women) 46% of girls and 22% boys from 7-12 grades that were surveyed said that someone made annoying sexual comments, jokes and gestures to or about them. In addition the 4% of the girls said that they were forced to do something sexual. Because of the sexual harassment 32% of victims did not want to go to school, 31% felt sick to their stomach, 30% had troubles to study and the 19% have had trouble sleeping. 

 

To test the validity of that study, we conducted our own survey in December 2018, of FIHS student 119 people, 56  female, 58 male, and 5 are N/A the following results were found: 

  • 44 people claim they have been sexual harassment before 23 are female, 17 are male, and 4 are N/A.

  • In sexual harassment 14 people are claim they been physical sexual harassment, 6 female, 8 male.

  • 21 people are verbal sexual harassment, 14 female, 7 male.

  • 8 people have been though both, 3 female, 5 male.

 

At this moment in our society, sexual harassment is not only not being punished but it is being accepted and approved by the public. For example, President Donald Trump has been accused of sexual harassment by not less than 25 women, but he still won the election and enjoys wide support from much of the country.  He continues to maintain that those women are liars."I mean, they made false statements about me, knowing they were false. I never met them. I never met these people. And, what did they do? What did they do? They took money in order to say bad things," Trump said at the Sept. 27, 2018, press conference.

 

Similarly, President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has also been accused of sexual harassment and assault. Kavanaugh was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court on July 9, 2018, to fill the position vacated by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. When Kavanaugh's name was on the short list of Supreme Court nominees and before his nomination, Palo Alto University Professor of Psychology Christine Blasey Ford contacted a Washington Post tip line with accusations that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s .Christine Blasey, a physiologist at Palo Alto University , accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh having sexually harassed her at a party when she was 15 in 1980. She alleged that Kavanaugh was drunk and while he was covering her mouth to keep her for screaming , Kavanaugh tried to take her clothes off. Ms. Blasey claimed that a friend of Kavanaugh was there and  participated in the assault. However Judge Brett denied the accusations that Blasey made. Just like Ms. Blasey, two more women have come forward as victims of assault from Brett Kavanaugh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sexual harassment is becoming normalized. In our society sexual harassment are keeping increase, more and more people have experience sexual harassment happen on them, sometime people are trying to fight back, sue or report them, sometime they are too powerful. It’s clear that one person coming forward isn’t going to work. Sexual harassment is becoming normalized, but we must never let it become normal and accepted part of our wold.

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Christine Blasey Ford at Kavanaugh Hearings