When people think about sexual harassment, they often think of women as the victims. However, men have increasingly become victims of workplace sexual harassment as well. What may seem like a crime against women, sexual harassment is seen across genders and industries throughout California and the nation.
Between 16.2% and 17% of all sexual harassment cases reported to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission annually are from males. Furthermore, the number of male sexual harassment victims is thought to be extremely underrepresented, as many men are ashamed, afraid and embarrassed to come forward.
How are men exploited?
Many workplaces have a diverse corporate structure, with many women now taking higher positions of power. In situations where sexual abuse occurs, women and men may use unwelcome words, touch or advances as leverage for men to keep their jobs. Men may be told they can not advance in the company unless they fulfill the requests propositioned to them by their managers.
Sexual harassment can also come in the form of jokes, pranks or persistent inappropriate pictures or messages. It is important for men to report this type of behavior. Yet, many men hold back in doing so.
How do men handle harassment?
A study published in Current Research in Behavioral Sciences found that people believe male victims of sexual harassment should have an easier recovery and suffer less emotional distress than women victims. Men may have more difficulty finding support, and therefore, may require a longer period of recovery. Of course, each case is based on unique circumstances, including the degree of harassment and the length of time the victim was exposed to the abuse.
Employers should handle sexual harassment equally for both men and women, as it can affect everyone differently. They should also have procedures in place to help men who come forward.