Perhaps the finding that men were less uncomfortable than women when sexual advances were made by a person of greater power is explained by previous research documenting that men are rarely the recipients of sexually harassing behaviors (Fitzgerald et al., 1988). Additionally, increased vulnerability among women may contribute to the likelihood of experiencing sexual harassment (Robinson & Reid, 1985), and may serve to elevate the level of discomfort for women, but not for men, during sexual advances. This lack of discomfort for many men may simply reflect an underdeveloped sensitivity to the actual experience of sexual harassment. Gender awareness training and the cultivation of empathy and understanding for the experience of sexual harassment may enable men to imagine what it is like to be the target of sexually harassing behaviors. For instance, creating in vivo scenarios in which an authority figure subjects men to the actual experiences of cornering, leering, fondling, sexual insults, threats of penalty if sexual demands are not met, and prominently displayed male pornography may help to develop understanding and empathy. Such training models, designed to sensitize men to the psychological discomfort created by a sexually harassing environment, may serve to increase awareness and may, in turn, reduce occurrence. Additional training recommendations designed to sensitize professors and graduate students to sexual harassment have been posited by Pyke (1996) and emphasize enhanced education on increasing awareness of sexual harassment, recognizing the importance of boundaries and power differentials in professional relationships, and providing information on managing and reporting sexual harassment. The need for departments of psychology to encourage other university departments to attend to these issues was also suggested.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 2, 2008
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