Hello Amy and Feminist.com staff,
I am writing a report on Sexual Harassment Law for my University and would like to get some professional responses, and outside opinions to my question. "Has sexual harassment law fostered equality in the workplace?"
I have scoured the internet and have not found much on it, in the way of opposing viewpoints. I have found however, a lot of law and policy, but the letter of the law is not what Iâ€™m looking for. Personal experience and the effects of the law is what I'm after. Has sexual harassment law helped? Has it fostered equality in the workplace in respect to (1) personal treatment, and (2) job opportunities, including advancement/promotion. Has it effectively prevented "sexually hostile environments"? Are women treated fairly and equal in the work place? Are women given equal advancement opportunities? And why on all these questions. Any information or evidence you provide would be greatly appreciated.
I don't think that sexual harassment law has done much to change the workplace -- just as rape laws haven't entirely changed the situation for those who are sexually assaulted. With sexual harassment, the law is defined in such a narrow way and in fact the majority of cases are more likely to fit into so vague category -- thus making it impossible for people to pursue these cases. Plus, most business are exempt anyway and thus don't even have policies to adhere to.
I think individuals monitor themselves only to the extent that they don't make quid pro quo comments, but that doesn't stop them from generally contributing to a climate that is untolerable. Here is just one recent letter to Ask Amy -- tons more are listed at the site and a great example of how too much still happens that is under the radar of the law.