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Sexual Harassment

I just read the article "The Trouble with Sex" by Jeffrey Toobin (The New Yorker, Feb. 9,1998) and would like to talk about it with someone with a background in feminism and an opinion on sexual harassment and the law. Do you have an opinion about this article or know of an on-line place to talk about it? I have just started thinking about issues concerning women in the work place (as a graduating college student, I will be entering the working world soon enough) and am not sure what to make of the article; Is Toobin totally biased? Does he have his facts right? Is Vicki Schultz a respected figure in the law arena or among feminists? Basically, I need a frame of reference for the article and to form my own opinion. Thanks! Nicole


Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM--and for taking the time to look beyond the pages of The New Yorker to see what is really going on. I did not read the Toobin article, but I did glance at it and I am familiar with it. Additionally, I have heard it referenced repeatedly. From what I can gather, Toobin makes one big mistake--he doesn't cover consensual sex--and assumes that any workplace sexual relationship is non-consensual.

Additionally, he seems to put Catherine MacKinnon and Vicki Schultz at opposite ends of the "feminist spectrum" when in fact they are probably somewhere right next to each other. As usual: trying to portray a feminist cat fight-- and ignores that 1.) we have bigger issues to deal with 2.) MacKinnon and Schultz have more in common than they disagree on. Schultz's one main point seems to be that sex (consensual) should be allowed in the workplace. This point isn't in contrast to sexual harassment laws, but employers who may put these restrictions on their employees. This is mostly done to avoid any fault of the employer for any potential non-consensual sex. Catherine MacKinnon, who has done much groundbreaking work on sexual harassment and sexual harassment laws--has never implied that all sex was sexual harassment. To the contrary, she has made very clear that for "it" to be sexual harassment it must be "unwelcome" and "repeated."

In a nutshell--I think Toobin makes some historical points, but he sacrifices honesty to unwarranted controversy. Schultz is a feminist--(my description, not hers) and in this instance is being used to make other feminists -- i.e. MacKinnon -- wrongly look like unrealistic sex police. (In his defense, this may be more the editors than him.) I hope that helps.


Amy

 

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