A couple of years ago, amateur filmmaker Rob Bliss decided to highlight the experiences of his girlfriend, who complained of being harassed on the street. He filmed for 10 hours with a hidden camera, as actress Shoshana B. Roberts walked silently around New York City. During that time, she received more than 100 sexist comments from various men she passed. Some even followed her for several minutes. One might think that such incidents could only happen in a metropolitan area like New York, but the reality is that such incidents occur daily throughout North Carolina.
For weeks we have been receiving emails and phone calls from readers who say that they have been victims of this type of harassment in places like the street, factories, offices, restaurants, and even on public buses, in different parts of our state.
Sexual harassment includes acts that can range from a look to an inappropriate comment, to innuendo and
jokes with a double meaning, to serious abuse such as threats or unwanted physical contact.
Generally harassers do not see this as a problem; some see it as game, and many even think that they are flattering a woman when they say an offensive comment because they are
recognizing her beauty. Still others, unable to take responsibility, blame this behavior on women themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Some psychologists and social workers say that severe or continued sexual harassment can have the same psychological effects on victims as rape or sexual assault.
Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination, both from a legal perspective and by its very nature. While men can be sexually harassed, the reality is that in our community, the majority of victims are women.
What motivates a man to say vulgar or inappropriate comments to a woman? Can a man in his right mind truly think that he can attract a woman if he disrespects her? While machismo is a social problem prevalent in society, lack of education and psychological problems of the perpetrators are determining factors for this subject because these individuals do not see women as human beings but as sexual objects.
No case of harassment should be permitted. If you feel you are a victim of sexual harassment, you should stay calm, try to get proof (such as a video), and report the incident.
If you have not been a victim of sexual harassment, but know someone who does it and considers it a
game or a
joke, you should confront the harasser instead of being complicit in this demeaning behavior.