Female Journalists and Sexual Harassment
Twenty-first century America faces many problems, and sexual harassment has clearly become a pervasive one. Sexual harassment is about a lack of respect that makes an individual feel violated, whether it is about their gender or the inappropriate manner in which they may be treated. Specifically, the workplace has become a very common place for sexual harassment to take place, and while inhibiting the work quality of employees; it is degrading to any victim of the illegal practice. Female journalists in particular have recently emerged as one group of employees that is frequently targeted by sexual harassment, and studies show that this is most definitely a growing problem.
Each year, charges of sexual harassment in the workplace are filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the EEOC. This form of sex discrimination, which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, has given men and women in all fifty states, the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment (“Facts About” 1). The EEOC has defined sexual harassment as “ any unwelcome or unsolicited verbal, physical or sexual conducts that is made a term or condition of employment, is used as the basis for employment or advancement decisions, or has the effect of unreasonably interfering with work or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment (“Sexual Harassment” 1).” Studies have shown that in male dominated career fields, this type of harassment is far more likely to occur. Journalism was once an occupation heavy with men, and while women are certainly moving up in positions as journalists, they are seeing sexual harassment prevail first hand.
While sexual harassment in the workplace has been a problem for as long as women have been paid employees, in the last decade or so, females have spoken out to share their cases and take action against this issue. It was not until the early 1990s when it became a modern issue to be dealt with openly and freely. The breakthrough case was that of Anita Hill, an African-American professor of law from the University of Oklahoma, who made accusations against Judge Clarence Thomas, who Hill had worked for when he was head of the EEOC. Hill had allegedly been harassed by Clarence Thomas from 1981 to 1983, and she referred to incidents involving repeated requests for dates which she refused, and frequent references to pornographic material (Beasley 1). She claimed that along with the detailed referenced to pornography, he described various sex acts, and “even commented on his own sexual prowess” (Alberg 1). Anita Hill has been labeled as “the mother of a new wave of awareness of gender discrimination”, and because of her case, there has been a heightened public knowledge of sexual harassment in the workplace. (Beasley 2).
As Hill’s case occurred, complaints from females in journalism began to surface. Initially, women at three metropolitan...