We’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months listening to what women have to say about sexual harassment in the workplace. In a new survey of 615 men from across the US, the New York Times takes a look at the inappropriate behaviors and actions that men themselves report committing.
The survey asked men if they had performed 10 different behaviors that would qualify as objectionable or as sexual harassment, ranging from telling sexual jokes to making uninvited attempts to stroke, fondle or kiss a colleague. The responses were then color-coded and charted onto an illustration of 615 blank faces, each representing a single man in the survey. If a man responded in the positive to one or more questions, his face was filled in with the color corresponding to his admitted offense.
The rainbow of colors displayed in the final illustration is alarming, if maybe not surprising.
Milder forms of objectionable behavior — what the study’s authors call gender harassment — were the most common, with about 25 percent of respondents saying they had told crude jokes or stories or shared inappropriate videos. Some of these actions aren’t legally considered harassment, but as this article (and many others) points out, often it is the frequency of these behaviors over time that can contribute to a toxic workplace dynamic, rather than the severity of each individual instance.
About 10 percent of men reported giving unwanted sexual attention to colleagues, including touching, making comments about someone’s body or asking for dates even after being rejected. Two percent of men said they had pressured people into sexual acts by offering rewards or threatening retaliation.
The study’s authors admit the problems inherent in a survey that requires respondents to self-report — no one is obliged to tell the truth. Even so, and not counting behaviors not legally considered harassment like telling off-color jokes, the Times found that one in 25 men in the American workplace identifies himself as a harasser. Knowing the shortcomings of this survey, the true figure is likely higher.
Sadly, harassment appears to be one of our nation’s few bipartisan activities. According to the survey, these behaviors were committed by Democrats and Republicans, young men and old, blue and white collar workers, married and single, rich and the poor. Men who strongly disapprove of Trump and those with graduate degrees reported lower rates of harassment, as well as those who never showed up to work under the influence, or never socialized with colleagues outside of work. Even so, the differences were not that dramatic.
It’s an ugly rainbow if we’ve ever seen one, and it shows that men know that what they’re doing is considered damaging to women or even illegal — and they’re still doing it.
What do you think of the survey’s findings? Tell us @britandco!
(Photos via Getty)