The issue of sexual harassment has been prevalent throughout this country from the office of the President of the United States, throughout military services and among educational institutions. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and although it is an offense committed by both females and males in assorted measures, it is predominately committed by males against females.
I will attempt to explain the causes and solutions of this issue and briefly describe some similarities and differences using the perspectives of psychology and sociology views. I will use Sigmund Freuds psychoanalytic theory and the conflict theory described in our course materials. The concept of sexual harassment has been around since the mid-1970s. The term was coined, most likely by feminist legal theorist Catharine MacKinnon, and soon gained recognition in the court.
In 1986, the Supreme Court gave its unanimous blessing to a sexual harassment law in Meritor v. Vinson, a case in which a bank teller alleged that her supervisor pressured her into a sexual relationship (Young, 1998. p. 25).
Sexual harassment had basically been dormant until October 1991, when Anita Hill alleged that her boss, Clarence Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, had occasionally asked her out, talked about porno movies, and joked about a pubic hair on a soda can. Anita Hill testified at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings that would appoint him to the Supreme Court Justices and American developed a dominant paradigm of sexual harassment.
The statistical references to sexual harassment grew from fewer than 1500 in 1990 to more than 8,000 in 1992 and nearly 15,000 in 1994 (Young, 1998, p. 25). State worker Paula Corbin Jones accused President William Jefferson Clinton in a sexual harassment case, the alleged behavior occurred when he was the Governor of Arkansas.
That case was dismissed and prompted Americans to have conversation and dialogue of exactly what constituted sexual harassment. No sooner after the dismissal of the Jones case, the President of the United States was found to be involved in a relationship with an young White House intern by the name of Monica Lewinsky. The intern stated that the relationship was consensual, however the President was still impeached on lying under oath about the relationship with the intern. Dialogue and debate were rampant throughout the country about relationships between subordinates and supervisors.
The talk of infatuations and pressures subordinates feel toward their supervisors brought up the question whether or not it constituted sexual harassment. There have been many cases of sexual harassment throughout this country. One example is the Tailhook conference where Navy officers were charged and dismissed from the military for behaviors of sexual harassment.
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland proved to be another case, where Drill Sergeants in the Army were charged and dismissed because of behaviors of sexual harassment. Other cases include teachers from high schools and colleges being charged and dismissed from their positions for these behaviors. Sexual harassment is a growing issue for this country and is a form of discrimination, which deters individuals from being productive and reaching their highest potential.
The definition of sexual harassment as described by the Equal Opportunity Commission is stated as: Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that involves unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:submission to or rejection of such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a persons job, pay, or career, orsubmission to or rejection of such conduct by a person is used as a basis for career or employment decisions affecting that person, orsuch conduct interferes with an individuals performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment (United States, 1986, p. 159).
So what are the causes of sexual harassment? I believe the psychoanalytical theory described by Sigmund Freud would explain why individuals would and have exhibited the behavior of sexual harassment. Freud explains his theory by dividing the mind into three principal parts, the id, ego, and the superego (Davison et al., 1986, p. 29). Freuds theory starts with the id, which exists at birth and is responsible for the energy to control the .