sexual harassment, gender bias, discrimination, feminist theory, queer theory
Understanding sexual harassment as a form of discrimination “because of sex” has grown increasingly difficult as our understandings of both gender and sex have grown richer and more complex. This piece offers a new descriptive model for understanding gender bias in the context of sexual harassment law. The piece argues that two separate sets of ideas about gender have intersected to produce a new picture of gender “equality”: one that is separated from a binary model of men and women, but that nonetheless continues to disadvantage women as compared to men. The paper refers to this idea as the androcentric-assimilation model of female liberation and argues that the adoption of this particular model of female liberation has presented an assimilation option to women who wish to “succeed” while obfuscating the fact that our ideas about gender remain hierarchically arranged. The paper suggests that this phenomenon may underlie some of the mystery surrounding gendered workplace outcomes, and specifically that this descriptive framing provides a foundation for understanding sexual harassment -- an ostensibly gender-neutral behavior when one considers that women can harass men as well as one another -- as a tool of discrimination that continues to disproportionately disadvantage women. The piece concludes, therefore, that sexual harassment law is properly conceptualized within an antidiscrimination framework.
Digital Commons Citation
Render, Meredith, "Misogyny, Androgyny and Sexual Harassment: Sex Discrimination in a Gender-Deconstructed World" (2006). Faculty Scholarship. 214.