News

Study: Women experience so much sexual harassment they’re becoming immune to it

Pin it

A new study shows that it is more difficult for men to cope with sexual harassment. Michigan State University completed a 6,000 person survey of both men and women serving in the U.S. military and found that over the last year fifty percent of women and twenty percent of men had experienced sexual harassment. The survey covered sixteen different behaviors associated with sexual harassment, from inappropriate jokes to unwanted touching and advances.

While, and likely because, women experience sexual harassment at higher rates than men, it is men who reported feeling most violated by the harassment. Sadly, this is likely due to the fact that many women have experienced so much sexual harassment over their lifetime that they view these types of behaviors as a mere annoyance. Lead researcher Isis Settles says, "This effect may be similar to the way people build up immunity to infection following exposure to a virus."

The study focused on delineating between whether a man or woman viewed sexual harassment as "bothersome" or "frightening" and then ascertaining the degree of distress experienced in either of the two scenarios. The surprising result was that women reported feeling distressed when harassment struck them as frightening, but not when they categorized it as bothersome. Men, however, experienced distress whether harassment was frightening or bothersome. Men, Settles says, "typically haven't had a lifetime of experiences dealing with sexual harassment and may not know how to deal with it when it happens to them." Great.

This study doesn't, of course, draw the conclusion that women "don't mind" being sexually harassed, but just that they've had to build up defense mechanisms in order to carry on in their daily lives. Imagine hearing "nice tits" or having someone attempt to touch you so many times that you have to build up a mental defense in order to avoid feeling distressed every time it happens.