Even in Chester County, We Can Do Better When it Comes to Sexual Harassment
By Michelle Legaspi Sánchez

Over the course of the last three months, the avalanche of accusations and admissions related to sexual harassment has been nonstop. This age-old cultural virus is getting a closer look, and, collectively, we are paying attention to traumatic experiences that connect women of all backgrounds.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, up to 85% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace at some time.

Only in recent history, 1975, did the term “sexual harassment” come to be. A group of women at Cornell University started a dialogue after an employee resigned because a supervisor touched her inappropriately.

Five years later, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) declared sexual harassment a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, making it explicitly illegal.

Even after these major milestones and other outcries that preceded them, acts of harassment were not clearly defined, leaving room for interpretation of the definition through the years.

Where is the line between an illegal act of sexual harassment and distasteful behavior?  How do I know what will make a colleague uncomfortable?

Raising and discussing these questions are important as they challenge all of us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are connected and on a continuum.  A culture that enables sexism invites sexual harassment which in turn opens the door to abuse and assault.

We are at a tipping point, an opportunity to do better and change a culture to which we have all acquiesced.

In Chester County, we take pride in a high quality of life and civility as “the essence of how business gets done.”  Let’s seize the opportunity to learn together and expect something better than what’s been accepted.

 

Article originally published in VISTA.Today

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