The Other Side of Sexual Harassment

Beverly FlaxingtonBeverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Readers – this question is in response to my article last week on creating a sexual harassment policy:

Dear Bev,

This issue is receiving a lot of media attention, but some of the accusations are questionable given the span of time from harassment claims to public announcements. Worse, its focus is on women being victimized by men. I, however, have been victimized by women in business as well as personally. The most recent instance occurred a few months ago in front of co-workers. A female coworker made comments and gestures regarding my “cute butt that needs to be grabbed.” I was embarrassed and avoid her to this day. Her treatment of me was uninvited. I did not report this because of fear of ridicule due to my gender as well as my gender not fitting the “victim” mold promoted by women and feminists.


Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for writing and reminding everyone this is absolutely not a gender issue, but rather a power issue. The issue is one of abuse – it can be someone publicly making fun of a disabled journalist to minimize their intelligence or belittle the journalist; it can be business owners who have immigrants or lesser educated people as employees and use threats of deportation or loss of job; and it can be white-collar investment professionals who demean colleagues by commenting on their physique or intelligence in order to knock them off their game.

I completely agree with you that this is not solely a gender issue. Anyone who is embarrassed, ridiculed, harassed or otherwise demeaned and who is not in a position, for whatever reason, to do anything about it has experienced the impact as you have.