I have written about sexual harassment many times. Sexual harassment is in the forefront again, after women harassed by famous men have finally come forward. I want to look at this problem from a different perspective. What are the characteristics of a harasser? Admittedly, I am no psychological expert, but as a discrimination lawyer, this is what I have observed:
1. Harassers need to feel powerful because they are insecure, cowardly people;
2. Harassers do not like women, in fact they may hate women;
3. Harassers can rationalize their behavior, blaming the victim or claiming the conduct was mutual;
4. Harassers are bullies, who pick on women whom they think are vulnerable and won’t blow the whistle on them.
Oftentimes, women, who are most likely to suffer from sexual harassment, suffer in silence, afraid of repercussions, real or imagined. It is hard for any victim of any discrimination to come forward. The victims do not realize that there are probably many others who have suffered because of this person. They think they are alone and feel vulnerable. The victims do not want to be blamed, do not want to be disbelieved, and fear being ostracized or even fired. So, sexual harassment can go on for years because the victims feel isolated and too afraid to come forward.
It’s good that some actresses finally came forward about Harvey Weinstein. It’s sad that it took them decades to do so. Hopefully, the actresses’ courage will embolden other women. People do the right thing, if you make them.