Alfred Penny Jr.
Saint Leo College
Gender-based violence is understood, explained, or justified in terms of gender roles, gender difference, or gender inequality. Most of the violence is perpetrated by men against women. Gender-based violence is often physical abuse, often involving sexuality, but it may also be psychological. Violence against women occurs in every segment of society. It doesn’t matter what class your in (upper, middle, lower), ethnicity (Black, White, Hispanic, Asian), culture (African-American, German, French), or country (Europe, United States). Various forms of violence and coercion are against women. Most of these crimes against women are committed by their friends, lovers, and/or family members. It wasn’t until 1993 that The United Nations Declaration against Violence against women was adopted stating that violence against women was a violation of their human rights. This declaration fell short. So in 1994, The Violence against Women Act was strengthened by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 increased the focus and resources available at the federal level to combat violence against women. Nevertheless, gender-based violence remains one of the chief problems women face in society (Sapiro, 385, 388).
Let’s look at one type of gender-based violence which is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (1) submission to such conduct is made a term or condition of employment or participating in educational programs; or (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment or academic decisions affecting the individual; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee's work performance or student's academic performance creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment (Def.ofSexualHar.pdf). Most women have been victimized by sexual harassment at some time or another. Although many believe that “being hassled” is a normal part of life. This omnipresence became clear in 1991 when a law professor, Anita Hill, testified to a Senate committee that a nominee for Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas, had sexually harassed her on the job years before (Sapiro, 397). When Anita Hill agreed to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the fall of 1991, she was heir to a plethora of malformed perceptions that almost four hundred years had created, nurtured, and then loaded unto her shoulders. Her account of Clarence Thomas’s behavior challenged a complex network of racial and sexual preconceptions that many Americans still cling to, and as the country listened and watched, a majority found her testimony unbelievable and her very presence highly suspicious. Clarence a person of reputation and substance stoutly contradicted Anita. He was black, but he was a man of authority – a judge, no less – and his credibility was not impugned by the burdens of both race and gender (Hill, 16-17). Many senators dismissed her testimony of having been sexually harassed with outright accusations that she was lying, and with sly innuendos that she was a scorned, vengeful, and psychotic woman. The hearing represented a sequela of attitudes that in some ways were not very different from those of the antebellum “statesmen” and “judges” who regarded all women, and particularly black women, as inferior persons (Hill, 32-33). Sexual harassment can affect members of nearly any industry: doctors, lawyers, typists, construction workers, journalists, librarians, even members of Congress. In many ways, sexual harassment may have become an inherent aspect of the American workplace. A Newsweek poll indicated that 21 percent of women surveyed had been sexually harassed on their jobs (Landau, 3). Many...