Sexual Harassment: Term Brought Out by the American Feminism Jurist Katharian Mickinnon in 1974

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Sexual Harassment

“Now there is a thing called sexual harassment. In the US, people hired assassins to murder leaders in the past, but now they pay for someone to conduct a sexual harassment.” Monica and Clinton’s story is known to all. Even after Bill left the White House, he was continued being sued to have sexually harassed some women in the White House. The term “sexual harassment” was initially brought out by the American feminism jurist Katharian Mickinnon in 1974. At that time, the action was only defined but was not covered in laws, because the whole society, including the court, consider sexual harassment as a private issue, which was due to the natural attraction between genders. Thus it could not be judged as a crime. By the early 90s of the 20th century, “sexual harassment” was finally defined in laws. According to guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment may be described as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other physical and expressive behavior of a sexual nature when submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or education; submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting the individual; or such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic or professional performance or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment or educational environment. The course that sexual harassment gradually became a political issue began at early 90s of the 20th century. Date back to July, 1st, 1991, the time that President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas as the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court, and the process was about to finish, Anita Hills, a female professor in University of Oklahoma, brought an accusation claiming that she was sexual harassed by Clarence during the time she was Clarence’s underling. The public was shocked. After it was a long-time, complex investigation and court process. Finally Clarence was adjudicated to be innocent and he managed to become the Chief Judge. However, his reputation took a mauling. Soon after the tortuous Anita Hill-Judge Clarence Thomas hearings, another shocking new was brought out. As the nightmare for the US Armed Forces stated, “twenty instructors, mostly rough-hewn, square-bashing drill sergeants, have been accused of a catalogue of horrible deeds, from sodomy and rape to the sexual bullying of female recruits” (The Times, November 14, 1996), which was known as the 1991 Tailhook scandal. The Army’s allegation was pale and there was no way for the public to forgive the wrongdoing. Claims of sexual harassment had tarnished the US military's reputation. People started to relate the action to politics. Tailhook confirmed sexual harassment as a formally political issue.

On sexual harassment, many experts expressed their opinions. Kathrin S. Zippel mentioned about the history of sexual harassment legislation in her book, The Politics of Sexual Harassment: A Comparative Study of the United States, the European Union, and Germany, “although sexual harassment has existed for a long time since industrialization, it was first named in 1970s in the United States by feminists”. At the same time, women who were suffering from harassment began to accuse their employers. Because there is still no anti-harassment laws at that time, those employers were charged with discrimination. The first activism against sexual harassment occurred in the early 1970s in the form of lawsuits opposing sexual coercion in the workplace. A lot of women around the country who had lost their jobs for refusing the sexual advances of their employers brought lawsuits claiming this treatment was a form of sex discrimination according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex and...
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