Re: "Sexual Harassment" ?

Subject: Re: "Sexual Harassment" ?
From: Bill Burns <WBURNS -at- VAX -dot- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 8 May 1995 08:44:45 MDT

Chas. Bodet wrote, in response to Karen's posting:

1. Is the comment "denigrating"? How so?

Is it defammatory? Does it belittle the person to whom it was

Actually, yes, if you consider the usual environment in which this locution is
used. It's something a person would say to a child who is acting presumptuous
or impertinent. The implication is that the speaker is either truly superior
in his or her understanding or that, at least, receivers of such a comment are
not nearly as important or intelligent as they'd like to think. In that
respect, it is denigrating. But then again, it's almost equally denigrating to
the speaker, who has lowered him- or herself to the level of a child saying,
"So there!" I'd say the comment was unprofessional and in poor taste.

Chas. also asks:

2. Does the comment constitute "sexual harassment"? How?

I don't believe it targets a specific gender at all. The charge of sexual
harassment could stem from the assumptions made by the receiver of the message,
given the overall tone of the disputed posting. The condescension may be
perceived as an attack rooted in sexual bias because of the genders of the two
parties, when, in fact, it's simply rude. I suspect that the sender would have
aimed that comment at anyone, not just a female target.

I have a problem with the use of the term "sexual harassment" in such cases.
It reduces any conflict between a male and a female to a strictly gender-based
dilemma. It also detracts from clear (IMHO, real) gender-base abuses by
desensitizing people to the real nature of sexual harassment (y'know, the
girl/boy who cried wolf and all).

Someone mentioned egos getting in the way of clear communication. I think
that person was right on target. Let's remember that what we write reflects
on us as a profession and as representatives of our employers (unless, of
course, if you're self-employed--'nuff said). If all we do is rant on this
list, we may help our profession build a reputation for volatility and
intolerance--not really good qualities for communicators, eh?

Some people might consider such caveats an attempt at censorship. Certainly
not. Part of respecting our right to air our views is understanding that with
our words comes a responsibility for their consequences.

Let's count to ten and start over.

Bill Burns *
Assm. Technical Writer/Editor * LIBERTY, n. One of Imagination's most
Micron Technology, Inc. * precious possessions.
Boise, ID *
WBURNS -at- VAX -dot- MICRON -dot- COM * Ambrose Bierce

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