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Psychologists try to explain why men harass women at work

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2019 | Sexual Harassment |

When the #MeToo movement first took off in California, few people expected it to spread in the way it did. Celebrities, politicians and business moguls all across the United States continue to find themselves haunted and even incarcerated by the sins of their past, involving unethical and illegal behavior regarding their treatment of women. In some instances, the victims are even underage girls.

While a lot of the focus is on what men do in the workplace and positions of power, there is not enough research on why. According to psychologists who spoke to CNBC, one of the big reasons men harass women is territorialism. They want to protect their own occupational territory from the invasion of women. This is most likely to happen in male-dominated fields, such as tech, medicine, the military and politics.

Another reason is that men often subscribe to a culture that ascribes a value to women based on sexual objectification. Many people may think of pornographic material or skimpily-dressed models on magazine covers. However, even work culture can implicitly condone this kind of behavior, especially if men face little or no repercussions for these actions.

In fact, this brings psychologists to the third proposed reason: perceived invincibility. Men in high places of power often believe they are above the law, immune to company policy or beyond scrutiny. However, even the Average Joe in corporate America may elevate himself to the same untouchable level if corporate never does anything about the instances of sexual harassment or even assault that get reported.

Finally, psychologists allege that men may disproportionately suffer from an exhibitionist disorder. Most women, particularly millennials, have been subject to this behavior before, in the form of unsolicited pictures of male genitalia. However, the worst scenarios occur in person.

CNN recommends hiring a diverse team to help quell tensions in the office that can arise when there are few women, especially when these women are young and attractive. Experts also recommend training, but men often walk away from these exercises feeling like the target. Because of this, CNN recommends trying to take a more positive approach to training. The news agency proposes focusing more on the solutions than dwelling on the problem the #MeToo movement has already shed so much light on.

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