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Sexual Harassment Essay Research Paper USE FOR

Sexual Harassment Essay, Research Paper USE FOR REFERENCE OR GUIDANCE ONLY!!! Sexual Harassment and how it relates psychoanalytical and conflict theories

Sexual Harassment Essay, Research Paper

USE FOR REFERENCE OR GUIDANCE ONLY!!!

Sexual Harassment and how it relates psychoanalytical and conflict theories

The issue of sexual harassment has been prevalent throughout this country from the office of the President of the United States, throughout military services and among educational institutions. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and although it is an offense committed by both females and males in assorted measures, it is predominately committed by males against females. I will attempt to explain the causes and solutions of this issue and briefly describe some similarities and differences using the perspectives of psychology and sociology views. I will use Sigmund Freud?s psychoanalytic theory and the conflict theory described in our course materials.

The concept of sexual harassment has been around since the mid-1970s. The term was coined, most likely by feminist legal theorist Catharine MacKinnon, and soon gained recognition in the court. ?In 1986, the Supreme Court gave its unanimous blessing to a sexual harassment law in Meritor v. Vinson, a case in which a bank teller alleged that her supervisor pressured her into a sexual relationship? (Young, 1998. p. 25). Sexual harassment had basically been dormant until October 1991, when Anita Hill alleged that her boss, Clarence Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, had occasionally asked her out, talked about porno movies, and joked about a pubic hair on a soda can. Anita Hill testified at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings that would appoint him to the Supreme Court Justices and American developed a dominant paradigm of sexual harassment. The statistical references to sexual harassment grew from fewer than 1500 in 1990 to more than 8,000 in 1992 and nearly 15,000 in 1994 (Young, 1998, p. 25). State worker Paula Corbin Jones accused President William Jefferson Clinton in a sexual harassment case, the alleged behavior occurred when he was the Governor of Arkansas. That case was dismissed and prompted Americans to have conversation and dialogue of exactly what constituted sexual harassment. No sooner after the dismissal of the Jones case, the President of the United States was found to be involved in a relationship with an young White House intern by the name of Monica Lewinsky. The intern stated that the relationship was consensual, however the President was still impeached on lying under oath about the relationship with the intern. Dialogue and debate were rampant throughout the country about relationships between subordinates and supervisors. The talk of infatuations and pressures subordinates feel toward their supervisors brought up the question whether or not it constituted sexual harassment. There have been many cases of sexual harassment throughout this country. One example is the ?Tailhook? conference where Navy officers were charged and dismissed from the military for behaviors of sexual harassment. Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland proved to be another case, where Drill Sergeants in the Army were charged and dismissed because of behaviors of sexual harassment. Other cases include teachers from high schools and colleges being charged and dismissed from their positions for these behaviors. Sexual harassment is a growing issue for this country and is a form of discrimination, which deters individuals from being productive and reaching their highest potential.

The definition of sexual harassment as described by the Equal Opportunity Commission is stated as:

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that involves unwelcome

sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical

conduct of a sexual nature when:

submission to or rejection of such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person?s job, pay, or career, or

submission to or rejection of such conduct by a person is used as a basis for career or employment decisions affecting that person, or

such conduct interferes with an individual?s performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment (United States, 1986, p.159).

So what are the causes of sexual harassment? I believe the psychoanalytical theory described by Sigmund Freud would explain why individuals would and have exhibited the behavior of sexual harassment. Freud explains his theory by dividing the mind into three principal parts, the id, ego, and the superego (Davison et al., 1986, p.29). Freud?s theory starts with the id, which exists at birth and is responsible for the energy to control the mind.

A major potion of the id is unconscious and outside of an individual?s normal awareness (Kendall et al., 1995, p.42). The id accounts for the basic needs for food, water, elimination, warmth, affection and sex. Within the id Freud postulated two basic instincts, Eros and Thanatos. Thanatos is the death instinct that plays a small role in Freudian thinking, however Eros is called the libido and is one?s sexual desire (Davison et al., 1986, p.30). The id seeks immediate gratification and operates on what is called the pleasure principle. Operating on this principle the urges of basic needs such as sex are wanted and wanted immediately, without regards to consequences other than obtaining pleasure.

So, what keeps this pleasure principle in check? Freud?s theory is that the ego, which is developed from the id at about the sixth month of life attempts to delay the immediate gratification desired (Davison et al, 1986, p.30). The ego realizes that acting on the pleasure principle might not be a way to maintaining life according to the environment or society. The ego therefore operates on the reality principle as it discerns between realities of the environment/society and of the desires of the id. ?One comes to learn a procedure by which, through a deliberate direction of one?s sensory activities and through suitable muscular action, one can differentiate between what is internal-what belongs to the ego-and what is external-what emanates from outer world. In this way one makes the first step towards the introduction of the reality principle which is to dominate future development? (Gay, 1961, p.14). When id impulses press for gratification intense anxiety is present in the ego.

The superego, the third part to Freud?s theory, similarly experiences feelings of guilt when the id presses for gratification. The superego is based off society?s moral standards, which were based predominately on Christian values that established the norms, laws and codes of this country?s environment/society. Freud actually called the previous superego a cultural superego and similarly described the superego as impressions left behind by the personalities of great leaders (Gay, 1986, p. 107). ?Consequently we are often obliged, for therapeutic purposes, to oppose the super-ego, and we endeavor to lower its demands? (Gay, 1986, p.108). According to Freud the commandment, ?Love thy neighbor as thyself? is impossible and that ethic among others causes unhappiness aggressiveness itself. Freud goes on to say ?so long as virtue is not rewarded here on earth, ethics will, I fancy, preach in vain? (Gay, 1986, p. 109).

So, it seems that Freud?s thoughts on ethics are reflected through the media and other advertisements. These reflections have and are shaping and guiding sexual attitudes that have increased the behavior of sexual harassment throughout the land. Entertainment television viewing contributes to the development of sexual attitudes, expectations and ultimately, behavior. The studies of Ward and Rocio examined television?s role in the contribution of the sexual socialization process. They reported that ??TV?s countless verbal and visual references to dating and sexual relationships are, indeed, associated with adolescents? own sexual attitudes and expectations. In many respects, it appears, as if TV?s sequel portrayals may help to shaped individuals? sense of what is normative and expected? (Ward et al., 1999, p.15). Although television viewing is not an absolute indicator of sexual behavior, it aids in developing attitudes about sexuality as well as expectations about appropriate sexual behavior. Sexual harassment is a mirror of attitudes and expectations and acting out on it.

Freud staes that the ego operates on what is called the reality principle. Television supposedly mirrors reality and although the ego comes to learn a procedure to differentiate between them, the line between them is in close proximity to one another, which can cause confusion. Elements such as television, and other advertisements develop attitude, which is a mindset. The ego now realizes that acting on the pleasure principle might just be a way to maintaining life according to the environment or society. The effects society has on the individual can and I believe has caused changes in the operations of the ego as well as the superego. Freud describes the superego as impressions left by great leaders. Well, let?s see?some of our great leaders are President Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, military officers and educators all of whom have been accused or convicted of sexual harassment. How about the cultural superego mentioned? The countries moral standard has obviously changed. Although the money we hopefully have in our billfolds and purses state ?In God We Trust?, America has taken prayer out of the public schools and detached itself from traditional moral standards that were based on the fundamentals of the Holy Bible.

Freud?s beliefs that the commandment, ?Love thy neighbor as thyself? is impossible and basically ethics are in vain. It seems society as a whole has bought into these statements of Freud?s. Ethics are less important today and it seems the superegos of individuals are based on materialistic and pleasure principles such as the id. So, the causes of sexual harassment and many other sexual behaviors lie within the close relationship of the id, ego and superego. Today, I believe the three parts of Freud?s theory have similar agendas instead of the counterbalancing it should have.

Solutions? What are some solutions? Well, family is key. ?Parents are the main agents of society in the process of taming the beast within. How they interact with their children determines if the counterbalancing components of the self—ego and superego—will develop properly? (Ziegler, 1999, p. 1-mod 3). The psychoanalytic paradigm indicates that parents are the influencers of their children (Ziegler, 1999, p. 1-mod 3). Parents today so often let television and other resources be the influencers instead of them, therefore these resources develop sexual attitudes. Parents need to get back their J-O-B and advocates should continue to deter the media and demand advertisement agencies display moral and ethical presentations. Advocates must find a way to have a stronger voice to curve the sexual innuendoes portrayed in television, magazines, billboards and music. The ego would have a much greater opportunity of balancing the id and becoming a moderating power.

The powers that develop or shape the superego are leadership and moral standards. Leaders need to be accountable for their actions and regardless of position and a no tolerance standard should be enforced to all. Leaders should in fact be models for others, for the reason Freud stated, superego are??impressions left behind by personalities of great leaders? (Gay, 1986, p.107). The values and the belief system of American culture should be brought back in full force with an accommodation for other beliefs.

The psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud explains the process by which an individual mind operates. The nature of humans want to act on the principles of the id, but past society and civilization, which develops the ego and superego counters this. The present society must stop encouraging instant gratification, which manifest antisocial desires leading to sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment has also been encouraged in the sociological perspective by the conflict present between genders. ?Perhaps the issues which can mobilize the largest number of persons into systematic conflict today is sexual harassment? (Collins, 1993, p.8). Women are the majority in society and always have been. With more women working and obtaining careers for themselves, the roles of women have greatly changed. Since the evolving role of women, men have had to come to terms with women having the same goals and dreams, thus causing conflict. A few contributors to sexual harassment against women have been the socialization process, forms of power and the media.

There is an obvious conflict between the genders, which significantly contributes to sexual harassment. ?Conflict theorists believe that the function of the socialization process is to instill in the individual a set of beliefs and values that legitimate this unequal distribution of resources (called false consciousness)? (Ziegler, 1999, p.3 mod4). Learning customs, attitudes and values of a social group indoctrinates an individual into a certain way of life and shapes one?s attitude. From childhood on many males and females in our culture are taught to exhibit certain sexual behaviors. Men are taught to be competitive, controlling and powerful whereas women are taught to be passive, nurturing and supportive. This leads to a situation of men presenting their learned beliefs into the workplace resulting in forms of sexual harassment.

Forms of power have quite frequently been used to reward or coerce one into sexual favors. Top positions are usually held by men and divide the class position of men and women. Since certain power and privilege is distributed among classes men posses the majority due to their positions. Other men that are not in top positions feel they have power over women in terms of strength and what is called machismo. ?Classes are defined only by their relationship to each other?particularly, which classes exploit and which classes are exploited? (Dugger et al, 1997, p.7). Women are often portrayed as the weaker sex, as mere housewives, mothers, caretakers, overly sensitive and emotion creatures. This perception of women often leads to coercive power; the power to discipline, punish and withhold rewards. A sexual harassment behavior referred to as ?Quid Pro Quo? which means ?this for that?-give me sex or get fired. Reward power is used to promote or distribute a type of tangible benefit for sexual favors. A lot of forms of power are learned from the medium of television.

The media, television and other forms of communication have portrayed women in provocative and sexually seductive and submissive roles. Negative images of women are seen as entertainment instead of degradation. The studies of Ward and Rocio mentioned in the psychological perspective earlier validates the increasing affect these types of medium have on the mind as well as society.

Socialization, power and the media and its allies are only a few elements that cause conflict between the position of the male class and the position of the female class. False consciousness presents itself within society that encourages the behaviors of sexual harassment. The sociological perspective suggests that social institutions are participating in unequal treatment. Gender typing developed in children continues to evolve and be reinforced by forms of communication leading to discriminating behavior of sexual harassment.

Solutions to sexual harassment come in forms of awareness through having training workshops, role-playing, education, accountability and enforcement. These keys have been successful in deterring this behavior. Hopefully, ?a new class will arise that will have sufficient power to overthrow the old class relations? (Collins, 1993, p.9).

In conclusion, the psychoanalytical and conflict theories are very separate but yet they overlap one another significantly. It would be very difficult to look at one without looking at the other. Freud?s theory dealt with the internal and the conflict theory dealt with the external elements. It is apparent that society influences the ego and superego to compromise with the id. Compromise causes antisocial behaviors and in this casethat behavior is sexual harassment. In conflict theory society causes false consciousness that result in behaviors of sexual harassment as well. Sexual harassment will continue to be an issue until attitudes are changed. I have attempted to explain causes and solutions to sexual harassment and how it relates to psychoanalytical and conflict theory.

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