According to a recent survey, the American Family Survey, what constitutes sexual harassment depends on one’s age and gender. The survey found that younger people and men were less likely than women and older Americans to view actions as sexual harassment.
The survey found large gaps between women and men’s experiences. For example, 28% of men said they’ve had an inappropriate experience, while 6 out of 10 women have. Women were more likely to have had incidents that occurred in the workplace. In regard to sexual harassment, over a quarter of women have experienced sexual harassment by someone in a position of authority in the workplace or at school, compared to 12% of men.
According to the American Family Survey, men and women differ greatly in their perception of sexual jokes. The majority of men don’t consider looking at another employees’ private parts or asking for sexual favors to be sexual harassment, while two-thirds of women say it is. Nearly one third of women consider sexual jokes to be harassment, but only 17% of men do.
Carney Shegerian, the founder of Los Angeles-based employee rights law firm Shegerian & Associates, has commented on the study.
“The latest American Family Survey demonstrates the need to clearly lay out what constitutes sexual harassment,” Shegerian says. “The differing perceptions of harassment between men and women shows that both laws and companies need to set boundaries on what crosses the line of harassment.”
The one kind of behavior that men believed to be sexual harassment was “persisting in unwanted attention.”
The age of survey participants also impacted what constitutes sexual harassment. Two thirds of those aged 65 and up believing asking for a sexual favor is always sexual harassment, while that number was only 50% for young adults aged 18 to 29.