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1. Introduction
Sexual harassment(SH) falls in three different categories that be defined as sexual coercion:
occurs when the harasser tries to establish a sexual relationship using job-related threats or
bribes (Fritzgerald, Gelfand, and Drasgow 1995 ). Unwanted sexual attention: occurs when the
harasser makes romantic or sexual advances that are unwelcome, unreciprocated, and/or
offensive (Fritzgerald et al. 1995). Gender harassment: includes hostile behaviour, insults
and/or degrading attitude that are gendered in nature (Fritzgerald et al. 1995). Out of these,
gender harassment is the most common (Leskinen, Cortina, and Kabat 2010). Both men and
women can be harassed, but the issue of harassment of men is mostly neglected. It was found
in a recent study that one-third of the working men have been victim of at least one form of the
harassment in the previous year (Mclaughlin, Uggen, and Blackstone 2012). And other men
are more often found to be the perpetrators (Berdahl, Magley, and Waldo 1996) of this
harassment as opposed to the females. This is more frequently caused by the desire of prove
and set the stereotypes of “masculinity” than obtaining sexual pleasure (Mcginley 2018).

2. Rationale
Much study has been done on SH of women, but society often neglects the cause and effect of
SH on men. It is estimated that research, help, and support for male victims is still more than
20 years behind that for female victims (Davies and Rogers 2006).They are almost always
portrayed as the perpetrators and SH among them is portrayed as mere “horseplay” and
“roughhousing”( Mcginley 2018). However, motive behind both men and women remains the
same- “proving the perpetrators' and their group's masculinity, punishing those who do not
adhere to gender expectations, and upholding conventional gender norms” (Mcginley 2018).
The sufferings of these male victims is also sufficiently minimalised because of the common
stereotypes where men are supposed to be all powerful and incapable of being harassed, and
that if harassed they would not object to it (Davies and Rogers 2006). Hence, there is a need to
analyse SH of men in the context of these set norms of masculinity and the subsequent effect
it has on them.

3. Objective
I hereby, seek to analyse the role played by the “stereotype of masculinity” and established
gender hierarchy in the context of SH of men and show how stereotyping tends to neglect and
minimise the sufferings of the male victims, making it unfair for those victims.

4. Method

The method adopted is the deductive approach, also called the top-down approach in which the
works of other authors and researchers are studied first and then analysed to reach a conclusion
which supports your hypothesis.

5. Analysis
A research found that women who are engaged in feminist activism are more often harassed
than those who are not (Holland and Cortina 2013). These activist women are perceived as a
threat to the established norms of gender hierarchy and male privilege (Holland and Cortina
2013). Similarly, men who are involved in feminist activism are a threat on the gendered status
quo which places men at a higher social level and allows them to enjoy this privilege till they
conform to the masculine stereotype of being dominant and heterosexual (Berdahl 2007). Also,
men who take time off to care for children-which is generally perceived as a “feminine” act
experience more gender harassment in the work place (Berdahl and Moon 2013) Heterosexual
men who violate masculinity norms by either engaging in or supporting activities that are
perceived as feminine are more likely to be targeted and they are often labelled as “women”.
Research also shows that many people do not differentiate between a gay man and a feminine
man. These people also admit that the terms “fag” and “faggot” were addressed to them because
they were feminine (Mcginley 2018) and therefore didn’t conform to the stereotypical
standards of masculinity.
Another study found that sexual minority men such as bisexuals and gay experience more
sexual harassment in – school, housing, work, and their daily lives (Konik and Cortina 2008).
Sexual minority men who engage in feminist activism may be at even greater risk than straight
activist men, as these men also transgress expectations of male heterosexuality (Holland et al
2016). Tenets of Masculinities theory are-“don’t be a girl and don’t be a gay” (Mcginley 2018)
and males who display feminine characteristics are therefore considered as inferior and other
men perform to prove their masculinity (Mcginley 2018) by sexually harassing them- by
converting them into symbolic females, using words which pose them as insufficiently
masculine and “physical batteries of sexually-identified body parts-e.g., grabbing the chest,
buttocks, or genitals, and inserting foreign objects into the victim's anus, or threatening to do
so” (Mcginley 2108).
For example, In K.S. v. Northwest Independent School District the classmates of a 6th standard
boy ridiculed him for having large breasts by calling him “titty-boy” and “teddy titty baby”
(Mcginley 2018).The cause of such behaviour was the plaintiff’s failed masculinity, his failure
to comply with the stereotypes of how a boy should look. Hence, the subsequent need to punish
him and opportunity to establish their masculinity arose. The court however named this as mere
bullying and not sexual harassment. It is often seen that when the perpetrators are a group of
boys/men, their actions are motivated by the desire to police the masculinity of their own group,
so that the members maintain their own masculinity and that of their affiliates (Mcginley 2018)
SH against men is thus used as a punishment for those who defy the set norms of masculinity
and it tries to reinforce the existing gender hierarchy (Berdahl 2007).
Several studies have shown that the effect of SH on both Men and Women is same, or even
severe in men, which includes long term psychological problem such as depression, anxiety;
increased drug and alcohol abuse; and other mental health problems (Walker, Archer, and

Davies 2005) Yet the common perception remains that female victims suffer more. This
inconsistency between reality and perception is the result of established notions of masculinity.
It is present partly because most of the cases of SH against men aren’t reported and partly
because when they are reported, they are not taken seriously. In a study, it was found that only
5 out of 40 rape victims had reported to the police and only 1 of the 5 cases resulted in criminal
conviction of the perpetrator (Walker et al. 2005) Victims do not report these incidents to their
friends, family or other authorities due to the fear of being disbelieved or even blamed (Walker
et al. 2005) Men are blamed when they do not fight back, appear scared, and fail to escape
(Davies and Rogers 2006) because of the social stereotype wherein men are supposed to be
strong, assertive and being able to escape from a confrontational situation (Davies and Rogers
The cases which are reported are also overlooked and the behaviour of the harasser is often
condoned by the courts. Male perpetrators often escape liability because courts name their
behaviour as “rough housing” and “horse play” (Mcginley 2018) Among boys, it is termed as
mere bullying. But behaviours that courts dismiss as simple "bullying" are often the same as
those that meet the definition of "sexual" or "gender-based" harassment under the law
(Mcginley 2018). Courts wrongly conceptualize motive of SH as only sexual attraction to the
victim. They do not take into consideration the role stereotypical masculinity can play in
causing such harassment.
Male victims of female perpetrators are also negatively evaluated because of the endorsement
of the view that men should be ready for sex with a willing woman at any time (Davies and
Rogers 2006). In fact, they tend to be evaluated even less harshly than the male perpetrators.
This is because women are considered incapable of sexually assaulting men. Further male
victims portrayed as gay are more negatively evaluated than heterosexual victims (Davies and
Rogers 2006) because traditional views about masculinity are related to homophobia-hatred
towards homosexuals. However, when the perpetrator is a male and the victim is a female,
courts more readily find a claim of illegal harassment (Mcginley 2018) Social norms about
how men and women interact thus, perhaps unconsciously affect the court’s interpretation of
behaviour ( Mcginley 2018).
we see that the traditional set norms of masculinity lead to the trivialisation of the sufferings
of male victims. Firstly, by the perception that they suffer less than the female victims.
Secondly, by stating that they can avoid the harassment. Thirdly, by terming SH of a man by
another man as mere bullying. Fourthly, by considering females as incapable of harassing men.
Fifthly by believing men to be ready and willing for sex all the time and lastly, by viewing the
perpetrators of SH of men in less negative light than the perpetrators of SH of women. Thus,
these essentialisations tend to overlook the suffering of any male victim who do not conform
to the pre-established notions of “Masculinity” and they are thus denied their justice.

6. Conclusion
SH of men is more often caused by toxic masculinity than sexual/romantic interest in the
victim. It is seen as a means for policing the masculinity of victim as well as members of the
same group and establish dominance. The consequences of SH are often more severe in male
victims as compared to the female victims and yet their sufferings go unnoticed and neglected.

It is therefore imperative to recognize the masculine motivation in cases of SH and defy these
established norms to give due consideration to the sufferings of male victims and deliver true
justice by punishing the perpetrator rather than condoning his/her actions.


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