Sexual harassment and masculinity: The power and meaning of "Girl watching"

  • Quinn B
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Abstract

That women tend to see harassment where men see harmless fun or normal gendered interaction is one of the more robust findings in sexual harassment research. Using in-depth interviews with employed men and women, this article argues that these differences may be partially explained by the performative requirements of masculinity. The ambiguous practice of “girl watching” is centered, and the production of its meaning analyzed. The data suggest that men’s refusal to see their behavior as harassing may be partially explained through the objectification and attenuated empathy that the production of masculine identities may require. Thus, some forms of harassment and their interpretations may more accurately be seen as acts of ignoring than states of ignorance (of the effects of the behavior or the law). Implications for anti–sexual harassment policies and training are explored.

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Authors

  • Beth A. Quinn

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