Harassment never 'works'
This letter is in response to the [November 6] Brazen Careerist column titled "Strategic planning: Make harassment work for you."
In this country and this age, sexual harassment is illegal. However, as Penelope Trunk points out in her column, 44 percent of women between the ages of 35 and 49 still report experiencing sexual harassment at work. Harassment is, indeed, widespread, as Trunk notes. Many victims of sexual harassment feel they cannot report the incident(s) because of fear of the perpetrator, fear of humiliation, fear that they will not be believed or that they will suffer repercussions in the workplace.
Trunk's advice to "use" sexual harassment to climb the corporate ladder does nothing to support victims, dispel myths about sexual harassment, or make it easier and safer for victims to report it. I take great offense at her instructions.
The idea that one should "allow" sexual harassment to continue so as to gain power in the workplace is ridiculous, and only perpetuates the problem. When those who perpetrate sexual harassment are let off the hook, the lesson learned is that it's ok to behave in whatever way one wishes, even when that behavior is not only offensive to others but illegal.
That lesson is then passed on to others in the workplace, as well as to the perpetrator's peers and children. No wonder victims are afraid to come forward!
Trunk's final "fantasy" is stated in her last paragraph– that her boss had been fired for rampant harassment rather than low performance. I would point out to Trunk that the odds of this happening are slim, thanks in part to her own unwillingness to report the behavior and demand action from supervisors.
Trunk needs to reconsider her advice, and The Hook needs to reconsider including a column that contains such a double message for young workers today.