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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Sexual Harassment Myths

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Dispelling the myths about sexual harassment


Myth: Some people ask to be sexually harassed. They do this with how they dress or how they act. They send "signals."

Reality: Being subjected to sexual harassment is a painful, difficult, and frequently traumatic experience. Defenses such as the victim "wearing provocative clothes" and "enjoyed it" are neither acceptable nor accurate.


Myth: If a person really wanted to discourage or stop sexual harassment they could. 

Reality: Often the harasser is in a position to punish the recipient by withholding a promotion, giving a bad evaluation, or giving a low grade. In this society, men are known to rationalize their actions by saying that a women's "no" is really a "yes," and often the harassment continues despite the victim's attempt to say "no" or stop the behavior. 


Myth: Only women are sexually harassed and all sexually harassment perpetrators are men.

Reality: While women continue to be the majority of sexual harassment recipients, men do get harassed by other men and women. Currently, approximately 11% of EEOC claims involve men filing grievances against female supervisors. Also, increasing number of women are being sexually harassed by other women.


Myth: An harasser has to have sexual intentions toward their target for the behavior to count as sexual harassment.

Reality: Sexual harassment is discrimination and is a form of abuse, most commonly an abuse of power. The harasser's rationale does not change this fact.