Every time you get complacent and start to believe that the world is becoming a better place for women, you find some new statistics that remind you just how far we have to go.
An international survey conducted by Harris Poll, and commissioned by the NGO CARE, which works in poverty alleviation and campaigns against various social injustices, revealed some alarming results on International Women’s Day. The poll surveyed 9,400 adults in Australia, Ecuador, Egypt, India, South Africa, the US, the U.K. and Vietnam about different aspects of workplace sexual harassment and found that people have extremely bizarre ideas about it.
First of all, the poll found that 32 percent of women and 21 percent of men have experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment or assault.
Here’s where it gets really crazy though. 23 percent of men, that is, nearly one in four men, believe that it’s “sometimes or always acceptable for an employer to expect sex from an employee”. That’s right. These aren’t people arguing over the niggling details of what constitutes workplace sexual harassment. A quarter of the sample polled actually believes that sexual harassment is, in fact, acceptable between a boss and employee.
Isn’t it alarming to think that nearly a quarter of the people we work and live with in the world believe that your boss is pretty much justified in expecting sex from you?
It gets even better for those working in India, by the way. One-third (33 percent) of Indians also said that they thought it was sometimes or always acceptable to catcall or whistle at a colleague in the workplace.
Back in April 2017, I called David Schwimmer’s set of six anti-sexual harassment PSAs “kuchh bhi” because I thought they aimed at such low-hanging fruit, and was disappointed that Schwimmer was addressing such basic, rudimentary and (to me) obvious instances of sexual harassment that I assumed the world already knew about then. I thought it was laughable that people in this day and age needed to be taught that a boss trying to kiss his secretary was inappropriate, but clearly, I stand corrected now. Schwimmer had the right idea when he made those elementary videos. Clearly, we have a longer way to go than I had imagined.