Sexual harassment is a serious issue, and one that continues to persist at alarming rates. Sexual harassment in the workplace, for instance, has risen within the past several years, based on the number of claims received by the EEOC (Equal Employement Opportunity Commission). As any attorney for sexual harassment can tell you, this form of workplace abuse is so pernicious not only because it is unwanted, but because in many cases, it can come from an employee’s supervisor, creating a scenario where they might feel uncomfortable coming forward about the experience (due to the power differential).
Still, it’s important to be able to identify who is performing these acts of sexual harassment, and for that, Psychology Today has provided some interesting insight on the common mental characteristics shared by “(mostly) men who sexually harass (mostly) women.” These are, in order, The Dark Triad, moral disengagement, employment in a male dominated field, and hostile attitudes towards women. In an effort to further educate, today, we’ll be taking a closer look at these traits and how they link back to the propensity to commit acts of sexual harassment.
The Dark Triad
The “Dark Triad” is a reference to three personality traits you might already have some passing familiarity with: narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. Individuals with this trait lack empathy, have an inflated view of themselves, may be aggressive and impulsive, and have a tendency to eschew moral values in pursuit of their selfish goals. With this combination of traits, it’s not difficult to see why an individual would be primed to predatory abuse like sexual harassment, and why they might feel perfectly justified in engaging in loathsome behavior.
Simply put, individuals with this personality trait will justify their own moral wrongdoings, using a combination of euphemistic language, avoidance of responsibility, and dehumanization of their victims (among other tactics) to, as the title so aptly puts it, disengage from the moral responsibilities of their own actions.
Employment In A Male Dominated Field
As unfortunate as it is, sexual harassment is more likely to occur in traditionally “masculine” lines of work, where a male-dominated culture makes it easier for abusers to view women as inferior.
Hostile Attitudes Towards Women
When an individual holds beliefs and attitudes that frame women primarily as objects of sexual desire, they are more apt to commit acts of sexual harassment. What’s more, the Psychology Today article notes, when an individual has actively hostile views on women, they’ll do so with the intent to create an “inhospitable climate” for their female target. In other words, combined with all the other traits above, male sexual harassers commit their acts as a way to victimize, and often feel as if they can do so with impunity.