In 1998, 53% of Americans said people in the workplace were too sensitive to sexual harassment. Now, 59% say people aren’t sensitive enough
The Weinstein effect may have blown the Clinton effect out of the water.
A far higher proportion of American adults (69%) view workplace sexual harassment as a major problem today than they did nearly 20 years ago, according to a new Gallup report. The company’s previous polling, against the backdrop of Paula Jones’ eventually dismissed harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton, found just 50% of U.S. adults felt it was a major issue in March 1998.
The more recent poll of 1,012 adults, conducted in late October following the toppling of powerful men like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Mark Halperin over sexual misconduct claims, found 73% of women and 66% of men considered workplace sex harassment a major problem. Meanwhile, 42% of women and 11% of men self-identified as a victim of sexual harassment.
The findings also revealed a complete 180 on views of sensitivity to workplace sexual harassment: While 53% in 1998 said people in the workplace were too sensitive to the issue, 59% now say people aren’t sensitive enough. Sixty-three percent of women and 54% of men feel people don’t show enough sensitivity.
Respondents also gave their views on holding harassers accountable, a question that came in the current climate of abusers increasingly being called out publicly or sued. A far larger proportion of women in the most recent survey (38%) said “recent news events about sexual harassment” had made them more inclined to take legal action over their own alleged harassment; in 1998, only 18% said they were more likely to sue.
“Perhaps more importantly, majorities of men and women now agree that people are not sensitive enough to the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace,” the report concluded. “That realization may be especially important for men, as more women now say they have newfound willingness to file a lawsuit against anyone who has sexually harassed them.”
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