Sexual Harassment – Deviance and Its Consequences

Deviance refers to behaviors or actions that violate social norms or formally enacted rules. The deviant behavior under consideration in this paper is sexual harassment. While the perpetrator of sexual harassment may perceive the act as erotically gratifying, society considers it unacceptable. Examples of sexual harassment include making inappropriate sexual gestures, making sexual comments about appearance, clothing, or body parts, and threatening to fire someone if they do not give sex. Others include making offensive comments about a person’s sexual orientation, sharing sexual anecdotes, inappropriate touching, and sharing indecent images or videos.

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In recent years, cases of sexual harassment against women have become prevalent in Hollywood. A recent scandal of sexual harassment involved Harvey Weinstein, a renowned Hollywood producer. Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment by hundreds of women pursuing a career in Hollywood. The women described that Weinstein solicited sex from them, whereby she threatened to sabotage their careers if they do not accept his sexual advances. Weinstein promised the females that if they accepted his sexual advances, he would boost their careers. Another woman accused Weinstein of badgering her into giving him a massage while he was naked. An investigation by The New York Times unearthed previously undisclosed allegations stretching over nearly three decades. Numerous former and current Weinstein’s employees, from top executives to assistants, admitted they knew of appropriate sexual conduct while working for him (Kantor & Twohey, 2017).

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Notably, Weinstein’s case is just one of the many prevalent within the Hollywood industry. Kantor and Twohey (2017) elucidate that sexual harassment in Hollywood has created a toxic environment. Women working in Hollywood have described situations whereby their male bosses subjected them to sexual harassment. Forms of sexual harassment experienced by the women include appearing nearly or fully naked in front of them, repeatedly asking for a massage and inappropriate sexual advances. The women explained that these men have mastered a way of making anyone who declines their advances feel like an outlier (Kantor & Twohey, 2017). In 2018 more than 900 women came forward accusing more than 200 high profile Hollywood men of sexual misconduct (Carlsen et al., 2018). These statistics point out that by the time the New York Times was published the expose on Weinstein, sexual harassment in Hollywood was significantly prevalent.

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Deviance results in sanctions whereby different degrees of violation resulting in varying degree of sanction. The three main forms of social sanction for deviance include legal sanction, stigmatization, and preference for the deviant behavior over the preexisting one (Ben‐Yehuda, 2019). Regarding the deviance under consideration, the group rejected the behavior. Following the New York Times expose, the group started the #MeToo movement to expose sexual harassment perpetrators in Hollywood. The campaign saw 201 prominent men in Hollywood lose their jobs. Others like Weinstein are facing criminal charges. The #MeToo movement is still shaking power structures in various sectors of society by empowering women to expose perpetrators who have subjected them to sexual misconduct without fearing being stigmatized (Carlsen et al., 2018). Therefore, sexual harassment against women in Hollywood was sternly rejected.

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