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Negotiating and cultivating *standpoints: An examination of women's and men's dialogue about sexual harassment

Debbie Sue Dougherty, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Despite the established personal, organizational, and social costs of sexual harassment, it continues to be a persistent problem in organizations. One reason for the ongoing nature of the problem may be the interaction of the gendered standpoints about sexual harassment during discourse. The present study used feminist standpoint theories as a guiding framework to examine men's and women's discourse about sexual harassment. An interpretive study using phenomenological methodologies was conducted. Members of a large health care organization [HCO] participated in both same sex and cross sex discussion groups. Following each group, participants were interviewed using the stimulated recall method. A thematic analysis revealed four emergent themes. In the power discrepancy theme it was revealed that the participants were operating under different gendered assumptions about the nature of power. Because power is the foundation of sexual harassment, women and men participants also operated under different assumptions about sexual harassment. In the fear, emotions, and [non ]reflection theme men and women described experiencing different fears. Furthermore, as a whole they were unable to identify the other gender's fears. Both reflective and non reflective processes appeared to be related to emotions, particularly to the emotion of fear. In the [ dys]functional process theme it was found that sexualized behavior was functional for the men and dysfunctional for the women. Finally, in the reporting paradox theme it was found that through discourse both men and women construct a series of paradoxes that make it difficult for victims of sexual harassment to stop the behavior. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Women's Studies|Speech Communication

Recommended Citation

Dougherty, Debbie Sue, "Negotiating and cultivating *standpoints: An examination of women's and men's dialogue about sexual harassment" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9967364.