Sexual Harassment vs. Bullying: Which is worse?


In my latest edition of the Monitor on Psychology magazine (39:5/2008) I read an article about worker well-being. In it the writer describes a recent conference on the topic and some of the data discussed. One piece of research suggests that workplace bullying, “such as belittling employees and persistently criticizing their work, harms employees more than sexual harassment.” (p. 26)

Aparently a review of 110 studies reveals that people who are bullied and have interpersonal conflict are more likely to quit, be less satisfied and have lower sense of wellbeing. Both sexual and emotional harassment are bad, but this researcher suggests that aggression has more severe consequences.

Is it that bullying is worse or that it is more prevalent and harder to detect and so it lasts longer?

Which do you think is worse to experience? No matter your answer if you have ever experienced either, you know that your voice and your personhood have been assaulted.

1 Comment

Filed under Psychology

One response to “Sexual Harassment vs. Bullying: Which is worse?

  1. Scott Knapp, MS

    “Harm” is as hard to define as “damage” when it comes to assessing impact on the human soul. The ACA reflexively shrieks in righteous outrage at the supposed “harm” that re-orientation therapy will have on the homosexual client…and yet a man like Victor Frankl can endure the rigors of the Nazi concentration camps and emerge relatively stable, thanks to a coping strategy termed “logotherapy.” I’ve been bullied in the work place. I’m 6’2″, 250 lbs. and confident in my self-defense abilities (on a multitude of planes). Bullying in the workplace had little impact on me, as I could easily defend myself physically and intellectually. I’m confident in my sexuality and masculinity, and sexual harassment might not impact me as radically as another. I’m wondering whether vulnerability has more to do with the degree and nature of impact, than the type of harming influence. Which raises a question: given the differences between masculine and feminine “made in His image” traits, is one gender more vulnerable to one form of “harm” than the other? Is vulnerability to bullying more insulting to the masculine image, and is sexual harassment more of an assault to the feminine image? Food for thought, humbly served.

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