Having experienced sexual harassment from my teenage years, I saw it as a given in workplace and social interactions and part of gender politics, a reason to move on to new employment and relationships if it could not be avoided. The concept of making a stand against it was alien despite it being the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, even the nougthies. My female role models were tenacious and persevering but not militant. Although they questioned aspects of the gender politics, they were still very much part of it.
By the eighties, the ripple effect of the women's movement seemed far-reaching, changing even conservative female and male worlds. The 'workplace suit' had been tailored to a female as well as a male cut - not always tasteful or fashionable. Gender politics had not been dismantled but had gained new dimensions, overt and covert. The texture of gender politics was as varied as the nature of the workplaces.
Increasingly, issues of power and intimidation manifested in the workplace as did the politics of resentment, bullying, and protest. Labels and an attitude of 'get with the times' devalued protest about harassment and contained that protest to a degree, as did the protracted nature of litigation when some women took that path.
Despite the 1984 legislation that defined sexual harassment and legislated against it, I am very aware that the workplace and locker-room culture that 'fed' sexual harassers lagged behind. It did not magically disappear then and continues to exist now. The ingrained culture of conditioned past practice meant that many women were not immediately empowered by the legislation then although it has shaped much of female and male perception now.
The old platitudes prior to the 1984 legislation have resurfaced in the first decade of the 21st century. Comments like 'You should be flattered' or 'What you lack is a sense of humour' or 'Don't be a prude' or 'Get with the times' not only isolate the 'victim' but shift responsibility to a shortcoming in her or him.
Everyone everywhere every day needs to draw a line to crush the culture that fosters sexual harassment.