The New Face of Sexual Harassment

The New Face of Sexual Harassment

Barbara A. Ritter (Coastal Carolina University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-883-3.ch095
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Abstract

The use of online technology and computer-mediated communication continues to increase dramatically in organizations, bringing with it new avenues for sexual harassment (SH). Online SH includes behavior that follows the traditional definition of SH, but involves the use of the Internet, an Intranet, or other computer technology. SH occurring online rather than face-toface is a phenomenon that began to appear in the literature during the mid-1990s. The unique atmosphere provided by the online environment led theorists to question how women would be treated (most victims are women) (Pryor, Giedd, & Williams, 1995; Pryor & Stoller, 1994) and to redefine the definition of SH to correspond with the emerging world of cyberspace. Indeed, it was quickly evident that the availability of alternate modes of communicating not only introduced alternate modes of SH, but also created an environment in which SH was easy and acceptable. Given the loose legal regulations governing online harassment, the responsibility is left to organizations to understand the new face of SH and provide guidelines to discourage inappropriate online behavior.
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Introduction

The use of online technology and computer-mediated communication continues to increase dramatically in organizations, bringing with it new avenues for sexual harassment (SH). Online SH includes behavior that follows the traditional definition of SH, but involves the use of the Internet, an Intranet, or other computer technology. SH occurring online rather than face-to-face is a phenomenon that began to appear in the literature during the mid-1990s. The unique atmosphere provided by the online environment led theorists to question how women would be treated (most victims are women) (Pryor, Giedd, & Williams, 1995; Pryor & Stoller, 1994) and to redefine the definition of SH to correspond with the emerging world of cyberspace. Indeed, it was quickly evident that the availability of alternate modes of communicating not only introduced alternate modes of SH, but also created an environment in which SH was easy and acceptable. Given the loose legal regulations governing online harassment, the responsibility is left to organizations to understand the new face of SH and provide guidelines to discourage inappropriate online behavior.

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