Getting Control: Dealing with Sexual Harassment in the Workplace -- By: Lee Taylor

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 05:1 (Winter 1991)
Article: Getting Control: Dealing with Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Author: Lee Taylor

Getting Control: Dealing with Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Lee Taylor

Lee Taylor is a businesswoman who has learned much from personal experience, both in Christian organizations and in the largest of the FORTUNE 500 companies. She has served as an employee or as consultant to 10-12 such companies across the US. and occasionally overseas. This is the first of two articles on sexual harassment; the second will appear in the Spring 1991 issue.

It is useless to deny that women can be victims. Increasingly, the secular press documents it. The Christian press has long acknowledged it in society at large and is now beginning to acknowledge it even within the sacred walls of the church of Jesus Christ.

More and more cases are being documented of Christian husbands beating their equally Christian wives, often very submissive wives.1 An organization even exists to help church structures deal with pastors who sexually harass or abuse women under the guise of “pastoral counseling” and to train seminarians in proper sexual ethics of the pastoral roles, when counselees are most vulnerable.2

People are also beginning to acknowledge that sexual harassment and violence exist on the job, even in strongly Christian organizations. I recently stood beside a woman in such a situation. (In referring to her in this article, we will call her Sue.) I, too, had experienced sexual harassment on the job, but in a secular context. I found few differences in what needed to be done between the secular context and the Christian organizational context.

It is important that we, as women, are prepared for the possibility of serious problems, that we do not overreact, and that we handle ourselves properly. Failure of self discipline in these areas will inevitably result in a vicious cycle of victimization. However, a single event of being victimized need not result in a life of victimization. It is important prayerfully to get in control of the circumstances that initiated the victimization.

There are many forms of pain and deep suffering in which it is not possible to gain control. The life of Corrie Ten Boom in the German concentration camps is an example. There is very little one can do at the time under such situations. But that is not true of most victimization of women in our modern Western societies, particularly in the Christian work context. Even in secular employment, there are usually mechanisms to get out from under the victimization and gain a measure of control.

Having said that, a word of caution is in order. Media analysts tell us that we have learned through TV to expect the solution...

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