Friday, May 16, 2008

Study: 90 Percent Of Teenage Girls Report Sexual Harassment

According to a recent study, 90% of teenage girls have said they were sexually harassed:

"Ninety percent of girls reported experiencing sexual harassment at least once. Specifically, 67 percent of girls reported receiving unwanted romantic attention, 62 percent were exposed to demeaning gender-related comments, 58 percent were teased because of their appearance, 52 percent received unwanted physical contact and 25 percent were bullied or threatened with harm by a male. 52 percent of girls also reported receiving discouraging gender-based comments on the math, science and computer abilities, usually from male peers, and 76 percent of girls reported sexist comments on their athletic abilities, again predominantly from male peers."

But, I found this part the most interesting:

"Girls who had been exposed to feminist ideas, either through the media or an adult such as a mother or teacher, were more likely to identify and report sexist behavior than were girls who had no information about feminism."

The flipside is that those girls who weren't exposed to the feminist ideas tended to blame themselves for the harassment.

And the bottom-line is that, at least according to the data presented by the study, culture plays a large part in how these young women interpret the harassment, and what their next steps are after being harassed.

Of course, there is always using YouTube to report harassment and sexual assault.


  1. Holy F Val, that link to the rape victim is horrifying!

  2. Actually, the comments on her video are equally horrifying. The hell is it about YouTube that inspires such hateful responses?

  3. All that stuff is bad.

    But (i hate saying that).

    "67 percent of girls reported receiving unwanted romantic attention"

    That's *really* broad. Someone checking a box "yes" on a survey with a question like "has anyone ever given you romantic attention you didn't want"

    doesn't really mean they faced criminal harassment. Anyone can get unwanted attention.

    "62 percent were exposed to demeaning gender-related comments"

    Are boys called faggots more or equally to girls being called bitch?

    I'm just wondering at the fine tuning.

    "58 percent were teased because of their appearance"

    Does that mean they were criminally sexually harassed?

    "52 percent received unwanted physical contact"

    THAT is a very valid line to be concerned about, IMHO.

    I'm dubious about getting the girl who had to tell the guy who asked her out "no" three times to blame the patriarchy helps anything.

    Stalking, for example, is horrible because a woman stalked doesn't know what the man doing it intends. But a dumb 15 year old boy raised with Christian ethical standards who follows a girl he met on the subway a bit is just dumbly following his urges, and couldn't articulate WHY he was doing what he was doing, other than he thought about how he likes her and thinks she's cute and wishes she would like him back. He isn't doing it because he wants to be part of the patriarchy.

  4. Agreed pduggie.

    I find there's a real problem with trivializing REAL sexual harassment by including such definitions as broad as "unwanted romantic attention".

    Back in the day, we called things like that "flirting".

    Stalking of course takes it too far and into criminal behavior, but I'd bet most of that 67 percent if asked for details are including things that no reasonable person would consider criminal. Gell, even some of that 52% of unwanted physical contact could easily be acts blown out of proportion.

    And that trivializes what is a serious criminal act, namely behavior truly deserving of being called sexual harassment.

  5. when I was in junior high I think I spent 90 percent of my time trying to sexually harass girls, so those numbers sound about right.

  6. Does the study say what they mean by "unwanted romantic attention"?

  7. Well, if they're going to set the bar at "unwanted romantic attention," should we surprised the numbers are so high? The phrase suggests "ew, gross, why are you hitting on me?" rather than a transgression against acceptable social behavior, much less something criminal. Makes me want to wade through the source study to find what the non-media filtered results actually look like. I’m not going to spend 29 bucks to find out though.

    The cultural context note is dead on though. When the same innocuous comment may be polite in one culture and rude in an another, finding variations within our local subcultures shouldn’t be a surprise.

  8. I'm with pduggie on a few of those stats. They seem a bit too broadly painted with alarmism. And why were 49% of the participants Latina? Blacks and Asians were under represented. I also question what is meant by "feminism". I raise my girls to respect themselves, not let their peers define who they are, to stand up for their rights, and to give cheeky guys a kick right where it counts. I wouldn't call that feminism since I'm a guy.

    That being said, my oldest girl (16) is constantly accosted on her way home from school. Men and boys lean out of their car windows, shout "romantic" intensions at her, then hurl sexist insults at her when she ignores them. They are predominantly latinos, btw, which might say something about latino youth culture considering the high percentage of young latinas in the survey. At any rate, a few weeks ago she and my 13 year old were walking home and a latino gentleman (in a suit and tie no less) followed them home and actually knocked on our door. I'll give him points for chutzpah, but I haven't let them walk home alone since.

    Sexual harassment is real, but there needs to be a distinction between harassment and sexual interest - something this study didn't seem to account for. Painting all sexual interest from men with women as bad is only going to cause the men who need to learn about boundaries to tune out and continue their despicable behavior.

    Douglas Cootey
    The Splintered Mind - Overcoming AD/HD & Depression With Lots Of Humor And Attitude

  9. Correct pduggie
    "receiving unwanted romantic attention" is a hole you could drive a proverbial eighteen wheeler through.

    I remember the following treatment from my junior high school days by female classmates for being a shy unpopular skinny ugly nerd.

    * teased because of my appearance
    * received unwanted physical contact
    * bullied or threatened with harm by a female.

    Guess I should apply for victim status.
    Oppressed by the Matriarchy.

  10. I agree with most of the stuff pduggie said, wording is key on a lot of those questions.

    What I am interested in this study though was of the percentage of harassment perpetrated by other females on girls. Or if that question was ever asked? Not excusing certain behavior wherever it exists, just curious.

  11. Now Nick asked a VERY good question....

  12. I'm sure I'll get flamed for this, but sexual harassment used to mean it involved your work/people in power. Either you worked in a place that pervasively sexualized the environment (bikini girl calendars all over the place) or you were sujected to some sort of sexual quid pro quo (wear a shorter skirt and get a promotion).

    Saying anything that has a sexual nature to it that you don't like is "sexual harassment" trivializes the concept. Even if you set the bar higher than "unwanted romantic attention," I'd argue that 100% of women have been sexually harassed. In fact, I'd say 100% of people have been, if you're going to say that it's any sort of intimidating and unwelcome sexual comment or contact.

    By these standards is it sexual harassment if guys say you have a small *&*# because you won't do something or you're intimidated by another guy/girl? I'd say that's pretty sexualized.

    It's a long life. It's a big world. And these things aren't at all objective. The truth is, I've watched people love/enjoy/thrill to very sexual, very inappropriate behavior, come-ons, comments from one person that they would have hated from another person.

    What do you do with that?

    This doesn't strike me as all that informative. We're sexual beings and sex pervades everything we do. The truth is, though, we've come a long way in controlling the way that people in power can use it to court sexual favors. That's good, though it still happens and we have to remain vigilant.

    That said, I don't think we'll ever live in a world where no one ever gets a pushy come-on or never gets subjected to a sexualized joke or put-down. That's just life.

    This Too Will Pass