#MeToo Movement and the Four Steps of 'Naming, Blaming, Shaming and Amending' – Lessons from the Israeli Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, within Physical and Virtual Spheres
NYU LAW, Labor & Employment Law, Proceedings of the 71st NYU Law Annual Conference on Labor, 2018
41 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2019 Last revised: 4 Apr 2019
Date Written: February 12, 2019
Awareness of sexual harassment as an undesirable and harmful phenomenon was raised recently following the #MeToo movement. This “wake-up call” has driven women and men to come forward and profess instances, mainly in the media, in which sexual harassment occurred to them. Although U.S. courts recognized sexual harassment as illegal against all genders in Title VII, it does not mention the word “harassment” hence, unfortunately the phenomena remains largely unreported. Sexual harassment cases based on Title VII, are complicated and rely on different court decisions and EEOC guidelines that use many prior procedural conditions. This paper argues that specific acts that address the prevention of sexual harassment with a broad, up to date, theoretical based and preventive perspective are more accessible, understandable and ultimately enforceable beyond the workplace. This may lead to a better level of enforcement that will break the victims silence against their harassers.
This paper discusses the Israeli approach, and how sexual harassment is tackled. Already coined as the most progressive law of its kind in the world, by enacting the revolutionary Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, women and other victims of sexual harassment were able to take legal actions against harassers in an efficient and accessible manner. Following the legendary article of Felstiner, Abel & Sara, which there the authors address the transformation process by which injurious experiences turn into perceived grievances and ultimately disputes. The authors claim that transformation studies provide a spotlight to the alleged conflict in the U.S. and explore the question of whether these levels are deemed too low. This article further develops the transformation theory and analyzes the struggle against the sexual harassment epidemic via the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Israeli Act, according to four steps: “Naming, Blaming, Shaming and Amending”. “Naming” by identifying the harmful conduct, the hidden mechanism underneath and the outcome of excluding the victims. This is followed by broadly defining sexual harassment to target potential harassers. “Blaming”, by attributing guilt to the wrongdoer - the harasser, using enforceable legal steps within the workplace and courts. This results in enforcing legal sanctions against the harasser. “Shaming” an additional step, this is the process of attributing illegal and non-acceptable social values to the harassers, which include public figures. I argue that a further necessary step to keep the act relevant with the rapid evolving reality is “Amending”. An example for “amending” is the new appearance of sexual harassment in digital spheres. This has become a concern that does not go unnoticed, hence the Acts amendments and its inclusion in the definition of sexual harassment.
In addition, the paper provides a theoretical analysis to the underlying harassment and explains both the phenomena in the real and virtual sphere, which excludes women from the workplace and public domain, while violating the rights and shares in the distribution of justice.
This article not only joins other scholars and legal practitioners claiming that specific state laws can offer greater protections against sexual harassment, but also suggests a model to increase the enforcement level. While several States, such as California and recently New York have adopted Acts against Sexual Harassment, (which although is an important step forward, it still reflects a narrow perspective which focuses on antidiscrimination in the workplace) – many U.S. states still rely on Title VII, that requires complicated perquisite procedures by proving discrimination and upholding other prior conditions. Policy makers are urged to rethink the current U.S. legal regime that currently places hurdles when it comes to enforcement surrounding this phenomena.
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