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The Reasonable Woman and the Ordinary Man

8 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2006  

Carol Sanger

Columbia Law School


Objections to the reasonable woman standard [for sexual harassment] combine doctrinal concerns with practical ones. The doctrinal question is something like, Whatever happened to gender neutrality? How are men supposed to know what conduct strikes their victims as intimidating, hostile, or offensive? After all, women are so sensitive - take Anita Hill. Why, as men often ask, can't women be more reasonable? ...

The answer is that at least in determining what behavior is sexually harassing, women are not like men. As many feminists have explained, women commonly experience as fearful what men find fun. ...

Keywords: sexual harassment, feminism, Anita Hill, gender neutrality

Suggested Citation

Sanger, Carol, The Reasonable Woman and the Ordinary Man. Southern California Law Review, Vol. 65, p. 1411, 1992. Available at SSRN:

Carol Sanger (Contact Author)

Columbia Law School ( email )

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