Sexual harassment as a gendered expression of power

Christopher Uggen, Amy Blackstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Drawing on recent insights from the study of legal consciousness and gender relations, the authors test the generality of Catharine MacKinnon's theory of the sexual harassment of adult women. Survey and interview data from the Youth Development Study and the General Social Survey are analyzed to identify a behavioral syndrome of sexual harassment for males and females during adolescence and young adulthood and to compare the syndrome against subjective reports of sexual harassment. A clear harassment syndrome is found for all age and sex groups and MacKinnon's predictions about the influence of workplace power and gender relations are generally supported. Financially vulnerable men as well as women are most likely to experience harassing behaviors, and men pursuing more egalitarian gender relationships are most likely to identify such behaviors as sexual harassment. Nevertheless, adult women remain the most frequent targets of classic sexual harassment markers, such as unwanted touching and invasion of personal space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-92
Number of pages29
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004

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