The Different Perspectives of Sexual Harassment
Naomi Munson, author of Harassment Blues and Martha Chamallas, author of
Universal Truth and Multiple Perspectives: Controversies on Sexual Harassment, are two
individual authors of two unique articles on sexual harassment in the workplace and in
everyday life. Munson talks about the Thomas/Hill case along with a female co-worker that
came to her with a sexual harassment charge against another employee, while Chamallas
states that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights must prove up to the challenge of the
In Naomi Munson’s article, she talks about a situation in the workplace that she was
overlooking because she didn’t quite understand the meaning of sexual harassment, being in
the 70’s, it was a new thing. She states, “Disgruntlement aside, however, it still seemed
obvious to me that in a case of sexual harassment, something sexual might be supposed to
have occurred.” She finally understood during the case of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill.
What she had stated, as all the world now knows, “He pestered her for dates: that he boasted
of his natural endowments and of his sexual prowess: that he used obscene language in her
presence: that he regaled her with details of porno flicks: and that he discussed the joys of, as
Miss Hill so expresively put it, (gulp) oral sex.” He was convicted of these charges and
dismissed from his position.
Another part of this article states that a majority of Americans were dismissing the
significance of sexual harassment. Americans have a keen understanding of life’s realities.
but when it comes to a situation that people aren’t to familiar with, they tend to shut it off and
act like nothing has happened when something has. Women, having no choice but to work, in
order to feed, clothe, doctor, and educate their children. They have always known that, while
work is rewarding, financially and otherwise, “an unpleasent atmosphere in the workplace” is
something they may have to put up with. “They know that women have always managed to
well with male lust: to evade it, to quash it, even to be flattered by it.” The new insistence
that traditional male expressions of sexual interest be declared taboo, besides being the purest
revelation of feminist rage, is the latest arc in that vicious cycle.
In the article written by Martha Chamallas, she states ” that the Constitution and the
Bill of Rights need to prove up to the challenge of a postmodern world.” She begins with one
area of the law in which postmodern challenge to objectivity is the most visible is anti-
discrimination law and discourse, mainly the fifth and fourteenth amendments. She also
talks about the case of Thomas verses Hill, helping women tell about their own encounters
with sexually harassing behavior, both in private and in public.
She also tells a story of an incident that happened to a young woman many years
before when she was a young attorney. A man who was serving as a bailiff for the local
courthouses had known this young women since she was in grade school, he had been the bus
driver for her elementary school. At the end of one day, the woman attorney asked the bailiff
to get her a file. He walked over to her, put his arms around her, said he’d do anything for
her, and kissed her on the lips. She was stunned and humiliated and ran out of the courtroom.
She never reported it or told anyone about what had happened. So she was able to
sympathize with Anita Hill and what had happened to her. “For this woman, Hill’s story
possessed a internal logic and expressed a reality about the working lives of women.”
She also goes on to state cases on sexual harassment and discrimination: Washington
vs. Davis, and Ellison vs. Brady. Ellison vs. Brady was a “love letters” case or a “dilusional
romance” case where the victim received love letters from the accused which frightened her.
Sterling Gray, who was a co-worker who she had only casual contact with wrote her two
letters stating “I cried over you last night and I’m totally drained today (…) Don’t you think its
odd that two people who have never even talked together alone before are striking off such
intense sparks…I will write another letter in the near future.” There was no relationship, she
had rejected his invitations for lunch and asked a male colleague to inform Gray that she just
wasn’t interested. Ellison won her case on an appeal in the Ninth Circuit.
These two articles are different in many ways. Naomi Munson talks about sexual
harassment and its coming of age, and that she was blind to it in the beginning because it was
a new term for what has been going on for many years. She finally understood what it’s real
meaning was when the case of Thomas vs. Hill surfaced. But up to that point she thought it
was a normal way to act. She focuses on the aspect of how this happens to women but she
doesn’t talk about that it happens to men also. That was the downside of her article. She
needs to focus on the overall aspect that sexual harassment happens to both men and women
and the fact that it happens every day, not only in the work place but in private too. Her
article is intended for an audience of woman who need a little insight on what sexual
harassment is and how you need to report these things when they happen, not 2 years down
Martha Chamallas’ article along the same lines on Naomi’s article when it comes to
Thomas vs. Hill and the fact that the Constitution and Bill of Rights needs to be revised. She
talks about other court cases and experiences she had. She also leans more towards the
woman instead of the man. Her article is meant for either a panel of victims of sexual
harassment or a group of scholars she is giving a presentation to. Her downside is that she
doesn’t include men in her evaluation. Her issues are clear and concise and her story of the
woman and bailiff was sympathetic but it kind of went the wrong way in her speech. She
went form informative to sympatheitc in one paragraph.
Both articles were well written but they missed a few points. Both authors could have
used some statistics on how many people per year report sexual harassment in the workplace.
They could of also given a little more information on how many men are sexually harassed as
opposed to just stating a woman’s view and stories. They told it from a woman’s point of
view and didn’t throw in other useful facts to back up their articles. Both used the case of
Thomas vs. Hill, which seemed like an easy way out because that was a very publicized court
Both articles seem also were a little discriminatory towards men. It’s always good to
have the views of all people but these two women favored the womans stories. In my
experience, there is always two sides to each story, and as a writer you should get both, that
way you are catering to both sexes as opposed to one.
On the other hand, more woman are reportedly sexually harassed than men. Women
are more likely to report sexual harassment than a man would because a man would be to
embarrassed to have a this happen to them. I think it is a macho thing but men don’t report
things of this nature. Sometimes it is reported when nothing has actually happened and it is
very hard to prove that it did because it is your word against theirs.In this day of sue-happy
people, you figure that any type of advance, sexual or not, would be reported because
people are so obsessed with money. So how do they determine who is telling the truth and
who is lying? Does there need to be a witness, or do they just hear the stories of everyone
involved and make a decision on what was told or evidence? That’s what makes it a
complicated issue, and a delicate one at that.
Chamallas, Martha. “Universal Truth and Multiple Perspectives: Controversies on Sexual Harassment. “Et Cetera 49 (1992): 285-91. Rpt. in Writing Arguements: A Rhetoric with Readings. John D. Ramage, John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 5th ed. Needham, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2001. 631-34
Munson, Naomi. “Harassment Blues.” Commentary February 1992: 49-51. Rpt. in Writing Arguements: A Rhetoric with Readings. John D. Ramage, John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 5th ed. Needham, MA: Allyn and bacon, 2001. 622-25