The aims of this qualitative study were to describe sexual harassment (SH) as experienced by young Italian women in the workplace and to analyse their reactions and forms of resistance. A sample of 20 university students who mostly held casual jobs was recruited at one university and interviewed in 2017–18; the transcriptions were analysed using a thematic method. Respondents experienced multiple forms of SH, from sexual comments and requests to physical contacts, carried out by male employers, co-workers and customers. Often SH had a pronounced pornographic nature, and occasionally women were treated as ‘prostitutes’; dress-code implied ‘dressing sexily’, and becomes a form of SH. All women evaluated these behaviours as inappropriate, but no one considered making a formal complaint. They reported confusion, attempts to minimise, going along with a smile, asking the help of colleagues, and using the boyfriend as a protector. Few took direct actions such as confronting the harassers, retaliating or complaining to the employer. Notwithstanding the hostility and humiliation experienced, the young women interviewed retained a strong sense of their dignity as workers, which can count as another form of resistance to a system that consistently tries to objectify them and disqualify them as workers.

Coping with sexual harassment: the experience of young working women in Italy

Beltramini, Lucia;Bastiani, Federica;Feresin, Mariachiara;Romito, Patrizia
2020-01-01

Abstract

The aims of this qualitative study were to describe sexual harassment (SH) as experienced by young Italian women in the workplace and to analyse their reactions and forms of resistance. A sample of 20 university students who mostly held casual jobs was recruited at one university and interviewed in 2017–18; the transcriptions were analysed using a thematic method. Respondents experienced multiple forms of SH, from sexual comments and requests to physical contacts, carried out by male employers, co-workers and customers. Often SH had a pronounced pornographic nature, and occasionally women were treated as ‘prostitutes’; dress-code implied ‘dressing sexily’, and becomes a form of SH. All women evaluated these behaviours as inappropriate, but no one considered making a formal complaint. They reported confusion, attempts to minimise, going along with a smile, asking the help of colleagues, and using the boyfriend as a protector. Few took direct actions such as confronting the harassers, retaliating or complaining to the employer. Notwithstanding the hostility and humiliation experienced, the young women interviewed retained a strong sense of their dignity as workers, which can count as another form of resistance to a system that consistently tries to objectify them and disqualify them as workers.
2020
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https://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/tpp/jgbv/2020/00000004/00000001/art00003#expand/collapse
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/2955339
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