Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sexual politics

Sexual Harassment in the Federal Workplace Revisited: Influences on Sexual Harassment by Gender by Robert A. Jackson and Meredith A. Newman

The underlying problem is a lack of democratic control in workplaces. If I start my own company, and I get enough business to hire a couple of female employees, I will have a great deal of power over them. If I have no regard for morality, I can torment them to the extent that losing their job is worse. In other words, if they fear losing their jobs - and in this economy, and without an economic social safety net or family financial support, they would certainly be afraid of losing their jobs - then they will put up with whatever seems less bad than the prospect of being homeless.

It's as simple as that. Of course, there are many moral people who want to avoid causing people pain. If such a person became a dictator, they would make a fine dictator. Obviously, in the formal political context, we know that some people would make fine dictators, but nonetheless are against dictators simply because of the catastrophe a bad dictator would be. So we democratize power.

In the economic realm, our society has not yet evolved to the realization that economic power must similarly be democratized. We made a big step when we realized that dictators or kings were a bad idea, and that our formal political structures should be democratized. One day, if we don't kill ourselves first, I hope we will realize that economic power needs to be democratized as well.