Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military: Individualized and Environmental Contexts

Authored by: Juanita M. Firestone and Richard J. Harris

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Political Transitions, Security Sector Reform (SSR), Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: United States
Region: North America
Year: 1994
Citation: Firestone, Juanita M. and Richard J. Harris. "Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military: Individualized and Environmental Contexts." Armed Forces & Society 21, no. 1 (1994): 25-43.

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Using data from the “1988 DoD Survey of Sex Roles in the Active-Duty Military,” this research focuses on individual experience and understanding of sexual harassment in the military work environment as well as impacts of organization context on this behavioral arena. Our results indicate that there is a pervasive pattern of sexual harassment, especially of women, that spans rank and work site contexts. Because the survey was conducted prior to the extensive publicity associated with the Clarence Thomas hearings and the Tailhook scandal, it is possible that respondents understated the extent of different types of harassment. We find that a general harassment environment is highly predictive of individualistic harassment experiences of women and men. We conclude that controlling overt sexual commentary and public behavior is essential for producing a positive nonharassing work situation.