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Power is often at the heart of sexual harassment

If you've experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you may have assumed that it had to do with physical attraction or lust. You may have assumed that the person who harassed you wanted a relationship of some type that went beyond being co-workers.

While this can be true in some cases, many experts believe that sexual harassment is often related to something else entirely: power.

This can manifest itself in many ways. In more cliche examples, a male boss may harass a female worker who is his subordinate. While this isn't how every case plays out and stereotypes can be problematic, cases that do fit this pattern are often related to the abuse of power. This can also be a way for the supervisor to make sure that he demonstrates his power, as he may feel this helps him retain his control.

This can work the other way, however. When a woman is in a position of authority, it has been speculated by some experts that she could be targeted often by a man who feels that her position is a threat to his own power.

In these situations, men may target women because they want to be in control and they see the harassing behavior as a way to equalize their positions. Though the harasser may not have the same power of position as the supervisor, this can be used as a way to undermine the female supervisor's own power.

As may be suspected, this often happens in industries that tend to be dominated by men, though it's always important to note that men can be victims and women can be harassers, as well.

If you've been harassed in the workplace in Michigan, you need to know all of the legal options you have.

Source: American Sociological Review, "Sexual Harassment, Workplace Authority, and the Paradox of Power," Heather McLaughlin, accessed March 18, 2016

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