Why it’s happening?
Why is there a sexual harassment and an assault problem in Arizona Department of Correction is something that needs to be discussed by the Governor and his cabinet member Charles L. Ryan who had been in denial of this problem since he took the reins in 2009 when he became director and refuses to admit this was a problem before his arrival.
Sexual harassment, is a manifestation of power.
The agency is an agency of dominance. The two are related in culture and in behaviors. Women are more likely to become victims of sexual harassment than men but the fact is, both genders are deeply impacted.
The women are more vulnerable because they are placed, promoted or assigned insecure positions as their job descriptions are uncovered by state personnel rules and makes them work at-will and subject to immediate termination of the employer is dissatisfied with their work performance.
The same rules apply to men and there are men in subordinate positions to senior female staff. Regardless how you see it, there are other cultural dynamics at play here that we can discuss later on. Most women lack power and power drives the agency.
Every position is a position of authority over someone and the rank and file have been warned that zero tolerance is expected, but the agency has sent mixed messages when it comes to tolerance and condoning socialization between supervisors and subordinates and vice versa.
In fact, sexual harassment claims are often dismissed and treated as other more informal matters that takes away the bite of the law that protects the employee from harassment and retaliation.
Fear and intimidation creates a wall of silence on this topic and a paper trail would lead a reporter nowhere. What is not recorded are those off the record conversations between management and employee which explains the consequences of filing such a report.
Whispered in their ears are words like “team player” and “loser” as well as “traitor” and many other names. It often results in ostracizing and hazing by others who have a personal relationship with the accused person.
The consequence are severe for old or new employees since the misconduct is taken as a direct reflection on the integrity of management and not the person involved. In fact, wardens are often contacted personally by senior management to “clean this up” before the situation gets out of hand.
Thus complaining of misconducted related to sexual harassment in the workplace has deep political ramifications in an at-will work place. Economically, in a tight job market, losing a job would be detrimental to their wellness and survival abilities.
Once it reaches the top, they in turn slams the bottom echelon with the reality that their job may be in jeopardy, their economic situating may change and their relationships with others, including fellow officers, is on the brink of disaster because of mistrust, teamwork and character questions.
One important note must be included in this opinion written to bring it to a forum for discussion. The prisoners witness these unwanted sexual advances daily. They watch from the sidelines and see the men prey on the women and the women on the men.
They in fact, create a sport out of the fact they get to see whether or not a social relationship develops and how to exploit that relationship to benefit their own gains while serving time.
Statistically, the agency hides most of their sexual harassment claims. Those incidents reported are whitewashed in various ways. It is disgusting how the agency downplays assaults even when it is committed by a prisoner who unlawfully touches a women officer without being held liable or responsible for such misconduct.
n the United States, one out of every ten women are raped or sexually assaulted during their lives. This includes half of those women living with men who have experienced a sexual battering or similar domestic violence incident.
Violence in the workplace in spiraling out of control. The main reason is speculated to be the high level of tolerance permitted by the management teams that restrain themselves from getting involved in such incidents and downplay the assault or harassment to a lower level with tolerances being wide enough to allow no disciplinary action for such conduct.
Zero tolerance is just a phrase they [agency] trumpet when the red flag goes up and a charge has been made. However, it is all connected to permissive attitudes that allows such improper behaviors to occur and management does not want to admit their workplace is prone to such violations or misconduct so they sweep it under their rugs.
Sexual harassment is a form of violence perceived as self-protection which translates into the men in the workplace provide the women at work protection if their relationship is mutual or even more intimate than normal. This provides security to the women and the men fulfill their egos with their “masculinity” fulfilled and the machismo intact.
Since many women in law enforcement or corrections have a role as either a single parent raising kids or a both parents work type of arrangement, there are social needs that are not fulfilled completely making them vulnerable to unwanted attention yet, perhaps, not as unwanted as announced or complained about in their grievance.
To say that the economics of women working in a field dominated by men is a reasonable statement. The mere fact they need this job to hold on to no matter what makes them more susceptible to harassment or unwanted attention because they are easy marks for men especially those in position of authority or power who lead them to believe if they are willing to be sociable, they could receive a “quid pro quo” arrangement
Such an arrangement would enhance their home life to certain degree as they could in fact be considered for better working hours, shifts, days off and vacation time. Keep in mind, this works the opposite as well for men who are supervised or managed by women in power or authority.
Hence manipulation is the background factor of any harassment charges or allegations. In these cases the women were subject to overt discrimination, that is, they received lesser-valued job assignments, lack of promotions, lower pay, and sexual harassment to cause embarrassment and humiliation.
The problem of sexual harassment relates to the roles which are attributed to men and women in social and economic life, which, in turn, directly or indirectly, affects women’s positions in the labor market and workplace. It’s really that connected and simple.
Corrections has notoriously been a man’s job market. Focusing on the economics of men's work and women's work exposes sexual harassment as a way for the men who harass women to express their resentment and try to reassert control when they view women as their economic competitors and taking jobs away from men.
Despite these impediments women face in obtaining employment, there has been a massive influx of women into corrections. Female officers mass and exponentially additional entry into the workforce has been prompted by necessity, since many families cannot make ends meet if the wife and husband do not both work full-time.
Furthermore, the number of single-parent families headed by women in growing. There are a large number of families in which a woman is the sole means of support. Data from the U.S. indicate that between 1980 and 1990, the number of female-headed families increased by 27%.
The second reaction was to exploit the presence of women and make sexual favors and submission to sexual behaviors conditions of employment, that is to keep from being fired, demoted, or otherwise adversely affected at work. Both are forms of sexual harassment
If sex discrimination forces women into lower-paying jobs, sexual harassment helps keep them there. This may not be the intention of the harasser in every instance, but it is often the effect. Sexual harassment creates a climate of intimidation and repression.
A woman who is the target of sexual harassment often goes through the same process of victimization as one who has suffered rape, battering or other gender-related crimes- frequently blaming herself and doubting her own self-worth.
One can only imagine what this does as far as being a person who possesses low self-esteem, confidence and is easily manipulated into doing something inappropriate. This can or may result in passive aggressive actions or behaviors on the job or off duty. Regardless it is a severe problem today.