Diane Musho Hamilton talks with Ken Wilber about an essay she recently wrote with Vanessa Fisher titled “Evolving our Approach to Sexual Harassment: A New Role for Women”. They discuss the origins of sexual harassment policies in America just a few decades ago, created to transform the prevailing attitudes of chauvinism that tended to dominate the workplace during the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was a “man’s world” no longer—more and more women continued to enter the workforce for the very first time, and the “public sphere” needed to grow into an environment of safety and respect for women. And as any fan of Mad Men already knows, this was a very good thing.
But we were missing something. It took us awhile to notice the subtle but insidious ways these laws were actually placing restrictions upon women’s identities, preventing them from fully owning and expressing their own sexual power. The wide-open “hostile environment” laws often fail to differentiate invited sexuality from uninvited sexuality, creating a legal quagmire of mixed signals, slippery slopes, and faulty interpretations. When no distinction is made between invited and uninvited sexuality, all sexuality becomes suspect—and before too long, the entire relational dimension of the workplace itself comes under attack, suffocating the very dimension most women tend to thrive in. Meanwhile, women continue to be perceived as perennial victims and treated as if their sexuality never actually belonged to them in the first place, but entirely possessed and defined by the men that surround them.
The time has come for men and women alike to stop relating to women as if they were perpetual victims, fragile creatures who need to be protected at all costs from the pains and perils of the world. Of course most “real” men would risk their own lives to protect a woman from violence — but when we create legislation that presupposes woman as victim, we reinforce the real-life oppression men and women both experience every day. It is time for both sexes to come to terms with and take responsibility for their own sexuality, and avoid the temptation to reduce one another to bankrupted stereotypes of power and weakness.
This is the focus of Diane Musho Hamilton and Vanessa Fisher’s essay, “Evolving our Approach to Sexual Harassment: A New Role for Women”, which is part of an unpublished anthology tentatively titled Emerging Visions of Women and Men: An Integral Exploration of Sex, Gender and Spirit, to be published by SUNY Press.
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About Diane Hamilton
Diane is a uniquely gifted, playful, and awake group facilitator, consultant and teacher of Integral Spirituality and Zen. She is a lineage holder in the Soto Zen tradition, and has collaborated with the Integral Institute and Ken Wilber since 2004, developing the Integral Life Practice seminars and the Integral Spiritual Experience global events.
About Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.