Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sexual harassment on sitcoms not so funny, researcher says

14.07.2003


Sexual jokes, suggestive glances, and other forms of gender and sexual harassment may be funny to writers, producers and viewers of workplace-based situation comedies, but Penn State researcher Beth Montemurro says they are far from a laughing matter.

Montemurro, assistant professor of sociology, studied five such programs on the NBC television network – Veronica’s Closet, News Radio, Working, Just Shoot Me and Suddenly Susan – during 1997 and 1998 to see just how prevalent gender and sexual harassment were on these programs, and how these incidences were treated. She is a faculty member at Penn State’s Abington Campus outside of Philadelphia.

What she found was a high rate of gender harassment – defined as jokes, glances, etc. which contributes to a hostile work environment – and a lower but still troubling rate of sexual harassment – which involves touching, requests for dates, and other activities that imply sex for favors. While not linking these shows directly with sexual harassment in the workplace, she thinks the wrong message is being transmitted to viewers via television.



"The images presented on situation comedies suggest that it is appropriate to make jokes based on women’s appearance and sexuality," she said, noting that television sitcoms today still seem all too willing to make light of sexual harassment. "As long as we continue to make jokes about harassment, suggest that women should put up with sexual teasing, and treat it as humorous, the impact and seriousness of sexual harassment will continue to be minimized in society. Furthermore, when our televised workplaces contain these images, acceptance of harassment is promoted both implicitly and explicitly."

Montemurro studied a total of 56 episodes of the five sitcoms for her study, titled, "Sexual Harassment as ’Material’ on Workplace-Based Situation Comedies." The research was published in the May issue of the journal, Sex Roles.

Three things about these incidences of harassment were especially troubling for the Penn State sociologist. In instances where laugh tracks were employed, they often encouraged audience members to laugh at jokes based around gender/sexual harassment; in scenes where bosses were present, they often turned the other cheek or participated in the harassment along with their employees; and it was practically unheard of for the words "sexual harassment" to be broached on the programs, because that may call too much attention to the seriousness of the incident.

Perhaps the only positive note for the sitcoms is that they rarely displayed and laughed about the most serious forms of sexual harassment, as defined by Montemurro above. The sitcoms generated an average of roughly four incidences of gender/sexual harassment per episode, with more than 90 percent being in the gender harassment category. But even that’s damning with faint praise. When the writers did convey images of sexual harassment, they tended to reverse roles so that a female character was making an obvious advance on a male character, typically in an attempt at humor, the sociologist said.


###

Dave Jwanier | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu/

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>