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.
Dave Jwanier | EurekAlert!
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