I must say that, in none of the places I’ve worked–and by that I mean my own little corner of the company, not the company as a whole–have I heard of, let along witnessed, predatory sexual behavior such as that recently in the news.
Nonetheless, the recent news stories in no way surprise me.
I know that such conduct went on in parts of at least one company I worked for. It was early in my career, which started just as the Mad Men days were coming to a close. As one of my co-workers told me at the time, “No woman wants to be in the elevator with [Vice President X]. He thinks every woman in [Department Y] is a member of his harem.” I also recall that, when an accomplished and diligent woman in my department received a promotion, it was accompanied by a whispering campaign that she had “slept her way” into it (she didn’t).
Historiann argues that there much more going on workplaces which tolerate such behavior than sexual hanky-panky. Here’s a bit of her piece; follow the link for the rest.
This is the playbook for sexualizing people and workplaces as a part of the process of marginalizing and alienating the junior folks who get caught up in these relationships, whether they’re consensual or not. This is also a primary means by which men re-create the hierarchy of men over women, again and again. Exploiting younger women (which is the overwhelming majority of sexual harassment and abuse cases) is a win-win for these guys, because they can get their rocks off, and–here’s the beauty part–you keep junior women from becoming senior women who might step on your nuts about all this because you’ve created an sexualized environment in which the junior women must either become victims or collaborators. Most of them will quit eventually, and the ones that hang on are compromised because they’ve been drawn in as collaborators (or heck, even apologists for the abuse of younger women.)