"SEX, POWER, AND BOUNDARIES: Understanding and Preventing Sexual Harassment" by

"SEX, POWER, AND BOUNDARIES: Understanding and Preventing Sexual Harassment"

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A psychiatrist offers an encouraging and informative report on sexual harassment today, in a book suited to both male and female readers. All too often men try to act out their sexual fantasies at work; all too often women have been socialized not to protect themselves against these incursions. Sexual harassment policies, however, alert everyone to these issues. Rutter says: ""We are all inescapably involved in an unprecedented reconfiguring of the most important rules of daily social behavior--how we treat one another at our sexual boundaries."" He offers helpful advice to men and women about getting along, being respectful, and above all, reasonable. And as in his previous book, Sex in the Forbidden Zone (1989), Rutter identifies common sexual boundary violations, discusses ways men can manage their sexual fantasies, and discourages relationships between people of unequal power. He maintains that the best way for workplaces and schools to stop sexual harassment is to establish and enforce clear policies. But the surest means of changing the sexist attitudes that lead to harassment is for other men to take the lead--condemning the old standards and engaging in new ethical and equitable behavior toward women. At the end of the book, Rutter presents a sample sexual harassment policy, several landmark legal decisions, and extensive lists of legal and psychological resources. His knowledge, first-hand counseling experience, and understanding of complex gender issues lend his book credibility. The weak spots stem from the author's overzealous support of his colleagues in the field, who he seems to believe can solve everything. The lay reader, however, may be skeptical when he suggests that employees involved in a workplace romance should inform the human resources officer so ""the officer can intervene more effectively should private tensions between the couple spill over,"" or when he recommends modified sexual harassment workshops for children, starting in the fourth grade. Nonetheless, a timely and thorough guide.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Bantam