rules against sexual harassment have only recently been institutionalized while the majority of paid
labor continues to be either owned and managed by men or sex segregated.
When sexualized interactions occur, they are seen to result in negative consequences for employees
(especially women employees) and for the organization as a whole.
While the idea that workplaces are dangerous places for sexualized interactions has gained scholarly,
legal, and cultural currency, a quiet challenge to this idea hascome from a transdisciplinary body of
sexualities literature, an approach that bridges postmodern and queer theories with historical and social
scientific approaches(Foucault 1978; Rubin 1984; Weeks 1995). A basic assumption of this perspectiveis
that sexuality is a social formation; as such, it is not a natural, predictable, andpotentially destructive
force (as the business scholars imply), nor is it always a vehicle of male domination (as some feminists
imply), nor are its boundaries stable enough to allow for fair and consistent litigation (as many legal
scholars imply).) as well as recognize that
“in the study of sex at work, context is paramount”
sexual harassment appears to be especially prevalent in maledominated occupations but women who
work in a men-oriented atmosphere such as a sports or cocktail bar may also be subjected to sexual
harassment by the few men employees(who are generally in charge) as well as by the customers, who
are mostly men
In all three of my fieldwork sites, sexualized comments and behaviors were common, a well-known
feature of restaurant work (Giuffre and Williams 1994).But in my three sites, employee relations at Blue
Heron had the highest degree of sexual camaraderie. As detailed below, I explain this finding as a result
of the high degree of shared culture among the workers, the relatively flat hierarchy of the organization,
and the close coordination required of workers.
Most of the sexual jokes and banter at Blue Heron happened before and after the peak serving periods
and were instigated by, and transpired between, the women employees, both lesbian and heterosexual.
There was also a high amount of such banter between the women employees and two of the men
employees (neither of whom were involved with any of the staff). One of these men was a chef named
Travis, a 28-year-old heterosexual man w