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Nov 16 readings


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCB22H3
Professor
Ping- Chun Hsiung

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SG Readings 10
An Intersectional Analysis of Sexual Harassment in Housing
ACKNOWLEDGING SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN HOUSING
Harassment violates sense of security and privacy
Gender inequality rests on beliefs about the naturalization of power and differences between
women and men, and these beliefs shape men’s and women’s experiences in all areas of social
life Gender inequality rests on beliefs about the naturalization of power and differences between
women and men, and these beliefs shape men’s and women’s experiences in all areas of social
life
UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN HOUSING
Laws in US of sexual harassment were conceptualized around workplace
Women may not report sexual harassment out of fear of retaliation, economic concerns,
embarrassment, lack of knowledge, or concerns about their physical safety and the safety of their
families
Considerable similarities between women in the workplace and those of women tenants
State conceptualizes harassment as gender issue rather than form of inequality
due to a lack of affordable housing, poor women are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment
by landlords
gender harassment is a form of sexual harassment
Therefore, it is illegal for landlords, managers, real estate agents, and other housing personnel, as
well as neighbors and visitors, to make sex a condition of housing, to make decisions about the
sale or rental of housing based on sex or the refusal of sex, or to allow sexual comments or
behavior to interfere with an individuals enjoyment of the housing environment
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
Women filed 98 percent of the cases. African American women accounted for 58 percent of the
cases, other women of color accounted for 10 percent, and white women accounted for 32
percent.
Qualitative data from the case files suggest that all of the women were struggling financially at
the time harassment occurred
Ninety percent of the perpetrators were landlords/managers, and all of these landlords were white
men, except one who was Black. All were private landlords
-The Process of Sexual Harassment
Sexual coercion was the most commonly reported form of sexual harassment, followed by
unwanted sexual attention
Landlords used their authority to sexually harass tenants
Evicted after denying landlords sexual advances
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Another woman was told she could be late with her rent if she showed her landlord her breasts,
while another was offered a discount on her late fees if she performed oral sex on her landlord
and was subsequently evicted when she refused
Landlords have knowledge of their tenants economic status because of their institutional
authority (i.e., they routinely perform income and credit checks, verify rental histories, etc.), and
they used this information to gain access to and manipulate tenants
While landlords went to considerable lengths to create the impression that they were only being
helpful, in reality, they preyed on vulnerable women and created a quid pro quo relationship.
-help came at a cost
Many women endured harassment as long as they could because they perceived no alternatives
-altered daily routine to avoid landlord as much as possible
When the harassment got bad, they got family or friends to check on them regularly; shows safety
concerns
-shows feelings of powerlessness to escape the harassment
Mothers using welfare most frequently cite putting their children first as a priority in
establishing themselves as good mothers
Racialized gendered stereotypes, which suggest that women of color are promiscuous, seductive,
and hypersexual, make them particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment
Landlords control access to housing, the daily housing environment, and tenants ability to
remain in housing.
A landlord’s ability to evict a tenant appears to be a particularly powerful mechanism of
harassment. Landlords also used gender, race, and class to harass their tenants.
Specifically, landlords used stereotypes about women, which were sometimes racialized, and the
fact that the women were poor and often desperate for housing to manipulate tenants and gain
access to them sexually
Poor men also appear to be vulnerable to their landlords harassment and intimidation in and
around their homes because of the location at the intersections of multiple inequalities
-The Defence of Sexual Harassment
Some believe women are sensitive and making a big deal out of nothing
Such rhetoric cloaks male supremacy with a veneer of natural gendered positions—women’s
independence is unnatural and the result of brainwashing to think the wrong way.
Here, the landlord relied on the naturalization” of gender and gender differences as a defense
and simultaneously manipulated those ideas to reproduce and reinforce gender inequality.
Some women said they thought they were being just a guy’
Although women expressed these stereotypes much less frequently than men/landlords, their
reactions nonetheless represented norms of masculinity as natural and provided men with a
readily available and socially justifiable excuse to harass women.
Landlords have credibility because of their institutional authority and locations in gender, class,
and race systems
Women with financial problems who complained about sexual harassment seemed less credible
-Privacy and Proximity of Tenants and Perpetrators
Direct access to apartment; decreases womens personal space
Also provides landlords with knowledge of their daily routines which makes them more
vulnerable to harassment
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