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James K. Beggan

The Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair is viewed as an instance of poor decision making on the part of Clinton both because he put his career at risk by engaging in marital infidelity and because his behavior could be viewed as a coercive abuse of power. In this analysis, I adopt an alternative perspective that uses subjective expected utility theory as the basis for understanding his choice. I suggest that because of the low base rates for publicly revealed affairs among high-level politicians, as well as his own prior successes engaging in discreet affairs, Bill Clinton would have expected it was unlikely he would have been discovered. Given this low likelihood of being caught, as well as the high level of value he might have placed on sexual stimulation, his choice can be understood as an attempt to maximize subjective expected utility.

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James K. Beggan

The Free the Nipple movement is geared toward establishing equality for women in relation to men, with regard to their right to go topless in public. A further, and perhaps more significant, goal is to use the issue of toplessness to address other areas that may be problematic for women, such as animosity toward women breastfeeding in public places, body shaming, sexual violence, and unrealistic standards of female beauty. The chapter uses an ethnomethodological perspective to frame female toplessness as a breaching event, and uses autoethnographic methods to understand the movement as manifested in two public marches that took place in Louisville, Kentucky. Leadership processes, as well as the role of men in the Free the Nipple movement, are examined.

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James K. Beggan

This chapter presents an overview for understanding sexual harassment in terms of three distinct theoretical orientations: utility theory, evolutionary theory, and sexual scripting theory. The proposed model focuses on how men consider the potential value and likelihood of successfully approaching a woman for sex. Further, the model assumes that men will engage in strategies designed to enhance the likelihood component. The strategies they use can be understood in terms of evolutionary pressures that have operated on males with regard to maximizing the likelihood of reproduction. The problem that men and women face is that the strategies encouraged by evolutionary pressures are in conflict with the socially constructed scripts people use to engage in sex-based interactions in the modern world and thus create the subjective experience of sexual harassment in women. Finally, the chapter asserts that better solutions to sexual harassment will result when the causes of sexual harassment are better understood.

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James K. Beggan

In this chapter, the approach model is presented with regard to calculating the utility of a man approaching a particular woman in the hopes of obtaining sex. The chapter notes the distinction between risk, a known likelihood, and uncertainty, an unknown likelihood, and argues that the likelihood that a woman will provide sexual access is better conceptualized as uncertainty rather than risk. Further, the chapter notes men will attempt to increase their likelihood of successful approach by emphasizing the attributes they possess that they believe will influence women to find them attractive. The chapter suggests that the disjunction between men’s efforts to influence women and women’s interpretation of those influence efforts represents the origin of perceived sexual harassment. The chapter notes that sexual approach can be conceptualized as an ongoing, iterative process and that sexual harassment can stem from how men and women interpret an ongoing process of social interaction.

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James K. Beggan

Sexual strategies theory notes that biological differences between the way in which men and women reproduce have evolved differences in preferred mating strategies. The problem with these strategies is that they may no longer be appropriate to use in the modern business world, despite their adaptive value in ancient times. In other words, there is a mismatch between the environment of evolutionary adaptedness and the modern world. According to error management theory, men are more concerned about missing a sexual opportunity than they are about being rejected in response to an approach. They may also be rewarded for taking risks. These preferences may lead men to approach women who do not really want to be approached and engage in behaviors that reference their power, status, or wealth and can readily be termed sexual harassment. Testosterone may play a role in facilitating sexual harassment by contributing to a self-reinforcing status-sexual desire positive feedback loop.

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James K. Beggan

It is possible to think of the relationship between a harasser and accuser as a transactional process that begins with the first instance of an approach that might be labeled as harassing. The transaction can be considered as conforming to a sexual harassment script. Sexual harassment can increase depression and decrease general mental health. Excluding overt acts of sexual misconduct—considered inappropriate by any standard—harassment begins when the target feels a line has been crossed. A target can respond either by tolerating or challenging the harassment. Inward-focused strategies that involve tolerance include enduring, denying, reinterpreting, detaching, and accepting blame. Externally focused strategies include avoidance, appeasement, seeking social support, addressing her harasser, and seeking formal organizational support. In response to an allegation, a harasser may use outrage management to undercut the credibility of his accuser. Outrage management strategies include cover-up, intimidation, reinterpreting the alleged harassment in a more benign fashion, and devaluing the accuser.

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James K. Beggan

Although women have always been the recipients of unwanted sexual attention, the concept of sexual harassment as a phenomenon that occurred in the workplace came into existence in the late 1970s. This chapter asserts that because the sexual harassment accusations against Donald Trump did not prevent him from being elected President, women experienced a collective rage that was released a year later as a result of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein and manifested itself in the development of the #MeToo movement and other forms of hashtag activism. This chapter also suggests that factors such as the massive scale of modern economies and personality traits known as the Dark Triad can inadvertently create superstar sexual harassers. Conservative and hypocritical attitudes about sexuality are identified as factors that contribute to sexual harassment. Out-of-court financial settlements, along with non-disclosure agreements, are identified as problematic solutions to sexual harassment because they contribute to a shadow of secrecy.

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James K. Beggan

This chapter discusses the origin of the term and concept of sexual harassment as it was developed during the 1970s to become viewed as a form of sex-based discrimination. Important events in the timeline of sexual harassment include Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, the settlements against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and talk show host Bill O’Reilly, and the rape accusations against Bill Cosby. Most recently, the accusations against Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein can be viewed as inspiring hashtag activism in the form of the #MeToo movement. Feminist explanations for sexual harassment in terms of the exercise of patriarchal power are contrasted to evolutionary ones based on the way that men have historically used the acquisition of resources as a means of attracting women as potential sex partners.

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James K. Beggan

In contrast to leaders who possess legitimate power to influence their followers, the superstar is a high-value employee who receives large rewards because of the large profits he generates. Superstars can include athletes and performers, people with a high degree of training, and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs). One reason why superstars exist is because certain economic realities and structural aspects of employment situations can create a winner-take-all environment. Another reason is that certain professions operate on an economy of scale, which refers to the idea that there can be savings in cost by increasing the level of production. Although superstars can be appealing, they can also engage in toxic behavior, such as sexual harassment, that harms the organization in which they work. Paradoxically, factors that facilitate someone becoming a superstar may also increase the likelihood that they will engage in toxic behaviors.

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James K. Beggan

One consequence of the movement against sexual harassment is that it has created opposition to consensual workplace romance. The movement to ban workplace romance is supported by several diverse perspectives, including the legal community, which has conceptualized sexual harassment as a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, organizational management, which views the emotionality associated with workplace romance as a threat to efficiency, and feminism, which argues that men use sexuality in the workplace as a means to oppress women. Banning workplace romance deprives many people of a natural space to seek out love and sex, given the centrality of work to most people’s lives, and represents what can be viewed as an unwarranted intrusion into people’s personal lives, privacy, and pursuit of happiness. Broad prohibitions of workplace romance—such as those created by zero tolerance policies—can inadvertently produce a number of negative consequences for employees.