Mejia 1

Brenda Mejia
Professor Kaz
English 114B
March 19, 2015
Sexual Harassment and Adolescent Girls
Sexual harassment is when any gender, either female or male, is victim to unwanted
sexual attention, remarks or actions. Rubbing, touching, grabbing, whistling, and spreading
rumors are all forms of sexual harassment. This type of harassment can happen at school, work,
or even just walking down the street. Sexual harassment is most common among females and
males are usually the harassers. The subculture of teenage girls in particular is more likely to be
sexually harassed than other groups. There are many reasons why this is true but society does not
seem to understand. Sexual harassment towards adolescent and teenage girls is a very serious
matter that involves both social and emotional issues. We must convince society that this
problem will not vanish by itself and find ways to resolve the issue.
There are many reasons why the topic of sexual harassment is worth
paying attention to. It is mainly important because sexual harassment is a
crime and a complete violation of rights that needs to be taken seriously.
This violation of teenage girls can leave them with very big emotional
problems. According to the American Association of University Women, they
quoted in the journal called Adolescent Girls' Cognitive Appraisals of Coping
Responses To Sexual Harassment, "sexual harassment is more likely to be
related to lowered esteem, adjustment difficulties, and academic declines
among girls than boys" (Leaper, Brown, and Ayres 969). Adolescent girls can
develop depression, self esteem issues, and even have suicidal thoughts
when sexually harassed. The issue is much bigger for girls because they are

Mejia 2
young and they may not understand what is happening to them. Some
young girls might even be so used to being sexually harassment that they
may feel it as normal. In an online article called Why Girls Today Think
Sexual Harassment Is 'Normal Stuff', the author gives reasons why girls in
today's generation are so accustomed to being sexually harassed. She says
that "Teenage girls see rape culture as the norm because the endless chatter
about what masculinity and femininity “really mean” pivots around a very
particular set of myths—myths that have proved hugely effective in
protecting privileged people from being held accountable for sexual
aggression."(Eyler 2014). The stereotypes of both genders that society has
put upon women and men have been the explanation for certain behaviors
and actions each gender performs, even when the action is morally wrong.
For example, society would excuse the harassment some boys cause as the
famous saying, ”boys will be boys," but what society does not recognize is
that if boys learn that it is okay to harass girls because there are no
consequences, eventually they grow into men who think that too. It is
important to pay attention to sexual harassment because is a real thing as
evidence proves and it is affecting many young girls who desperately need
help.
Sexual harassment comes with many social issues. Victims face not
being taken seriously of their harassment because it would not be considered
rape. It is true that there are big differences between rape and sexual
harassment, but both can leave very big psychological problems on victims.

Mejia 3
Rape is having sex without the consent of one person the sex would be
forced upon one person from the other. Sexual harassment does not actually
involve sex it is more of verbal rape rather than a physical rape. Adolescent
girls, or anyone for that matter should ever have to experience neither rape
nor sexual harassment. Some of society will not take sexual harassment
seriously because they just say that 'boys will be boys' as an excuse or they
think that women are merely too 'sensitive'. This all leads back to sexism and
stereotypes that are depicted for men and woman. "Sexual harassment
arises from the unequal power relations between men and
woman."(Hemming 1985). With this quote from the article, Women In a
Man's World: Sexual Harassment, the author is explaining that women in
society are not equal to men, they are considered less. This affects young
girls because they are raised in this type of society where it is normal for
men to do certain actions and behaviors and get away with it. It is tragic that
young girls are affected by these sexist views brought upon men and
women. The social issues they face are tough because sometimes young
girls cannot speak up in school or wherever they may be because there are
full grown women that are not taken seriously when they report sexual
harassment incidents. This is part of the reason as to why there are not
many sexually harassment incidents reported in schools and universities.
Teenagers can tell when adults treat what they say seriously and they know
the norm would be to ignore it. They are afraid no one will take them
seriously and that they will be made fun of by others. This is how they get

Mejia 4
used to this kind of harassment and ridicule. As long as women are treated
second to men, women and young girls will always have a sexual
harassment problem. Females need and deserve equality in order to get
respect. This sounds unfair because it is but it also it true.
Women need to fight for the respect that they deserve in order to feel
safe to walk past large groups of people, wear clothes that they like, and just
live life in general. In order to help we must become activists in this
subculture and bring awareness to this social issue of sexual harassment. In
order to do this the right rhetoric and strategies must be used in order to
shed light upon the sexual harassment problem that teenage girls are facing.
In Rhetoric For Radicals by Jason Del Gandio, he writes "Social movements,
political cultures, and even small groups of activists exhibit rhetorical
commonalities"(Del Gandio 180). He also gives examples saying, "the United
States civil rights movement was laden with religious symbolism, urgency of
the moment and calls to racial justice.”(Del Gandio 180). He even writes
about women as he says, "Third-wave feminism emphasizes anti-essentialist
arguments, diversity in female identities and the micro-politics of gender and
sexual relations."(Del Gandio 180). What Del Gandio means as he is writing
this piece is that to really reach people one must become an activist and
they must have tools that help them communicate with others.
Communication is key and these examples he gives explain that what you
fight for can be worth it with hard work and dedication. For sexual
harassment we can gather both women and men that feel strongly about this

Mejia 5
issue and organizes marches, speeches, and boycotts, the possibilities are
endless. Coming together as a whole and with the right rhetoric, "highlights
diversity as beneficial to the individual and to the collective. At the individual
level, each person is a composite of multiple experiences, knowledge's and
actions. Each person is in the sense diversified."(Del Gandio 181). When a
subculture gets together, they get to share their experiences to why they
connect with the group and they are diverse in the ideas and experiences
they have. This is good to have when trying to become an activist because it
is not just one mind set controlling a whole group it is many minds
contributing ideas to one another. Being an activist for young girls would
mean having to do all of this in order to give them a voice since they cannot
speak for themselves due to no one taking them seriously. With a passion to
help young girls stop being sexually harassed, it can be possible to help
them feel comfortable and safe. They deserve to feel safe just like every
else.
If we do not help these young girls they will grow up with many
problems. They will be left with feelings of hopelessness and insecurities.
From personal experiences, surveys, and interviews I have gathered,
insecurities and questioning of self worth come to mind when you are
constantly sexually harassed. I did an interview on a neighbor of mine that I
knew had been sexually harassed and teased all throughout middle school
and asked her what was the worst thing what went to her mind during this
depressing period of time for her. She answered with an answer I can relate

Mejia 6
to and I am sure many other teenage girls can relate to. "The worst thing
that went through my head was questioning my existence, and feeling like
things would be better if I were no longer here."(Cortez 2015). I felt that this
was terrible but it is a reality when enduring sexual harassment on a daily
basis. When girls go through puberty, people say it is supposed to be a good
thing that you should enjoy, but how can that be if you are constantly
tormented and reminded of how much your body is changing? Everyday
around the world this is happening, for example "In India, every 51 minutes a
woman is reported to be sexually harassed and every 26 minutes a woman is
sexually molested."(Chaudhuri 1998). If we do not take action now, there
may never be hope for these girls anywhere. As for people who have
endured sexual harassment and know the psychological effects it can cause
to a person, it should be our job to make sure that this stops happening to
newer generations of girls.
Sexual harassment is a complete violation of respect. It must be
handled more seriously and it must be done soon. Adolescent girls should
not be used to being harassed. They need to learn that this kind of behavior
is not okay and should not be a part of the 'social norm'. Harassers, whether
boy or girl need to take responsibilities for their actions and realize that their
actions affect their victims emotionally that may scar them for a very long
time. The whole gender labeling and stereotyping is ridiculous considering
we live in a generation where things supposed to be more equal for
everyone. A big change needs to occur and people can no longer ignore the

Mejia 7
problem. If we all become activists and unite as one, there is nothing we
cannot conquer. Young girls deserve to enjoy their youth not be worried
about being harassed. This problem is important and I believe that it can be
fixed if we are driven and dedicated.
Work Cited
Chaudhuri, Swati. "Sexual Harassment." Indian journal of gender studies 5.1
(1998): 115-116.
Cortez, Kimberly. Personal Interview. 14 March 2015
Del Gandio, Jason. Rhetoric for Radicals. Gabriola Island: New Society, 2008.
Print.
Eyler, Samantha. "Why Girls Today Think Sexual Harassment Is 'Normal Stuff'
- Role Reboot."

Role Reboot. N.p., 23 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2015.

Hemming, Heather. "Women in a Man's World: Sexual Harassment." Human
Relations, 38.1

(1985): 67-79.

Leaper, C., Brown, C. S. and Ayres, M. M. (2013), "ADOLESCENT GIRLS'
COGNITIVE APPRAISALS OF COPING RESPONSES TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT."
Psychol.

Schs., 50: 969–986.

Mejia 8

Annotated Bibliography
Chaudhuri, Swati. "Sexual Harassment." Indian journal of gender studies 5.1
(1998): 115-116.

The reason that I chose this source to add in my essay was to give
supporting evidence. In my essay I say that all around the world young
girls are being sexually harassed on a daily basis. In this source it gives
me information that girls in India are sexually harassed every 51
minutes and they are sexually molested every 26 minutes. I felt like
this information was shocking but it was perfect to back up my claim. It
is important that I used this type of evidence because otherwise I could
not have made such a claim.

Cortez, Kimberly. Personal Interview. 14 March 2015

I chose to use a personal interview in my essay to give a point of view
from a victim of sexual harassment. I think that it was very important
to do this because personal experiences give more depth of what the
topic I am writing on really means. Readers can read this and get a
sense of what it feels like to be sexually harassed. I did not put much of
the interview into my essay but I thought that this part was the most

Mejia 9
important. What she said was important for reader to know so they
treat sexual harassment seriously.
Del Gandio, Jason. Rhetoric for Radicals. Gabriola Island: New Society, 2008.
Print.
 I chose to use this source because this book is very good at guiding
activists. This is important for my essay because I wanted to come up
with a way to bring attention to my topic and the way to do that is to
become an activist. The author is very good at motivating people to
aspire becoming an activist. He teaches you the tools you need in
order to communicate with people, which is essential in becoming an
activist. This book will have solutions to problems that can be fixed by
uniting subcultures together.
Eyler, Samantha. "Why Girls Today Think Sexual Harassment Is 'Normal Stuff'
- Role Reboot."

Role Reboot. N.p., 23 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2015.

This article explains how adolescent girls are accustomed to the
harassment that they may endure. The article says that young girls
find sexual harassment normal due to the social norms in society.
These norms include excusing boys for certain behaviors due to the
saying “boys will be boys”. The author is saying that we live in a sexist
society where men are placed higher than women. This was important
to put in my essay because it is a reason as to why some young girls
do not report sexual harassment incidents they endure.

Mejia 10
Hemming, Heather. "Women in a Man's World: Sexual Harassment." Human
Relations, 38.1

(1985): 67-79.

This article interested me because it talks about how woman and men
are not equals. This is a reason as to why sexual harassment happens.
The main key in the article as to why sexual harassment happens and
why girls do not report their incidents is because of the roles society
puts upon men and women. I wanted to include this because what this
author is talking about is true and I only wanted truth in my essay.

Leaper, C., Brown, C. S. and Ayres, M. M. (2013), "ADOLESCENT GIRLS'
COGNITIVE APPRAISALS OF COPING RESPONSES TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT."
Psychol.

Schs., 50: 969–986

This article explains some of the side effects that young girls face with
being sexually harassed. The authors wrote that they experience
emotional struggles and academic difficulties. I thought that this a
good source to use because it supports my claims of girls being left
scarred when they experience harassment.