I know a woman who was sexually harassed by her boss. She was a single mother of three and really struggling. He said if she didn’t sleep with him, he’d get her fired. When he failed to get her fired, he said he’d turn the workplace into hell for her. And he did. She still didn’t sleep with him and fought like a lioness for her job. It was either staying employed or going back on food stamps to feed the kids. This went on for years. The boss’s buddies joined the hounding, and it got even worse. The story has a good ending but she suffered a lot in the process.
If the women who sleep with their bosses or professors to get promoted, published, funded, noticed, etc are harassed, then what was my friend? There is a fundamental difference between women who whored themselves out unsuccessfully or uncomfortably and women who didn’t. There’s got to be a recognition that there’s a very different degree of suffering here.
There’s also an obvious class difference between women like my friend and the spoiled drama queens who are now telling us that the sex acts they willingly engaged in seem wrong 20 years later because they are becoming aware of “the power differential.” Women who have to feed 3 kids on an almost-minimum-wage job don’t have the luxury of slowly figuring out the power differential. It’s kind of always there for them.