The power of storytelling: A quest for a public discourse on sexual harassment
Source TitleInternational Journal of Discrimination and the Law
University of Melbourne Author/sMorgan, Jennifer
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsMorgan, J. (2005). The power of storytelling: A quest for a public discourse on sexual harassment. International Journal of Discrimination and the Law, 7 (1-4), pp.5-28. https://doi.org/10.1177/135822910500700402.
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This article explores the possible reasons for the absence of a public discourse about sexual harassment in Australia, which can be contrasted with a relatively well-developed legal discourse. It also briefly compares the debate about sexual harassment in the United States and Australia that followed in the wake of controversial and very public sexual harassment cases in each country. It argues that the debate in the wake of the Clarence Hill-Anita Thomas hearings in the United States was much more productive than the debate in Australia after the publication of Helen Garner’s book, The First Stone. The discussion in Australia focused on whether the young women in the case had ‘over-reacted’ and whether there were generational differences in women’s reactions to sexual harassment. The more interesting (and I would argue, far more important) questions of what is sexual harassment is and what are its effects were ignored. This article goes on to explore one aspect of what sexual harassment is and does by examining what women actually do in response to sexual harassment through an analysis of some of the stories of targets of harassment as they appear in the law reports. In this way it tries to make some of the legal discourse about sexual harassment a part of the public discourse about the phenomenon.
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