The number of patients hospitalized due to sexual abuse has risen 50% over the past two decades in the U.S. “If you have a patient who is the patient that you are trying to engage in as a therapeutic partner, then sexual harassment can be a problem,” said Elizabeth Driggs, a University of Maryland sociologist. “We have examples of behavior like patronizing and condescending, and it does come up.”Driggs is the author of Or How Sexual Harassment Affects Women in Nursing, a collection of essays that appear in print. She spoke with Men’s Health about some of the points made in the collection. Read the entire article and then respond to the following questions.
Q: What applications of sexual harassment were you thinking of?A: One interesting application in place is the dynamics of power dynamics. And while men carefully comply with objective boundaries that are not crossed or hinted at in those outside the relationship, women are conscious of touch and subtle physical and verbal expressions of power which are conveyed through touch. Not surprisingly, this is a source of deeply held knowledge for women. For good, these women also make a lot of assumptions about other persons and how to behave in certain ways, so it’s reasonable to know this shit from someone else.
Q: Tell me about your research. A: I’m interested in the conceptual, structural, and behavioral factors that are underpinning sexual harassment. Specifically, I happen to be a victim myself but am very aware of these same factors shaping my own thoughts. While some might say they understand the complex societal factors are debilitating, I’m curious, with boundaries on — what are the pervasive factors that contribute to my own lives. I’ve been wondering just like other women on the folks who have been accused of sexual abuse in the last two decades have, what are other factors that shape this kind of human behavior? Veering toward an idealistic ‘beauty in big’ — here we are trying to solve an issue to some degree from its root. Sexually assaulting a patient is an easy thing. And typically, not easy due to the efficacy and ease of assignment and transfer, neither easy or hard.
Q: Tell us about your upcoming conference. A: The conference is called Sexual Harassment: An Introduction, co-sponsored by the Sexual Harassment Symptoms Center and the Gateway to Recovery Conference NYC. Curators will be James Poppet in his capacity as co-chair, Gregory Charles in his role as co-chair, and Cindy Moravek in his surrogacy role. Will there be a topic on sexual harassment?