The New York Police Department is pursuing a rape allegation against Harvey Weinstein, who has repeatedly denied accusations of “non-consensual sex.” “I came of age in the 1960s and ’70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” he wrote in response to the New York Times report. “That was the culture then.”
Unfortunately, Weinstein isn’t completely wrong.
Sex discrimination at work has been barred since the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but it took decades to be seen as a form of discrimination. The phrase “sexual harassment” was used for the first time publicly in 1975, by author Lin Farley, during a hearing on women in the workplace. But it wasn’t until 1980 — thanks to the work of legal scholar Catherine MacKinnon — that it was recognized by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as a form of discrimination, and therefore something women could sue over.
It happens at an alarming rate. Almost a third of the roughly 90,000 charges received last year by the EEOC involved harassment, and nearly a quarter of those harassment charges were sexual harassment. Still, the EEOC estimates that only 1 in 4 individuals report workplace harassment, even though 60 percent of women say they’ve experienced it.
This segment originally aired Nov. 3, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.