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#MeToo fallout: Men more likely to victim-blame women, show empathy for perpetrators in sexual harassment cases

Women still fear negative consequences before making a sexual harassment complaint.

IANS|
Aug 19, 2019, 05.40 PM IST
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People who focused on the male perpetrator's point of view showed greater empathy for him.
LONDON: Men may be more likely to victim-blame women who are sexually harassed because they have more empathy with the perpetrators, a new study suggests.

The research published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly, based on two studies, compared people's reactions after reading about an incident of sexual harassment.

"Despite movements such as #MeToo, women still fear negative consequences of making a sexual harassment complaint," said study lead author Renata Bongiorno from the University of Exeter in the UK.

In the first study, men and women showed equal levels of empathy for the female victim - but men's greater empathy for the male perpetrator explained why they were more likely than women to blame the victim.

The second study was an experiment where people were asked to focus on the man's or the woman's point of view before reading the same information.

Despite movements such as #MeToo, women still fear negative consequences of making a sexual harassment complaint
Despite movements such as #MeToo, women still fear negative consequences of making a sexual harassment complaint.

Both men and women who focused on the male perpetrator's point of view showed greater empathy for him and blamed the female victim more.

"In our research, victim blaming was not high overall - but consistent with past research it was higher in men than in women on average," Bongiorno said.

According to the team, it is widely assumed that a lack of empathy for female victims explains why people blame them, but the study actually found that empathy for the male sexual harasser was a more consistent explanation of variability in victim blame.

"Media reports of sexual harassment - especially involving male perpetrators - often focus on their point of view and the potential damage to their lives for being outed as a sexual harasser, our findings point to the damaging consequences of that focus for female victims," Bongiorno added.

2018: The Year When #MeToo Shook India

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2018: The Year Of #MeToo In India

27 Dec, 2018
2018 saw the rise of the #MeToo movement in India. Inspired by a global campaign against sexual harassment and assault, women across the spectrum opened up and shared their stories about abuse by men in positions of power. And it began in October with actress Tanushree Dutta accusing actor Nana Patekar of sexual harassment while shooting for the 2008 film 'Horn Ok Please'.What followed was a series of posts by other women who shared their experiences with the world. From actors, film directors to advertising top guns, artists and writers and politicians, women professionals called out obnoxious behaviour at the workplace. From unwanted attention in the office to sexual innuendos on the film set, there were many kinds of allegations that surfaced.While some of these are still struggling in the industry amidst the allegations, some succeeded in getting a clean chit from authorities. Recently, rumours surfaced that Patekar has been given a clean chit. However, the 'Aashiq Banaya Aapne' actress quashed the rumours. However, director Vikas Bahl, who was one of the prime accusees, has been set free from all charges against him. The internal complaints committee of Reliance Entertainment, today, set the 'Queen' director free, who was accused by an employee of Phantom films under the #MeToo movement.(In Pic: From top left, Nana Patekar, Aditi Mittal, Subhash Ghai, Anirban Das Blah. From bottom left, Alok Nath, Sajid Khan, Jatin Das, Vikas Bahl)
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