Friday, February 23, 2018

Uma solução para o assédio sexual?

Ou, pelo menos, para provar que há assédio.

Harassment: A Keyhole Solution, por Bryan Caplan:

Over the last year, resentment of unwanted job-related sexual attention (better known as "sexual harassment") has gone from high to extreme.  It's easy to grasp why people would see such harassment as a problem.  The standard remedy, though, is to punish virtually all job-related sexual attention, wanted or not.  In practice, workplaces now discourage employees from dating each other - and heavily discourage mixed-status romance.

What explains the ubiquity of these broader policies?  Simple: It's hard to know in advance if sexual attention is unwanted.  (To quote Merlin in Excalibur, "Looking at the cake is like looking at the future, until you've tasted it what do you really know? And then, of course, it's too late.")  Especially if the person making an unwanted advance outranks you, you may be uncomfortable bluntly refusing.  The surest way to abolish unwanted attention is to abolish attention itself.

Unfortunately, the abolition of attention causes massive collateral damage.  People spend tons of time getting to know their co-workers.  As a result, many promising matches are discovered on the job.  Furthermore, humans find high status attractive.  As a result, attention from higher-status co-workers is often appealing.  Ban workplace romance, and you deprive many people of the partner of their dreams. (...)

What can be done?  Before I answer, let's back up.  In speed dating, a standard practice is to give every participant a list of names.  Men check off all the women they're interested in dating.  Women check off all the men they're interested in dating.  Once the results are in, organizers inform individuals about all cases of mutual interest.  The rest go in the trash.

Thus, if Jack checks Sally and Jane, Tom checks Jane, Sally checks Tom, and Jane checks Jack, Jack and Jane are informed that they have a match.  But Sally never finds out that Jack liked her - and Tom never finds out that Sally liked him.  This doesn't just spare Jack and Sally the humiliation of being rejected.  It also spares Sally and Tom the awkwardness of having to reject.  Jack and Jane, in contrast, both get to enjoy each others' wanted attention.

So what's my keyhole solution for harassment?  Firms should adopt the speed dating paradigm.  Let everyone secretly record their feelings, if any, for their co-workers.  If the feelings are unrequited, no one ever finds out.  If the feelings are mutual, however, both parties receive official confirmation.  And unless they edit their recorded preferences, they waive their right to complain about (or sue over) unwanted attention from whoever they explicitly approved.

How is this better than the status quo?  Simple: It retains standard rules against unwanted attention, but gives people a safe way to take a chance on love.  Indeed, my proposal even shields everyone from the knowledge that someone has unrequited feelings for them.  Don't want to know how anyone feels about you?  Then check zero boxes, and you're safe.

The most obvious objection is that people could change their minds.  But I've already got that covered: If you decide you no longer welcome someone's attention, you edit your preferences - and they get a polite email informing them of your wishes.  Worried that they won't listen?  Then don't check them in the first place.

Couldn't an aggressive harasser pressure someone to consent?  Of course.  But that's also true in the current system.  The key difference: Under my proposal, pressuring someone to consent would be unambiguous evidence of unwanted attention.  The status quo, in contrast, affords everyone some plausible deniability.
Algumas observações:

- Isso é basicamente imitar muitas apps (para smartphones e redes sociais) que funcionam assim (isto não é uma crítica, é apenas uma constatação).

- Suspeito que muitas empresas têm regras contra relacionamentos entre chefes e subordinados, não tanto ou apenas com medo de assédio ou coação implícita, mas sobretudo com medo de favoritismo (ou mesmo de simples suspeitas de favoritismo, que são suficientes para criar mau ambiente).

- Essa divisão "digital" entre interessado/não-interessado não corresponde totalmente à realidade, em que há uma vasta gama de situações intermédias (compare-se  "tomar um café depois do serviço" /"jantar fora e ir ao cinema"/ "caso de uma noite"/"amizade colorida"/"relação aberta"/"compromisso sério"/etc.)

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