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Directions in Sexual Harassment Law$
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Catharine A. MacKinnon and Reva B. Siegel

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300098006

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300098006.001.0001

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Public Rights for “Private” Wrongs

Public Rights for “Private” Wrongs

Sexual Harassment and the Violence Against Women Act

(p.516) 30 Public Rights for “Private” Wrongs
Directions in Sexual Harassment Law

Sally F. Goldfarb

Yale University Press

This chapter presents an argument against sexual harassment that attacks its public nature. According to the argument, sexual harassment law should be curtailed because legal remedies for sexual exploitation are an illegitimate intrusion into a zone that should remain private. This line of argument, although it may appear novel to its journalistic proponents, is an obvious throwback to the view of sexual coercion in employment and education that prevailed before the appearance of Catharine MacKinnon's Sexual Harassment of Working Women more than two decades ago. MacKinnon's book pointed out that designating incidents of sexual harassment as personal—and therefore private—was a way of “remov[ing] the events from the social or political arena, hence from scrutiny, criticism, and regulation by legal intervention.”

Keywords:   public nature, legal remedies, sexual exploitation, illegitimate intrusion, journalistic proponents, sexual coercion, Catharine MacKinnon, political arena, legal intervention

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