Hostile Environment: The Political Betrayal of Sexually Harassed Women

Overview

According to some of President Clinton's feminist supporters, his alleged behavior toward Paula Jones did not constitute sexual harassment because he had taken "no" for an answer. Others insisted that Jones could not have been harassed because the president did not punish her for refusing him. During the impeachment debate, many feminists defended the president on the grounds that his alleged lies in the Jones case were "just about sex" and therefore insignificant. In the most publicized sexual harassment case to...
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Overview

According to some of President Clinton's feminist supporters, his alleged behavior toward Paula Jones did not constitute sexual harassment because he had taken "no" for an answer. Others insisted that Jones could not have been harassed because the president did not punish her for refusing him. During the impeachment debate, many feminists defended the president on the grounds that his alleged lies in the Jones case were "just about sex" and therefore insignificant. In the most publicized sexual harassment case to date, longtime proponents of sexual harassment law raised the political and legal thresholds for taking sexual harassment seriously.In a passionate defense of the rights of sexually harassed women, Gwendolyn Mink warns that the president's supporters have undermined our sexual harassment laws. Hostile Environment is her provocative account of the harm being done to these laws and her warning that the laws themselves are worthless if few women dare to use them.Correcting many common misapprehensions, Mink explains sexual harassment as a legal concept and charts its judicial and legislative history. She shows the many important contributions feminists have made to the development of sexual harassment law. She also, however, develops a stringent critique of feminist responses to the president's lies in the Jones case. Sometimes scathing, Hostile Environment provides a fresh perspective on the recent politics of sexual harassment. It also provides a highly personal perspective. First-hand knowledge of the injuries caused by sexual harassment and its aftermath has left Mink with an abiding interest in this volatile issue and with a desire to safeguard the rights of sexually harassed women—especially the most economically vulnerable among them.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A lucid and interesting history of sexual harassment law; recommended for academic and large public collections."—Library Journal

"Hostile Environment defends the rights of sexually harassed women and explores the ways in which the current administration, political climate, and legal system are undermining sexual harassment laws — especially as few women dare to use them."—Feminist Bookstore News. Fall, 1999.

"Mink, in a scathing rebuke to Clinton's feminist supporters, charges that they raised the politcal and legal thresholds for taking sexual harassment seriously and so undermined those laws that women may not use them in the future. . . .Here is a logical, passionate, and provocative answer to one of that era's most puzzling questions. . . . This is a valuable resource for all collections."—Choice, July 2000

"Hostile Environment provides a solid legal history of sexual harassment. It also offers a truly stunning indictment of how feminists and others threatened to turn sexual harassment into a completely trivial offense both by betraying 'trailer trash' Paula Jones and by effectively raising the bar for what constitutes 'genuine' harassment during the Clinton impeachment episode. The book also contains a horrifying description of Mink's own experiences of sexual harassment as a grad student at Cornell."—Robert Johnson. H-Labor Listserve, 2/13/01

"Mixing passion with logic, this brave book exposes the regime of disbelief that envelops survivors of sexual harassment with yet another 'hostile environment.' After Gwendolyn Mink's defense of the rights of sexually harassed women, there is no excuse to confuse the abuse of power with consensual sex."—Eileen Boris, Professor, Studies in Women and Gender, University of Virginia, Coordinating Editor, Iris: A Journal About Women

"Hostile Environment brilliantly combines searing personal narrative, meticulous scholarship, and unwavering feminist principles to reveal one aspect of the Clinton scandals' damage to women's rights."—Barbara Smith, author of The Truth That Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender, and Freedom

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801436444
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
1 Hostile Environment 1
2 Sexual Harassment Law from Carmita Wood to Paula Jones 37
3 Toward a Better Day in Court for Women? 78
4 Bill Clinton's Regime of Disbelief 114
Index 141
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