Sexual harassment occurs in every industry. It is a reality faced by countless workers, women and men, all across the country. While there is no career path you can choose that will guarantee a harassment free existence, there are some careers that nearly guarantee exposure to this disgusting conduct.
A recent investigation into the photojournalism business paints the picture of an industry-wide boy’s club where women are targets for behavior that would be considered unacceptable even by antiquated standards. By today’s more egalitarian (though still far from perfect) standards, the behavior is nothing short of sickening.
A recipe for disaster
There are several key elements that have allowed photojournalism and similar industries to foster such a horrible environment. First, photojournalism has long been a field where men vastly outnumbered women. There is strength in numbers and women in the business have never been on anything like equal-footing when it comes to simple head count.
Second, the structure of the industry is such that many photojournalists are freelance workers. Freelance workers who speak up about harassment or other abuses might easily find themselves frozen out of assignments or business that they would otherwise have won. Freelancers certainly face a more difficult time enforcing their rights to a harassment free workplace.
Finally, photojournalism has fostered an image of bravado and toxic masculinity that has long boded ill for the equal treatment of women. That locker-room mentality encourages harassment and discourages women and men from speaking up to secure a safe working environment.
In short, the structure, history and hiring practices in photojournalism are tailor-made for the creation of an industry hostile to women. Finding justice in industries where this sort of behavior is prevalent is not easy. The law is on the side of sexual harassment victims, but accessing that protection can be daunting. It is important to remember that no one, in any industry, should be forced to tolerate harassment.