A female law firm employee is suing the firm because her boss (also female) told her she was "dirty hot" and had "great dick-sucking lips." And Above the Law finds this form of sexual harassment totally hot.
The details of the case are pretty salacious. Plaintiff Jennifer Braude alleges that her boss, Meredith Sossman, told her that she liked having foursomes and getting slapped during sex. Sossman also said she had kissed her female best friend, who looked like Braude, and that she wanted them to have a threesome. She told Braude she had a "huge" chest, "great dick-sucking lips" and was "dirty hot," meaning "you exude sex ... like you know you're dirty in bed just by looking at you." According to the suit, the firm — Maron Marvel Bradley & Anderson — noted Sossman's behavior, determined she was a "cancer," and fired her. Braude is suing because the firm didn't react quickly to her complaint, first telling her to deal with the situation herself; because after she complained her boss was hostile to her and she did not receive a bonus; and because when she asked for a leave of absence to deal with the stress of the harassment, she was told she would need to reapply for her job. Basically, Braude feels that even though Sossman was eventually fired, she herself was penalized for rocking the boat.
Braude's experience with Sossman turns a lot of conventional wisdom about sexual harassment on its head. For one, it shows that women can be just as creepy as men, and just as capable of creating a threatening work environment. It's also a break from the stereotypical harassment situation of female victim going up against an old boys' network. Here, the perpetrator was also female, and instead of closing ranks around her, the firm gave her the axe — but not before making Braude feel unwelcome too. If Braude's allegations are accurate, then it's clear that those who report sexual harassment can face discrimination even when the harasser is unpopular.
It would be interesting to know what percentage of sexual harassment claims are filed against women, and whether these claims are more likely to be taken seriously than those against men. One study suggests they're actually taken less seriously, at least by men — male college students were less likely to perceive the situation as harassment if the harasser was female. But it's just as difficult to find information about sexual harassment by women as it is to find out about female sexual abusers — almost all the data seems to be about women as victims, not perpetrators.
This may be because people see sexual harassment by women as a joke or, alternately, as a turn-on. Elie Mystal at Above the Law (admittedly not known for its restraint) has an especially classy take on the Braude case. Of Sossman's "dick-sucking lips" comment, he says, "I did not know that women noticed things like that." But, he adds, "I do know that women notice things like" dirty-hotness. He also writes, "this firm sounds 'dirty hot' to me," and asks, "do you think employees suffering from Post-Lesbianic Harassment Syndrome should be entitled to some extra time off from work?" Maybe — but I also think harassment victims deserve not to have their stress belittled with silly names. And I think we're never going to find out anything about sexual harassment by women if we keep calling it "hot."
Girl-On-Girl Sexual Harassment At Delaware Law Firm [Above the Law]