From Hunter-Gatherers to Harvey Weinstein, Sexual Harassment is Nothing New

Bergen County matrimonial lawyer Paul Goldhamer, Esq. co-founded Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman in 1975. Superlawyers.com selected Mr. Goldhamer for the special honor of “Super Lawyer” in 2014. In addition to practicing family & divorce law, Mr. Goldhamer maintains a busy outreach schedule, appearing on radio and television, teaching and lecturing, and continuing the tradition he helped pioneer of providing free legal seminars to the public in New York and New Jersey.  

by Paul Goldhamer, Esq.

Sexual harassment: As the winds change …

Sexual harassment is not a new phenomenon. It’s existed since the beginning of time. When we were hunter-gatherers, the guy who collected the most meat was able to use that commodity to gain advantage with the ladies. There are chimpanzee tribes where males use the collection of meat (yes, they sometimes eat meat) to trade for sexual favors.

However, in the U.S. we are becoming more enlightened. We no longer own other people; people of all colors and sex, no matter what age, can own property and if 18, vote. There was a time in this country when the laws made certain groups second or third class citizens, if a citizen at all. We have shrugged at and struggled for centuries to get to an enlightened position, but the subservient class is often victimized, because they believe they can control a situation in which they seek money, power or education (said more nicely: employment, advancement or mentoring).

But there is a difference between flirting and using sex to gain access to money and power; and there is a difference between being charming and groping & seeking sexual favors.

In this country, we have had a tolerance of sexual abuse. You need look no further than Bill Cosby, Donald Trump or Harvey Weinstein. You also know that there are people who marry or have sex for money and power, simply because there is a quid pro quo that everyone knows exists. No one can believe that Melania Trump, the young wife of Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby’s wife are not complicit in their own arrangement.

Certainly, the bevy of young women who lived & played with Hugh Hefner are perfect examples. No one can believe these beautiful and often bright women thought Trump’s hair was just great, or they were attracted to Hefner, an 80-year-old man, padding around in backless slippers and a robe. There was a trade-off: exposure to money, power and opportunity against the risk of abuse and, in many cases, actual abuse.

But, if you are not seeking it, uninvited sexual harassment, either because of sex, age or race, is a violation of the law. A person need not blindly accept such conduct.

We at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer and Graifman have been helping people even the scales in Employment, Sexual & Age discrimination cases for decades.