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Sexual harassment in Korean college classrooms: how self-construal and gender affect students' reporting behavior

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This article examines the reasons why women students may hesitate to report sexual harassment. The research draws on the notion of ‘self-construal’. Self-construal is a form of self-identification in social relationships, which in this case relates, in particular, to gender within cultural environments in Korea. For the purposes of this research, a survey was conducted with 298 Korean college students from 7 to 14 March 2006. The results showed that different types of self-construal had different influences on Korean college students' and their reporting of sexual harassment, whereas gender did not. Grounded in the theoretical framework of self-construal, people with independent self-construal were found to express their uncomfortable feelings and to report to the university counseling center, whereas people with interdependent self-construal did not. Furthermore, we found that women were more likely than men to directly express their opinions and report sexual harassment to the university counseling center. Men are also harassed by women colleagues or students but are often more reluctant than women to recognize their experiences as ‘sexual harassment’ because of the stereotype that men are the perpetrators of this behavior, not its victims, and because they fear ‘loss of face.’ It is necessary to engage not just with femininity but also with masculinity and the relationship between these constructs because they are both temporally and geographically contingent.
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Keywords: Corea; Korea; acoso sexual; autoconcepto; college students; estudiantes universitarios; gender identities; identidades de género; self-construal; sexual harassment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Inha University, Communication and Information, #253 Yonghyun-dong, Nam-gu, #325 Incheon, 402-751, Republic of Korea 2: Sungkyunkwan University, Mass Communication and Journalism, #32625 Myeongnyun-dong 3-ga, Jongno-gu Seoul, 110-745, Republic of Korea 3: Kyung Hee University, Journalism and Communication, #1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, #414 Seoul, 130-751, Republic of Korea

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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