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Consent, Part 3: Working In The Gray

The #MeToo movement deluged the Dear Sugars inbox with letters about sexual harassment in the workplace. In the final episode in our series on sexual consent, the Sugars read some of these letters and discuss what happens when non-consensual sexual attention moves from the private to the public realm.

One letter comes from a young woman who landed a gig assisting a well-known artist after months of job searching. On her first day of work, she was coerced into posing half-naked on his floor — afraid to object “for fear of the consequences.” Should she continue to work for the artist, or quit and face unemployment?

The lawyer and organizer Saru Jayaraman joins the Sugars to discuss the power dynamics between low-paid employees and the people who sexually harass them. “Harassment is not about individual actions, it’s about systemic situations of structural power,” Ms. Jayaraman explains. “We need women to feel supported, we need them to be able to stand up for themselves, and we need to change laws and policies that create these systems in the first place.”

Ms. Jayaraman is the co-founder and president of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and the director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Her books include Behind the Kitchen Door and Forked: A New Standard for American Dining.

Resources

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)


New episodes of Dear Sugars are released weekly. Do you have a question for the Sugars? Email dearsugars@nytimes.com.

Amory Sivertson Twitter Producer for New Programming
Amory Sivertson is an associate producer for new programming at WBUR. She's one of the producers of Modern Love: The Podcast.

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