Risking relationships: Understanding the litigation choices of sexually harassed women

Phoebe A. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Resource mobilization and gender socialization theories go a long way toward explaining why so many sexually harassed women opt not to report their problems, but they shed little light on why some still choose to take action and sue. This article examines how relationality can affect a sexually harassed woman's decision to sue. An analysis of 31 litigation narratives shows that regardless of the severity of the harassment, or the amount of legal aid available, maternal responsibilities, marital commitments and parental approval can become pivotal considerations. Some considered the integrity of familial ties to be priceless assets worth suing for. Others deemed them too valuable to risk losing in a contest over rights. These narratives confirm feminist assertions that relationships - especially familial ones - often play a central role in the choices that women make. They also challenge popular assumptions about what constitutes a "personal choice" and under what circumstances women are likely to chose to litigate. ,.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-91
Number of pages25
JournalLaw and Society Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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