Shakespeare Association of America

Sexual Harassment Policy

The SAA strives to be an inclusive and welcoming point of contact for our diverse membership of scholars, teachers, and students from around the world. We take instances of disrespectful, dismissive, patronizing, or harassing behavior—whether in speech or act, whether in formal or informal settings, and whether based on gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, ability, status, or age—seriously. Those who are the targets of harassment should not feel unheard or unassisted.


Sexual harassment is behavior that demeans, humiliates, or threatens an individual on the basis of their sex. It is unwanted attention that a recipient experiences as offensive or disruptive to personal well-being. Sexual harassment can include crude behavior (such as offensive statements, jokes, or gestures); dismissive or insulting modes or address (such as referring to a woman not by her name but as “honey”); unwelcome sexual attention (such as unwanted touching or repeated requests for dates); and coercion.

Sex-based harassment also takes nonsexual forms when an individual is targeted because of gender or gender expression. It singles out some members of the community as acceptable targets and as unworthy of respect. Harassment never occurs in a vacuum. Frequently, alienating behaviors including race- and religion-based harassments intertwine with sexual harassment. Working to discern, for instance, whether a comment about appearance is aimed primarily at someone’s gender, sexuality, religion, or race mistakes how harassment can leave its impact on multiple levels.

The SAA emphasizes the importance of adopting a fully intersectional understanding of sex-based harassment. Harassment not only sabotages the individual; it also damages the Shakespeare Association community by discouraging participation in the Association and compromising the free exchange of ideas that is at the center of our mission as an organization.


All of the spaces into which our professional meetings extend are professional, and the values of respect, equity, and nondiscrimination should inform conduct in the seminar room and on the dance floor, over coffee, and over drinks. All members should aspire to treat each member as having an equally valuable contribution to make.

What to Do if You Have Been Harassed

The SAA seeks to provide meaningful support to members who have experienced sexual harassment at the annual meeting or related events. If you have experienced any unwelcome behaviors, please contact the executive director or any trustee of the Association. These officially designated contacts can serve as sounding boards, confidantes, and informal advisers; they can also confer with you confidentially about possible next steps. Reporting an incident of sexual harassment does not obligate the reporter to pursue any further action. The SAA’s goal above all is to support vulnerable members of the community and to strategize to end the harassment in question. As a voluntary professional organization with a small staff, the SAA is unfortunately limited in its ability to respond formally to charges of sexual harassment. Nonetheless, within

these constraints the SAA will follow its professional and ethical responsibility to respond to reports of sexual harassment among its membership.


Adopted 10 December 2015

Amended 15 May 2017

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