- The Japanese Association of Sociology of Law
- 法社会学 (ISSN:04376161)
- vol.2004, no.60, pp.101-116,235, 2004-03-30 (Released:2010-04-15)
This article argues that the concept of sexual harassment poses a radical challenge to the principles of objectivity and universality that underlie modern law by putting the emotional state of the alleged victim (his/her feeling of "not wanting" or "unwelcoming" the sexual advance of the alleged offender) as the sole criterion of whether the victim's right to sexual freedom is violated or not and thereby "subjectifies" the right claims. This article also argues that the concept of domestic violence poses exactly the same challenge to modern law by defining violence as a means used by one spouse for generating fear in the other in order to dominate her/him. Here again, subjective state of mind-fear-is postulated as the criterion of whether an act of violence is committed or not. By "subjectifying" the right claims, the two concepts of sexual harassment and domestic violence radically individualizes and particularizes the criteria of wrongness of conduct. Ostensibly same conduct may or may not be judged as harassment or violence by the alleged victim depending on his/her subjective assessment of the act. The two concepts challenge the basic presupposition underlying modern law, namely, universal application of objective and conduct-based standards in deciding on the criminality or tort damages. The two concepts call for a new radically victim-centered standard of misconduct that places the victim's sense of repulsion and fear as the sole criterion of harassment and violence. This article finally argues that in the context of a relationship of unequal power the stronger party is held liable for extra care not to offend or threaten the weaker party.