Hands Off: A History of Sexual Harassment Resistance in the Service Sector, 1935-2018


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars


Labor and Employment Relations


For residence at the Newberry Library during academic year 2019-2020


There is a long history of sexual violence against women in the workplace. This book is the first historical monograph to examine how women workers have resisted sexual harassment in service industry jobs: work that is gendered female, union and non-union, typically low-waged, and often requires some form of intimate labor between the worker and the recipient. It shifts the narrative from the victimization of women workers, and instead focuses on how women have demanded agency in their workplaces through public campaigns like the recent union campaign in Chicago to pass a panic button ordinance for hotel workers, and also through acts of micro-resistance that are often invisible to outsiders. Without understanding the historical nuance and the patterns of perpetration of and resistance to sexual harassment in the past, it is not possible to influence policy and movement building to end workplace sexual violence in the present.