Added: December 28, 2013 – Last updated: October 3, 2015


Author: Julie Berebitsky

Title: Sex and the Office

Subtitle: A History of Gender, Power, and Desire

Place: New Haven, CT and London

Publisher: Yale University Press

Year: 2012

Pages: x + 359pp.

ISBN-13: 9780300118995 (cloth) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 19th Century, 20th Century | American History: U.S. History | Types: Sexual Harassment, Workplace Sexual Violence



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Author: Julie K. Berebitsky, Department of History, Sewanee: The University of the South


  Acknowledgments (p. ix)
  Introduction (p. 1)
  1. Dangers, Desires, and Self-Determination: Competing Narratives of the Sexual Culture of the New, Gender-Integrated Office (p. 21)
  2. White-Collar Casanovas: Gender, Class, and (Hetero)sexuality in the Office, 1861 to World War II (p. 60)
  3. Betwixt and Between: New Freedoms and New Risks in the Sexuality and Psychologically Modern Office (p. 95)
  4. Gold Diggers, Innocents, and Tempted Wives: The Skycraper in Fiction and Film (p. 117)
  5. Morals and Morale: Managing Sex in Business, World War II to the Early 1960s (p. 141)
  6. The White-Collar Revolution: Helen Gurley Brown, Sex, and a New Model of Working Womanhood (p. 177)
  7. Desire or Discrimination? Old Narratives Meet a New Interpretation (p. 206)
  8. Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Wanted and Unwelcome Advances After "Sexual Harassment" (p. 251)
  Conclusion (p. 287)
  Notes (p. 299)
  Index (p. 351)


»In this engaging book—the first to historicize our understanding of sexual harassment in the workplace—Julie Berebitsky explores how Americans’ attitudes toward sexuality and gender in the office have changed since the 1860s, when women first took jobs as clerks in the U.S. Treasury office. Berebitsky recounts the actual experiences of female and male office workers; draws on archival sources ranging from the records of investigators looking for waste in government offices during World War II to the personal papers of Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown and Ms. magazine founder Gloria Steinem; and explores how popular sources—including cartoons, advertisements, advice guides, and a wide array of fictional accounts—have represented wanted and unwelcome romantic and sexual advances. This range of evidence and the study’s long scope expose both notable transformations and startling continuities in the interplay of gender, power and desire at work.« (Source: Yale University Press)

Interview: Fette, Julie, et al. »Sex and the Office: A History of Gender, Power and Desire.« New Books in Gender Studies (December 11, 2013).


Baker, Carrie N. »The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Sexuality and Gender in the Office.« Reviews in American History 41(2) (June 2013): 292-297 – Full Text: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)

Brands, Raina. Administrative Science Quarterly 57(4) (December 2012): 694-695. – Full Text: SAGE Journals (Restricted Access)

Drobac, Jennifer A. Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 17(1) (March 2013). – Full Text: Women and Social Movements (Restricted Access)

Fraterrigo, Elizabeth. »Single Girls and Working Women: Gender, Power, and Feminism in American History and Culture.« Journal of Women's History 27(3) (Fall 2015): 176-186. – Full Text: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)

Kwolek-Folland, Angel. The Journal of American History 100(1) (June 2013): 273-274. – Full Text: Oxford Journals (Restricted Access)

Laird, Pamela W. Business History Review 87(1) (Spring 2013): 182-184. – Full Text: Cambridge Journals Online (Restricted Access)

Mandell, Nikki. The American Historical Review 118(1) (February 2013): 206-207. – Full Text: Oxford Journals (Restricted Access)

Murolo, Priscilla. Women's Review of Books 30(1) (January-February 2013).

Pagan, Victoria K. Gender in Management: An International Journal 29(1) (2014): 65-69. – Full Text: Emerald (Restricted Access)

Williams, Christine L. Journal of American Studies 47(2) (May 2013): 2 pages. – Full Text: Cambridge Journals Online (Restricted Access)

Wikipedia: Sexual harassment