I know I sound like a freaking broken record, but Dominance Hierarchy! Particularly one where some men perceive themselves as being naturally higher in the pecking order than women. They feel entitled to this kind of sport because they’ve been taught that everything is a game with a winner and a loser.
Even though we’ve all been raised within that framework, most men are not going to take it to that level of extreme and would be horrified at the thought, but some are. These types of men see everything as a game to be played at someone else’s expense and that is a particularly delicious one because they don’t just win, but win big by dehumanizing someone else.
Fortunately, there are some small movements afoot towards more partnership-oriented workplaces, which will in turn influence society, with hierarchies of actualization (power to and power with rather than power over). I really think this is the lynch-pin to all of this bullying and harassment, which creates a cycle of abuse and traumatization, both for the perpetrators and the victims. Happy, well adjusted people don’t need to demean others to feel good about themselves. they are simply doing some version of what was done to them.
I’m glad you got some help in stopping this. It must have been horrendous and exhausting in the meantime!