Weinstein, Cosby, Trump, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes are just a few of the men accused of sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment in any environment is wrong and criminal, but it has been happening to countless men and women who, for various reasons, may have chosen to stay silent about it. Thankfully, more and more people are speaking out against sexual harassment, and with social media such as the #MeToo campaign, holding offenders accountable is becoming easier to do. If you think you are spotting sexual harassment at home or the workplace but are not sure, here are five signs that could help.
Sexist jokes and behavior
Jokes that are sexual in nature and even compliments and flirting that make the recipient feel sexually objectified are signs of sexual harassment. A behavior that disrespects personal space, even after repeated requests to stop and back off, should be reported, either to your HR personnel if in the office, or to the authorities.
Recipient of act is offended and uncomfortable
This is the strongest sign that a person may be sexually harassed. Any act or behavior perceived as sexual or offensive in nature, even something that can be benign such as being touched on the shoulder or having your hair stroked, can make the recipient uncomfortable when it is unwelcome and can be deemed as harassment.
Other people affected by the offensive conduct
If you as a bystander feel offended by what you see, this could be considered sexual harassment. This applies to observers or bystanders from either gender. If you as a bystander think that a certain behavior should not be happening due to its sexual nature, or the fact that it is something that observers perceive as being offensive, it is likely that harassment is going on, even in cases when the recipient is not overtly displaying his or her discomfort or objection.
Sexual demands in exchange for employment or other favors
This is easily visible in situations when the offender is someone holding a higher rank than the recipient of the harassment, such as the workplace, school and the like. This is easily seen in the sexual harassment allegations that recently came to light against embattled movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, where actresses are alleging that he demanded sexual favors in exchange for movie roles.
Changes in the behavior of a friend or colleague
Another sign that could point to sexual harassment is the changed behavior of the person at the receiving end of the harassment. Some people may be able to tolerate this kind of behavior in the workplace but after some time, the harassment and the emotional turmoil that comes with it will take its toll. The person may become withdrawn, avoid friends and colleagues, request for a transfer or start displaying signs of depression.
Sexual harassment is personal, but it doesn’t mean that no one can see it when it is happening. Take note of these signs. Learning about the signs can dispel any confusion when you see this happening to someone you know or even to yourself and can help you confront and hold the person accountable.
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