We interrupt your regularly scheduled sex column to bring you a more serious topic you may be seeing in the media, hearing about at work and school or experiencing in your life. By now, you've surely heard about the numerous sexual assault accusations being made against Harvey Weinstein. The list of celebs accusing Weinstein of rape and assault is getting longer each day, but this form of abuse does not only happen to celebrities or women in the media industry — every day, women around the world face sexual harassment and assault, whether it be in the workplace, at home or on the street. With so many cases of sexual harassment being brought to light, the need for an open discussion on this topic is becoming clearer than ever.
By deﬁnition, sexual harassment is any and all unwelcome sexual advances or bullying of a sexual nature, and it can happen anywhere, whether it’s at your job, school or even on the street. The perpetrator can be any gender and can be a friend, stranger or someone in a position of power.
Rainn explains that some forms of sexual harassment include:
The bottom line is this: If you’re being made to feel uncomfortable by someone saying inappropriately sexual things to you or doing things of that nature, whether in person or online, this is wrong, and you have a right to protect yourself.
So, when do you call sexual harassment out? As quickly as possible. This will, of course, depend on your individual situation, but generally, the sooner you do it after the incident takes place, the better. This makes the offender aware that their behavior is inappropriate. If you’re reporting it, it can help if you take action to document it immediately. If the harassment is happening online via email or social media, by all means, screenshot the interaction for reference.
How do you call sexual harassment out? This depends on the severity of the situation as well as the resources you have at hand. If we’re talking about catcalling, using sexist language you’re not OK with or someone sending you or showing you something you deem obscene, let the offender know. If for some reason they aren’t aware that their behavior could come across as unacceptable, you’ve just told them.
If the harassment is happening at work or school, please go to the authorities and report it. You can also ﬁle a report with your local law enforcement. Bring a friend for support. And if someone in your life is experiencing sexual harassment, be the friend who goes with them. Validate their feelings and support them. Sexual harassment is real, and it’s time to speak up out about it.
Originally posted on StyleCaster in June, 2017. Updated October, 2017.
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