Getting a job can be exhilarating for you, especially when you love what you do. Going out to your workplace, solving problems from your work desk and meeting new people can be very exciting and can quickly become something you look forward to every day. While you may not be doing anything to attract any form of sexual harassment, it is important to understand that it can happen to just anybody. It is imperative that you handle the matter as soon as it occurs in order to ensure that your physical, mental and emotional health is not affected by it.
Dealing with sexual harassment as a man is totally different from dealing with it as a woman. This is because, while girls are afraid of such unwanted advances, society expects men to view it as a compliment to their manliness. Most guys who have been sexually harassed do not even recognize it as what it is. They just “go with the flow” and end up falling as victims because they don’t want to be called names for refusing sexual advances from a woman.
Let me break down what sexual harassment is in simple terms.
In opposition to the popular belief that sexual harassment occurs only when your body is touched inappropriately, sexual harassment actually encompasses any unwelcome sexual advances. It cuts across any requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical behaviors of a sexual nature.
When such conduct affects the employment status of the victim or interferes with their work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment it is described as sexual harassment at the work place.
Any unwanted sexual advances or sexual statements that are severe enough to cause the victim to feel intimidated or consider the workplace hostile and uncomfortable or abusive is considered sexual harassment. If someone looks at you inappropriately for too long or makes a sexual statement involving your appearance, instigates unwanted suggestive phone calls, emails or text messages or uses inappropriate languages to address you, jokes about sex, rape or assault, these behaviors in the workplace are all considered as sexual harassment in the work place.
While we may be familiar with the incident of unwanted sexual relationships being demanded from females as a requirement fora job or a promotion, the idea of males being sexually harassed at the workplace may seem a little off to others. However, I want to bring to your notice that it happens to a lot of guys. The only difference however, is that they do not report the situation. They just take it in stride.
Here is a guide to help guys deal with sexual harassment in the work place.
1. Recognize it for what it is: If you do not know what it is, or are unable to identify what it is, then you cannot deal with the situation accordingly. It is sexual harassment! It is not right for someone to touch you inappropriately. Your boss has no right to demand sex in order for you to get a promotion. Sex is not part of your job description. From the explanation regarding what sexual harassment is, you should already know better.
2. Admit it: This is the step a lot of guys throw off. The fact that a guy identifies an inappropriate behaviour doesn’t mean he would admit it is inappropriate. Admitting has to do with telling yourself that this thing is not normal. Telling yourself that it is not a compliment of your masculinity. Once you are able to do this, then you are on the right track to dealing with it in the most mature and best way possible.
3. Let them know you do not like it: The key word in sexual harassment is “unwanted”. Let them know you don’t want such emails, let them know you do not want to be touched in such a manner. Let them know you do not like comments or jokes filled with sexual innuendos. There is nothing wrong with verbally declining the unwanted advances of a young lady. Whether or not she is pretty.
4. Saying no doesn’t make you weak: Saying no doesn’t make you weak. Saying you are uninterested doesn’t make you less of a man. Your mental, physical and emotional state at all times is more important than showing that you are a “real man”. If anything, declining the unwanted advances from an employer shows that you are self-aware.
5. Make a report: Once you have told the perpetrators that you are not interested in their advances and they still insist, make a report. If you work with a company that has processes to report sexual harassment, then follow due process. If the harasser is the person you are meant to report to, you can report to a far higher authority. Alternatively, you can report to a law enforcement agency or talk to your lawyer about it.
Sexual harassment is an uncomfortable thing to experience especially in the workplace. There are laws that protect you from being sexually harassed in a place you work. Do not ever think you are weak for saying no or reporting to a higher authority. Report such cases and let justice be served.