How to Handle Sexual Harassment

How to Handle Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is an uncomfortable, but far too common situation that many people around the globe face. From unwanted sexual advances to obscene remarks, sexual harassment–specifically towards women–simply reinforces the patriarchy and male privilege that is entrenched within society today. Some men grow up believing they have the right to treat women however they want without regard to how the woman feels. This type of thinking is what has normalized rape culture within our society, and has normalized comments such as , “I raped that exam” and the use of other violent language.

The normalization of such behavior is counterproductive to eliminating sexual violence from our midst.

No woman–or person–should ever have to be subject to sexual harassment. Unfortunately, this is a reality many face in the workplace, in class, on the street, and even at home. If this is something you experience, you need to speak up.

You should have a hard line that you draw between what you can and cannot tolerate. Some joking you may be okay with, others you may not be. When someone crosses that line you have created for yourself, you need to speak up. You need to be serious and tell the person that the joke or action was not funny. Even better if you speak up in front of witnesses, because no one wants to be accused of harassment in front of their peers.

If such behavior continues from that individual, you may want to file a complaint. Additionally, if you are comfortable, you could reach out to your peers to see if anyone else has felt degraded by this person. If you find other people who have experienced or witnessed unwanted sexual behavior from this individual, you will have further evidence of a pattern of negative behavior that can be used in a complaint filed at work or at school.

Even if you do not wish to file a complaint, rise above the haters. Some harassers will make personal and potentially damaging attacks on you with the intent to tear you down. Don’t let them. When someone attacks you in such a nasty way, it can be hard to face and you may want to falter. However, if you show confidence in your intelligence and skills, you can confront the harasser and slay the attacker with beautiful words of your own.

Above all else, remember you have support. You have women who will stand beside you through thick and thin, through the fire and the icy tundra. Never be afraid to reach out to those close to you to ask for support and advice. Many women in this sisterhood have experienced sexual harassment, and so much more. Each and every one of us would be willing to offer help if we can. Additionally, the women in your lives–mothers, aunts, neighbors–have also likely experienced some form of harassment, or know someone who has.

Experiencing sexual harassment can make you feel insecure. You may feel less than. You may feel scared. But no matter what your harassers say or do, you have power and you have support.

The only thing that’s left for you to do is believe in them.

If you want to learn more about rape culture and see specific examples, follow this link:

Yemaya Chapter, Lehigh University

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