In the past few months, thousands of women have come forward to proclaim #MeToo and share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault.
The result has been powerful. Well known men such as Harvey Weinstein, Matt Laurer, Kevin Spacey, Senator Al Franken, politician Roy Moore, and many, many others have been accused of sexual misconduct.
So far, some of the men have met justice, but we are far from making things right. NationofChange stands with the thousands of men and women that are victims of sexual harassment and assault, the ones that are saying #MeToo.
Here are some ways you can stand up to sexual harassment (courtesy of Yes! Magazine)
1. Shift the focus – and record the evidence. If direct intervention isn’t comfortable or possible, do something that stops the harassment in an under-the-radar way, Dilbeck recommends. That could mean “accidentally” spilling a beer on a party guest who’s making aggressive moves on his date, which redirects his attention to his sopping shirt. Or it could mean switching seats on the subway when you see someone getting harassed.
You can also discreetly film harassment incidents with your smartphone and write down exactly what you’ve witnessed. That creates an evidentiary record should the person affected decide to pursue legal action.
2. Make shrewd pre-emptive moves. If a coworker is alone in a room with a supervisor known to be a repeat harasser, for instance, you can come up with a reason to enter the room yourself. And, if you’re in a relatively powerful position at a company that isn’t taking action against known harassers, you can arrange for them to be transferred to assignments where they won’t have access to new targets. While obviously not a permanent and systemic solution, it is one step an individual with power can take when the system fails.
3. Resist the urge to normalize. Over time, a toxic culture can make some people downright blasé about harassment. To combat our general tendency to shrug things off, psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s Heroic Imagination Project has trained people to practice a split-second version of mindful awareness in which they ask themselves something like, “What action is consistent with the kind of person I want to be?” This kind of heightened awareness may help you empathize with a harasser’s target.
4. Tailor your response to an incident’s severity. The definition of sexual harassment can be notoriously slippery. There are countless ways to make a target or listener feel uncomfortable that fall short of a full-on grope or profane insult.
In these types of blurred-line situations, the magnitude of the offense can inform the magnitude of your response. If someone tells a dirty joke in mixed company while making eyes at a colleague, you’re probably not going to submit a formal write-up to his boss. But a forthright remark like “Seriously? That’s vile. People don’t want to hear it” can be very effective.
5. Take a bold stand and own it. If you’re contemplating direct action against a harasser and you’re not under intense time pressure, try spelling out exactly what you believe is at stake. Which is more important to you—holding on to a particular job/friend/status, or shutting down an aggressor who intends to target others in the future? How likely is the outcome you most fear? If you don’t speak up now, will you regret it later?
Thinking through these kinds of questions helps you clarify your moral priorities, which will bolster your self-assurance should you decide to intervene.
6. Fight to keep reporters safe. Most organizations have rules that forbid sexual harassment, but many do not sufficiently protect those who report harassment they’ve seen—and that can be a major problem. Once the whistleblowing process gets started, witnesses need to feel free to report misconduct without dreading retaliation. If your organization does not have strong guidelines in place to protect reporters, approach your department head or manager to discuss the issue.
7. Line up allies and use them wisely. The conspiracy of silence that grows up around sexual harassment often compounds its destructive power. Harvey Weinstein got away with his actions for decades because almost no one dared to call him out.
Conversely, a few courageous voices raised in unison can curtail harassment in dramatic ways. When a core group of victims and observers took the risk of speaking up about what Weinstein was up to, millions joined them in condemning his actions, and he was booted out of the company he had helped found. Building strength in numbers starts with being brave enough to sound others out about the harassment you’ve seen.
We cannot allow victims to believe they are alone. We can’t let individuals be afraid to report crimes or think they won’t be believed. We must stand up to sexual harassment.