A Few Thoughts About Sex in the Workplace
Dec 12, 2018
My colleague Mike: “I actually don’t know anyone personally who I believe has it in their character to sexually harass anyone—I just can’t see it!”
Me: “Well, I don’t know any female who has not experienced it. So someone has to be doing it!”
One of the biggest reasons why sexual harassment is so prevalent is that “I don’t know anyone who would do it.” Let’s face it folks—that is denial, plain and simple.
This is not a one gender topic—it happens to men and women, and is committed by men and women. Men must stand up to it, and women must also—especially when you see it or are aware it is happening.
Here are some important points to be aware of, and to discuss with your work colleagues:
- Comments about how someone looks is completely inappropriate. Whether it is about weight, height, hair, cold sores, breasts, legs, clothes—it is not appropriate to make comments. Many people say that inhibits them from telling people how nice they look or that they like a new hair style. Yes. Exactly. Comments about how people look are not appropriate. You are at work to do a job, not care about how your colleagues look.
- Touching your colleagues at anytime is completely inappropriate. You do not have to do it. Ever. Not even when their mother dies or when they have a new baby, let alone when you are in a meeting or on a business trip. Not. Appropriate. Ever. You can tell them you are sorry, excited, or whatever, but you do not have to touch them to show you care.
- Sex and work do not mix. Do not imagine that work is an appropriate place to meet your sexual needs. Do not imagine that someone is giving you a hot look and that you need to act on it. Ever. Work is not the place to think about sex, have sexual fantasies, communicate with someone about sex, or have any sexual interaction. Keep your sex life out of the work place.
- If you feel uncomfortable about how someone is treating you, tell someone. Tell a colleague, tell HR, tell your boss or your boss’s boss—do not stay silent. Yes, you may have to find another job, but that is not impossible. There is no reason in the world, no matter how powerful someone is, that you should be treated that way. Is it scary? YES. Must you say something? YES.
- If you think something might be going on between two people at work, say something. People need support to speak up, so provide it. Do not just stay silent. Say “Hey, is something uncomfortable happening with so-and-so? How can I help?” Yes, you may have to find another job, but that is not impossible, and you will be doing the right thing.
- Know that it is about Power and Sex. People use their position of power to get sex. People use sex to show their power. Either way, it is abuse and ruins people’s lives. It is never okay.
- Never assist someone to harass someone. Never, never condone it by staying silent. Again, you may have to find another job, but who wants to work for someone like that anyway?
You may agree with these comments, or disagree. Either way, talk about this blog with your colleagues. Use it to start conversations and to discuss it. Talk about how you feel in the workplace.
Someone is doing these things to others. Do not deny it—do something about it.