In yesterday’s Advisor, Holly Kearl, author of Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women, offered 5 ways to stop harassers and 10 examples of what to say to them. Today, two ‘success” stories from harassment victims, plus an introduction to the all-in-one HR website, HR.BLR.com.
Kearl, a program manager for the AAUW, is a national street harassment expert based in the Washington, D.C. area. Her work has been cited by the United Nations, the BBC News, The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, Ms. magazine, and ABC News.
“Here are two stories people shared on my blog Stop Street Harassment in which they used assertive responses to end the harassment,” says Kearl:
Anonymous in Washington, DC
Anonymous shared a story about stopping harassment during her commute home from work:
“I was leaving work Friday afternoon and walking past Union Station. We’ve all seen this kind of man before — you can spot him from a mile off. He was saying something to every single woman who passed him, obviously staring for a long time after they’d passed, then spotting the next mark. As I walked near him, his eyes left another woman’s body and started on mine, feet first and up. As his eyes met mine and he opened his mouth, I said, loudly, “STOP harassing women.” He looked truly perplexed, and it silenced him.”
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Jen in London
Jen wrote about facing harassment when she went to a local pub with a colleague and her boyfriend one evening after work.
“It was my turn to get a drink, so I go to the bar … As I’m waiting to be served I feel a hand on my backside. I’m actually so shocked that I don’t move, I pretend I didn’t notice, because how did that just happen?! [I'm thinking], ‘Please tell me you didn’t just touch me because I’m a woman on my own at a bar?’
Waiting for drinks, I can hear the guys behind me laughing about what they just did… I try to be cool, and when I’ve paid and am heading away from the bar, I say, ‘I’m a feminist activist, so whoever just touched my arse made a really stupid mistake.’
I have NEVER seen such horrified expressions as I did on these guys’ faces: complete dismay and horror that a woman had called them out on their actions. I walked casually back to my boyfriend and friend. Ten minutes later, the politer of the bunch ‘apologized’ for his idiotic friends … I reiterated that I don’t appreciate that kind of attention and it is unacceptable; he again apologized. Fair enough – maybe this affected these guys and made them think that this isn’t a good way to behave.”
How about you, readers? Is there an assertive response you’ve seen or have used that’s successfully stopped sexual harassment? Use the comments link below to share.
For a more complete understanding of the issue, Kearl recommends Martha Langelan’s book Back Off! How to Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers, which has more tips on responding to harassers and numerous success stories set in both workplaces and public spaces that can offer further suggestions for how to deal with sexual harassment.
Dealing with harassers—a critical task, but certainly not your only challenge. In HR, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Like FMLA intermittent leave, overtime hassles, ADA accommodation, and then on top of that whatever the agencies and courts throw in your way.
You need a go-to resource, and our editors recommend the “everything-HR-in-one website,” HR.BLR.com. As an example of what you will find, here are some policy recommendations concerning e-mail, excerpted from a sample policy on the website:
Privacy. The director of information services can override any individual password and thus has access to all e-mail messages in order to ensure compliance with company policy. This means that employees do not have an expectation of privacy in their company e-mail or any other information stored or accessed on company computers.
E-mail review. All e-mail is subject to review by management. Your use of the e-mail system grants consent to the review of any of the messages to or from you in the system in printed form or in any other medium.
Solicitation. In line with our general non-solicitation policy, e-mail must not be used to solicit for outside business ventures, personal parties, social meetings, charities, membership in any organization, political causes, religious causes, or other matters not connected to the company’s business.
We should point out that this is just one of hundreds of sample policies on the site. (You’ll also find analysis of laws and issues, job descriptions, and complete training materials for hundreds of HR topics.)
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