Sexual harassment can be defined as harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.
Before I came to my new school this was something I rarely thought of. It did happen to me and people around me but it was something we just never talked about. It was a taboo. People did get harassed but they just never had the platform to speak about it. My friends used to make sexual jokes about certain girls and the whole class would laugh. Some girls also used to say sexual comments about boys in my class. I felt uncomfortable when people made such remarks and I know the people at the centre of theses jokes also felt uneasy.
Coming to ALA helped to give me a platform to discuss what sexual harassment meant and how I could make someone feel uncomfortable as well as knowing how to deal with people who made me feel uncomfortable. In my everyday life I would say some things to my friends most of whom were girls; I thought it was funny but it wasn’t till I really evaluated my comments that I noticed my comments could be viewed as offensive or bordering on harassment.
It’s not only in the way that you speak that you can sexually harass someone but also in the way you dress and carry yourself. I think the responsibility should fall amongst us as a people to recognise the environment and to take cognisance of the people around and respect the environment you find yourself in. I have met some girls who were short pants and shorts and know that it is against some people’s morals and culture but they do not mind because they say ‘I have a right to wear whatever I want’ granted this may not be true for every girl but for those that do this; I think it somehow unfair as a being living with other people that you choose to ignore other people’s values but you expect your values to be considered. This also hold true for the boys who find themselves in this very same environment.
Sexual harassment is wrong regardless of who is the victim. We as a society in our workplaces or at school should not create an environment where we make it a taboo for boys and men who have been sexually harassed to come out in the open. Women and Men are harassed and we should not stigmatise by gender. I hear some of my friends laughing when they hear a guy say that he was sexually harassed or that he was made to feel uncomfortable by a girl or another guy. The assumption some people have is that since you are guy then you cannot be harassed because men are creatures who love to see women naked or love talking about sex but this is not true and this is where we tend to go wrong as a people. If a guy were to come out and say he was touched in a way he did not like or that a girl forced herself on him or even that a guy forced himself on him some people quickly say if it was a girl and you did not respond then you are gay. If it is a guy who forced himself onto another the guy some people then say it was your fault for giving out the wrong ‘vibe’.
Not everyone does this but it is those people who do that make it difficult for people to speak out and confront this issue. I think sexual harassment is an issue we tend to take lightly especially as young people but we do not realise the impact it can have on individuals. I am fortunate I managed to find a platform where this topic is addressed but as a person I urge you to take a look at your life and ask yourself if you are not making life difficult for someone at work or in class. The duty is upon us as a people to still show that we still have a fibre of respect for one another and respect for each other’s values.