How To Embrace Your Voice And Respond To Sexual Harassment Comments

#FightFireWithFunny

 

In the midst of sexual harassment allegations surfacing almost every day against high-profile figures, the experience of reporting and confronting harassment is finally getting more attention. 

At Catharsis Productions we use humor as a tool to lower their defenses and deliver our message more effectively. Often, when present our programs, we are asked how to respond to sexual harassment comments by using our philosophy Fight Fire With Funny. Even though we believe that in some instances we can apply our principles to confront sexual harassment comments, the reality is, there is not one right way to respond to harassment. The single fact that you decide to respond takes courage and it is entirely up to you to decide how, when and if to take action.

 

FIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR HOW TO TALK TO A HARASSER* - From Hollaback!

  1. Use strong body language. Look the harasser in the eyes; speak in a strong, clear voice. Show assertiveness and strength through your voice, facial expressions, and body language.
  2. Project confidence and calm. Even if you do not feel that way, it is important to appear calm, serious, and confident.
  3. Do not apologize, make an excuse, or ask a question. You do not need to say sorry for how you feel or what you want. Be firm.
  4. You do not need to respond to diversions, questions, threats, blaming, or guilt-tripping. Stay on your own agenda. Stick to your point. Repeat your statement or leave.
  5. Decide when you’re done. Success is how you define it. If you said what you needed to say and you’re ready to leave, do so. 

*If, and only if you feel comfortable and safe responding back.

Responding to harassment the catharsis way

Below are some scenarios our audiences have shared with us and some ideas to respond and shut the harasser down. Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. These responses are ideas from our team, but remember that every experience is different and every individual should assess their own situation.

 

JENNIFER:

I have a male co-worker, with whom I have had sporadic interactions. Like, we talk about the weather when we happen to be making our coffee in the kitchen at the same time but other than that we don’t have any kind of relationship. Lately, he keeps coming to my desk, stands behind me and puts his hands on my shoulders wanting to start a conversation. I feel really uncomfortable and try moving away every time. I am not sure what to do or say without creating tension or drama at the office.

 

Our Responses:

  • Hey! You seem like you are ready to give a massage. I did not sign up for one, but you should announce your services in the bulletin board.
  • I can’t really hear you over all the touching(as you move away). Why don’t you just sit over there if you need to talk to me.

 

SARAH:

I am a bartender I guess I am used to customers hitting on me. There is this one particular regular customer, Louis, that my boss really likes because he always brings tons of friends and spends a lot of money at our bar throughout the night.  Well, the other night Louis is sitting at the bar and says: “Hey Sarah, I don’t know if I’ve said this to you before but you have a really nice body. Do you work out a lot? I bet you look so good in a bikini.” I didn’t know how to respond since he is an important customer and I want to keep my job.

 

Our Responses:

  • (Casual tone) I do work out a lot, in fact, I take self-defense classes so that no one messes with me.
  • Or maybe you look good in a bikini. Maybe a golden one with tassels?

 

RYAN:

I am a fitness trainer and a client of mine keeps making comments about my body way too often. It has gotten to the point where I feel uncomfortable. She says things like “Wow, I can’t get over how good your abs look” while she is touching my body. Or “You are so attractive I bet all the ladies want to go out with you.” I feel like as a man I am supposed to feel flattered and accomplished that a woman is complimenting me.

 

Our Responses:

  • I don’t like talking about my abs. Let’s focus on your abs and the proper posture to do a plank since that’s why we’re here for.
  • So by your logic, since you are an accountant I assume everyone wants their taxes to be done by you. I imagine then that you are doing well financially... maybe I should up my rates. 


Have you ever been in a similar situation where you don’t know how to respond to sexual harassment comments? Let us know about it and throughout the month of April, we will feature some of these scenarios in social media and respond with some ways the Catharsis Productions team would answer back.


There are two ways to submit your scenarios: 

1. Send us a direct private message on Facebook or Instagram. 

2. Post to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and use the hashtag #FightFireWithFunny

 

*Note: Don’t worry, we won’t publish your name or any details you don’t want us to.


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Catharsis Productions

Catharsis Productions' mission is to change the world by producing innovative, accessible and 
research-supported programming that challenges oppressive attitudes and shifts behavior.