Unwanted touches. Inappropriate jokes. Mortifying propositions. Depending on when and where they occur, they can all be forms of the abusive dynamic known as sexual harassment.
This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about the recent spate of high profile sexual harassment revelations. We’re also talking about the much lower profile cases of sexual harassment that many of us have suffered — and witnessed — for as long as we can remember.
We share our personal perspectives and experiences, including my own recent “hey-that’s-my-thigh!” incident. We address the increasingly charged topic of physical contact and sexually charged banter among friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. We explore the anxiety and growing sense of outrage that pervade this emerging conversation about power, politics, and our scandal-crazy culture.
Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you tune into your own thoughts and feelings about unwanted sexual attention — and its real-life impacts.
“Sexual Harassment” Episode Highlights
Power dynamics between men and women and how they impact relationships
Degrees and shades of sexual harassment
Dallas and Pilar share some of their personal experiences and impressions
Tips on navigating sexual harassment and interpreting the cues given by others
- How to handle and adapt to relationship “rules” that change situationally
Engage in a conversation with one or more friends and ask about their personal experiences with sexual harassment. Listen deeply, striving to understand how it affected them, and how they feel about it now. See if you can expand your empathy and understanding by seeing this uncomfortable experience through their eyes.
If you have been on the receiving end of sexual harassment, reflect on one or more of those experiences. Journal about your experience or describe it aloud, to yourself or someone else, noting any emotions that arise. Next, imagine how you could rewrite that experience from a more empowered place, or perhaps give it a different ending.
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- “Violence Against Women — It’s a Men’s Issue,” Jackson Katz’s revelatory TEDx talk on what men need to understand about women’s experience with violence and sexual assault.
- From Psychology Today: Eight reasons sexual assault victims don’t come forward sooner.
- From The New York Times, “The Power of Touch, Especially for Men,” an article on why we have to find a way to make platonic touch safe for all genders.
- For levity, a “Should You Catcall Her?” flow-chart from Playboy, of all places, guiding you on “when it’s okay” to catcall a woman, and more to the point, when it is not.
- From the feminist site Jezebel, an entire vertical dedicated to sexual harassment stories.
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