A staggering number of women have been harassed at work
Massive, right? It might even sound like too massive of a statistic to be true, but sadly when you start thinking about it, you might well realise that you’re part of that statistic. I initially thought it sounded too high, but then I remembered the boss who called me ‘whatshername with the tits’ and the landlord of the pub at my first job, who told me to wear a tight top to show off my ‘curves’ and ran his hands down my body every shift. Harassment doesn’t always been being bullied out of the job, sometimes it’s a simple as a well-intentioned comment making you feel awkward or uncomfortable.
The hashtag #HarassedAtWork is trending on Twitter in response to the report, and it’s astonishing how many ways women have been made to feel uncomfortable or afraid at work. A common theme is that the harasser thought they were being nice – that they were ‘just giving a compliment.’
For the avoidance of doubt, any compliment that makes you feel uneasy is inappropriate. You’re at work to work. You’re not there to look a certain way or be decorative. How you look, what your body is like or what you’re wearing (as long as it meets the dress code) is no-one’s business. Yet that memo doesn’t seem to have got through to many of the world’s work places, because Twitter is awash with women who are sharing what it feels like to be harassed at work.
However, depressing it is to read the hashtag and realise how endemic this kind of harassment is, we can still take hope. When people share their stories it sheds light on the problem, and that’s the essential first step towards making things better. The more that we talk about this issue and the more seriously we take it, the closer we get to creating a world where work place harassment is just a distant, if depressing, memory.