The past few months have been big for change. Companies have been called out for systemic racism. The Supreme Court gave LGBTQ workers federal civil rights. Sexual predators are having a renewed #MeToo moment. Powers-that-be are being held to account. That’s phenomenal for social progress. It’s also horrible for workplace sexual harassment.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (amidst an already heinous 2020), but you’ll want to beware of increased sexual harassment when you’re on the job, as harassholes hate this new world.
Here’s the skinny: Workplace sexual harassment is a power play. Basically, harassers are insecure people who want to make you feel small because they find you threatening and/or seek a power boost.
Don’t get it twisted, though: Sexual harassment doesn’t have to be sexual. What matters is that you’re being targeted because of your gender or sexual identity.
Harassholes may try to “put you in your place” by using typical sexualized come-ons, like ogling your goodies in the office, jumping in your DMs to ask you out for the umpteenth time, or promising you a promotion in exchange for a Netflix and chill. Or, harassholes may leverage hostile put-downs that humiliate you, like calling you crude names on conference calls, cutting you out of morning meetings, berating you for not dressing the way a woman “should” dress. The displays of disrespect are limitless.
Now that our new world is pushing for greater respect for marginalized persons, women included, harassholes see our world as a less hospitable place for their antics. They’re frustrated about not being able to mistreat you and others with impunity, and they’ll try to reclaim their sense of power by stepping up their harassment game. Protect your purse and your mental health by being prepared.
Here are three quick tips to help you beat workplace sexual harassment:
Identify The Harassholes
You may be a butterfly, but harassholes aren’t very unique. They tend to have shared traits, among them being gender. Men make up some 90% of harassholes. In addition to that, they’re more likely to embrace these characteristics:
⭐︎ Support traditional gender roles
⭐︎ Maintain a strong male identity
⭐︎ Think men are superior to women
⭐︎ Believe men and women should be segregated
⭐︎ Sexualize women, girls, and LGBTQ people
⭐︎ Trivialize victimization or engage in victim-blaming
⭐︎ Lack egalitarian attitudes toward gender and/or race
You can spot these traits by listening to what a harasshole says about gender and sexual identity. For instance, harassholes often think men are better suited for traditionally male jobs and leadership positions whereas women should be in “pink careers,” stay-at-home moms, or in supporting roles. Harassholes use activities and terms typically associated with women to demean other men, such as calling a man a “pussy” or promising to wear a dress in public as part of a bet. These are the dudes who use stereotypes about women as punch lines.
The thing is, there’s nothing funny about harassholes. Keep an eye out for them and remember—just because someone isn’t a harasshole to you, doesn’t mean they’re not harassing another colleague. Harassholes are shady shapeshifters.
Document, Document, Document
Your records of what happened are essential to beating workplace sexual harassment. Why? Memories fade. Plus, there’s a 99% chance that the harasshole (and your employer) will lie. Avoid the he said, she said situation by documenting what went down. On your personal computer or encrypted email, maintain a log of the who, what, when, where, and how of the experience like you’re writing a bland yet detailed screenplay. Also, attach supporting documents such as text messages, emails, DMs, and notes.
You’ll want to have it all, especially if you ever need to speak out or if you suffer retaliation. Documentation can make the difference between getting the heave-ho with nothing and getting out of a company on your own terms with solid references and a strong severance.
Always Trust Your Instincts
Pay attention to that still small voice that echoes within when you’re uncomfortable. Never try to override your instincts with rationalization. You know what you’re sensing, what you experienced, and what you need not tolerate. Don’t ignore it.
Do ignore gaslighting and shade-throwing coworkers. As much as I hate to say it, research shows that some coworkers will try to discourage you from speaking out about sexual harassment and many will distance themselves from you for fear of being mistreated by your employer too. That’s a bummer. But it doesn’t mean you should “take one for the team” by keeping quiet. Real friends won’t insist you be disrespected and won’t try to deny your reality.
Stick close to your instincts, demand to be treated with respect, and do you. You may not be The Boss, but you are a boss and you deserve to work in a harassment-free workplace.
Adrienne Lawrence is an on-air legal analyst and the author of Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment (TarcherPerigee, 2020). Lawrence has contributed her insight on workplace sexual harassment for outlets such as the Harvard Business Review and NPR. Follow her on Twitter @AdrienneLaw and IG @AdrienneLawrence
Images: Song_about_summer/ Shutterstock.com
When it comes to being gay, we’re living in a pretty confusing time. We constantly hear about how far we’ve come, and how people are more accepting than ever, but we’re stuck with a government that’s unwilling to stand up for our rights, and depending where we live, many of us still experience homophobia on a regular basis. As straight people flood your timeline with engagements and baby announcements, it can feel like your space to express yourself is as small as ever.
So it might not always be easy, but I’ve got a challenge for you in 2019: make this your gayest year yet. Whether this means coming out for the first time, or buying yet another piece of RuPaul’s Drag Race merchandise, it’s time to work on living your queer identity to the fullest, in every part of your life. Think of these as your gay resolutions for the new year, except I’m not going to tell you to go to the gym.
I’m not saying you should show up to your Grandma’s Easter brunch in a leather harness, but there are lots of steps you can take to be your authentic self with your family this year. Of course, the biggest challenge in this process is coming out. Many of us are fortunate enough to have positive coming out experiences, but no matter the circumstances, coming out is still a stressful personal journey. Of course, you should never do anything that makes you feel unsafe, but if you’re still weighing when and how to come out to your family, I encourage you to do it sooner rather than later. Even if you face criticism from some, there are millions of us waiting to welcome you into the LGBTQ family.
If you’ve already navigated the waters of coming out, good for you! But that doesn’t mean your work with your family is done. Lots of us have family members that are supposedly supportive, but would obviously rather not discuss the fact that you’re never going to bring home a partner of the opposite sex. This year, it’s time that you push those boundaries of comfort, and have real discussions with your loved ones. It’s 20-f*cking-19, and Aunt Trish should really be able to understand that being gay isn’t a “lifestyle choice.”
Friendships in the gay community are tough. There’s no other way to say it: it can be really difficult to meet new people without immediately being judged as a potential sexual partner. Girlfriends are great, but sometimes you just want to spend quality time with some good old-fashioned queens. If you’re struggling to find your gay group, try getting a little creative this year. Step out of your comfort zone, and you might just find your people. If there’s someone you were sort of friends with in college, but haven’t talked to in a while, reach out and suggest platonic plans. Most people are more open to new friends than you think, so getting drinks once could turn into a great friendship, and they probably have other friends that you’d like too.
One thing that I did for the first time in 2018 was going out solo. Showing up to a gay bar with no squad or date in tow can be very daunting, but what’s the worst that could happen? If there’s nothing interesting going on, just have a couple drinks at the bar and call it a night. But if you find a place with a great drag show or fun dancing, it’s a great chance to meet new people! You might not find a best friend this way, but it’s still a great way to get out of the house and have a little fun.
So full disclosure, I’m very single right now. Therefore, I won’t pretend to preach like I’m some sort of relationship guru. But I do have three different dates already lined up in 2019, so I’m doing just fine for myself. I feel like we talk all the time about how gay guys just want to have random sex, or how it’s so hard to find a boyfriend, or other major generalizations like that, but it’s not so simple. Everyone is looking for something different, and it’s just a matter of finding the right match. In 2019, try focusing on putting your personal wants and needs above any preconceived notions about what you should want. Listen to your instincts, and don’t be afraid to switch up what you’re looking for. If you’re in the middle of a slutty phase, enjoy it! (Also, here are some gay sex terms that you might find useful.)
But if you’re at a point where you’re really craving a deep connection, you shouldn’t feel bad about it. If you tell a guy that you’re looking for a relationship and he doesn’t respond well, then just cut your losses and move on! There are plenty of people out there, and you shouldn’t be wasting your time with someone who has different needs than you. If you can’t wait for someone who will go on gay trips to Disney World with you, then go out there and find them!
So whether you have some major life decisions ahead, or you just want to try something different and meet some new people, there’s never been a better time to get out there and be gay. If you need any guidance, feel free to DM me @dylanhafer on Instagram, and I’ll happily provide advice and pretend my own life isn’t a mess. Above all, let’s all love each other, and have a great, gay 2019.
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (2)