Inappropriate sexual conduct – who thinks about it?
Men think about inappropriate sexual conduct in one situation only.
Jackson Katz the US creator of programs around gender violence asked a group of men what strategies they consider to avoid inappropriate sexual conduct. The answer he received was, that they didn’t think about it at all or one other response was:
“Don’t go to prison.”
What about women?
3Plus then asked our women subscribers what they factored in to avoid inappropriate sexual conduct. We had so many different responses we couldn’t fit them in on a one-page infographic. We had almost 50 different strategies and they are still coming in. We tried to group them into typical categories and situations that crop up on a daily basis for all of us. The bottom line is that there are almost no situations where women at some point don’t consider their personal safety in relation to inappropriate sexual conduct. Many decisions which are routine for men become basic risk assessment exercises for women, focusing on how to minimise risk and not to expose themselves to any potential harm.
This can be around:
- their appearance
- public transport
- the workplace
- where they live
- on the street
- in their cars
Some of them we had never even thought of.
Say that again…
Paola Fernandéz, based in San José, told us why she always removes her house key when she leaves her car in a garage or valet parking. “A friend was stalked by a valet parking attendant who copied her house key when she left her car to go into a restaurant. She had papers in the glove compartment with her address on them. Another one is don’t leave anything with your address in the car at all and definitely not on any navigation system under “Home”. I guess they are more gender neutral but men would worry about robbery rather than sexual assault.”
Dorothy Dalton, talent management strategist, advises not to put a street address on a CV. “Organisations who insist on that are out of touch with today’s world. The days when candidates received anything via snail mail are long gone. It’s fine later in the process. You can give a postal code and city. A client was stalked when a window cleaner saw her resume open on a screen in an office with her photo. The man took a photo and pitched up on her doorstep. It required police intervention to deal with it.”
Celine Stokes in London described how she left her front door open while unloading groceries and was sexually assaulted in her own home. Her tip “Always shut your door behind you, even if you are only going in and out for a few minutes even seconds. But then you ask what if something happens outside and you can’t get back in quickly? I would be surprised if men even think about that at all when they take something to the bins.”
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High levels of inappropriate sexual conduct
Research shows the levels of inappropriate sexual conduct are really high. 85% of girls in the US experience some sort of negative experience before they have graduated from high school. The UK charity Plan International UK found that 33% of girls in the UK has been sexually harassed in public when wearing school uniform, some of the participants were under 12 years old and as young as 8.
- 66% of girls in the UK said they had experienced unwanted sexual attention or sexual or physical contact in a public place
- 35% of girls reported receiving unwanted sexual contact such as being touched, groped or grabbed
- Girls as young as eight years old described witnessing or experiencing harassment
- More than one in three girls received unwanted sexual attention such as being groped, stared at, catcalled and wolf-whistled while wearing school uniform
- One-quarter of girls said they had been filmed or photographed by a stranger without permission
This is a phenomenon which most boys and then men never even have to think about.
Check out our infographic and let us know what you would add.
The bottom line is that navigating everyday life factoring in physical safety is exhausting. And rather than women taking steps to devise all these workarounds to deal with inappropriate sexual conduct or even dangerous circumstances, we need to change the language. The BBC recently reported on women urged not to wear headphone while walking or running.They did not urge men to stop sexually assaulting women.
We need to stop tolerating intolerable behaviour and calling it out when we see it.
If your organisation wants to create an inclusive work place to combat sexism and harassment, contact 3Plus.
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