What it means by sexual harassment

Hey Very-Ambitious-Men, What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?

It’s one of those days you wake up without a plan. Since spreading the bed is ingrained in the system, that’s the first thing I did. I then sat on it and wandered into oblivion.

I can’t remember what I was thinking but a thought on the best type of lube might have crossed my mind.

Later on, I opened my laptop and played Bodycam, a thriller that left me dozing the previous night. 10 minutes in, my mind was bothered on what I was gonna watch next.

As a normal overly distracted 21st century human being, I press pause, set up Wi-Fi hotspot and connected to the internet.

I accessed NetNaija and navigated the movies pages while playing trailers of movies that seemed interesting in a second tab. In the process, my mind was captured by an interesting movie poster depicting powerful-looking blondies.

I searched its trailer on YouTube, obviously, and soon I was curiously hooked. So I set up a download feed with IDM and went back to my horror movie.

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Sexual harassment is a very serious matter these days. Well, it has been so for decades but the real impact of sexual harassment cases was never felt until about 3 years ago when powerful men fell from the sky in fashion, a phenomenon referred to as Weinstein effect.

Honestly, as a man, what bothered me wasn’t the stories of the women victims. You can’t blame me, I’m a man, I might not understand what women go through.

What really baffled my mind was the drama involved in the grace to grass fall of very powerful men who were previously considered untouchable.

It scares me that you can bust your ass for years, work up the social ladder, build great networks, amass wealth and build a legacy status only to be brought down to nothing again by a behaviour you might have dismissed as a small bad habit.

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When Bodycam was over, I was already hungry. I check on IDM, Bombshell was halfway through. So, I dashed off for a quick breakfast hopping by the time I’m back, it will have finished downloading.

30 minutes later I was back, exhausted by the suffocating masks we are forced to where because of the pandemic, but fully satisfied.

Luckily, I was welcomed by “Your Download is Complete” message. I smiled and played Bombshell.

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Before you reach the top, you undergo a lot. The hard work, sacrifices, hard decision making, painstaking planning, a lot of reading, tough life lessons. I mean, there’s a lot.

Yet women go through much more, and sadly, these extra hardships are based on their gender. It’s true, society has always favoured men over women in power acquisition.

Ambitious women have faced retaliation by society, men and the systems in place. It’s unfortunate men especially have made this feminine ascent to power a long walk in the desert mainly through sexual harassment.

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Bombshell for those who haven’t watched is based on the true story of the downfall of Roger Ailes, former Fox CEO and one of the most powerful media moguls before his demise in 2017.

Feminists would prefer me to describe Bombshell as a story of how women united and brought down a powerful man who had sexually harassed them.

Either way serves the purpose of my brief introduction.

The film majors on three victims of sexual harassment, who were former employees of their perpetrator Roger Ailes: Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, and a fictitious Kyla Pospisil who was a composite character based on not one but multiple very real people.

Roger Ailes is accused of harassing the three Fox employees and more than 20 other women who worked under him in the course of his career.

Consequently, in a quick turn of events, he is fired from his job and his victims compensated by the company.

Bombshell Movie
Bombshell Movie

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Watching through the movie brought one question at the top of my mind; what constitutes sexual harassment?

As a man, I understand that making sexual advances towards women is ingrained in our DNA. It is a primal instinct. It’s what keeps the species advancing. If men stopped being sexually interested with women, our species is dead.

But sexual harassment might suggest that in the process of executing this inborn urge, certain lines are crossed. What lines are these? When does an action qualify as sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is when someone makes unwelcomed sexual advances or requests for sexual favours or any other verbal or physical sexual conducts and uses it to make employment decisions affecting the victim or result to a hostile working environment for the victim.

There are a few keywords I pick from this broad description.

First, it’s ‘unwelcomed’. If something is unwelcomed, the affected individual ought to portray signals that they are uncomfortable with it.

This can be shown through facial expressions and more strongly through verbal statements. But you know men! They can rarely distinguish between a real NO, maybe NO and a yes NO.

Which is why most continue to pressure on until they get what they want.

Secondly, it’s “employment”. In the work environment, men would tend to use their position and influence to coerce subordinate men and women to do favours for them.

When these actions are targeted towards women, they mostly take a sexual turn. In most cases, women are forced to perform sexual acts with their bosses to get promoted or have their salaries increased.

In one particular scene, Kayla, the overly ambitious lady who is so eager for a position as News Anchor for Fox gets a lucky appointment in the CEOs office.

She pitches her ideas confidently in a bid to convince Roger that she is qualified and thus get a promotion. In a twist of events, Roger makes sexual requests to her by commenting on her sexy looks, asks her to showcase her figure and in the end, makes her pull her skirt up and expose her panties.

Kayla is very uncomfortable but does as instructed while almost bursting into tears. On top of that, the CEO offers her a condition to get what she wants; a blowjob.

Honestly, it was emotional for me watching this scene. Terrifying to some extent. I wonder how a woman would feel.

In this case, we see the two components being involved.

First, Kayla was obviously uncomfortable. The requests she received were unwelcomed but she was terrified and did as she was told because it compromised her job and dream.

Secondly, this was a working environment and Roger used his status as CEO of Fox to intimidate a mere employee into sexual acts.

Imagine a 60-year-old man coercing a young girl at the age of her prime into sexual acts and not just any girl, your daughter, who is helpless. It’s sad. It’s traumatizing.

But hold for a second. This man is a respected boss who has employed thousands of people. He ensures the company makes billions in profits. He has done several philanthropic projects which have changed lives. He has given you an opportunity to live your dream.

Does he deserve elimination? Does he deserve to go down with a bad reputation because of that mistake? Does his legacy have to be flushed down the toilet? I don’t know. Maybe yes or maybe no.

All I know is that I don’t wanna be this guy Roger Ailes, or Harvey Weinstein, or Bill Cosby, or Larry Nassar. Neither should anyone want to live their last days regretting the trauma they caused girls and women.

Yet sometimes you can do it unknowingly and only realize when complaints are filed against you. That’s why I wanna list every action either verbal or physical that constitutes sexual harassment.

When you get to the top, make sure your reputation and status are beyond reproach.

My little research brought me to this list of actions that might constitute sexual harassment. To save you skimming energy, just know that any unwelcomed sexual oriented action whether verbal, non-verbal or physical done especially in a workspace towards a woman is considered sexual harassment.

This list is sourced from the publication; Preventing Sexual Harassment (BNA Communications, Inc.) SDC IP .73 1992 manual.

Read on and learn. Somethings might surprise you.

Sexual harassment includes:

  • Actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.
  • Unwanted pressure for sexual favours.
  • Unwanted deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering, or pinching.
  • Unwanted sexual looks or gestures.
  • Unwanted letters, telephone calls, or materials of a sexual nature.
  • Unwanted pressure for dates.
  • Unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, or questions.
  • Referring to an adult as a girl, hunk, doll, babe, or honey.
  • Whistling at someone.
  • Catcalls.
  • Sexual comments.
  • Turning work discussions to sexual topics.
  • Sexual innuendos or stories.
  • Asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history.
  • Personal questions about social or sexual life.
  • Sexual comments about a person’s clothing, anatomy, or looks.
  • Kissing sounds, howling and smacking lips.
  • Telling lies or spreading rumours about a person’s personal sex life.
  • Neck massage.
  • Touching an employee’s clothing, hair, or body.
  • Giving personal gifts.
  • Hanging around a person.
  • Hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking.
  • Touching or rubbing oneself sexually around another person.
  • Standing close or brushing up against a person.
  • Looking a person up and down (elevator eyes).
  • Staring at someone.
  • Sexually suggestive signals.
  • Facial expressions, winking, throwing kisses, or licking lips.
  • Making sexual gestures with hands or through body movements.

VERBAL

  • Referring to an adult as a girl, hunk, doll, babe, or honey
  • Whistling at someone, catcalls
  • Making sexual comments about a person’s body
  • Making sexual comments or innuendos
  • Turning work discussions to sexual topics
  • Telling sexual jokes or stories
  • Asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history
  • Asking personal questions about social or sexual life
  • Making kissing sounds, howling, and smacking lips
  • Making sexual comments about a person’s clothing, anatomy, or looks
  • Repeatedly asking out a person who is not interested
  • Telling lies or spreading rumours about a person’s personal sex life

NON-VERBAL

  • Looking a person up and down (Elevator eyes)
  • Staring at someone
  • Blocking a person’s path
  • Following the person
  • Giving personal gifts
  • Displaying sexually suggestive visuals
  • Making sexual gestures with hands or through body movements
  • Making facial expressions such as winking, throwing kisses, or licking lips

PHYSICAL

  • Giving a massage around the neck or shoulders
  • Touching the person’s clothing, hair, or body
  • Hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking
  • Touching or rubbing oneself sexually around another person
  • Standing close or brushing up against another person

In short, if you wanna be safe, do not show sexual interest to a lady in the same working place who is below your status. I know it’s hard, there are very pretty babes out here.

But seriously, all employees are out of bounds for you unless of cause when they make a move on you, a sexual move. In that case, it’s mutual and you too have a right to be naughty.

Also, you might have to pop up this question very early in your relationships with female employees: Are you okay with me being attracted to you and wanting more than a work-relationship with you?

Get it straight from their mouths. That’s another way of being sure what you’re getting into.

For those who ask for sexual acts as conditions for promotion or salary increase; Quid Pro Quo, be ready to live a life of fear and uncertainty.

If you have big ambitions and you cannot control your sexual urges and wouldn’t mind destroying young people’s lives to satisfy yourself, karma eventually catches up with you. You will lose everything.

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I love Charlize Theron’s act in Bombshell as Megyn Kelly. That gal is phenomenal, I guess I’m gonna be looking for more movies from her, starting with Long Shot.

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