11 Dec It’s Not Okay
What makes a person tell sexual jokes to their colleagues? Why is it so common? Why are most of the victims of sexual jokes female and why don’t their male peers and colleagues show some respect towards them?
I remember feeling uncomfortable many times when I was in the professional workplace environment. Some of my female colleagues told me that it was my own fault that some of the men treated me with such disrespect and said inappropriate things to me. I don’t care if I walked around naked, that doesn’t give someone the right to make me feel uncomfortable and say nasty things to me. We cannot control the actions of other people but we can support others who may be going through a difficult time at the hands of others.
I am very verbal about my experiences with childhood sexual abuse, incest, rape and domestic violence and, because of this, I am often the victim of very inappropriate sexually-toned comments. A former male friend of mine who read my book After the Darkness which details my experiences and survival, decided one day in a phone conversation to jokingly refer to sexual bodily functions assuming that I would be ok with it. I was mad at myself for not saying anything. Actually, I froze and said nothing. My mind went blank and I felt helpless. It is very common for victims of sexual crimes to have this type of reaction to incidences like this but I didn’t know that at the time.
Sensitivity training has been enacted in places of work and in some communities in order to teach people how to behave in a work environment. They are taught that words and actions could make someone feel uncomfortable and are reminded that just because someone laughs at their inappropriate comments or jokes doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is ok with it. Sometimes people laugh because they are nervous or are afraid that their secret will be revealed. Others who laugh may laugh for fear of being ostracized for not going along. Despite this sensitivity trainings, there is still a long way to go in regards to workplace harassment and creating a safe workplace environment for everyone involved.
Local women’s organizations have also tried to step up to the plate with workshops and other related initiatives. Unfortunately, these organizations lack the funding and public support to affect much change. Still, there are some workplaces that ignore such programs and deny these conditions exist in their establishment. Often this is an uncomfortable topic for many businesses and, therefore, the workshops never reach them. Sensitivity trainings should be mandatory for all workplaces and need to be prevalent in more communities across the country. One doesn’t have to go too far to see someone who tells of a situation that happened to them years ago in which they were the victim of sexual harassment, rape or abuse. It’s not okay to hide these incidences! If we are all open and honest about this topic, then we can prevent there from being more victims.