Would you feel comfortable calling your mates out for sexist behaviour?
In an ideal world, of course, we wouldn’t have to. In reality, there’s still far too many people - and significantly more women - experiencing sexism and sexual harassment on a regular basis.
To dig a bit deeper, we asked our audience on the LADnation platform for their thoughts and experiences of casual sexism and sexual harassment.
Our survey found that more than half had been a victim of sexual harassment (48%), that’s 85% of women and 20% of men. Nearly half of our audience had experienced casual sexism (49%), with significantly more women being a victim (82%) than men (17%). Stats that, sadly, don’t feel all too surprising.
In the UK, it’s illegal to discriminate against anyone because of their sex, but sexual harassment (meaning any unwanted sexual behaviour) and casual sexism (normalised discriminatory behaviour and attitudes) are not offences in their own right. However, just because it’s not illegal doesn’t mean it’s not damaging, even if ‘it’s just banter’.
The Have a Word campaign - set up by the Greater London Authority - challenges men to reflect on how they see, treat and talk about women. The campaign says that: “Male violence against women and girls starts with words. If you see it happening, say something.” It’s about understanding the power of words, how damaging they can be, and how they can lead to more violent acts.
No one should ever put themselves in a situation where they feel unsafe, but it’s up to all of us - including men - not to be an active bystander when we encounter these problematic behaviours. So how can men be better allies in the fight for women’s safety?
The Have a Word campaign has lots of advice on how to effectively call out harmful behaviour without shaming or escalating the situation. Such as not laughing along with sexist conversations, finding an opportunity to talk about it with the person away from the group and asking curious questions like ‘what do you mean by that?’ or ‘what makes you think that?’.
Engage with the issues and educate yourself. The White Ribbon charity has a range of resources which aims to help people understand how men join the team to end violence against women.
Don’t tell women what they are experiencing. Women are experts at this, speak to the women in your life, listen to them and respect their opinion.
What if you’re the one who’s been approached about problematic behaviour? Try to avoid reacting straight away or being defensive. We’re all guilty of some sort of prejudice, however unconscious, and what’s important is taking the time to listen, reflect and attempt to understand what’s being said to you.
LADbible Group is proud to be supporting the Say Maaate to a Mate campaign being led by the Mayor of London. To find out more visit Say Maaate to a Mate | London City HallFeatured Image Credit: London.gov