I am still shocked how so many men and women freely give unsolicited touches to colleagues on the job. The reports of the number of females who are victims of sexual harassment is too high. They outnumber reports of males being sexually harassed by females. These reports are not only from people working at regular businesses—banks, retail stores, schools, etc.—but also from churches and other religious institutions.
Why is sexual touching or unsolicited inappropriate touching so easily carried out by work colleagues, especially males on the job? The truth is that many men have been taught to use women to satisfy their sexual urges. They were not taught to honor and cherish women in the fullest sense. Many men do appear to be respectful, kind, and gentle to their partners but when the urge to have sex takes over, they act like bulls or dogs in heat. There are a great number of men, and some women, who have no idea of social or personal boundaries. Hence, they grope, touch, lean, squeeze, pinch, kiss, hug, hold, and sit on, when they should not do so. I like to remind women in particular, that they are not public leaning posts.
There are far too many men who cannot keep their hands off of women. Let’s not leave out the women who also try to seduce men on the job. Sexual misconduct is becoming more and more prevalent.
Some are just plain ignorant about what constitutes sexual harassment while many others are just acting foolishly with people of the complementary sex in the workplace. Sexual harassment is unsolicited physical contact and advances toward someone; a demand or request for sexual favors; sexually-colored remarks with colleagues on the job; showing pornography and any other unwelcomed physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature. Interestingly, the victim could be the person harassed as well as anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
Has your boss ever stopped by and rubbed your shoulders while he “checked out the work you were doing”? Or does your coworker constantly stop by to flirt with you? A comment like, “Wow, you have sexy hips” can be sexual harassment.
The universal statistics are alarming.
Thirty-one percent of female workers claim to have been harassed at work.
Seven percent of male workers claim to have been harassed at work.
Sixty-two percent of targets took no action.
One hundred percent of women claim the harasser was a man.
Fifty-nine percent of men claim the harasser was a woman.
Forty-one percent of men claim the harasser was another man.
In The Bahamas, more and more people are reporting sexual harassment. The statistics are embarrassing and frightening. It is time that we take a serious look at a program that educates and trains men and women about respectful behavior toward each another.
People in the workplace can set boundaries to reduce sexual harassment. Here are some suggestions: Avoid meeting privately after hours or over lunch; avoid sending personal e-mails and fax notes to coworkers; avoid lingering glances or touches, even a good morning hug; shake hands only; avoid texting a coworker with whom you do not have an intimate relationship; and avoid fantasies about coworkers.
• Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.