Category Archives: Feminism

Some good reading on sexual harassment and being a decent person

Last week I attended a sexual harassment prevention training seminar. This was the firstĀ  of several seminars that Mozilla is holding as part of its commendable Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. The content was basically “how to not get sued for sexual harassment in the workplace”. That’s a low bar, but also a reasonable place to start, and the speaker was both informative and entertaining. I’m looking forward to the next seminar on Unconcious Bias and Inclusion, which sounds like it will cover more subtle issues.

With the topic of sexual harassment in mind, I stumbled across a Metafilter discussion from last year about an essay by Genevieve Valentine in which she describes and discusses a number of incidents of sexual harassment that she has experienced throughout her life. I found the essay interesting, but the Metafilter discussion thread even more so. It’s a long thread (594 comments) but mostly high quality. It focuses initially on one kind of harassment that some men perform on public transport, but quickly broadens to be about (a) the full gamut of harassing behaviours that many women face regularly, (b) the responses women make towards these behaviours, and (c) the reactions, both helpful and unhelpful, that people can and do have towards those responses. Examples abound, ranging from the disconcerting to the horrifying.

There are, of course, many other resources on the web where one can learn about such topics. Nonetheless, the many stories that viscerally punctuate this particular thread (and the responses to those stories) helped my understanding of this topic — in particular, how bystanders can intervene when a woman is being harassed — more so than some dryer, more theoretical presentations have. It was well worth my time.