A sexually harassed woman comes across perverts all around as imposters dressed as gentlemen. They are somber and stylish, immaculately well behaved with a monstrous interior, dreadful to experience.
We meet them in public places, homes, and offices but we fail to recognize them.
Working women face the brunt unknowingly in the offices. Sexual harassment is passed off as normal in disguise of work culture, liberalization and modernization. Any sexually obscene and abusive act which causes discomfort, mental and emotional turmoil can be termed as sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment at workplace is definitely not confined to just physical or sexual abuse. It comes in different packages.
A story of a sexually harassed victim in her own words
“I started working as a graphic designer with an advertising agency… From what I remember, I was highly unproductive and unable to meet deadlines.
My creativity and my designing skills which used to be my forte vanished into thin air. I quit the job after a month, clueless about the consequences and my future. It was only after self introspection that I realized why everything went topsy- turvy leading to complete destruction of my self confidence and self esteem.
The torture began with the first day of my office when my boss called me to his cabin and asked me to sketch the body of a nude woman. He further asked me to highlight the sexual organs of the lady prominently. All this gave me a yuck feeling but as per my boss he was testing my creativity and boldness.
Intimidation scared me to death
I wanted to run away but my feet were shackled out of fear of losing my job which I had got after great difficulty. I had my family to look after as I was the sole bread winner of my family. Then came the ultimate. He came and stood behind me. He put his hands over my hands guiding me draw the intimate portions and suddenly he came so close to me that I had to literally push him aside. I immediately got up and left the room feeling cold in my bones.
What the hell did I face? I was in a state of complete shock and dizziness not knowing what to do next.
The realization of what I had experienced inside that cabin dawned upon me much later. But the creepiness of that incident disturbed me for a long time as every male gaze razes my self esteem in destructive ways even today.
I had a glass of water and rushed home never to return to that office. Today I am working at another respectable place where thankfully such monsters are not around.”
This was an extreme case of sexual harassment but this comes in various subtle forms too. Touching inappropriately, forcing you to smile and sit close, making objectionable sexual gestures, holding your hands for no reason and various other things causing discomfort and uneasiness can be termed as sexual harassment.
No level of sexual harassment can be labeled more or less in comparison to others . Sexual harassment is difficult to explain and all the more difficult is convincing people about it. Statements like “don’t overreact”, “take it easy”, it’s no big deal “it’s normal” are often heard while explaining one’s case to people as they fail to understand the mental and emotional trauma the victim is going through.
Because of the above remarks the victim herself becomes so confused that she passes this off as normal behavior and sometimes ends up with more severe circumstances and results at times leading to rape or murder.
This often starts with making sexually objectionable statements, slight flirting, cracking dirty jokes, in front of other males and by the time it takes a dirtier turn it is too late to return. So this should be nipped in the bud. The stigma attached with this, stops women to bring it in public. They also fear loss of dignity and humiliation.
Sexual Harassment in disguise of ‘Work Culture’
Work culture varies from industry to industry. When we talk of advertising agencies, modeling world, film industry, etc. the women are required to prove that they are fit for the work culture followed by these industries which includes liberal views, boldness, the art of getting along with their male counterparts, exhibiting chemistry in their love making scenes etc.
In the struggle to prove this they have to continuously keep bearing the harassment subjected on them.
Women are often commoditized and they are expected to get used to derogatory remarks made for them in the name of work culture and trend.
Women who belittle and criticize this work culture are shown the door. So if they want to be a part of the industry they have to gag themselves and move with the flow.
The first step is to understand the hostile environment and the derogatory behavior towards women associated with it. Anything from obscene sexual gestures, comments related to appearance and clothing, staring or smiling in an unfriendly manner etc. come under sexual harassment.
Once this step is successfully completed , the next step involves sharing this with your friends and family who understand you.
The last is to break away from this vicious cycle of torture and associate yourself with something healthier and meaningful. Tolerating this intimidating behavior for need of money may completely ruin your self esteem and self confidence which will leave you depressed and victimized.
‘Don’t feel ashamed’
There are hardly any redressal cells for this in offices and the only route is the court which is a lot of hassle. Social media has come as a great respite for sexually harassed victims who can speak up openly on it. They many a time garner a lot of support from social media to take it boldly to the courts for further fight.
I have read umpteen number of stories of women who have faced sexual harassment at work place but due to lack of support were not able to follow it up till the end. It is not easy to pour your heart out on such a sensitive issue publicly specially if it deals with your dignity and self esteem.
I do not expect or force any sexually harassed victim or survivor to give any justification. It may jeopardize one’s career, ruin one’s peace of mind etc.
It’s OK! It’s their life. The trauma that they go through while putting up with all this nonsense is unexplainable. Sometimes sharing adds to their agony and distress . But one thing is clear that they should walk into the office with their heads held high. The perpetrators should be ashamed and not you. It is never your fault .
I would definitely request all the women to discourage such act to save their self esteem and dignity. This article aims at empowering sexually harassed women and sensitizing people towards them.
Please share it with your friends to join the cause.
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