Updated: Dec 18, 2021
“My name is… No. My sign is… No. My number is… No. You need to let it go.” - Meghan Trainor
Let me start this section off with this disclaimer: there is no rulebook to life, no human resource manual, no downloadable ‘how to’ guide, not even a Reader’s Digest. As good of a boy scout as you think you were, you can think you are prepared for anything, but life has a funny way of testing even the best of us. It’s a jungle out here, and things happen, that’s a part of it. However, I do think that there are some things that ought to be taught. Unfortunately, this world doesn’t seem to prioritize such topics because of the moral structures we have in place from arbitrary rule-makers. So where do we educate people on sex issues? There is our rulebook? Our Cliffs Notes? This is my effort to do that, to the best of my ability, in a way that isn’t meant to be in any way condescending, sexist, or arbitrary. It’s simply an effort to educate out of love and experience. We’re talking about sexual power structures, not socio-economics (although there is a little overlap between those two topics, but we won’t get into that here.) This is the part of the book about sexual harassment and abuse. I know this section can be a touchy topic, most of us have experienced this in one form or another. Either in our own lives or the lives of our loved ones. I want the message to come across as this is a serious issue; Although there is some humor sprinkled in here, I will do my best to address it the best way I can, with my knowledge, and with utmost sincerity. Passion is nothing without love — but hell, we’re human, and laughter can be a healing practice. Allow a little wiggle room for the light to shine in. Beware, it’s a long one.
#METOO, Dating & Sex In The Workplace In 2006, survivor-turned-activist Tarana Burke founded a movement to combat sexual violence and sexual harassment. During this time the vision was still being mapped out to bring hope and healing to survivors of abuse, but the message was clear: you are not alone. These were the early days of #METOO, and little was known what the next decade would hold. Cut to 2017, and the hashtag #METOO went viral globally thanks to Alyssa Milano, who came forward with allegations about abuse from movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Milano’s tweet exploded and millions of people shared their stories of survival and healing. The cause spread from Hollywood all the way to the steps of the White House where former President Donald Trump had his fair share of accusations of abuse. Trump won the presidency, and Weinstein eventually went to prison. “Harvey Weinstein is a symbolic case. To see a high profile, rich white man be convicted of a crime in general is always astonishing,” Tarana Burke told BBC1 Radio back in 2020. Symbolic yes, but even still, most powerful abusers do not receive punishment for their actions.
C/O metoomvmt.orgThough the people involved came from everywhere on the socio-political-economic spectrum, these stories all had one thing in common: Harassment in the Workplace Many women and female-identifying individuals (also men, too) shared their stories of how a co-worker was speaking to them, or how they felt uncomfortable because of another’s behavior, or even been touched, fondled, or attacked by a coworker. The explosion of such news made headlines everywhere, and businesses were made to quickly address the issues and implement new policies to combat harassment in the workplace.
. . .
The main issue when it comes to harassment in the workplace, is when people’s inherent good natures start to be taken advantage of. It’s usually perpetrated by someone with power and potentially nefarious motives. I, too, have dealt with unnecessary discrimination in the workplace. It’s not fun for anyone to deal with, so I have developed the closest thing to a manual on the topic. It contains several steps to dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace: 1. Ask Nicely The first step is a simple one, but often the one that seems the most difficult. If someone is making you uncomfortable, ask them nicely to leave you alone. Hopefully this deals with the issue, but without protecting your own personal boundaries, people will often just run all over you if you let them. Asking someone to please stop is the first step. Even if you don’t ask the person directly, maybe go through someone they know if they make you that uncomfortable. A third party can give a good buffer, that way it is still said, and there is a witness to potential further discrimination. 2. Don’t ask nicely If the first step fails to let people see what they are doing is making you uncomfortable, start to get stern. Tell them how what they are doing is making you feel in an up-front way. Make sure that it won’t get YOU in trouble with HR later, either mind you. Being stern without being rude is a fine line to walk, however, and often this isn’t the best route to go. It depends on your relationship with the person. If you are generally okay with the person, but they keep doing something that upsets you — be frank, not forceful. 3. Go above them This is probably one of the rare times when it is okay to go above someone’s head in the workplace. Find a proper manager you feel comfortable talking with and explain the situation to them. They will probably make you sign an incident report and they will more than likely talk to the perpetrator about it after, but it is definitely better to have an open mediator involved. 4. Human Resources Sometimes management isn’t cut out for such issues, sadly. I’ve experienced this one a few times before where management just really isn’t in your corner for whatever reason. This is because companies don’t really train management to handle these situations with care, or maybe sometimes seniority or someone’s tenure comes into play. But when the issue isn’t resolved by management the next step is to go to HR. A human resource specialist is someone who is trained specifically to de-escalate situations or find an alternative. They are usually hired by companies to handle anything from management training, insurance questions, to employee relations. One time I had to go to HR because of a person I worked with was openly bad-mouthing me to everyone that they could. It caused a lot of problems and emotional strain for the entire crew. The HR representative found it best to separate us and transferred one of us to another location. 5. Quit I don’t advise this one if you need your job, but if you have exhausted all other options and you are still being harassed, really ask yourself if this job is worth your time or your energy. I’ve quit a job before because of harassment and I never felt better. Definitely make sure you are okay financially enough to support such a decision, and don’t just abandon your job. Do it the right way. Maybe write a note to your boss explaining why you are leaving and that they didn’t help you when you were being victimized. Send a copy to HR as well, that way the reason is documented and perhaps your boss may even get thrown into the fold as to why they didn’t help you better before it got to this point. The best revenge is to let someone know how they lost you, and how they could have avoided it. Dating in the Workplace Dating in the workplace can be tricky, and most companies would rather you not do it at all, but it is basically a thing that cannot be avoided. After all, it’s only natural for people working on a regular basis in such close quarters to eventually start to develop feelings. If you are actually dating someone you work with, make sure it will not interfere with your work. Keep it professional, be an adult, and don’t bring your drama from home into work with you. Find a way to deal with the issue outside of the workplace. Truth be told, the last thing you want to do is bring everyone else around down with you. It’s just plain rude. Everyone is there for the same thing: a paycheck, and everyone deserves to work in a peaceful and stress-free environment. Yourself included. Leave your baggage at the door upon entering the workplace. This concludes today’s Human Resource Training. Thank you for participating. Remember to push in your chairs and throw away your trash in the bin. Have a lovely day.
Clutch Friends Picture this: you and your friends are out at a nightclub. Each of you are having a great time, drinking, dancing, laughing, and all-around enjoying your time with your friends. You go to the bar to buy yourself another drink, you’ve already had three and this should probably be your last one of the evening. You are alone and the bartender seems to be busy with other customers at the moment, so you decide to wait at the end of the bar alone. Someone catches your eye. They are cute but not really your type. They smile at you and start walking over to where you are standing at the end of the bar. You smile back out of politeness and avert your gaze elsewhere to not give them the wrong impression. Too late, they already are right next to you. They introduce themselves and you introduce yourself too, reluctantly.
You are trying to be polite and give them the “I’m not really interested” body language (looking for your friends, stepping away another foot, crossing your arms, etc.) and hope that they get the message. Indeed, they do not and they are making you increasingly uncomfortable. They offer to buy you a drink and you politely decline, while you try to look for your friends some more. The bartender still doesn’t notice you and you are stuck there with this weird person. They start getting closer to your face, they are obviously drunk and really not getting the message that you aren’t the least bit interested. Still you’re hoping that maybe the bartender will notice you quickly so you can get your drink and get out of there. They do not. Now that person has started touching you, and their hand is getting fresh. You pull away another foot to create space but they only move another foot to get closer. You don’t know what to do in this situation as you’re trying to be nice but in the process you are putting yourself in an increasingly more awkward situation. Still, you cannot locate your friends. Where are they? Then, like a knight in shining armor, your best friend appears right by your side and puts themselves right in between you and your creepy new friend. What a relief. They ask how you’re doing, while making a big show about hurrying and getting your drink because everyone is waiting for you across the room. Your potential suitor has taken the hint and left you, finally. You breathe a sigh of relief as you and your bestie grab another round and high-tail it back to your group waiting for you on the other side of the club.
This, dear reader, is why it is important to have clutch friends.
There is an unspoken pact that when you and a group of friends are out having fun in a bar, a dance club, or a concert, that everyone should keep lookout for the lone ducks. It’s simply the law of the wild. The streets are the jungle, and the jungle is filled with predators. We’ve all seen Jumanji right? To quote Robin Williams:
“You think that mosquitos, monkeys, and lions are bad? That is just the beginning.”
You may think you are a wolf — but no matter how big, how tough, or how brave you are, there is always going to be someone bigger, tougher, or braver than you. Therefore, you always need to travel with your wolf pack. Everyone in the pack looks out for each other in any situation and always knows when someone has straggled off too far. Your clutch friends are your wolf pack, and they should always have your back. If they do not have your back, then they aren’t really your friends. It’s really that simple. You should always be aware of what is going on in your friends mind, understanding their body language, and having signals that show you that they need your assistance - NOW! Whatever your choice of watering hole is, there should always be at least one scout that watches out for predators. Someone should be looking out if there is a weak link in the group that may need some help every now and then. Always be aware, and never be alone for too long. It’s simply the law of the jungle.
Meerkats always have a scout who watches for predators.
“The Curve” If you refer back to the above example there are certain actions that were taken to show disinterest. First , the use of body language is highly visible: avoiding eye contact, crossing your arms, moving farther away, etc. When someone is showing visible physical discomfort by your presence - this, my friends, is called “The Curve.” Urban Dictionary defines The Curve, as:
“To ignore, avoid or sidestep someone's obvious expression of interest through flirting or any means of advance.”
The Curve can be a very useful tool to avoid some very awkward situations. Aside from the physical traits there are some verbal cues you can use to avoid the creep who really doesn’t get that you would like to be left alone. For example: if the guy you hooked up with once months ago texts you and says they miss you, you can text back and say: “Ok, thanks. Goodnight.” Or if someone comes up to you at a party and introduces themselves while simultaneously getting too close to your personal space you can say “Nice to meet you, thanks,” instead of saying your name back. Verbal cues like this, while they may seem rude, are simply a way to express disinterest. Nobody likes to be that person on the other end of this, and although it may annoy some people, it spares you from actually dealing with the discomfort passively. You don’t have to be mean about it if you don’t want to, but sometimes it helps to put a little “oomph” in these statements. Drunk people are generally really dumb about picking up on these things. One of my favorite podcasts; My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, have an amazing saying they coined that can be used especially in situations like this when someone will not leave you alone: “Fuck Politeness.”
In addition to being an amazing true crime show, these women have single-handedly given people (especially other women) a battle cry for when they feel uncomfortable or when they feel their safety is being compromised by some creep in a bar with boundary issues. There is something so beautiful about it’s simplicity and the unabashed IDGAF attitude that I feel it is fitting to be used here. I hope they don’t mind my co-opting it for this section, but I am sure to give credit where credit is due. (Thanks, girls, you’re the best!) Politeness is antiquated. Predators have used this social contract to their advantage for far too long and it’s about time we say fuck it to playing nice to people who are taking advantage of a situation. To everyone reading this, I implore you to fuck politeness and use “the curve” in whatever way you see fit to keep yourself safe. Practice it at home in the mirror, at school with your friends, or at the grocery store with that bag person who is always telling you your legs look nice in those jeans. Curve your way to better a social standing and keep yourself safe in the process. You deserve it.
“This Is A Message For The Boys” There’s an old adage that is often thrown around when people don’t have an excuse for a boy’s abhorrent behavior. That is “boys will be boys” and it, as far as I am concerned is a crock of shit. Yes, boys may be the more adventurous and rambunctious sex (because society allows them to be) but it is absolutely no excuse for when a boy chooses to do something that is completely beyond the realms of simple boyhood. “Boys will be boys” has been an excuse for rape cases and domestic violence in court and it has awarded perpetrators freedom for far too long. Boys, just like any other person, are in charge of their own behavior and should be taught such from an early age. No more is there an excuse for getting drunk and man-handling someone or getting into a fight because you felt crossed. No more is an excuse for taking advantage of a situation simply because you can overpower someone physically. We are in the 21st century, and we have had enough of the patriarchal bullshit that continues to allow criminals to get away with rape simply because “he has so much going for him.” What about her? We all know not every guy is like this, in fact, good guys far outweigh the bad ones. The problem here is that the accountability is lost when no one speaks up. This means that the boys who see something happening don’t speak up. Yes, of course we want to see boys supporting their brothers, but supporting your brother sometimes means telling them when they are doing something wrong as well. Take this simple rule: if you see something, say something. Yes, I may have taken that from a subway station advertisement, don’t judge me. However, it can apply here too. Love means sometimes you have to be the bad guy. Plus, you can be the difference between someone’s good time and someone’s lifetime in therapy. Hold your brothers accountable, out of love.
We are all adults, and we make choices each and every day. We can choose to be a decent human being or we can choose to be a monster. We can choose to have sympathy for someone who is in pain, or we can choose to make fun of them for it. We can choose to make this world a little bit more livable for someone else, or we can be the harbingers of someone’s traumatic experience. It’s as simple as that, truly. End of PSA. Abuse Abuse in relationships is something we all have experienced in one way or another. Either it has happened to us, or it has happened to someone we know. Whatever the case may be, no one is trained in how to deal with it, and most people don’t even know that it is happening to them until it is pointed out to them. It is probably because no one talks about it enough so that the signs are not visible to us, even when they are right in front of our noses. This section is where the reality of abuse situations comes into play, how to spot abuse, and what to do when it is being done. Severe trigger warning from here on out, but it is something that must be talked about when we are discussing relationships.
According to pivotaleducation.com: there are 4 main types of abuse in relationships:
Mental or Emotional Abuse
Physical abuse is the most obvious of the 4 kinds of abuse, this involves violence, beating, or any other type of physical contact. Sexual abuse involves things such as rape, harassment, or sexual molestation. It often goes unreported due to the cultural guilt, shame, and fear that surrounds sex. Emotional abuse is any type of verbal, physiological, or psychological abuse which makes someone feel less than equal, threatens your security, or made to feel unworthy of genuine love and support. Neglectful abuse mostly has to do with children not being fed or cared for. Neglect may also deal with the elderly who may have an illness or medical need that is not being addressed by a professional. You Are Not Alone When it comes to abuse in relationships, it is always important to know that you are not alone. This happens to so many people around the world in some way or another and there is a network of individuals who are willing to talk to you about it. It is not your fault. No matter how much someone is telling you that it might be, it is never about you. It is always about the abuser and their issues. You are also worthy of so much more from a partner, and don’t think that this is the only way to know love, in fact, that is not love you are feeling. It is actually quite the opposite. The trick to understanding abuse is knowing the signs before it gets really bad. It can creep up slowly, and it can be extremely scary at times to witness someone you love turn into someone else. The main thing to realize is that you have a choice in the matter and you do not have to stick around to see if it will change. The truth of the matter is — it most likely will not, unless the abuser seeks proper mental care for themselves and their issues. Remember they also have a choice in the matter, and their actions should give you the cue as to whether they will seek help or not. Focus on your own safety, and seek assistance through whatever channels you can, such as:
The National Domestic Violence Support Hotline
Your city’s own women’s shelters
The Trevor Project (for young LGBT+ individuals who experience violence in their home.)
Family members (if family is an option)
Law enforcement (if you feel safe in calling them)
There is always help available.
A Personal Story It feels hollow to tell someone how they should handle themselves inside of an abusive relationship, and not empathize in some way. Like there is actually a rulebook that will tell you exactly how you will act if you ever find yourself one. Truth is, you don’t know exactly how you’ll act trapped inside of it. Because even in the most coherent moment of an abusive cycle, all rules can effectively go out the window in a moment. One thing you can always do is you can take solace in knowing you are never alone. There is always someone out there who has gone through it, just like you, and has come out the other side with their head held high. You, too, can do this; all you have to do is reach out. Arm yourself with knowledge, people who support you, and take care of yourself. That is the main point that I wish to share with you. I hope that translates. On that note, I, too have experienced abuse in a relationship. It was probably the hardest moment of my life, but I found strength through my friends and the people who cared about me most in my time of need.