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It's Not Okay for Men to Behave That Way

The Long-Term Effects of Sexual Harassment

Scenario One: A 17 year-old-girl is learning to drive. Her driving instructor takes her to a country road to practise stopping and starting the car. His arm is stretched behind her, slung round the back of her seat. It makes the girl uncomfortable, but she tells herself it's okay. Her instructor asks her to pull up at the side of the road. She's getting bored doing this, and wonders when she's going to start doing some proper driving. Her instructor moves a little closer, then purses his lips and heads towards her cheek as if to kiss her. The girl blushes as she pulls away. "Oh, I didn't think you were shy," says her instructor. The lesson continues.

Nearly twenty years later, the "girl" finally plucks up the courage to have another go at learning to drive. She is 35 years old when she finally passes her test, thanks to an experienced and understanding male instructor who treats her with respect.

Scenario Two: A barmaid has finished her shift for the evening. She's pleased it's over, it's been a hectic night and a creepy drunk has made lewd remarks to her on more than one occasion. As usual, she pours herself a drink, which her landlady provides, and walks out from behind the bar to join her fellow workers at the other side of the counter. She's enjoying her drink until she catches sight of the inebriated pest, who is still in the pub. Suddenly he's behind her. He's groping her. One hand grabs her breast, the other dives between her legs. She swings round swears into his face. He swaggers along the bar and complains to her female boss, who is horrified to hear what has just taken place. 

The woman leaves her job and later finds work in another pub. She's been there some time when her new boss remarks, "You don't have to stay behind the bar all the time, you know. You can just go behind the bar when you have to serve." The woman shrugs and stays behind the bar. She feels safe there.

Scenario Three: A group of women have gone to a nightclub to celebrate a hen-night. One of the women isn't too keen. It's years since she's been clubbing and it's just not her scene. They buy drinks and head for the dance floor. Suddenly the woman feels a sharp pinch on her buttock. She turns and glares at the perpetrator, who appears surprised at her hostility. "He's just pinched my backside," she tells her friend. Her friend laughs. "Oh that's what they do," she says, "better get used to it." 

The woman hasn't been to a nightclub again since.

Scenario 4: A nine-old-girl has just moved to a new school. She's nervous and shy, but she's made friends with the girl she sits beside. Today the teacher asks her move desks. She's sat beside a boy she doesn't know. The boy's hand touches her leg. She moves her leg away. Later, the boy puts his hand on her knee. She concentrates on her schoolwork, trying to pretend it's not there. The boy's hand moves up her thigh, a little higher, then higher still.

Later she discovers that none of the girls will sit beside the boy. Apparently he has WHT... Wandering Hand Trouble. Yes, the teacher knows about it.

I hope you find each one of these scenarios shocking. I hope you agree that each one of these scenarios represent sexual harassment. And I hope you'll agree that in each case the behaviour of the boy or man involved was unacceptable. 

So I hope you'll be shocked when I tell you that each of these scenarios happened to the same girl/woman. I hope you'll be shocked when I tell you that each of these scenarios happened to me. And I hope you'll be even more shocked when I tell you that these are just a few examples the sexual harassment I've experienced first hand. Yes, there have been more! And I'm pleased that finally, women, and men, are recognising sexual harassment for what it is; that women, and men, are speaking out and speaking up. Sexual harassment is not okay!

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