Accusations against Hollywood producer Weinstein brought sexual harassment to public attention once again. A plethora of Me Too’s made their appearances. But what was initially just considered to occur when a man used a position of power to obtain sex has now snowballed into something bigger, broader and even more complicated.
Of late, the West is grappling with men filing harassment suits against women bosses. Corporate offices are desperately going out of their way to stamp out anything that could even remotely be construed ‘hostile environment’ for women, fearing lawsuits.
Women too, at times, carry the gender war into the offices and stumble upon hostility even in a friendly environment. This scenario may make many employees wary of his female colleagues, some may take a guarded stance and even hamper a supposedly normal interaction. The dividing line between harmless flirting and sexual harassment is thin. Heed these guidelines and just go about your business:
- No quid pro quo. The ultimate in sexual harassment; overtures disguised in offers are threats. Don’t do it.
- Lay off flirting, especially with your subordinates. Keep your thoughts and observations to yourself.
- Touch-me-not. Law views touching seriously, remember the Gill effect. No personal remarks, especially no reference to any specific body parts.
- Exercise caution while SMSing or cracking a sex joke. Instead of laughter, it may elicit resentment and more antagonism.
- Date with discretion. Paradoxically, the workplace has of late become the most popular place to meet potential mates.
- Take complaints seriously. If you are the boss, you have the additional responsibility of nipping harassment.
The writer is a sexologist. Mail him at dr.narayana @deccanmail. com