It seems that post #MeToo, many men are claiming they are afraid to interact with women for fear they’ll be accused of sexual harassment. Because I’m feeling incredibly generous this morning, I’m going to help men out. Below is a cheat sheet for men (and women) regarding what is okay and what is not okay when it comes to interacting with women without having to fear being accused of sexual harassment.
Wise Rules to Follow:
1. Commenting on body parts: Telling someone they have a nice *ss or rack, or package (for men) is absolutely off limits in the workplace, on the street or on a date. Unless you are speaking to your boyfriend/girlfriend and s/he is okay with you talking like that, DON’T DO IT.
2. Showing private parts: Under no circumstances can you pull out your penis, show your penis or play with your penis at work—unless you are a porn star and contracted to do so. You also do not have the right to do this on a date just because a female agreed to go out with you. You don’t have the right to do this even if you paid for her dinner. A safe rule for you to follow here is to keep it in your pants. Unless the woman asks you to take your penis out or offers to help you take it out, keep him hidden, please. If you’re unsure whether or not she has asked you to do so or offered to help you do so—leave it in your pants.
3. Location of business meetings: Business meetings are for business, not picking up women. As such, they should not be happening in your hotel room, home bedroom, dark alley or the like. There should be no trap doors or secret buttons that lock the women into a room with you—that would be unwise of you and could most certainly lead to sexual harassment charges. No matter where you have your meetings, if there is a shower—stay out of it! Do not greet a woman in a towel, don’t accidently drop the towel, don’t be anywhere near a towel, for goodness sake. Be sure you are fully dressed and all your clothes stay on your body during and throughout every meeting you have.
4. Compliments: Keep compliments centered on the work at hand, not on her clothes, the way she looks, how good you imagine she would be in bed or what you’d like to do to her if you had her alone. If she is your colleague and you’re attracted to her, then show some class from the start and ask her out for a date. If you’re her boss and you’re attracted to her—back off. Dating your employees is grounds for sexual harassment every time. She is your subordinate no matter how you spin it and that power differential makes all employees off limits for relationships.
5. Jokes, stories and pictures: Sexist jokes, sexual stories, porn or nude pictures create an unsafe environment for women and plant the seeds for a toxic work environment. Telling a joke and then quickly saying, “That was just a joke—hope you weren’t offended by it,” does not make it less offensive. Even when females laugh at the stories, jokes, pictures, etc., it does not make them less offensive and nor does it mean the women are okay with them. Work is not the place to be talking about sex—not the sex you had with your wife, the sex you wish you could have with a co-worker or the kinky sex you saw on porn. If you’re talking about sex in the office, then you should be afraid of being accused of sexual harassment.
6. Groping: This really should go without saying, but for some reason not everyone knows that groping is not allowed in work or on the street or subway or elevator or . . . anywhere. You do not get to brush your hand “accidently” across a woman’s butt. You don’t get to randomly grab a women’s breast—no matter how she is dressed. And you certainly don’t get to tell a woman at work that you’d like to do so. If you do grope, and the woman laughs when you do so, that groping is still grounds for a sexual harassment complaint. Women laugh out of nervousness, fear and not wanting to be seen as bitches. Don’t mistake those laughs with feeling joyful that you just groped them. And even if they say they’re joyful—it’s still grounds for sexual harassment. I would file this one along with the penis rule—keep both your hands and your penis to yourself at all times at work and on the street and with strangers and anywhere you do not have explicit permission to do otherwise.
Keep in mind these are the brush strokes. If a female (or male) ever says they’re uncomfortable with something you’re doing—even if it’s not on this list—stop doing it.
Challenge: When it comes to sexual harassment, it’s not as hard as you may think. It really comes down to don’t be a jerk. Keep your hands and privates to yourself. Be mindful of the way you speak and don’t view women as sexual objects. Start with these brush strokes and you should be fine.