If you want to know what sexual harassment looks like, take a look at the lyrics from Rod Stewart’s 1979 chart-topper, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy:”
“If you want my body and you think I’m sexy/ Come on sugar let me know/ If you really need me just reach out and touch me/ Come on honey tell me so.”
Let’s break the lyrics down and see what would be wrong with them if used in a workplace situation:
- Calling someone sugar or honey: Using these or other such terms of endearment could count as sexual harassment, especially if the person saying it only uses it with you or others of your gender. If your boss calls everyone from the 18-year-old intern to the 70-year-old board of directors “sugar,” it may be harder to claim sexual harassment but not impossible. It is more about how something is received than meant, so if it offends you, it may classify, especially if you have already asked them to stop.
- Letting someone know you want them or think they are sexy: If someone at work finds you attractive, they can tell you they like you and ask you out. People have to meet somewhere after all. Yet if they do it in the wrong way or repeatedly, it may be classified as harassment. It can be a fine line.
- Reaching out and touching someone: Again, this can be a fine line. Your colleague touches your arm while falling about in laughter at a joke you made. If you are OK with it, then it is not sexual harassment. If the same colleague touches your breast? You could claim it is. Ditto if your boss constantly grasps you on the shoulder, despite feeling you squirm or freeze every time they do it.
You do not have to put up with sexual harassment
If you are unhappy with how someone talks to you or touches you at work, it is crucial to know you have rights. Understanding them can help you discover the best way to put an end to their unwanted behavior.