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Sexual harassment

I don’t know how many of our volunteers and followers heard Donna Nichols on Guardian Radio this morning, but she spoke brilliantly on the issue of sexual harassment. The fact that the program is presented by two very mature young men who are always a pleasure to listen to, helped in clarifying what constitutes sexual harassment.

Following the program I happened to be in the Mall at Marathon and entered a store in which a young man was the sole salesperson at the time. Just after I entered a young woman came in and gave the young man a big hug, to which I commented ‘Giving him his morning hug!’ She left and I told him that it was interesting that just this morning there had been a program on the radio about sexual harassment. He said that the young woman does that every morning, that he does not know if she works in the Mall but that she is a frequently customer in that store. I asked him if he enjoyed the hug, fully expecting him to say ‘yes’, but to my surprise he said he does not like it, that she holds him too tightly sometimes and, if he is showing her a product at her request, she often comes too close and he has to move away. I explained to him that it depends on the comfort zone of the person being approached and that, if they are not comfortable, they have a right to make it known. I am disappointed in myself that I did not stress this enough. He said that, as he is naturally a very friendly person, it is difficult to say anything.

We know that men are also harassed but I think this is just one example of how men, in particular, find it hard to express their discomfort at overtures that make them feel uncomfortable. Women, just as much as men, have a responsibility in the way they behave.

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