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RightsED: Tackling sexual harassment - Resource sheet: What's so wrong about sexual harassment?

Tackling sexual harassment


Resource sheet: What's so wrong about sexual harassment?

Now we know what sexual harassment is - but what's so wrong with

Think about some of the insults that you've heard used at school. Do any of these
sound familiar?

For boys:

"he plays like a girl", "wussy boy", "poofter".

For girls:

"dog", "stupid bitch", "fat cow", "slut".

You can probably think of your own examples.

Why are these expressions offensive?

Think not only about the words themselves, but who says them and who they are
directed at. Why is it a bad thing for a boy to be called a 'girl' or an 'old woman'?
Why are so many insults directed at girls and women based on female animals?

Using insults like these is a way of exerting power over another person and a way of
defining 'correct' behaviour for males and females.

For boys

These words and phrases are based on a stereotype that says that men (macho,
straight) are better than women.

For girls

These expressions equate them to animals and, therefore, make them feel like
they're less than human.

Name-calling, such as these examples, is a form of bullying - sometimes it can be
discrimination and against the law.

Either way, these words can make a person feel like they have no worth or value. And
not only for a short time - if people hear the same thing over and over, it can shape
how they think about themselves for the rest of their lives.

Sometimes people use these sorts of insults without thinking - it's just a reflex
action and they do it to be 'funny'. Often, however, people seek to deliberately hurt
and abuse someone else.

It pays to be aware of the sort of language that people use. Many of the words and
phrases that get thrown around a playground are full of assumptions and stereotypes
about what it means to be a 'man' and what it means to be a 'woman'. Some of them
aren't too helpful.

Everyone has basic human rights and responsibilities. If these rights aren't
respected then we can be treated in a way that reduces our humanity.

So, while we have the right to be free from harassment and intimidation, we also
have the responsibility to treat other people in the way we expect them to treat us.
It's a matter of mutual respect.