81% of Dublin’s women have reported experiencing some form of harassment, why is that?

Photo by Mihai Surdu

Sexual abuse and sexual harassment can change a woman’s life forever. Noeline Blackwell is CEO at a Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in Ireland. “People for the most part feel that, this is not worth reporting” said Noeline. She seemed to be describing the level of apathy many women have regarding misconduct and violations of consent. It appears that certain females in Ireland may have come to view assault and catcalls as an expected part of the city’s landscape. Therefore, they are not inclined to report the behavior or seek help.

Harassment is a broad topic that covers many issues. It can verbal, physical, intimate or through body language. Harassment is easier to define when you describe the issue through the perceptions of a victim. Someone may not set out to harm on another, but if they are continuously making someone feel humiliated and inferior because of their gender, they are committing sexual harassment. So many women are made to feel inferior and less powerful. Movements like Me Too helped show females of the world that they are not alone in experiencing sexism and embarrassment.

What would reduce the level of humiliation and gender discrimination in the workplace? Arguably, it’s possible that people don’t want to have long drawn our conversations about bullying and suffering. They want the behavior to stop without much effort or delayed time. Sexual harassment is not currently categorized as bullying. It operates in the same style of allowing a powerful person to emotionally harm another for their own benefit. However, over time what constitutes bullying has been recognized as a cause of great harm. Perhaps, the harm caused by sexual harassment has not been presented strongly enough to allow the issues of gender discrimination to be seen as a public safety issue and more thoroughly addressed?

If you see a spill on the floor of an office, you can wipe it up yourself or identify someone who is capable of cleaning the mess up. You immediately know that it poses a danger to yourself and others. However, Noeline appears to argue that women do not put enough emphasis on removing unruly men from workspace situations. They may warn female colleagues to avoid certain men but Noeline believes that the issue of harassment is not taken seriously in the office.

There is a huge opportunity to forge a new culture as people move from pandemic lockdowns back to in-person office interactions. Reporting a client of the office, or an important senior co-worker, can make it difficult for women. Most of us are dependent on jobs to survive, we spend a lot of our lives at work. It is time for work to become fairer and more equitable for everyone. Noeline believes that changing workplace culture will allow offices to educate professionals on appropriate and inappropriate treatment of women. Many organizations need a deeper understanding and empathy for the unique hardships and barriers women face as they engage in corporate culture and climb the ladder. People must not be brought up in old stereotypes about men being obligated to aggress women and women being obligated to put up with harmful behavior. Younger generations present a new hope for organizations like Noeline’s as they empower each other to stand up to unprofessional and bad behavior at work.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov

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