Office Parties and Sexual Harassment

The Guinness World Records will record 2017 as the year when a high number of sexual harassment allegations against men who had some sort of power over women, surfaced.  Most of them happened more than 15 years ago.

Therefore, this year’s office party needs caution.  There is no handbook of phrases that can be misconstrued as sexual come-ons, or demeaning to women because it is personal.  It is how the woman receives what is being said and how she is being touched, that constitutes sexual impropriety or sexism.
“Be a good girl and get me some quiche dear.”

This is inappropriate at an office party whether it is the CEO or maintenance guy giving the command.  That is how a woman will perceive it.  A command.  Women can provide more examples.
Some men find it confusing because women can say, that’s a nice tie, but a man would be stepping on a minefield if he commented on a woman’s blouse or skirt.  Some office parties spill over to bars and other entertainment centres.  There might be some dancing.  How close should the dancing be?

The rule of thumb at the office party is not to comment about what women are wearing and what they did to their hair.  Definitely no stories about fantasies.  Stay on higher ground and talk about the sun, moon, snowstorms, oil spills, store closures, British royal weddings and Donald Trump.
By:  Nonqaba waka Msimang.


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