You know you want to do something
Like most Australians, you want to say or do something to stop disrespect towards women.
But it’s hard. It’s awkward. And you don’t want to make things worse or kill the mood.
So, while 70% of us want extra tips to take action, just 14% of us feel confident enough to actually do something when we see disrespect.
What happens when we do something
No matter how big or small, research shows that our actions can have a huge impact in stopping and preventing disrespect towards women.
When we do something to stop disrespect, we:
- tell people being disrespectful that we’re not OK with what happened
- encourage people using disrespect to change their ways
- show women being targeted that we’ve got their back
- give others the confidence to do something
- make sexism and sexual harassment unpopular
- create a culture in which violence against women becomes less likely.
How to do something
To do something, show what’s not OK, support women, and speak up against disrespect.
Show it's not OK
Use your body language and actions to show your disapproval.
- Non-verbal communication can go a long way in making disrespect unpopular
- It’s hard to resist fake-laughing to make things less uncomfortable – but stay strong!
Support women and other people doing something.
- Ask if she’s OK and let her know she’s not alone – in person, text, or in a message
- Support women and people doing something online by sharing their comments and posts
- Acknowledge the disrespect for what it is: out of line, not cool, sexist, harassing, intimidating
- Save screenshots of disrespect (or emails and interactions) in case they’re needed to report.
Speak up to stop disrespect
Speak up about disrespectful behaviour.
- Focus on values, comments and behaviours rather than the person to keep it constructive
- Use gentle humour to point out how outdated sexism is: ‘You stuck in the 1950s?’
- Point out double standards: ‘Do you comment on male co-workers’ clothes, too?’
- Respond to family members by drawing on family values
- Know that whether you speak up at the time or days later, it still has huge impact.
When doing something doesn't go to plan
People don’t always react how we hope. Maybe they really don’t agree, don’t care, brush us off or get mad. But it’s OK. We’re trying to change attitudes and behaviours deep in our culture. So we’re bound to encounter some backlash. Just remember:
- Focus on values: if facts aren’t working, find common values people can get behind, like family, fairness or safety: ‘Don’t you want your sister to feel safe when she’s walking alone?'
- Don’t take it personally: how someone reacts to being called out is on them, not you.
- Know when to let it go: some attitudes will never change no matter how hard we try, remember it’s OK to walk away and save your own time and energy.
- Research says you’re helping: even if the person we call out doesn’t respond well, research shows we’re still helping to fix the problem by letting others know what’s not OK.