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Co-author of upcoming book “How to Stand up to Sexism; Words for when enough is enough”. @ToniHargis

Let’s change the mindset

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Did I provoke him?

I didn’t want to make a fuss.

I was too embarrassed to draw attention to it.

Sound familiar?

In my work over the last three years, it’s clear to me that women often don’t know what to say when faced with sexism, and just as many don’t feel they should say anything at all. …


Because trust me, it hasn’t.

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As we’re learning, the anti-feminist movement is dark and deeply disturbing. Writers such as Laura Bates in Men Who Hate Women, and Vice UK Features Editor Hannah Ewens, describe an alarming increase in young men spewing vile, often incorrect “facts” about feminism and women, fueled by incels on the Internet.

Unless you’re an expert in the field of de-programming radicalized minds or perhaps carrying out research like Bates, I strongly advise steering well away from discussion forums or even social media posts from such men. There’s no arguing with them, especially since many of them fill their time by trying…


Why We Must All Step Up

Thanks to organizations like Hollaback in the USA and Plan UK and Our Streets Now in the UK, cat-calling (as it’s more commonly known) is receiving a lot of attention right now. According to Plan UK’s research, since June 2020 in the UK, 51% of girls have experienced PSH, and 94% think it should be made illegal. During lockdown women and girls reported feeling less safe on the streets, probably because while deserted streets means fewer people, it also means fewer witnesses.

Photo by Ekrulila from Pexels

A quick look at the Our Streets Now Insta account shows post…


Don’t let it fester.

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Some people say you should never look back, but when it comes to standing up to sexism, I disagree. How many times have you experienced a sexist comment or gesture and been too gob-smacked to say anything? Even though you know the comment was totally inappropriate if not downright illegal, it was either too embarrassing at the time, or you didn’t want to ‘make a fuss.’

Then what happens? You beat yourself up for not coming up with the perfect response — you know, the one that hits you ten hours later when you’re trying to get to sleep.

So…


The grown-ups have failed them

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Sexual harassment in schools is “big news” in the UK at the moment. Following allegations of hundreds of cases of sexual abuse at Highgate School in London, more schools are being outed as hotbeds of sexual harassment and abuse, and teachers and administration are accused of doing little about it. Online outrage is everywhere, amid demands that “something must be done.”

There’s not a lot of data (yet) on harassment and abuse at schools, but while it seems half the population is “shocked and appalled” at the latest findings, the other half (i.e. women) is equally shocked at that revelation…


How the latest backlash continues to silence women

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Most women know that if we stand up to sexism, balk at harassment, or report abuse, there’s a backlash. At work, we’re called “difficult” or “unprofessional,” or reminded that we’ll ruin someone’s reputation if we speak out (thus becoming the ‘baddies’ ourselves.) On the street, we’re scolded if we don’t take cat-calling as a joke or, as some older women advise, feel flattered by it as ‘it won’t last forever.’

The worse the offence, the worse the backlash too. I don’t have to tell you how women are often treated when reporting sexual abuse or rape, from the moment they…


Hint — there’s no “right” way

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First off, a big “thank you” to Piers Morgan — British big-mouth, ex-tabloid editor, and now (hurray) ex-presenter of Good Morning Britain. (Americans may vaguely remember Morgan from his short-lived 2014 CNN chat show, in which he invited Americans on to talk about current events, then shouted at them and called them ‘stupid.’)

Or should it be “congratulations”? As a result of his incessant bullying of Meghan Markle and his denial of her mental health issues, over forty thousand Brits got off their arses and complained to the communications regulator Ofcom. So congrats, Piers, old boy. You have to be…


Guys — it’s still not about you.

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Following on from my previous post, I thought I’d better not leave anyone dangling. There’s no point discussing the wrong way to do something if I’m not going to then spill the beans on what to do.

So here, my good fellows, are the ways to show women that you’re the real deal:

1. Listen when we confide in you.

In an effort to show empathy, you may be tempted to #MeToo the situation with your own story. While we kind of get it, please don’t anyway. …


Guys — it’s not about you.

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A popular TikToker recently videoed himself coming to the aid of a young woman who was being harassed in a store and couldn’t shake the person off. Seeing her distress, he deployed the age-old ‘friend’ trick of pretending to know her and then escorting her to safety. The young woman seemed to play along, and all was well.

*Caveat — I have no idea whether this was staged, a big PR exercise, or a genuine event, and this isn’t my focus. …


And what you can say in response

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I doubt there’s a woman on the planet who hasn’t been told to “smile” — and I don’t mean for a photo, either. You’re walking along, minding your own business, and some rando on the street shouts, “Smile, love. It might never happen.” You’re deep in thought about the e-mail that needs to go out, and for some unfathomable reason, your colleague thinks a comment about your face is appropriate.

I’m equally sure the instruction has irritated the snot out of most of us on occasion, too — and a 2019 survey by Byte backs me up. The US at-home…

Toni Hargis

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