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Author, Columnist, Feminist, Repatriate, UK-US citizen. @ToniHargis

Don’t let it fester.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

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

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

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

Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

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.

Photo by chester wade on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Ben Sweet on Unsplash

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…


How dare women call it out?

Courtesy: Dr Biden’s public Facebook page.

I won’t spend too much time talking about the sexist who advised Dr. Jill Biden to do the wifely thing now that her husband’s landed the Big Job — drop the Doctor title and pay homage to his accomplishments by calling herself Mrs. Biden or First Lady. That an eighty-three-year-old documented homophobe (not linking) thinks his unsolicited advice would be welcome to a younger woman with more credentials is almost sad.

Almost.

The outrage was justifiably swift and loud, directed both at the author and the Wall Street Journal for publishing such insulting tripe in the first place. But it…


What you’re really saying isn’t helping.

Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran on Unsplash

Recently, I’ve been in a few “discussions” with women insisting that microaggressions against them weren’t a problem. They weren’t offended; they can take a joke. One even referenced “snowflakes” when talking about women who object to such jokes, insisting that since the comment was only made to her, no other woman was harmed.

I’ve been told countless times not to “make something out of nothing” and to “stop looking for things to be offended about.” Seriously, who does that? Who needs to do that when they’re everywhere?

Again, for those in the back of the room — microaggressions are not…


Far From Sympatico

Photo: Sky Sports

In a Manchester City football (soccer)game against Arsenal yesterday, striker Sergio Aguero disputed a call made by female ref Sian Massey-Ellis and when doing so, grabbed her by the shoulder in a manner which many women (and some men) instantly recognised as an aggressive power move. Here it is -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYqXUH-cRC8

It was enough of a shocker that football commentators immediately remarked in their post-match commentaries, and then (natch) it blew up on social media. On the few threads I ventured in to, there was gas-lighting galore, along with a huge dollop of dismissal, and it ran the gamut. …

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