I have found over the years so many things have been engrained in us as ‘It’s Okay’, ‘Look the other way’, ‘Just Ignore’, ‘Move on’.
I remember two clear instances – both on buses – one in LA while I was attending summer school and one in London around 5 years back. Both times I was in situations where I was eve teased, harassed, pulled into conversations I really didn’t want. But what really stood out in both was the lack of action from those around. At the end of the LA debacle which lasted a good 10-15 minutes a woman goes – “you handled that well, good on you”. While I said thank you then, when I revisit it now it makes me wonder I should have rather asked ‘Why didn’t you intervene? You clearly saw what was going on’.
For the London one what bothered me even more was I had 4 women sat around, some obscene stuff was said but no one intervened either. 5 to 1 ratio, 6 to 1 if we count the bus driver and no one said anything. I think it’s this way because that’s what we have been told over the years – stay out of trouble right? Well no, I decided that day if I ever see something like this happen to another I will either go sit with the person or call it out. And I have. It takes them by surprise, and you see the power leave them.
I have seen it happen at one of my old workplaces and how slow we can be to react. Someone I once managed reached out to me that her new manager kept messaging her late at night, a flurry of inappropriate messages over the past month. I took it to my MD then, and his response – he probably just really fancies her, and chuckled. I think my reaction and perhaps a death stare drove him to act because the person was not in the next morning and his table had been cleared out.
So, I #ChooseToChallenge because the Power they have is the Power we give. Let’s all call it out – the moment we see it – no matter how big or small it is.