You are a victim of sexual harassment. What do you want your friend to do?

You are hanging out with a friend when you come across a group of nefarious men. One of these men expresses his desire towards you with a crude sexual comment. What do you want your friend to do?

Lets say you think it’s best that both you and your friend ignore one stupid comment. You think it’s not worth fussing over. However, the man interprets your passivity for weakness and keeps going. What would you want your friend to do now?

I was going to make this question gender specific - what would a woman want her male friend to do - but decided against it. Should a female respond differently from a male when her friend is a victim of sexual harassment? Would a man want a response from his male or female friends that is different from what a woman would want? Is there a good reason why responses should be different?

So for the purposes of this thread, the aggressor is a man, but the victim and his/her friend can be any gender.

I think it generally changes the whole dynamic if the friend is male instead of female (and the victim is female). A man sexually harassing a woman in front of a man she’s with is probably meant to be disrespectful to the man more than the woman really (it IS disrespectful to the woman too, but that’s what the harasser would be thinking). The man is kind of forced into a position to defend himself, where if the friend is a woman, she isn’t at all.

There are too many unknown factors for me to be able to say what I’d really want my friend to do though.

Yeah pretty much this. Your hypothetical scenario is very confused with respect to intent.

If this commentary is being made in front of another man accompanying the woman the dynamic is NOT (really) about sexual harassment of the woman at all, it’s more or less a challenge for the man to respond or fight. If this comment is made to two women I’m not clear why the approached woman is looking to her friend to defend her unless she’s drunk or has some issue responding. A female friend can certainly chime in but she’s not expected to be the primary defender.

Nothing a stranger could say to me would make me as uncomfortable as the risk of a physical confrontation suddenly developing and beginning to escalate.

If I felt that a stranger’s inappropriate sexual comments might lead to sexual assault, I’d expect my friend (of either sex) to 1) be supportive of my decision to leave, even if it means leaving with me because there is only one car and 2) help me leave safely (e.g., walk me to my car if they are staying).

I’d expect my friend to help me remove myself from the situation should I decide I feel unsafe. Words alone are not going to hurt me and I may well be fine with continuing my evening, but if there is more than words going on or about to go on, then getting out of there is my first and only priority.

There are just too many variables in real life to answer without fighting the hypothetical. But in general, I’d want my friend to follow my lead. If I ignore, ignore. If I speak, back me up. If I leave, come with me. If I look to them and say, “help?” I’d like some help - verbal or otherwise.

What I don’t want is them to White Knight me without a signal from me first. That’s as embarrassing, infantalizing and scary as the harassment.

And, of course, I’d follow their lead if they are uncomfortable and choose to remove themselves from the situation.

A guy making crude sexual comments to a woman accompanied by a man is just trying to start a fight.

I agree, but that wasn’t the question.

Well it kinda was actually. The reality of DigitalC’s comment

changes the context of the situation considerably. The question was “how do you respond to sexual harassment” when doing this in the presence of man is not all that germane to the posited situation as it’s not really sexual harassment as much as it is an invitation to the male friend to fight or cower.

This, I would most likely, as the male friend, confront this jerk loudly and aggressively. The best defense is a good offense, besides I like a good “physical confrontation”.

As far as what my female friend wants, she is not the main object of the harassment. I will handle the situation as I see fit. She can deal with her reactions to my reactions to my being attacked as she sees fit.

After I have dealt with the situation, AND we have relocated to a neutral location, she can then relate to me what she expected. If what I did was not acceptable to her, then perhaps she needs different friends.

I am what I am. Take it or leave it. I do not cower for anyone’s “sensibilities”. I will probably have to deal with this jerk again. I will not avoid a place just to avoid some jerk. I do not give in to terrorists, or to jerks either.

Sorry I missed the last paragraph, so to answer those questions, here ya go.

I can not imagine any man “sexually harassing” me. Note, I am big and ugly.

A few ladies have made crude comments to/about me. The comments that were “sexually harassment” I just kidded them about, and laughed them off. These ladies comments are not to my tastes, but no big deal.

I appreciate your point of view - but at the point at which you believe this is ALL about you and start a physical confrontation which I must witness is the point in time which you have stopped being my friend. Do what you will, but don’t expect me to be appreciative or think you are anything other than a jerk.

But you don’t sound like the sort of person I’d be spending any time with anyway, since about the time I became aware you liked a good “physical confrontation” or that you think that you can deal with ANY situation in which we are BOTH involved “as you see fit” is about the time I’d be choosing not to spend time with you.

SWMBO and I actually have it worked out. If push comes to shove, I occupy his attention until she can take him down from the back.

The same thing I’d do: nothing. Someone who’s willing to catcall is probably more likely than average to escalate a conflict.

I’d lock eyes with the person, and gain his attention. I’d maintain his attention without speaking, or making any threatening movements, and having no expression on my face. This would allow enough time for my female friend to leave.

If he chose to escalate things, I’d handle myself defensively, but I’m certainly not going to be the one who overtly escalates the situation. I’m a “put you on the ground long enough for me to escape” kind of fighter. I don’t care what happens, but I’m not interested in being hurt for your pride, or for mine.

I’ve been there before, and it’s never escalated to a fight. The other guy always gets loud and ornery, puffs his chest, displays his feathers, and roars and stomps his feet. But it never ends up with me or mine hurt.

Let me handle it as I feel is appropriate, but back my play. And please, if my man suddenly decided it was time for him to get into a fight, he wouldn’t be my man. I’m a grown girl, I can handle myself, and the best thing to do is get the fuck away. I don’t need my guy to get his ass beat, or to get into any kind of a fight. We’re almost forty, not grade-schoolers.

Anyway, if I think we should leave, then leave with me, if I choose to respond, stay with me, etc.

For the mostpart, I get where you’re coming from, except for what I quoted, but this is not a situation where you can have a huddle and discuss a mutually agreaable course of action. A decision has to be made on the spot, and anyone who doesn’t agree with that decision can alter their own actions accordingly - in your case, he makes things physical, and you keep walking.

I was in this very situation many years ago. My friend and I were walking our dates home from a party, and passed by a bar with a bunch of drunk guys standing out front. One of the drunks had some inappropriate words for my date, which we ignored, and continued on our way. Handled perfectly.

…except that he followed us, and continued running his mouth. I turned to the other three in my party and said “Keep walking, I’ll catch up.”, then stopped and turned around to let the drunk catch up. My plan was to stall him briefly, put some distance between him and my friends, and then jog to catch up to them. He bumped into me agressively, at which point I said “That’s enough man. Go back to your friends over there, and we’ll be on our way.” He shoved me, and expressed an interest in fighting, which I politely declined. As I turned around to run and catch up with my friends, I found they were standing right there. :smack:

On one hand, my friends’ not following my instructions made matters worse, on the other hand, who am I to tell my date and her friend what to do in such a situation. I any case, their failure to follow my lead eliminated my escape option. The drunk had more friends nearby than I did, and I don’t think a fistfight is warranted in this situation, but the drunk kept shoving me and telling me to hit him. I walked backwards with each shove, until I ended up backed against something, at which point I shoved him back as hard as I could. He reeled and staggered from the shove, into another passing drunk. Passing drunk WTFs mouthy drunk, and a split second later, they’re punching out their differences, and we are happilly on our way. The police were on scene before we reached the end of the block.

My date thanked me for handling things, and I may have gotten a smooch out of it. :smiley:

To answer the OP: Words are words - keep walking, but if the agressor escalates things, the level of response increases proportionately.

Its an attitude thing, not an action thing.

I wouldn’t pay much heed to this kind of harrassment, but I also wouldn’t object to whatever my friend wanted to do. I don’t feel this kind of need to show a joint force, necessarily. My friends might disagree with me as to what’s the right response. If they wanted to leave, vs react verbally, as long as they didn’t do anything illegal, I’d be fine with it.

When I’ve been around a friend being verbally cat called, I haven’t done much. Mostly I give the rude fellow a glare, the kind of glare that mature teachers give unruly students to settle them down. I’ve never had one escalate on a friend so I don’t know exactly what I’d do.

When I’ve been with a friend and the target of the inappropriate behavior, my friends’ actions have varied. Some have just ignored it, some have done looks (my husband used to do a real good intimidating look). I think the most that ever happened was angry body language, standing up and making a fist at their side. Can’t remember that ever escalating either.

So probably my indifference to the reaction stems from my never having had a bad experience with it. If you have a friend, you could ask them if they’ve ever been in this sort of situation and, if so, did it end badly? How did their friend act when it went badly? Then, don’t do that. :slight_smile: