Tactics

I want help with:

category: abuse-and-assault

Get help

If you’re not sure where to turn to get help, Greatist lists 67 resources including:

Hotlines and Call Centers

Shelters, Counseling, and Support Resources

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-449 Copy Link

 

category: rationales

Saying they support other women or have female friends

The accused will often say they cannot have committed harassment or assault because they’re a “good guy” and may attest to having female friends or talk about their record of helping specific women or being supportive of women’s rights. This does not prove that they did not harm another person, and it does not absolve them of their crimes.

Matt Lauer, Bill Cosby, Larry Nassar, and countless others all had wives. They were all guilty of multiple counts of sexual harassment and assault. Being friends with women does not mean you are innocent.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-448 Copy Link

 

category: unwanted-touching

“Get your hands off of me right now.”

An assertive response to let the person know that what they’re doing is unacceptable and to stop right away. If you don’t feel safe in your environment, it may not be advisable to use this tactic as it could escalate the situation.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-319 Copy Link

 

category: being-interrupted

Why don’t we take a beat

This tactic can help provide a pause in the conversation so people can re-think, reflect, and/or redirect. It can be followed up with a statement to guide the conversation in a more positive direction.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-444 Copy Link

 

category: bystander-intervention

Guide to Allyship

Saying that you are an ally is much easier than being a good ally. This guide is an ever-evolving and growing tool meant to provide people with the resources for becoming a more effective ally.

http://www.guidetoallyship.com/

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-441 Copy Link

 

category: arranged-marriage

Get help leaving or resisting an arranged marriage

If you’re in the US and need help leaving or resisting an arranged/forced marriage, the nonprofit Unchained can help. Unchained helps any woman or girl in the US, from any community, culture or religion, who is or has been pressured, bribed, tricked, threatened or otherwise coerced to marry – whether she has been married for several decades and has many children or she is facing an eventual or imminent arranged/forced marriage.

Submit the form or call (908) 481-HOPE.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-439 Copy Link

 

category: customer-harassment

Color-code customer behavior

Harassment takes place across a multitude of service industries, e.g. restaurants, domestic workers, hospitals, and more. One chef, Erin Wade, color-coded customer behavior to create a framework for when to act and how.

“Yellow refers to a creepy vibe or unsavory look. Orange means comments with sexual undertones, such as certain compliments on a worker’s appearance. Red signals overtly sexual comments or touching, or repeated incidents in the orange category after being told the comments were unwelcome.” Based on the color, the appropriate action is taken immediately, without question.

Read the article.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-432 Copy Link

 

category: comments-on-appearance

“Well, that took a weird turn.”

This is a way to confront a comment or inappropriate behavior without directly naming the person. State this and then move on (or back to the topic at hand). It could be useful in a work setting where you don’t want to “shame” anyone, but do want to acknowledge an inappropriate comment.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-345 Copy Link

 

category: being-interrupted

“Just stop.”

Gestures, interruptions, jokes and more are a form of rudeness toward others – and studies show that rudeness spreads like a common cold if not confronted. Gently saying “just stop” can be the best prevention.

Danny Wallace says, “Combating rudeness is something we must do face-to-face. When we see it happen in a store, we must step up and say ‘Just stop.’ If it happens to a colleague, we must point it out. We must defend strangers in the same way we’d defend our best friends. But we can do it with grace. We can handle it well, by handling it without a trace of aggression and without being rude ourselves. Because once a rude person has had the looking glass held up to them and can see their actions through the eyes of others, they are far more likely to end that strain themselves.”

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-427 Copy Link

 

category: comments-on-appearance

Agree with the compliment

Whether a man compliments the work you did on a project, your sports ability, your looks – anything – accept the compliment in a self-assured way. Say:

  • “Thank you.”
  • “Thanks, I feel good today.”
  • “I agree.”
  • “Thanks, I know.”
  • “Thank you, I completely agree.”
  • “So I’ve been told.”

Gender stereotypes suggest that women should be humble and not compliment themselves and that men should “bestow the compliment on you, and you’re not supposed to be aware of it” says Feminista Jones. “It’s not a new idea, but in my own experience when [a man] complimented me and I say, ‘I agree,’ they get upset,” Jones said.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-422 Copy Link

 

category: exposure

Say “inappropriate” and move on

People who make sexist or lewd comments may be seeking attention. Sometimes the best response is simply to say “inappropriate” to them, acknowledging the behavior, and then go back to the topic at hand or move on quickly to something else. By not inviting further discussion on the topic, you are not feeding into their need for attention.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-344 Copy Link

 

category: comments-on-appearance

“You’ve got to be kidding me dude, bye!”

Saying this or something like “Your opinion doesn’t matter. Bye!” can serve to shut down the harassment by leaving no opening for a response.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-313 Copy Link

 

category: sexist-language

Gender-biased language, e.g. lady boss, female engineer

Biased language includes expressions that exclude or demean people because of gender.

“At the grossest level, gender-biased language implies that people are male unless ‘proven’ to be female. Female gender may be designated by either tagging on a feminine descriptor (e.g. lady professor, women doctor, female engineer) or by belonging to a stereotypically female group (e.g., kindergarten teacher, social worker).” (Janet B. Ruscher, Prejudiced Communication: A Social Psychological Perspective. Guilford, 2001)

Examples:

  • “Who’s going to quarterback this?” implies a male lead. Instead say “Who’s going to lead this?”
  • “Tell the nurse her patient is calling.” Instead say “Tell the nurse their patient is calling.”
  • Calling someone a “lady boss” or “female engineer” implies that bosses are not typically female. Instead of saying” The female lawyer did a great job on that case” just remove the word female.
  • A reporter writes “Mary is a battered woman.” This is a form of victim-blaming language and usage of passive voice that excludes the perpetrator. Instead write “John beat Mary.”
Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-306 Copy Link

 

category: sexist-jokes

“Saying ‘it’s a joke’ doesn’t make it okay”

If you confront someone and they say “it’s just a joke” or “lighten up,” you can follow up with “What you said is offensive. Saying it’s just a joke doesn’t make it okay, nor does it mean you don’t get to be criticized for it.”

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-290 Copy Link

 

category: rationales

Saying it’s biological / in our DNA

This argument is often use to justify a person’s actions or behaviors. However, scientific evidence does not support the claim that differences in personality, preferences or tendencies between genders is based on genetics or biology.

How would you respond to this claim? Submit.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-284 Copy Link

 

category: sexist-jokes

“What do you call a man who makes jokes about women? Single.”

A sarcastic response to sexist jokes that turns the tables on the person making the joke. This is best used amongst friends as a reaction to sexist jokes and behavior.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-281 Copy Link

 

category: microaggressions

Gaslighting or psychological abuse

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation in which people use personal attacks, false promises and/or lies that make you question your abilities, memory, and sanity. Certain types of people use this form of psychological abuse/bullying to gain control over another. Gaslighting can occur in personal relationships, at the workplace, or over an entire society.

Examples of gaslighting from Inc.:

  • Finding fault with your personality or accusing you of being paranoid, stressed, etc., when you make a complaint.
  • Subtly sabotaging your work (e.g., unscheduling, “misplacing” files).
  • Gossiping about you.
  • Excluding you.
  • Constantly telling you what you “should” do or feel while invalidating what you’re experiencing.
  • “Come back when you’re not going to waste my time.”
  • “You’re being way too sensitive over this.”
  • “All you had to do was follow my instructions.”
  • “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
  • Rerouting conversations to something you did “wrong.”

Samantha Young explains how gaslighting may make you feel:

  • Feeling constantly confused about what is expected of you
  • Apologising for situations that are not your fault
  • Feeling like you can never do anything right
  • Second-guessing yourself
  • Doubting your memory or recollection of events
  • Being “shot down” whenever you speak up your thoughts
  • Feeling neurotic and hyper-sensitive
  • No longer trusting your own judgement and start deferring to other people’s opinions
  • Starting to remain silent rather than express your emotions or opinions

What you can do:

  • You know your reality and how you feel. Educate yourself on gaslighting in order to recognize that this is happening to you.
  • Because gaslighting can cloud your perception, get outside advice from family/friends, a counselor, or by calling the National Domestic Violence Help Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
  • Avoid contact if you can. Don’t confront them directly as this can escalate the attack. If at work, consult the HR department to discuss how to minimize your time with them.
  • Document as much as you can. Describe what, when and how it made you feel. This helps validate your own experiences while giving you documentation to take to a counselor, HR, etc.
  • Find people who can act as witnesses, copy people on your emails, etc.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-171 Copy Link

 

category: gender-bias

Exclusion

This includes any activity where an individual is excluded from participation – from places, conversations or in writing – based on gender or gendered stereotypes. This starts at a young age and continues into the workplace and public spheres:

  • “He can’t have a doll, he’s a boy!”
  • “You’re not a boy. You have long hair!”
  • “We’re talking about sport here, girls – maybe stick to what you know.”
  • “It’s scotch and cigars, I didn’t think you’d want to come.”
  • Executive meetings being called “boys’ clubs” and excluding female or female identifying participants from being invited.

Solutions:

  • “There’s no such thing as boys’ or girls’ _____.”
  • “I like [X] and would love to attend.”
  • “Is there a reason girls/women or boys/men can’t attend the activity?”
  • Seek to understand why you were not invited. If the answer is not satisfactory, you may consider reporting it this is a form of gender discrimination in the workplace and is unlawful in the U.S.

Articles:

 

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-252 Copy Link

 

category: hiring-and-promotions

Not getting promoted

A number of factors contribute to one’s ability to get promoted, however, certain factors can be discriminatory such as gender bias and sexual harassment. Some work policies do not provide clear direction on what actions management can take to address sexual harassment, and may not be supportive of uniform paid sick days, family leave, or child and elder care responsibilities.

There is no uniform way to evaluate this, but here are some tips:

  • Educate yourself on workplace policies. If you are a victim of bias or harassment, this is a form of gender discrimination and is illegal in the U.S. See Gender bias and Workplace harassment.
  • Talk to your supervisor about what opportunities exist at your company. Get details on expectations and any roadblocks (e.g. is there another person seeking the same position, is a budget freeze preventing new hires).

Read more:

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-245 Copy Link

 

category: gender-bias

Emotional labor

Emotional work or emotional labor are tasks and requirements fulfilled by people based on gender stereotypes. It may be something you are happy to do, but also feel like you have to do as a requirement of your job. This happens at work as well as at home.

That in order to gain respect, you must not only fulfill your job responsibilities but also fit a gender stereotype, e.g. females and those who identify as female must be kind and smile, while male colleagues are not required to be kind or smile.

Examples:

  • Creating office harmony; being pleasant, charming and tolerant
  • Listening, validating, pretending to feel something for the sake of the other
  • Volunteering to do tasks unrelated to your job, e.g. making coffee, printing documents
  • Being expected to remember office birthdays, order team gifts, etc.
  • Altering your actual feelings to influence the positive experience of a client or colleague, e.g. being told to “smile” in food service
  • Altering your actual feelings to satisfy the perceived requirements of the job
  • Women and other minorities are disproportionately asked to serve on committees, and expected to contribute to “service” aspects of departmental/workplace life

Solutions:

  • Ask that tasks be distributed
  • Suggest gender bias training
  • If you are in a leadership position, open a dialogue at work about gender bias
  • Create guidelines for how employees can openly discuss possible cases of gender bias
  • Document possible instances of gender bias and talk about them with friends, family, professionals, co-workers and/or upper management

Articles:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-236 Copy Link

 

category: gender-bias

Pregnancy and motherhood

Being a mother or having a baby should not affect hiring and promotions, and should not mean losing a job or financial stability. National Partnership says, “Every time a woman is fired, forced to take leave, denied a promotion or not hired because she is pregnant or because an employer fears she might become pregnant, she is experiencing discrimination – and it hurts her, her family and our economy. It’s also illegal.”

During the hiring process:

  • Asking women questions like “Do you have children?” or “Do you plan on having children?” Both of those inquiries have zero business in an interview. Questions about family and family life should be out of bounds—and in some cases, they’re illegal.

When considering promotions:

  • Whether a woman has or plans to have or adopt children does not affect her skills any more than it does a man’s. Once hired, if the issue of childbirth comes up, deal with it in the moment. Having a child should not affect your ability to be promoted at an equal rate as men.

Employment termination:

Articles:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-232 Copy Link

 

category: gender-bias

Hiring bias

Research shows that the hiring process is biased and unfair due which is commonly attributed to implicit (unconscious) bias. Employers should hire based on experience and skills, yet implicit bias often skews the process.

Examples:

  • Making assumptions about skills and knowledge based on gender stereotypes (women are secretaries, men are leaders).
  • Not being given a work sample test to demonstrate skills.
  • Asking women about their family or plans to have a family during the interview.

ZipRecruiter offers suggestions on what to do if you suspect discrimination during an interview.

Bias can be hard to prove. If you feel as though you’ve experienced bias, you can:

  • Connect with the hiring manager and share your concerns. It should not affect whether you are hired, but proceed with caution.
  • If you were denied employment and suspect bias, ask the hiring manager for feedback on the interview. If their response is unsatisfactory, consider contacting the 9to5 organization for advice.
  • After the HR department, the next step is to approach the U.S. EEOC to file a charge of discrimination within 180 days of the alleged offense.

Bias can also occur by the interviewee: A female software developer interviewed candidates for a new developer position on her team. A young male candidate gave her abrupt, short answers. When her male colleague interviewed the same prospect, he said “finally, I can speak with someone technical.”

Articles:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-231 Copy Link

 

category: comments-on-appearance

“There are much more interesting things to talk about than my body! What have you been up to lately?”

When talking with family or friends who talk about your appearance, see if you can steer the conversation away with a comment like this.

This Heart Your Body blog post asserts that “Your body is your business and nobody else’s. It isn’t public property, and it’s not okay for it to be the subject of scrutiny and judgement.” This applies to positive or negative comments because, either way, they objectify the target whether intended or not.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-218 Copy Link

 

category: bystander-intervention

“You ok, sis?”

This is a bystander intervention that can help the person being harassed feel safe and/or give them a chance to exit the situation. It gives the person an out if they need it.

Read more:

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-217 Copy Link

 

category: comments-on-appearance

Say “that isn’t relevant to our meeting” and move on.

If comments are made in the workplace, it’s important to acknowledge that it is unacceptable. While compliments are intended to be kind, they can also be a way to objectify the target whether intentionally or not. Research also shows that attention to appearance can lead to misperceptions about work ability and affect performance, not just of the target but also of those who do not receive comments.

Example: On a conference call with three females, the male leader makes a comment about one participant saying she looks “pretty” in her new profile picture. This excludes the other women on the call while also bringing appearance to a work setting that is not relevant to the discussion.

Using this tactic acknowledges the comment while keeping the conversation moving forward. It allows the person to rethink making a similar statement in future.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-214 Copy Link

 

category: comments-on-appearance

Use sarcasm

Sarcasm can be an effective way to deflect unwanted comments or behavior, assuming you feel safe enough to do so. But it should be used cautiously as it could escalate the harassment.

Examples:

  • Oh gosh, I’ve been waiting for someone to validate my appearance! A man has deemed me attractive! Thank you!
  • Oops, your inferiority complex is showing!
  • You are so great at talking! You have so many words!
  • Is that the best you can do? Does that line ever work?
  • I’ve been waiting for someone to disrespect me all day!
  • You really know how to demean women!
  • Finally! A man who can take me to the ball!
  • Laugh and say “I’ve seen more meat on a butcher’s apron!”
  • On train home guy rubs my bum. I grab hand, lift it in the air & say “has anyone lost a hand? I found this one on my arse!”

If you are responding to street harassment, Hollaback! suggests that after making your statement, to keep moving and don’t engage again as this could encourage the harasser.

The #NoWomanEver hashtag was created by women to express views about street harassment using humor. When it happens on the street, unwanted comments are no joke and can escalate. Your first priority is to keep yourself safe.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-213 Copy Link

 

category: abuse-and-assault

Report it

Private abuse and assault:

  • If you have been abused/assaulted or are unsure, you can get help from RAINN any time of day or night. What someone says should not stop you from seeking help nor helping others.

Street harassment:

Workplace harassment:

  • PCAR offers a detailed primer on how to report sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace.
  • Times Up Now has a Legal, Legislative and Policy Committee that has prepared documentation on how to spot sexual harassment, and what to do. They also have a Legal Defense Fund to subsidize legal support for individuals who have experienced sexual harassment or related retaliation in the workplace. You can request legal help on their website.

Note: These are just a few resources, largely US-centric. Laws and policies can be different from workplace to workplace, state to state. More localized resources are being added through partnerships with global organizations. Please email info@sexismfieldguide.com with suggestions.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-205 Copy Link

 

category: rationales

Saying what they did isn’t as bad as rape

Some people might suggest there is a hierarchy for sexist behaviors and that your feelings and reactions must match their perceived hierarchy. For example, that catcalling or frequent sexist jokes made at work are not as bad as rape. No matter the type of behavior, no one can tell you how something made you feel nor how you should react. It’s important to remember that their intent doesn’t matter if you feel uncomfortable.

It is not necessary for you to respond, but if you feel compelled to, let the person know that it doesn’t have to be high-level for a person to feel under attack. If you are constantly experiencing sexism, even in a small way, that can build up and wear you down. You might event send them this illustration.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-204 Copy Link

 

category: safety-and-prevention

Pretend you see a friend, then wave and walk away

This is a distraction tactic that allows you to walk away without directly confront the harasser or putting you in danger. You could also:

  • Ask someone nearby for the time / directions / etc.
  • Pretend you know someone and strike up a conversation about something random.
  • Accidentally-on-purpose spill your coffee or make a commotion.
  • Fake a phone call.
  • Seek help – make eye contact with a bystander you think might be able to intervene or otherwise help create a distraction.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-200 Copy Link

 

category: street-harassment

Subtly draw attention to yourself

If you are worried about directly engaging with your harasser, you can do things to alert others such as:

  • Pretend to wave at someone else.
  • Clear your throat really loudly, cough or make another loud noise.
  • Make eye contact with a bystander who may be able to help.
  • Nudge or squeeze the arm of a person next to you.
  • Spill your coffee, drop your doughnut, etc.
  • Wave your arms.

Bystanders may be able to help, but may not be aware you are being harassed. This can help alert people to the behavior in case you need assistance.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-199 Copy Link

 

category: bystander-intervention

Put yourself in between victim and harasser

From @CndnSheepdog on Twitter:

Creep on bus keeps touching toddler despite her & her mother’s obvious discomfort & fear.

My son nonchalantly places himself between creep & woman w toddler

Creep: Hey – You’re in my way

Son: (smiles & says calmly) That was my goal.

Busload of passengers applaud

7:46 AM – 8 Dec 2017

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-198 Copy Link

 

category: bystander-intervention

Document it

It can be really helpful to record an incident as it happens to someone, but there are a number of things to keep in mind to safely and responsibly document harassment. Check out this tip sheet from WITNESS for more details.

  1. First, assess the situation. Is anyone helping the person being harassed? If not, use one of the other four D’s.
  2. If someone else is already helping out, assess your own safety. If you are safe, go ahead and start recording. A few tips:
    • Make sure to keep a safe distance.
    • Film landmarks (e.g. a street sign or subway platform sign or car number).
    • Clearly state the date and time that you are filming.
    • Hold the camera steady and hold important shots for at least 10 seconds.
  3. Most importantly, ALWAYS ask the person who was harassed what they want to do with the recording. NEVER post it online or use it without their permission. There are several reasons for this. Being harassed or violated is already a disempowering experience. Using an image or footage of a person being  victimized without that person’s consent can make the person feel even more powerless. If the documentation goes viral, it can lead to further victimization and a level of visibility that the person may not want. Also, posting footage without a victim’s consent makes their experience public – something that can lead to a whole host of legal issues, especially if the act of harassment or violence was in some way criminal. They may be forced to engage with the legal system in a way that they are not comfortable with. Lastly, the experience could have been traumatic. Publicizing another person’s traumatic experience without their consent is no way to be an effective and helpful bystander.

* A note about safety: We don’t ever want you to get hurt trying to help someone out. Always think about safety and consider possibilities that are unlikely to put you or anyone else in harm’s way.

https://www.ihollaback.org/resources/bystander-resources/

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-196 Copy Link

 

category: bystander-intervention

Talk openly and proactively with your friends

Open a conversation with your friends about harassment and agree to help when you can. Feeling like you can be proactive and be leaders is a great way to offer support before an incident happens. Talk about the issues both men and women face. Come up with solutions.

Read more:

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-191 Copy Link

 

category: bystander-intervention

Have a private conversation

People don’t always react positively if confronted directly in front of others. Talking to your co-worker or friend privately about his/her behavior may elicit a more positive response.

Let them know how you felt about their approach to a situation – whether it’s commenting on a person’s looks, catcalling etc. Invite them to share their feelings, converse, and come up with alternative solutions in private.

They may not know how their behavior affects others and appreciate that you took the opportunity to discuss.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-190 Copy Link

 

category: bystander-intervention

Reverse catcalling

Reverse catcalling the men can be effective. The harasser may not know how to respond or what to do.

Read more:

 

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-189 Copy Link

 

category: rationales

Victim-blaming, e.g. what were you wearing/doing

What you wear, say, and do is not an invitation for someone to harass or abuse you. 

If a person says “I can’t help myself” or “It’s because of what you’re wearing” they are not taking responsibility for their own actions. What they do is on them. It is not your fault.

The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness says, “Victim-blaming attitudes marginalize the victim/survivor and make it harder to come forward and report the abuse. If the survivor knows that you or society blames the survivor for the abuse, s/he will not feel safe or comfortable coming forward and talking to you.”

Examples of victim-blaming language:

  • I couldn’t help myself because of what you said / wore / did.
  • You’re a tease; You said no, but your body told me yes.
  • What were you thinking going there / wearing that / drinking so much / dancing that way, etc?
  • Well, that wasn’t very smart.
  • What did you expect would happen?
  • You should have been more careful.
  • Did you even fight back?
  • You must have done something to deserve it.

The Center offers suggestions on what you can do:

  • Challenge victim-blaming statements when you hear them
  • Do not agree with abusers’ excuses for why they abuse
  • Let survivors know that it is not their fault
  • Hold abusers accountable for their actions: do not let them make excuses like blaming the victim, alcohol, or drugs for their behavior
  • Acknowledge that survivors are their own best experts and provide them with resources and support
  • Avoid victim blaming in the media
  • Reframe the question “Why does the victim stay?” to “Why does the perpetrator abuse?” See Barriers to Leaving an Abusive Relationship
  • Understand the frequently asked questions that often interrupt accountability.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-187 Copy Link

 

category: rationales

Trivializing the behavior (boys will be boys)

If you call someone out, they may try to trivialize their behavior by saying something like “I didn’t mean anything by it” or “Everyone at the company does this” or “Boys will be boys.”

This type of reaction is a way for the person to avoid accountability for their actions. It’s an attempt to make what they said or did seem less harmful to the recipient. Remember, their intentions don’t matter if what they said/did made you uncomfortable.

Zaron Burnett III says, “Let’s get one thing very clear: sexuality is not a 100% natural process of stimulation-cognition-response, nor is it a more base reaction like stimulation-response. It’s not a matter of pure biological response. In case you didn’t know this, your sexuality can not be separated from your culture. There is nature, and there is nurture. When it comes to your sexuality, they’re inseparable.”

You are not obligated to respond. If you feel compelled to, reassert whatever you said that made them react this way and/or review SFG tactics for other ways to respond.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-186 Copy Link

 

category: rationales

Dismissal (lighten up, it’s just a joke)

Dismissal is a way for someone to attempt to trivialize their behavior or words. Remember, intent doesn’t matter if you feel uncomfortable.

You might respond by saying, “If you choose to participate in a public forum and voice your opinions openly, then you must accept responsibility that your words can cause hurt, anger or confusion. You shouldn’t put your words out there if you refuse to hold yourself accountable for them.”

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-185 Copy Link

 

category: rationales

Claiming it’s a false rape allegation

If you have been abused/assaulted or are unsure, you can get help from RAINN any time of day or night. What someone says should not stop you from seeking help nor helping others.

The number of false rape reports is small – between 2 and 8 percent according to the most widely accepted research. To say this another way, 92 to 98 percent of reports are true. As Donna Zuckerberg says, “The amount of fear and worry and hand-wringing about these false allegations is disproportionate to their actual prevalence.”

Read more:

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-183 Copy Link

 

category: rationales

You’re doing it for money / fame / promotion

When this claim is made, the person is suggesting that the victim is falsely accusing another person. Coming forward is an extremely difficult decision for most people because they understand the public response they will have to endure including:

  • Reliving the experience.
  • People questioning the accuracy of the account (whether they know the victim or not).
  • People criticizing the victim’s actions (i.e. victim-blaming).
  • Emotional abuse, e.g. slut-shaming.
  • Death and rape threats.

You are not obligated to respond. If you feel compelled to, reassert whatever you said that made them react this way and/or review SFG tactics for other ways to respond.

Read more:

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-182 Copy Link

 

category: rationales

Denial

Denial can sound like:

  • You’re a liar / you’re wrong / I’m not a bad person; I didn’t do those things.
  • I assumed it was mutual.
  • I didn’t know I couldn’t do / say that.
  • She didn’t give consent but she also didn’t say no.
  • She never said anything.

Denial is one way that people rationalize their behavior to avoid responsibility. They believe they are a good person and are unwilling to admit that their actions have hurt another person. Their denial does not change the reality or how you feel.

You are not obligated to respond. If you feel compelled to, reassert whatever you said that made them react this way and/or review SFG tactics for other ways to respond.

Learn more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-181 Copy Link

 

category: rationales

You’re not attractive enough to be harassed

When people speak out about sexism or share their accounts of being harassed, some use this retort to suggest that they aren’t attractive enough to “benefit” from harassment and objectification.

Whether someone is ‘attractive’ enough has nothing to do with whether or not they were harassed or abused. This is a form of Denial.

Tactics you can use:

  • “Empirical evidence aside (I mean, have you seen Beyoncé or Emma Watson?) I’ll just be straightforward and say that’s not the case and you know it.” – Dana Schwartz
  • “Hyperbole is not a good look on you.”
  • Roll your eyes.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-180 Copy Link

 

category: hiring-and-promotions

Don’t agree to meetings that seem unprofessional

If someone in your profession (boss, coworker, client, partner, etc.) requests a meeting outside of normal work hours, at a private location (hotel, residence), etc. you could:

  • Suggest an alternative place or time of day. If the person is insistent, continue suggesting alternative places or times of day.
  • You may also consider declining altogether if it makes you uncomfortable.
  • Follow-up in email or other documented form of communication with an alternative suggestion. Copy your boss, coworker or peer to ensure others are aware.

If the person suggests they will retaliate (i.e. not promote or recommend you if you don’t show up), see suggestions in the Retaliation section.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-177 Copy Link

 

category: not-getting-credit

“Thank you for spotlighting my point.”

When someone takes credit for your idea or downplays your role, this tactic can be used to reclaim your idea and refocus attention. Follow up by continuing to discuss the point you were making with more detail or clarification for impact.

Alicia Bassauk suggests that this works because it:

  • prevents you from being trivialized by serving notice about the misappropriation of your contribution.
  • allows you to reclaim your idea without aspersion.
  • gives you the upper hand when addressing the matter with a manager.
  • provides an opportunity for greater ownership, if delivered in front of others, by offering detail or clarification for impact.

Read more:

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-176 Copy Link

 

category: sexist-language

Sexualized insults like “suck it”

Sexualized insults target people based on their perceived masculinity and femininity, sexual orientation, and sexuality – to “put people in their place” when someone is not conforming to gender stereotypes.

Examples:

  • Calling a man a pussy, bitch, gay, fag, sissy, pussy-whipped as a way of making him feel inferior which implies that females and homosexual males are inferior.
  • Calling a woman a bitch, cunt, cow, dyke, lesbian/lesbo as a way of making her feel inferior by reducing her to body parts, dehumanizing, or suggesting homosexual females are inferior.
  • Variations on the insult “you suck” — “suck it,” “suck my balls,” “suck my dick,” “cocksucker,” etc. This suggests the targeted person is in the subservient position to a man and/or that giving fellatio is shameful.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-166 Copy Link

 

category: gender-bias

Gendered language, e.g. postman, mankind

Language is used to communicate thoughts and ideas through time and across cultures. It helps people understand the world around them.

Sexism and gender discrimination are perpetrated and reproduced through the word choices in everyday communication. Gendered language is exclusionary and sends messages about one’s expectations based on gender.

We are all affected by gendered/sexist language whether it’s apparent to us or not.

Example and suggestions:

  • Using “he” or “guys” generically – instead use they, s/he or he or she and people, you all, folks
  • Using “man” as a verb, e.g. go man the table – instead say “attend” to the table
  • Using man to mean humankind – instead say humankind, human race, human beings
  • Using gendered titles and positions, e.g. policeman, fireman, freshman, chairman – instead say police officer, fire fighter, first year, chair / chairperson / head

Other examples:

  • Gentleman’s agreement – instead say informal agreement
  • Right-hand man – instead say right hand
  • Manpower – instead say humanpower, workers, workforce, staff
  • Two-man job – instead say two-person job
  • Wingman – instead say wingperson
  • Strawman – instead say framework, outline, one-pager
  • Middleman – instead say go-between, intermediary
  • Prima donna – instead say volatile or temperamental person
  • Drama queen – instead say dramatic
  • Debbie Downer / Negative Nancy

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-163 Copy Link

 

category: gender-bias

Unequal pay and promotion

It is well documented in the U.S. that women are paid less than men for equal work regardless of geography, occupation, education or work patterns. The gap is even more severe for additionally marginalized people including Latinas, African Americans, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians. The gender pay gap exists because not enough employers are making sure that men and women with the same levels of experience also have the same salary range.

There are several misconceptions about why the gap exists:

  • Women choose lower-paying jobs
  • Women choose to work part-time
  • It’s not the case for younger, more educated women

Suggestions for you or your workplace:

  • Renegotiate your wage or salary.
  • When you switch jobs, ask for 20-30% more than you made before.
  • Discuss pay with your co-workers.
  • Suggest gender equality training or a workshop.
  • Openly discuss equal pay and gain consensus on what your company can do.

Support or advance these policies:

  • Raise the federal minimum wage.
  • Pass additional wage equality legislation.
  • Pass paid family leave policies.
  • Ensure access to affordable child care.
  • Support the Paycheck Fairness Act.
  • Support One Fair Wage (which can also help reduce on-the-job sexual harassment for tipped workers).

Data and articles:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-160 Copy Link

 

category: gender-bias

Uncomfortable work environment

Some women may end up leaving a company because they feel, “‘I couldn’t be myself in the workplace, like I had to act like a guy and tough out some tough situations.”

Sallie Krawcheck said in Bustle, “It’s a killer for so many reasons. People can’t do their best work when they are uncomfortable.” The option of leaving “becomes more attractive than staying and having to stay and act a certain way.”

This can be the result of a range of comments, behaviors, and actions you see on this website. Intent doesn’t matter if a co-worker is making you uncomfortable or makes you feel unwelcome or devalued.

Wendy Lu suggests these approaches:

  • Ask for an explanation.
  • Bring it up privately.
  • Keep all documents, emails, voice messages, and other communication.
  • Tell upper management.
  • Talk to someone outside of work.
  • Gauge your own feelings.
  • Propose a gender equality training or workshop.
  • Provide a solution.
  • Be supportive of others.

Some workplaces go beyond being uncomfortable to being hostile, intimidating or offensive. If a person’s severe or persistent words or physical actions interfere with your work, this could be unlawful harassment. Read Susan M. Heathfield‘s article to learn more, as well as steps you can take.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-158 Copy Link

 

category: comments-on-appearance

“Would you have said the same thing to a man?”

This can be used in several situations such as someone using sexist language (she is being really bossy), asking you to perform tasks based on stereotypes (fetching coffee), commenting on appearance (that shirt is slimming), and so on.

It can be asked in a non-confrontational way while still emphasizing that you are being treated differently because of your gender. It works whether people are conscious of their gender bias or not.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-155 Copy Link

 

category: general

“I don’t understand why that’s funny. Can you explain?”

This encourages people to restate without you having to bring up the issue of gender. Wendy Lu suggests, “You even just can ask them to verbally repeat what they just said, which will force that person to say the comment separately from the initial context, which might make them realize it’s inappropriate.”

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-154 Copy Link

 

category: being-interrupted

Sit at the table

One way to have a voice in group settings or meetings is to simply sit at the table. Don’t hide in the back or on the perimeter, but rather find yourself a prominent spot in the front or next to the meeting organizer. Positioning yourself at the table / in the front can help you become more of a participant than observer. It may feel intimidating at first, but with practice it will feel more natural.

Sitting at the table won’t automatically give you a voice, but it signals your intent to be seen and heard.

Read more:

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-152 Copy Link

 

category: being-interrupted

Amplification technique

Research shows that men talk more than women whether in a social setting or in the workplace. This is often a result of gender bias. Whether conscious or not, the effect is the same: women’s voices are overlooked.

The amplification technique works by creating a network affect: “When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.”

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-151 Copy Link

 

category: gender-bias

Being asked to do certain tasks e.g. getting coffee

When women in a group or workplace setting are consistently asked to do “housework” tasks that are not part of their job description – such as order lunch, get coffee, take notes – this is a result of gender bias. This may be a subconscious decision, but it doesn’t make it any less wrong.

Tactics:

  • If you’re the only one being asked to do a certain task (order lunch, take notes), ask if the team can start a rotating schedule where people take turns.
  • Propose a gender bias workshop.
  • “I’m not sure you want someone with my hourly rate making coffee.”
  • “I’d love to serve on the paperclips committee. But that’s the perfect stretch assignment for David, our new junior hire, down the hall.”
  • “I’ll do it today, and next time it will be your turn”; “I’ll do it today, and would love to see each of us step up to share in this responsibility since it benefits all of us.”

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-150 Copy Link

 

category: general

“Don’t ever talk to me again.”

This can be used in any situation where you feel uncomfortable. It works best when you’ve previously signaled to someone that you don’t like their statements or actions and they are not acknowledging or changing their behavior.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-148 Copy Link

 

category: abuse-and-assault

Think of an escape route

RAINN says, “If you had to leave quickly, how would you do it? Locate the windows, doors, and any others means of exiting the situation. Are there people around who might be able to help you? How can you get their attention? Where can you go when you leave?”

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-142 Copy Link

 

category: abuse-and-assault

It’s okay to lie

If you’re in a situation where you feel uncomfortable or are being pressured, it’s okay to lie if it could help remove you from that situation.

RAINN says, “If you are concerned about angering or upsetting this person, you can lie or make an excuse to create an exit. It may feel wrong to lie, but you are never obligated to remain in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, scared, or threatened. Some excuses you could use are: needing to take care of a friend or family member, not feeling well, and having to be somewhere else by a certain time. Even excusing yourself to use the bathroom can create an opportunity to get away or to get help. Whatever you need to say to stay safe is okay—even if it may seem embarrassing at the time.”

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-141 Copy Link

 

category: sexist-language

Being called whore, slut, tart, etc

People use these terms as a means of criticizing girls and women for behaving in ways that do not conform to societal expectations for sexuality such as:

  • Dressing “provocatively” such as showing cleavage or wearing short skirts.
  • Having or using birth control.
  • Having premarital, casual or promiscuous sex.

Some ways to respond:

  • My body, my rules. / Her body, her rules.
  • Why does this bother you so much?
  • No one is a slut. It’s a made-up word.
  • This is who I am. / What I do or wear is none of your business.
  • Ooh, burn! / Is that all you got? Oh so I have sex a lot? I dress well? Good one.
  • Your ignorance is more scandalous than my promiscuity.
  • Roll your eyes or frown, and walk away.
  • This isn’t the 1890s. Do try to keep up.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-136 Copy Link

 

category: sexist-language

Is it that time of the month?

This and similar phrases are directed at women to make them feel ashamed, embarrassed or incompetent for something that is simply a natural bodily function. A woman’s mood may change during her cycle, but it does not make her decisions irrational.

Other examples of period-shaming:

  • Being shocked or grossed out by a leak, seeing a pad in the garbage, etc.
  • Using code words (Aunt Flo, monthly visitor) instead of saying period.
  • Having to hide tampons or pads during purchase or using a restroom.

Some ways to respond:

  • My reaction to your ignorance has nothing to do with my period.
  • I’m menstruating. It doesn’t make me irrational.
  • I may be irritable, but I’m not irrational.
  • Yeah, it’s the time of the month where I’m about to do your performance review, and you’re screwed.
  • Periods are not an insult. Why would you say that?
  • It’s just blood.
  • It’s just a normal bodily function like burping, pooping or farting. Why do you have such a strong reaction?

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-130 Copy Link

 

category: abuse-and-assault

Turn away

If someone is touching, commenting on or staring at your body parts and making you uncomfortable, turn away and walk on. It doesn’t directly engage with the person while protecting yourself from their gaze.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-126 Copy Link

 

category: retaliation

Spreads rumors

From the article, “If a man spread a false rumor that he’d slept with her, she spread a false rumor right back that he’d been terrible in bed.”

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-125 Copy Link

 

category: bystander-intervention

Intervene on delay

If you are not comfortable speaking up in the moment, there’s still an opportunity to validate their experience and ensure they are okay by saying:

  • I’m sorry that happened.
  • Are you okay?
  • Ugh, that happens to be me all the time.
  • Share resources with them and offer to help them make a report if they want to.
  • If you’ve documented the incident, ask them if they want you to send it to them.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-123 Copy Link

 

category: bystander-intervention

Create a distraction

If you see someone being harassed, you can intervene in a way that doesn’t directly confront the harasser or put anyone in danger such as:

  • Approach the target and ask for directions. Ask for the time. Offer your seat.
  • Pretend you know the person being harassed. Talk to them about something random and take attention off of the harasser. Act like you know each other. Say, “I’ve been looking everywhere for you. We have to meet our friends!”
  • Get in the way. Continue what you were doing, but get between the harasser and the target.
  • Accidentally-on-purpose spill your coffee or make a commotion.

An easy way to remember this is with the acronym CARE:

  • C – Create a distraction
  • A – Ask directly
  • R – Refer to an authority
  • E – Enlist others

You don’t have to be loud and physically confrontational. You can simply distract harasser by saying “waddup” or you can just stay in open view so it won’t escalate to a rape scenario.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-122 Copy Link

 

category: street-harassment

Turn the table on your harasser

This may not work in your situation and could escalate the harassment, so be cautious.

Melia Robinson says, “If you’re feeling bold and the situation allows it, you can turn the tables on your harasser. Ask them to repeat what they said or loudly repeat it, comment on how they look, or take their photo.”

Ella Grace Downs suggests that “sometimes, the best way to deal with a bully is to just act crazy. And since street harassment is basically just creepy bullying, why not go batsh*t? Dance, sing, scream, make noises or faces. This is your time to shine! If they believe you are on display just by walking past them, why not give them a show?”

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-121 Copy Link

 

category: street-harassment

Do not engage if you feel unsafe

Your first priority is to keep yourself safe and sometimes the best course of action is to not engage at all. Don’t look at or acknowledge the person, don’t speak to them – simply ignore them. Continue walking to a place you feel safe.

Melia Robinson says, “If it’s nighttime and you’re walking in a desolate area, or your harasser is in a group, the best response might be not engaging at all.”

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-119 Copy Link

 

category: street-harassment

“It’s pretty heterocentric of you to think I want you.”

Street harassers may make assumptions about a person’s sexuality based on how they look or act. Ella Grace Downs suggests this phrase can be used to correct them or just as a general statement to make them reconsider.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-118 Copy Link

 

category: street-harassment

“I don’t know you, don’t talk to me.”

Make eye contact, say it loudly, and move away from the person. This tactic confronts them without any judgement while also indicating to anyone standing nearby that you are being harassed.

Related phrases:

  • “No, leave me alone.”
  • “I don’t appreciate it.”
  • “What you’re saying is disrespectful.”
  • “Go away.”

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-117 Copy Link

 

category: microaggressions

“That statement felt harsh to me. Can you ask it a different way?”

This can be combative language meant to “keep you in your place” by overt or subtle questioning of your skills, abilities. The person may say they’re “just joking” or “lighten up,” but what matters is how it made you feel — not their intent.

You can use this statement to make someone aware that their words are making you feel under attack without labeling the person specifically as being sexist, aggressive, etc.

Other phrases:

  • “I’m feeling under attack (and I’m not sure why). Can we try again?”
  • “It feels like there may be a miscommunication. Could you restate your request?”

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-115 Copy Link

 

category: general

“Sorry you’re so threatened by women / insecure about yourself.”

Sarcasm could escalate the comments or harassment depending on the situation. This is a personal statement that is best used in an informal setting with someone you know. You might change the subject to redirect the topic backed to something more neutral.

Other phrases:

  • “Sorry you feel so threatened that women can do everything you can / better than you can.”

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-112 Copy Link

 

category: general

“Would you treat your mom like this?”

This might work if you know that the person respects the women in their life. If not, they may react with a “yes” or be unfazed by this tactic.

You can substitute the word “mom” with sister, grandmother, etc.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-111 Copy Link

 

category: general

“You kiss your mother with that mouth?”

A general response that indicates what they said is obscene which can help them stop to rethink and/or give you an opportunity to steer the conversation in a different direction.

You can follow up by saying “that ain’t cool” and letting them know why or simply change the subject.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-110 Copy Link

 

category: abuse-and-assault

Have a code word

A code word can be used in a wide range of situations. 

RAINN says, “Develop a code with friends or family that means “I’m uncomfortable” or “I need help.” It could be a series of numbers you can text, like “311.” It might be a phrase you say out loud such as, “I wish we took more vacations.” This way you can communicate your concern and get help without alerting the person who is pressuring you.”

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-109 Copy Link

 

category: being-interrupted

Offer an alternative: “Could you do X instead of Y?”

This tactic can be used in many scenarios by targets as well as bystanders. If someone’s constant jokes, language or behaviors make you/others uncomfortable, if you/others are overlooked in meetings, help break the routine by providing alternatives.

Hannah Moss suggests “It’s easier to say, ‘Could you do X instead of Y?’, rather than just ‘Stop doing Y.’ Offering an alternative makes a conversation feel more constructive than critical, and it can often illuminate where the sexist behavior stemmed from in the first place.”

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-105 Copy Link

 

category: general

Address the comment and move on

It’s difficult to confront in the moment, especially if a comment is coming from a superior or a person in a position of power. However, it helps if you can address it in the moment (to signal it is not acceptable) but also keep the conversation moving forward.

For example, saying “That joke feels out of place to me and I’d prefer to keep our discussion germane to [topic]” or “That doesn’t seem relevant” and keep talking. It acknowledges you heard them, but doesn’t require the person to respond.

Article:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-104 Copy Link

 

category: bystander-intervention

“That’s not cool” or “yo, chill son”

If it’s your group of friends, telling them, “That’s not cool,” and if they keep it up, say you’re out and walk away. Chances are they’ll back down then. Another guy similarly suggested saying, “If this is how you’re going to spend your night, I’m leaving. This is not okay.”

If it’s a friend doing it, telling him that it’s not the right approach to take but to be the respectful gentlemen he is if he wants to meet someone.

Read more:

Did you try this?

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Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-98 Copy Link

 

category: bystander-intervention

Directly point out what they’re doing and say, “That’s unacceptable.”

If it’s someone you know, this can be effective. If you don’t, it can be risky as they may turn their abuse towards you and/or cause you physical harm. You need to assess and do what feels safe for the person being harassed as well as yourself. More tips on this can be found at iHollaback.

Related phrases:

  • “That’s inappropriate, disrespectful, not okay, etc.”
  • “Leave them alone.”
  • “That’s homophobic, racist, (insert type of harassment), etc.”

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-97 Copy Link

 

category: comments-on-appearance

Frown or roll your eyes

Jokes or comments on your appearance can take many forms. A stranger might tell you to “smile” or say “hey beautiful” or “damn, you’re ugly.” A coworker or friend might say “it looks like you’ve lost weight” or “that dress is slimming on you.” Whatever the circumstances, your body is your own and no one else has any right to comment on your appearance.

By frowning or rolling your eyes, you’re acknowledging their joke / comment is unwelcome without directly engaging. Immediately change the topic and move on.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-95 Copy Link

 

category: unwanted-touching

“You just grabbed my [___], that’s not acceptable” and move away.

If this is someone who doesn’t look stable, I’d give him a stern look, ask that they not do that and move away.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-92 Copy Link

 

category: sexist-jokes

Don’t laugh

Jokes may seem inconsequential, but our words lay the foundation for acceptance — for the trivialization of sexism and abuse to be normalized while its significance is diminished.

By not laughing, you’re acknowledging their comment is unwelcome without directly engaging. Immediately change the topic and move on.

Read more:

Did you try this?

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Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-90 Copy Link

 

category: exposure

Ask their name, take a picture

This is a turbulent tactic that could escalate the harassment. If the person seems unstable, it’s better to put safety first and move on.

This is Deborah Copake’s photo essay “Shooting Back” in which she documented her own accounts of street harassment. When men would say “Hey, baby, wanna get it on?” she would say, “No, thank you, but I would like to shoot your photo.” Deborah considered it “a small shift in the power dynamic, but it was my own form of grace and reclamation, turning hunter into prey.”

Indecent exposure is often illegal in the U.S. if the intent is to sexually arouse, insult or offend the target. If you have documentation of the harassment, it can be turned over to the authorities. Stop Street Harassment explains why and when to report.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-87 Copy Link

 

category: exposure

Stay calm and get yourself to safety

Depending on the situation, avoiding the harasser could be the best way to stay safe.

This WikiHow article says, “If you are subjected to public lewdness or indecent exposure, immediately try to get yourself away from the person. While your instinct may be to confront the perpetrator, it is best to move away from the person and let the police handle the situation.”

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-85 Copy Link

 

category: being-interrupted

“Do the women get to talk around here?”

This tactic can be useful amongst friend groups to signal and imbalance and/or give you a way to insert yourself into the conversation.

Making this direct of a statement in the workplace will indicate that you feel you don’t have a voice. If the response is “no” or if there is no response and you are not allowed to speak, this is a form of gender discrimination in the U.S. and is a reportable incident.

This is an assertive tactic that could have repercussions such as retaliation.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-83 Copy Link

 

category: being-interrupted

Recruit an ally

Similar to the amplification technique, it can help to have an ally to amplify your voice whether in a group of friends or at the workplace. Explain your experiences to allies so they can recognize the behavior and help you confront it together.

What allies can do:

  • Stop an interrupter in his (or her) tracks. Nudge him, elbow him, or simply speak up to say, “Wait, let her finish,” or “Hey, I want to hear what Jess is saying.”
  • Nod and look interested when you speak (when he’s interested, of course). Let him to back you up publicly in meetings.
  • If you hear an idea from a woman that you think is good, back her up. You’ll have more of an effect than you think and you’ll establish yourself as a team player too.
  • Yes, everyone wants credit for a good idea. But research shows that giving credit where it’s due will actually make you look better (as well as the person with the idea).

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-82 Copy Link

 

category: being-interrupted

Establish a no-interruption policy

This is one way to preempt interruptions in workplace, and give people a guideline to reference when interrupted. A policy can be established at a department level, or company-wide.

Adopt guidelines for meetings that are inclusive such as:

  • Listen.
  • Wait until someone is finished before speaking.
  • Ask people what they think; invite conversation and input.
  • If someone interrupts, say “I’d like to hear the rest of [person’s] thought.”

You can take it one step further and create a consensus process as described in this CNN opinion piece.

Articles:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-81 Copy Link

 

category: being-interrupted

Use shorter sentences so your breaths in between aren’t as long

Someone talking over you, being dismissive or not letting you speak can be used as a way to keep you silent.
Doing this makes it harder to interrupt.

Also speak with conviction using words like ‘know’ instead of ‘believe’ and ‘will’ instead of ‘might.’

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-80 Copy Link

 

category: being-interrupted

“There are a few more points I’d like to make. Can you delay a moment while I do that?”

This is formal language that can be used in the workplace, but can be made more informal and have the same impact in workplace or other group settings. A similar phrase to use is “I know I will appreciate your feedback, but can you hold off until I’m done?”

Leslie Shore also suggests:

  • Using shorter sentences so your breaths in between aren’t as long, making it harder to be interrupted.
  • Speak with conviction using words like ‘know’ instead of ‘believe’ and ‘will’ instead of ‘might.’
  • Look others in the eye and lean in to be heard.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-79 Copy Link

 

category: microaggressions

Don’t react at all – give an empty look

People often say things to get a reaction. If you give none, they may stop.

Monica Patrick says, “If they ask, ‘Don’t you get it?’ answer plainly, ‘Yes, I understood you.’ If the insensitive comment was sent via email or delivered in a note, don’t respond. Another appropriate response is to ask for clarification. Ask questions like, ‘What does that mean?’ or ‘Are you certain?'”

 

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-78 Copy Link

 

category: microaggressions

“I don’t see it that way.”

Sarcasm is not always aggressive, passive aggressive or meant to demean, but it can be. Especially if it’s used frequently as a primary form of communication. It can “quickly diminish the morale of a department or team,” says Monica Patrick.

This phrase offers another way to combat it, and can be followed up with a change in topic or re-focusing the conversation to the topic at hand.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-77 Copy Link

 

category: microaggressions

“Something doesn’t feel right about this conversation. Can we start again?”

If you feel under attack or the conversation is started to escalate, this gives the person a chance to reset. It doesn’t attack them personally.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-76 Copy Link

 

category: sexist-language

Gender-based insult, e.g. b*tch, c*nt, man up

The language we use matters. Gender-based insults contribute to the normalization of sexism and misogyny and can make people feel unwelcome even if it’s not directed toward them.

Gender-based insults include words like:

  • Cunt, pussy, twat, vagina
  • Dick, prick, penis
  • Bitch, son of a bitch
  • Cocksucker

Phrases like:

  • Man up
  • You’re a pussy
  • You [X] like a girl, e.g. throw / run / fight
  • Grow some balls

As well as calling someone the opposite gender as an insult, e.g. addressing a group of men and people who identify as men as “ladies” as an insult.

Responses to this kind of language can be:

  • Suggest neutral alternatives such as jerk, asshole or asshat. Instead of “grow some balls” say “don’t be a coward.” Use “like a girl” as a compliment, e.g. playing like a girl means you’re a bad ass.
  • Make up a brand new neutral insult!
  • Frown or roll your eyes.
  • “What do you have against [body part / gender]?”
  • “Stop using that term [to describe X]. It’s offensive.”
  • “Last time a man called me a bitch for ignoring his unwelcome advances, I barked at him loudly and repeatedly until he ran away.” – @MistressLoz

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-75 Copy Link

 

category: safety-and-prevention

Stand defensively or maintain distance

Sometimes you won’t feel comfortable confronting a person’s behavior directly, for example if they are your superior, a client or an intimidating individual. That is ok. Your first priority is to protect yourself and you can use this tactic to do so.

Things you can do:

  • Use your briefcase, purse, bag, arms crossed etc as a physical barrier (e.g. if it’s a coworker you have no choice but to communicate with). This allows you to protect yourself without engaging.
  • Maintain distance — choose seats on other side of table, change path if coming down hallway, walk with a friend.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-74 Copy Link

 

category: general

“I will remember you said that.”

Somewhat ambiguous, somewhat menacing, but acknowledging you heard them and that, at some undefined point in the future, you may do something about it.

It works because it doesn’t imply anything in particular, but gives you a way to acknowledge the comment and move on.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-72 Copy Link

 

category: general

“Hey dude, not cool.”

Will let the person know you don’t agree with their statement while not making it personal. 

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-71 Copy Link

 

category: general

“It sounds like you are implying ‘sexist thing’. I’m sure you don’t really think that.”

This is a direct way to call someone out on their comment. It assumes good intent, but indicates that you disagree with the statement.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-70 Copy Link

 

category: general

“We’re done.”

This is a harsh statement that may put someone on the defensive. Use with care.

If what someone says is offensive, you may not be concerned about the other person’s sense of self. If other tactics have failed, you might want to exit the conversation using this phrase.

Works best with people you know well enough to know what their probable intent is.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-69 Copy Link

 

category: general

“Why do you think it’s okay to say something like that?”

The Geek Feminism Wiki says this “preemptively quashes ‘I was only joking.’ Better than ‘Who let you think it would be okay to say something like that?’ which leaves room for a ‘You’re a prude’ response.”

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-68 Copy Link

 

category: general

“That was sexist.”

This is a harsh statement that may put someone on the defensive. Use with care.

This statement does not leave room for an open conversation because you are directly labeling their comments/actions as sexist. If you’re in a position of power, you can say this to close out a conversation. You can also say “and that is not acceptable here.”

It can be used if someone is not responding to your more polite / subtle cues; if there is consensus that the person’s statements/actions are sexist, whether by legal or textbook definition; or if a situation has escalated.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-66 Copy Link

 

category: general

“I don’t think that sounds as funny as you want it to sound.”

This phrase signals you did not appreciate what the person said. It is a statement that doesn’t invite a response, giving you an opportunity to end the conversation if you wish. The person may reconsider what they said, or they may respond to suggest you “lighten up” (read about this in Rationales section).

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-65 Copy Link

 

category: abuse-and-assault

Say aloud what the person is doing

A question that calls out the behavior but gives the person a chance to rethink their actions. It signals you the behavior is unwanted.

It could be used in a range of situations:

  • Did you just put your hand on my waist?
  • Are you touching my leg?
  • Did you just interrupt me again?
  • Did you just comment on my appearance during a professional meeting?
  • Did you just take credit for my idea?
  • Did you really just tell a sexist joke?
  • Etc.

You may be able to say it and move on – go back to the topic at hand or change the subject. Or your situation may require further action if the person is escalating their harassment.

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-61 Copy Link

 

category: abuse-and-assault

Slide out of grasp

This includes type of contact or proximity that makes you uncomfortable – in public, private, or the workplace. It doesn’t have to be overtly sexual. If you are uncomfortable, you have a right to protect your boundaries to feel safe.

Unwanted proximity or contact might include someone:

  • Leaning in close and wraps arm around waist.
  • Touching your shoulders.
  • Who touches a little too long.
  • Who puts a hand on your thigh either above or below your skirt in what someone believes is just a friendly way.
  • Puts a hand around your shoulder where the fingers are going beneath your shirt.
  • Pulls you in too close.
  • Whose hand is lingering on your lower back.
  • Who is talking to you so closely that your ear is wet when you pull away.

Moving away from them signals you do not want to be touched in that way. You make a statement without saying words.

 

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-60 Copy Link

 

category: abuse-and-assault

“You’re making me uncomfortable.”

You don’t have to label something as sexist to let someone know that their words or behavior are making you uncomfortable. This phrase allows you to express your feelings without making a specific statement. It can serve as a good exit.

Works best with people you know and/or are well-intended, and is less likely to work on those who are being aggressive or you don’t know.

Wendy Lu of Bustle says, “Some people might get defensive if you call them out in a group, so you can pull them aside and discuss the matter privately in a calm way. Say, ‘What you said made me feel really uncomfortable. I know you were just joking around, but I hope we can steer close of those topics in the future.”

Other phrases:

  • That statement / this situation is making me uncomfortable.
  • I know it wasn’t your intent, but that made me uncomfortable.
  • I feel embarrassed and devalued when I’m treated like this.

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-59 Copy Link

 

category: general

“I’m confused by what you said. What did you mean by that comment?”

This is useful in creating a dialogue to clear up misunderstandings. It does not label or accuse anyone, but invites conversation. You can also ask them to repeat what they said, inviting them to rethink.

Similar phrases:

  • I’m sorry, I don’t quite understand what you’re trying to say. Could you state it more plainly?
  • What do you mean by that?
  • What information are you basing that on?

Read more:

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-58 Copy Link

 

category: exposure

Pretend you didn’t hear and say “what?”

Some people make statements to get a reaction. Others may not consider what they said to be sexist. Making them restate gives them an opportunity to rethink. This is a neutral phrase that should not put someone on the defensive.

Can be effective in situations when the person is well intentioned and may not consider what they said to be sexist. If they reiterate, you can follow up with “I’m confused by what you said. What did you mean by that comment?”

Similar phrases:

  • Pardon?
  • Say it again?
  • I missed that.
  • Excuse me?

Did you try this?

Yes, it worked No, it did not

Link to this tactic:

https://sexismfieldguide.com/tactics/?tactic=t-57 Copy Link