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Ladies, here is how to deal with office sexual harassment

Lady Speak

What is the difference between office romance and sexual harassment? Do men even suffer sexual harassment at work? The first time that Frao asked that question I wasn't sure I had heard him right. So I sprung from my seat.

"Huh?" I sighed. "I asked you if men suffer sexual harassment at their offices." He repeated. That got me thinking of the tens of cases I have heard about, and indeed, none involved the man as the victim. It is always one way traffic.

It happens to women so often that they have even developed a catalogue of how to deal with the situation. I once heard Flo bragging how she had cowed some randy man.

"If you can look him dead in the eye as you do it, it confuses him because it feels like you are coming on to him but if you deliver your reprimand in a firm and dead-pan tone, he will get it and behave. This works particularly well with your peers in the office, not necessarily your bosses," Flo said.

Not to be outdone, her pal, the indefatigable Stacy, suggested that you put men in their place well before anything sexual is ever said.

"I have tried it and it works wonders so try statements like, "you remind me of my uncle" or "I wish I had a big brother like you". If you can say this in super respectful mother tongue, even better.

It was also argued in the same session that one of the ways of coping with sexual harassment in the office is to let sexual comments hang unattended to in thin air.

Whatever the comment is however embarrassing or rude or crass, just let it hang. It is not yours so you are not responsible for it. Do not laugh, smile, cringe or even look away. It will hang, it will fester and like a loud fart, it will embarrass the person who made it, hopefully into silence.

But perhaps the most ludicrous and controversial approach to be suggested by Flo was the one you see among college people. If a man approached the off side, as they in football scream and shout.

She further argued, not everyone who makes sexual advances or overtures is your boss or a friend or even someone you like. "Sometimes it is just the office jerk. Use him to make the point that you can lose all your good manners and sophistication. Scream at him, shout at him, embarrass him... others will see this side of you and tread carefully,"added Flo. But it is not all doom and gloom. There are tens of functional office romances that have worked. The trick is for the men to stick to their lane. But if you are the kind that wants to bed every intern in sight you will surely be taught a lesson.

Dear brothers, you cannot say you were not warned. These sisters are ready for combat and it calls for finesse in office romance. After all the line between office romance and sexual harassment is so thin that when you finally find yourself in a tight corner accused of harassment you will try to explain that it was romance to no avail. Tread carefully in a romantic manner!

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