By analysing and contextuatlising first hand accounts of sexual harassment Period’s ‘ It’s Not That Grey’ guide aims to identify typical patterns of harassment behaviour and circumstances, and use the findings to help individuals set their own boundaries and preventative red flag system.
‘It’s Not That Grey’ is a free guide to recognising, handling and preventing sexual harassment. The guide offers a step by step dissection of sexual harassment based on qualitative research and personal stories shared on own initivative by survivors [the term chosen by the guide as a preference over victims] and gathered over 2018+2019. The information revealed patterns in the behaviour of harassers and the environments which enable them. These recurring themes are illustrated and analysed, using case studies of said behaviours as well as emphasising how women are conditioned to tolerate these behaviours until no longer able to. The patterns of harassment behaviour is turned into a red flag system which can be used to identify harassment early on, and encourages the reader/ user of the guide to investigate their own responses and use feelings of discomfort as a key indicator of something being amiss. And indeed develop their own red flag system and set their own boundaries appropriate for different settings. The guide is for everyone! It’s as much aimed at those who struggle to identify what harassment is, as for those who recognise and maybe experience it, but lack the tools to prevent or stop it. The guide is split up in sections, which can be read in any desired order and chapters without it impacting on the absorption of the method and the message. ‘It’s Not That Grey’ is free and downloadable from Period. ‘s website.
This tool is useful for all kinds of scenarios, where sexual harassment may occur, or where there is a safe space to seek information, help and support for those who have been affected by it or want to understand scenarios and behaviours associated with it. Creating a comfortable and safe space for examining power relations and organisational structures or environments enabling sexual harassment is essential. This could be in the shape of a workshop discussing and evaluating organisational specific issues and environments, and looking at ways to specifically incorporate sexual harassment in policies on discrimination into onboarding new staff and volunteers. Use the guide as a starting point for conversation and self reflection: If an organisation or individual are facing issues regarding sexual harassment, whether an in connection with an institutional culture, person specific behaviours or just have an interest in preventing such situations, this guide will help clarify patterns and recognise and eventually eradicate patriachic systems of self blame as well as notions of over reaction among other things. Establishing an independent, confidential and non-judgmental point of contact for raising concerns and making complaints about sexual harassment is an important continuation after opening a dialogue about the issue. Acknowledging that harassment behaviour and according responses, can stem from a normalisation of unequal power dynamics is useful. Lack of awareness of professional boundaries in one party and not feeling confident in the right and safety to draw the line in the other can unintentionally create undesirable or unanticipated situations. Make sure to revisit the organisational culture and working conditions, to keep the conversation going both internally and with external partners and collaborators. This will normalise new more healthy working dynamics and open other organisational self care dialogues.
Period. Is a non-profit women and non-binary network, practising solidarity and intersectional feminism. Their work is focused on educating and empowering women and non-binary persons, providing knowledge and tools for societal change. The network is based in Brussels and was officially kicked off in March 2016. Over three years Period. ran workshops and seminars around all things related to gender, sexuality and equality, as well as full day boot camps investigating the creation of safe spaces. There is an emphasis on sharing experience, knowledge and skills, and developing free, accessible tools which can be used by individuals and organisation outside of the network too. In a more informal setting Period. also organised loosely themed meet ups in their regular Aperol social events and not least parties! -Because a key part of continuously re-energising activism and the fight for systemic change in the face of resistance, is to have fun! From 2019 the focus shifted to taking the experiences and stories of the many women within and outside the network, to develop, write and publish the sexual harassment guide ‘It’s Not That Grey’ which was published in March 2019 and is an ongoing research project.
Take a leaf out of Period.’s book and organise informal safe spaces for social get togethers, talks and guided discussions.
The Period. Team: Inge Chen, Sara Hassan, Laura Krenzke, Milena Horn and Katharina Stenwendtner The authors of ‘It’s Not That Grey’ are Sara Hassan and Juliette Sanchez-Lambert