Workplace Sexual Harassment: 8 Low-Key Acts That Should Sound the Alarm

Sexual harassment has been and is still a pressing issue not only in Western countries, but also in Asian countries like the Philippines. Gaano nga ba kalala ang problemang harassment sa bansa? Malala—matagal na. You can even encounter and witness it within your four-cornered workplace. Kung feeling mo wala naman, then maybe you should observe deeper—starting with jokes, compliments, and on how your colleagues stare at others. There are forms of workplace sexual harassment that have been happening under your nose.

Workplace Sexual Harassment Acts You May Have Done or Experienced


1. Pinching, Touching, or Brushing up Against the Person’s Body Intentionally.

Lowkey Acts of Workplace Sexual Harassment include touching and pinchingA friendly touch, such as light cuddles, fist bumps, gentle hand squeezes, and high-fives, is not far different from chansing. Don’t underestimate the kick of your instincts. Whoever you are, lalaki man o babae, boss man o empleyado, if that touch gives you an uncomfortable feeling, then it could really mean something. Sabi nga nila, “Small things can lead into something big.” So don’t wait until it’s too late.

2. Sexual Comments and Green Jokes.

Lowkey Acts of Workplace Sexual Harassment include offensive green jokesGreen jokes never fail to make us laugh hysterically, but sometimes we forget that there’s a fine line between funny and bastos. If someone gets offended, we usually say, “Ito, biro lang e! Wala naman meaning ‘yun!” Well, take note of this: a joke is only considered funny if both parties are laughing. If that person is not chortling anymore, then stop and dismiss it! Never make fun of anyone’s insecurities—especially parts of them that you should never make fun of in the first place. It’s a form of workplace sexual harassment that we unknowingly do these days and it’s about time na mag-isip ka muna before you crack a joke.

3. Asking About One’s Sex Life.

Lowkey Acts of Workplace Sexual Harassment include asking about sex lifeWhether you’re curious or just making sure of one’s “purity”, never EVER ask anyone about his or her sex life. It’s never part of your business. Even if you know that person is “open” to talk about it, don’t open its lid. You will not only make yourself untrustworthy, that person may also think you’re more than a pervert. Oops!

4. Making Lewd Hand or Body Gestures.

Lowkey Acts of Workplace Sexual Harassment include lwed hand and body gesturesIf there’s one quick way to turn yourself into an instant sexual offender, making obscene gestures will definitely do the trick. Regardless of your intention or what you feel towards that person, itigil mo ‘yan. Ladies and gentlemen, if someone does such act of workplace sexual harassment to you, you know the drill. You don’t want a maniac to get away with his/her anomaly, do you?

5. Kissing or Embracing Against One’s Will.

Lowkey Acts of Workplace Sexual Harassment include violating personal spaceDon’t violate one’s personal space—even if you two are too close with each other. May mga tao kasi na hindi touchy; hindi sanay sa hugs or beso, and that’s normal. So if you dare cross the line, it’s already considered as harassment. If they don’t ask for it or don’t give you permission to do it, respect that person and his or her decision. If we live by this rule, the world will be a better place.

6. Catcalling.

Lowkey Acts of Workplace Sexual Harassment include CatcallingWomen are not only the victims of catcalling. Men, too, endure this shameful act of sexual harassment. Oo na. You find that person attractive and you only want to compliment him or her. But it’s better to keep your greetings or compliments polite. Kung hindi mo naman kilala at napadaan lang sa harap mo, shut up ka na lang. Being a maginoo-pero-medyo-bastos is never a thing. And for the record, women don’t dress for men; they can dress to their heart’s content, and you should respect that. Catcalling is never a compliment.

7. Leering or Staring Maliciously.

Lowkey Acts of Workplace Sexual Harassment include leering or staring maliciouslyYes, she is wearing skin-tight dress but she’s not asking for it. He’s wearing skinny jeans, but he didn’t do it for you to stare at his crotch. Just because someone is showing extra skin or shape, doesn’t mean they want you to lust on them. Many people would say, “Magsu-suot ng revealing na damit pero ayaw pagtinginan ng tao.” They’re not wrong with it. However, what those people choose to wear is not your business. So if you can’t take the sight, it’s best to just look away.

8. Malicious Compliments.

Lowkey Acts of Workplace Sexual Harassment include giving malicious complimentsSome of us get mistaken as maarte, feeling pogi/maganda, or mataray for not responding to compliments well. But the real question here is, compliment nga ba? Be careful with your compliments, especially when you are addressing to the ladies. May mga compliments kasi na hindi na kailangan sabihin, because if you do, that person might mistaken you as a molester.
If you feel that you’re experiencing workplace sexual harassment, do not think twice to speak up and open the matter to your team leader and manager. Dahil minsan, some of us choose to stay quiet to avoid further trouble. Always remember that you’ll be the first person who can rescue yourself in threatening times like this. Stand up and confront the harasser.
If you’re a witness or a bystander and see someone being sexually harassed or molested, do not let a day go by without helping him or her. If you choose to be silent and pretend you haven’t heard or seen anything, you’re actually helping the villain to do it again. Make sure to hold the wrongdoer accountable.
Finally, if you’re the offender who has done such nasty things, imagine your loved one being harassed or molested at work or at school. What would you feel? How would you react? You may get away with it as much as you like—but not for long. Justice will serve you right in its perfect timing.
Tell us how you deal with workplace sexual harassment. Let’s end sexual harassment to create a safer world for all genders. Share this to your colleagues, friends, and family members so they will be informed, too.