Women Break Down The Subtle Types Of Sexual Harassment They Face On A Daily Basis
Image by Mihai Surdu from Pixabay

Owing to the courageous and persistent efforts of women for the last several decades, some gender equality--and gender justice--has been sought and gained in the contemporary era.

Multiple waves of feminism have charged empowerment forward like a tidal wave. Trailblazing women have blasted through glass ceilings in several pockets of society. The "Me Too" movement raised awareness and achieved justice for women who survived the harassments of men who refused to listen to the word "No."

And the well-needed advocacy for feminism to be more inclusive of people of color has added nuance and numbers to the ongoing fight.

Yet, men continue their upsetting maneuvers. They touch without asking. They say things to a women they otherwise wouldn't. They act entirely unprofessional and shame any push back.

Some Redditors gathered to share the subtle forms of sexual harassment and/or sexism they encounter regularly.

dudeARama2 asked, "Women, what are the subtle kinds of low grade sexual harassment you face on a constant basis ?"

Many women discussed the subtle sexism they encounter whenever interacting with men in some professional setting. For some, this was at work. For others, it was when talking with salesman or other "experts."

Regardless, the variable driving the dude's uncomfortable behavior was clear.

Yes, She Can Measure a Thing 

"The doofus from Home Depot delivering my refrigerator, looking at the space it's supposed to fit in, and saying it won't fit. He looks me up and down as I mention that I did measure. He then asked if my husband was home, since I obviously didn't 'get it.' "

"I replied that I was not married, which seemed to explain everything to him. It ended with him being lit on fire...oh wait no I was just thinking that."

"It ended with me saying 'Never mind, if you can't figure it out I'll do it myself' which crushed his ego enough that he did, in fact put the refrigerator where it belonged. And yes it did fu**ing fit, because I measured."

-- GGLaura

Confirmation Bias 

"Idk if this is sexual harassment, more like low key misogyny but- I've had several customers (higher ups at big name corporate companies- it's not just an average retail job) only accept what I tell them as truth until a man confirms it (this man doesn't even need to be a higher level supervisor- just a male voice over the phone)."

"Annoying as all hell."

-- i_am_a_toaster

Not the Expert, My Dude 

"I am a POC female doctor, and I often have medical students with me. Sometimes when the medical student is a white male, the patient looks to the student for confirmation of what I'm saying."

"It's unconscious probably, but it's like they want him to nod and agree with what I'm saying. I want to yell 'THIS IS MY FIRST YEAR MED STUDENT. HE KNOWS NOTHING AT THIS POINT IN HIS CAREER. STOP LOOKING AT HIM.' "

-- TheSunscreenLife

Zero Trust

"Certainly not subtle, but I used to work in a legal clinic doing public benefits (Social Security, Food Stamps, etc.). I was the only lawyer who worked in this area and supervised a couple of non-lawyer college grads who rotated through every year. For context I'm also young and Asian so I look even younger than I am, and I'm sure that didn't help."

"If I had a dollar for every time a client asked me if they could get a second opinion from a male attorney, I could have kept doing public interest law. Some clients refused to meet with me and demanded to speak to a male staff member (no male attorneys on staff sometimes!), which would often lead to them meeting with one of my supervisees--fresh college grads with no legal experience except what I taught them. They would helpfully tell the client that they couldn't give legal advice and should probably do what I told them to do in the first place."

F"un stuff!"

-- anony_pengu

Other Redditors shared encounters that were more overtly sexual and uncomfortable. These didn't involve any physical contact, but words can be enough to make some feel deeply unsafe.

Are You Aware You Just Made a Human Trafficking Joke, Sir?

"Aged 16/17 I worked in a DIY store. I had so many men ask how much it'd cost to buy me, can they take me home with their new bag of cement, and even had one guy ask me what I was doing later that evening and can he take me for dinner."

-- Isgortio


"Once I was in the store with my 5 year old daughter who was carrying a feather duster we were buying, and an old man leered at her and said she needed a French maid's outfit."

-- after_this

Forced to Get Used to It 

"When I was in university one of my housemate's younger sister came for the weekend, 14 year old but dressed mature and wore a lot of makeup, we were walking in town and a group of guys in their mid-late 30s were casually shouting that they wanted to hook up with her and the ways they'd do it."

"I remember saying openly that it was disgusting and how long she was - and looked. And she said she was completely used to it."


"And my friends who work in night clubs told me how normal it was for drunk guys at the end of the night to wait outside the club for them to finish, so most of the girls got a ride home with the bouncers just Incase - totally normal."

-- PuffTheMightyDragons

Locked On 

"the laser eyes digging into my chest is about the lowest grade i've gotten. highest grade harassment was getting cat called by a grown adult as an 11 year old."

-- dicketry

And finally, many men do go as far as touching without any consent or warning whatsoever. Sometimes it's subtle, other times it's overt harassment.

Either way, it's so gross.

Never Heard That One Before 

"I'm a hand therapist. I have to show people how to massage their scars effectively after their surgery because otherwise they can become stuck to the bone/tendon underneath. To do this I have to put cream on the scar and then demonstrate the right pressure to put on while they massage it."

"I've lost count of the amount of times a man has tried to 'hold' my hand back, or make some lewd comment about how I can massage elsewhere if I like. Just no, yuck."

-- rubyinthemiddle

Subtle Encroachments 

"I work in the oil industry which is very male dominated. Men in general think they can touch you- Leading you through a door by the small of your back, touching your arm while they're speaking to you, trying to fix your collar or hair if it's out of place, closely leaning over your shoulder looking at your work."

"Is it a pat on the a**? No, though I've experienced that too. But it's Yechhh nonetheless. The kicker is that if you call them on it, you're treated as unreasonable because it's not a pat on the a**."

-- sh**sammiches

Zero Romance When Someone Actually Does It

"Random guys thinking we like literally getting swept off our feet. Last time it happened I was in a bar watching my husband's band play and some dipshit tried to pick me up from behind and carry me onto the dancefloor."

"Luckily I'm sturdier than I look so he didn't get very far, but I still had to tell him I didn't want to dance with him multiple times. He decided 'I was scared to' even though I said repeatedly I DON'T WANT TO."

-- newdawn79

Women Can Shake Hands Too, You Dingus 

"When I worked in an office there were a lot of sales reps who didn't care that I didn't want to be touched because they were huggers. Men older than my parents would shake hands with the other people in my department but insist I stand up for a hug."

"When I brought it up to my boss I was told they were old school salesmen and to just laugh it off."

-- PandaKickPunch

The Last Straw 

"I had a coworker randomly kiss me on new years. It wasn't midnight (not that it really matters) and my boy friend was right next to me. It was very weird and unsettling. Out of pure reaction I slapped him. Still to this day I have no idea why he did it."

"He quit soon after."

-- Pie4me8

"Every job I have ever had that claims to operate in a family dynamic has without fail included unwanted touches (hugs, shoulder/arm touches) and typical locker room talk."

"If you are a woman, it's pretty common to be touched by a male coworker. Not many examples i can think of in 15 years of various corporate experiences where the boss hugged and touched the male staff as much as they do the women."

"And if I had a nickel for every time I heard a male coworker either talk about their own sex life or sexualize someone else, i wouldn't need a damn job."

-- mix0000

Straying Hands 

"When I give men their change, they don't grab it, they grab my wrist, then drag their hand down over mine and then take the change. Because of this I started putting their change down on the counter. But because of that I've had men get offended because doing so seems disrespectful and have reported me to my boss."

"A lot of men also try to catch my eye and mimic an erection with their french fries/umbrellas/straws/etc."

"The staring. The fu**ing staring."

-- your-yogurt

Completely Leaving Behind Any Respect Whatsoever 

"The casual touching. Putting a hand on my shoulder or lower back or leg. Or getting uncomfortably close to me. And if you say anything everyone just wonders what my problem is."

"There's also men who will do it so openly knowing no one will do anything about it. At a work event one particular guy kept following me and putting his hand up my dress."

"The last thing I would say is that I am considered at least mildly attractive. This leads to the constant gossip and jokes from the men in the office."

-- cuckedprincess

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