There’s no denying that people can be shit, especially during Christmas holidays when there are inappropriate family members and friends you hardly see coming at ya from every which way at countless parties, family get-togethers and work events.
But seeing as we’re stuck with one another, we may as well start learning how to be somewhat decent people and you know, encouraging other people to be somewhat decent too.
And while we can’t stop people from committing heinous crimes such as saying the word ‘fam’ unironically, we can actually do something when people are bang out of order. Namely, when they belittle, disrespect or humiliate women.
So, given that it’s the festive season, what better way to get into the holiday spirit than to call people out at those excruciatingly long Christmas ‘dos when they say something that just shouldn’t fly with anyone. If you’ve been the target of someone’s derogatory or sexist comments, you know how heartbreaking it is when everyone around you stays silent, seemingly giving the offending person the green light to keep spewing their vile word vomit. Let’s not be complicit, people.
Now look, I know it seems like I’m just sitting on my gold throne runnin’ me mouth and telling everyone to be better humans like I’m holier than thou, but a) I’ve been the one to not say anything in a situation and I know first-hand how much it upset the woman being humiliated, b) I’ve learnt to do something about it since and c) I am holier than thou, check your facts.
Anywho, there are a number of ways you can stand up for someone and it doesn’t always have to be vocal. Let’s just chuck a scenario out there so we know what we’re working with.
Let’s say you’re hanging with the fam at the annual Christmas party (I used it ironically, back off) and ol’ mate makes an off-the-cuff, wildly sexist joke about a woman. It’s awkward, sure, but no one’s necessarily shutting down ol’ mate.
If you feel like it’s not an appropriate time to ‘make a scene’ (even though it’s a rightful scene to make), you have a couple of options. By simply showing that it’s not okay, either by not laughing (or smiling) or by giving them a would-definitely-kill-them-if-you-had-telekinesis death stare, ol’ mate’s gonna get the message that they overstepped pretty damn quickly – no one likes being greased off.
If you’re feeling confident and want to make it very clear that ol’ mate needs to stare at a mirror for a solid three days of self-reflection, get vocal. Speak up and tell them that their joke was out of line, or say something along the lines of, “That was a godawful joke, what do you even mean?”
Just as no one likes being greased off, people hate it 20 times more if they try to be funny and fail dramatically – most people desire approval on some level, so giving them absolutely zero of that will hopefully make a difference.
As the ol’, worn out, please-stop-repeating-it-my-ears-are-bleeding saying goes, there’s power in numbers. If someone else pipes up before you do, make sure you’re supporting them too – reassuring people that they’re doing the right thing by calling out disrespect towards women is just as important. As soon as ol’ mate realises that more people disapprove than approve, they’re more likely to jump headfirst into that three-day mirror sesh.
Just a quick reminder too team, be careful about how you address the person who committed the act of douchery too – they’re likely not a bad person, they just behaved in a shitty way so ensure you’re addressing what they said rather than who they are.
Mutual respect, gotta love it.
As the Christmas season usually sees a lot of different personality types together in one room, check out Our Watch‘s Doing Nothing Does Harm campaign to get some more pointers on how to deal with people who say sexist or inappropriate shit to women.Image: iStock / laflor