How to respond to disrespect when you see it:
Show it’s not OK
Non-verbal communication can go a long way to discouraging disrespectful behaviour:
- Make it clear with your body language and actions, that disrespectful behaviour is out of line.
- Use facial expressions to show your disapproval.
- Shake your head.
- Give the perpetrator a withering stare.
- Roll your eyes.
Show your solidarity with women and with anyone standing up against disrespectful behaviour:
- Ask if they’re ok. In person, or via a text or message, in the moment or afterwards.
- Let them know they’re not alone.
- Make it clear you’re on their side.
- Share social media posts and comments that take a stand against disrespectful behaviour.
- Save screen shots of disrespectful social media posts and messages in case you need to report them in future.
Support someone on the receiving end of disrespectful or sexist behaviour:
- “Are you OK?”
- “That was intimidating, are you ok?”
- “That was sexist, are you ok?”
Support someone who stands up against disrespectful behaviour:
- “That wasn’t cool, good on you for saying something.”
Call out disrespectful behaviour. Doing nothing does harm, and even if you don’t speak out at the time, speaking out at any stage will have a huge impact.
- Say something to the perpetrator.
- Be constructive. Focus on values, comments and behaviours,
don’t be personal.
- Point out double standards.
Speak up against disrespectful comments, jokes or behaviour:
- “That’s not ok.”
- “Not cool.”
- “I don’t get it.”
- “Interesting take, if we were living in the 1950s.”
Speak up against belittling comments:
- “What’s wrong with playing like a girl?”
Speak up against sexual harassment or cat-calling:
- “Do you comment on male co-workers’ clothes, too?”
- “Would you want someone to treat your mum or sister like that?”
- “Wouldn’t you want your sister to feel safe when she was walking alone?”
- “That’s not a great example to be setting the kids.”
Why you should do something
Research shows our behaviour can have a significant influence in stopping and preventing disrespect. When we take a stand against disrespect we:
- Tell people we’re not OK with it.
- Encourage people to change their behaviour.
- Encourage others to take action.
- Show people being targeted that we support them.
- Make disrespect, bullying, sexism and harassment unpopular.
- Change the cultural attitudes that underpin family violence.
What happens if things don’t go to plan
However well-rehearsed our game plan, things don’t always go the way we hope when we call out disrespect, and that’s ok. The simple act of calling out disrespect, bullying and sexism is helping to fix the problem by showing others what isn’t ok.
Some people will never change. Recognise when to let go and, if a situation is becoming violent or abusive, call the police on 000 rather than intervening or putting yourself at risk.