Calling out sexist, disrespectful and inappropriate behaviour towards women is a part of being an active bystander.
Calling it out doesn’t mean you have to physically intervene when you witness this behaviour, nor does it mean using aggressive responses. Calling it out can be as simple as using body language or indicating disapproval in the moment.
As part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign, Respect Victoria has compiled a list of 16 ways you can call out sexist, disrespectful or sexually harassing behaviour:
1. Don’t laugh at sexist jokes.
2. Give a disapproving look to show a behaviour or statement is not okay. Shake your head or roll your eyes.
3. Leave a pointed and uncomfortable silence.
4. Make a light-hearted comment: “What century are you living in?”
5. Check in with the person affected: “I heard what he just said – are you okay?”
6. Privately let them know the behaviour is not okay: “The joke you made in yesterday’s meeting was not funny, and actually not okay.”
7. Calmly disagree and state that the comment is wrong or unacceptable: “I know you probably didn’t mean it, but I found what you said to be offensive.”
8. Speak up and educate by explaining why you disagree: “Actually evidence shows the vast majority of women do not make up false claims of sexual assault” (you could use the Key Facts in this toolkit).
9. Challenge the logic: “That’s not my experience.” or “What makes you think that?”
10. Stand up for the person affected: “Michelle was saying something, and you cut her off again.”
11. Make eye contact with the person affected – let them know you’re an ally.
12. Show your emotion: “It actually makes me sad/uncomfortable when you say that.”
13. Support others when they call it out: “I agree, that’s not funny.”
14. Appeal to their better self: “Come on, you’re better than that.”
15. Report the behaviour to management, or via incident reporting systems if available.
16. Disrupt or distract the situation to redirect focus from the incident to something else.
Visit Respect Victoria’s website for more information about their #callitout campaign. Don’t forget Safer Community (formerly Speak Up) is La Trobe’s service available to anyone who witnesses or experiences unacceptable behaviour, on OR off campus.