Two men with message encouraging men to take action against harmful behaviours.
At Humber, we recognize that we all have a responsibility in preventing and addressing sexual violence. Sexual violence is rooted in gender-based violence, and so men may feel that it is a "women's issue"; however, we acknowledge that men must also take action and hold one another accountable. The Survey on Individual Safety in the Postsecondary Student Population (Statistics Canada, 2019) found that men were less likely to view unwanted sexualized behaviours as harmful, twice as likely to think people are too offended by unwanted sexualized behaviours, and the perpetrators of unwanted sexualized behaviours are more often men. We encourage men to reflect on behaviours that could cause harm to others and to intervene when they see these behaviours happening.

Inappropriate Behaviour: Not intervening when witnessing sexualized behaviours.

Example: Sacha (he/him) has noticed on Instagram that Marc (he/him) repeatedly makes suggestive comments on Leila’s (she/her) photos; Leila never interacts with Marc’s comments. Sacha ignores the comments too.

What could Sacha have done differently?

Sacha could have checked in with Leila to see how she feels about the comments and if she would like Sacha to say something to Marc.

Example: Sam (he/him) and Mary (she/her) go to a party as the semester has ended. While at the party, Mary is dancing, and Sam realizes that Joe (he/him) has been eyeing her for some time. Joe makes his way closer and closer to Mary throughout the night and eventually reaches her. He pulls her close and starts grinding on her. She tries to move away, but he pulls her forcefully closer. 

What could Sam have done differently?  

Sam could have informed Mary about Joe’s constant observation. Sam could also have taken Joe aside to speak with him about the importance of asking for consent and how his behaviour was inappropriate.

Unhealthy Behaviour: Inappropriate sexual comments about appearance or body.

Example: Aaron (he/him) is in the lunchroom at work with Jasmine (she/her), and overhears James (he/him) tell her, “Hey Jasmine, I love the way that skirt fits you.” Aaron continues eating.

What could Aaron have done differently?

Aaron could have addressed the comment directly, or taken James aside and explained that the comment, even if intended as a compliment, could make Jasmine uncomfortable since it is focused on her body and is objectifying.

Example: Kyle (he/him) is watching the women’s volleyball team practice. Kyle, who has admired Hayley (she/her) for many years, makes a remark to Harold (he/him) about how sexy she is looking and how big her butt is. Harold feels uncomfortable, but says nothing.

What could Harold have done differently?

Harold could have let Kyle know that even if Hayley cannot hear him, these comments are inappropriate; Hayley or other people could have overheard and felt uncomfortable by the comment and Kyle should stop.

Unhealthy Behaviour: Making sexual jokes.

Example: Alan (they/them) is talking to Walter (he/him) and Micah (he/him) about their love of the piano. Walter makes a comment about how Alan must be good with their hands; Alan and Micah laugh uncomfortably.

What could Micah have done differently?

Micah could have shared that he felt the comment was inappropriate. Micah could also check in with Alan later to see how they felt about the comment.

Example: Ira (he/him) receives a joke from Matthew (he/him) on a WhatsApp group chat. The joke has a sexual image and derogatory comments about a woman. Aida (she/her) says she’s offended by the joke and asks Matthew to apologize. Ira says Aida is overreacting.

What could Ira have done differently?

Ira could have reaffirmed Aida’s feelings, and encouraged Matthew to apologize.

Unhealthy Behaviour: Unwanted sexual attention (such as catcalls, whistles, etc.)

Example: Jerome (he/him) is running on the treadmill in the Athletic Centre when Jatinder (he/him) walks by. Jatinder winks and whistles at Jerome while he passes by on the way to the locker room. Elliott (he/him), who is also on his way to the locker room, sees Jatinder looks uncomfortable, but keeps walking.

What could Elliott have done differently?

Elliott could have checked in with Jatinder to see how he felt about Jerome’s actions. Elliott could also have spoken to Jerome and shared how his actions could have made Jatinder feel uncomfortable in the Athletic Centre.

Example: Phil (he/him) is sitting in a lounge with Chantal (she/her), Izzy (they/them), Derrell (he/him), and Mel (she/her) when Emily (she/her) walks in. Phil draws attention to her entrance and starts whistling at her, encouraging his friends to join in. Derrell joins in.

What could Derrell have done differently?

Derrell could have let Phil know that whistling and drawing unwanted attention to Emily is inappropriate and could create fear or make her uncomfortable; the unwanted attention could also give people the impression they can approach Emily however they want without considering her feelings.

Unhealthy Behaviour: Unwanted physical contact or getting too close.

Example: Delia (she/her) is talking with her coworkers Xavier (he/him), Marcela (she/her), and Cameron (she/her) in the boardroom after a meeting has just ended. Jason (he/him) pops in to say hello to everyone, and while he’s chatting, he gives Delia’s shoulders a gentle massage. Jason leaves and Xavier returns to his office.

What could Xavier have done differently?

Xavier could have stayed behind to check in with Delia one-on-one to see how she felt about the shoulder massage. Xavier could also have had a conversation with Jason as he left about how the shoulder massage was inappropriate and could have made Delia uncomfortable.

Example: Moe (she/her), Reid (they/them), Prasanna (he/him) and Tony (he/him) always get coffee together in the morning. While in the line, Tony always stands very close behind Reid, which makes them feel quite uncomfortable. Prasanna notices that Tony is standing so close to Reid that his hands brush against their skin when he makes any movements. Prasanna orders his coffee and heads off to his class.

What could Prasanna have done differently?  

Prasanna could have made a light joke about how there’s plenty of space in line without Tony needing to be standing up against Reid to cue Tony to change his behaviours. Alternatively, Prasanna could have taken Reid aside to check in with them, or taken Tony aside to note his observations.

Unhealthy Behaviour: Inappropriate discussion about sex life.

Example: Zac (he/him), Monique (she/her), Marshall (he/him), Tyler (they/them), Dan (they/them), and Jeff (he/him) are placed into a breakout room together during a class activity. After finishing the activity early, they start talking about Grey’s Anatomy; Zac mentions the on-call sex scenes and shares a similar sexual exploit from his own experience in detail. Marshall and Jeff join in with their own stories.

What could Marshall and Jeff have done differently?

Marshall and Jeff could have told Zac they don’t think it’s the time or place to be sharing such stories, and could switch the topic of conversation.

Example: John (he/him), Derek (he/him) and Helen (she/her) often work together on pitches. While working on a pitch, John tells Helen about his latest one-night stand and asks Helen who she is “smashing at night.” Derek laughs and continues working.

What could Derek have done differently?

Derek could have let John know that this discussion is not appropriate for work and could make people uncomfortable. If John continues to discuss his sex life while they’re working on pitches, Derek could report up through their supervisor or Human Resources. 

Unhealthy Behaviour: Repeated pressure for dates or sexual activity.

Example: Mitch (he/him) messages his coworker, Callum (he/him), on Tinder asking if he would like to go out on a date. Callum declines and Mitch asks three more times, saying Callum should give him a chance and that he promises it’ll be a great date. Mitch tells his friend, Alvin (he/him), about the repeated rejections and Alvin encourages him to keep trying.

What could Alvin have done differently?

Alvin could have told Mitch that it seems clear that Callum is not interested, and that it probably makes Callum uncomfortable to have to keep being asked out by his coworker.

Example: Sanjay (he/him) has seen Nick (he/him) repeatedly pressure Vidya (she/her) to go out with him. Sanjay dismisses the interactions as none of his business.

What could Sanjay have done differently?

Sanjay could have checked in with Vidya to see how she feels about the repeated pressure for dates. Sanjay could also talk to Nick one-on-one and explain that it seems evident that Vidya is not interested, and Nick should stop.