According to a Japanese government report, about 33% of women have been sexually harassed in the work place. Although sexual harassment in the workplace is obviously wrong, in Japan at least, it seems that there is a misconception on where to draw the line when it comes to sexual harassment.
Japan is a Bit Different. Culturally and Politically…
Most times, many of us would think of sexual harassment as sexual advances, unwanted touching, verbal abuse, asking for sexual favors in the workplace, and so on.
In Japan, however, some superiors and co-workers can get accused for some remarks they make.
Some of these remarks made by older men may seem innocent but to my understanding and from what I have observed, Japanese cultural and gender roles between male and female plays a major impact here.
In short, men in Japan think they are superior than women like in the past, and when that thinking continues to exist in the workplace, you are going to be seeing a lot of problems waiting to happen even if it doesn’t seem sexual.
Most Women Are Passive ?
Furthermore understand that in Japan, for some strange reason, many women will act passively when put in such an awkward situation and not report sexual harassment incidents. Personally, it is hard to accept this phenomenon to why a Japanese woman would be passive when sexually harassed but to the best of my knowledge, I really think it’s a cultural thing combined with fear. Fortunately, movements against sexual harassment is hopefully progressing such passivity.
Definition of Sexual Harassment
Now to define sexual harassment in its most basic form- sexual harassment is any type of sexual request, remark, or physical activity that can humiliate, intimidate, and offend a human being.
If a co-worker makes physical contact such as touching a woman’s leg or make obscene sexual remarks about particular private parts, that is clearly sexual harassment.
However, if a male co-worker asks a woman “are you married yet?”. Would such a question be considered as sexual harassment? In Japan the answer is yes.
Reason: You do not ask such personal questions in a professional environment. Any kind of question that can intimidate, offend, or make a person feel uncomfortable can put you in hot water. Remember that work and work-related activities (such as after parties) should be considered a professional environment. You should not engage in any kind of sexual talk, sexujal jokes, sexual activities, and etc.
It may seem complicated and irrational to some but questions about a person’s marital status that may likely offend a person can be considered sexual harassment in Japan.
Furthermore, it is wise to know that in many Asian countries, unmarried woman older than the age of 25 face a indirect social stigma for being unwed. The pressures from society and their expectations of women have an effect towards such questions that in many cases, asking such a question can be highly considered as a rude remark.
Bottom line, it’s safe not to ask personal questions in the work place. We all have our curiosities especially if a young beautiful lady coexists in the workplace but it’s not wise. Curiosity killed the cat. Keep it PROFESSIONAL!
Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
If you want to avoid sexual harassment, it is wise to act and appear professional. Appearing strong, professional, and smart is the most effective way that can prevent you from being a target of sexual harassment. Not all forms of harassment can be avoided but show people you mean business. If that fails, obtain as much evidence as you can and call the police.