Calling it out

Want to call out sexist behaviour when you see it? But not sure about the best way?

Here we share Respect Victoria’s 16 ways to call it out when you hear or see sexist, disrespectful or sexually harassing behaviour.

Remember, ‘calling it out’ does not mean you need to physically intervene when you witness an incident or violence. Your response should not be hostile or aggressive. If you feel your or someone else is in immediate danger, call 000 and ask for the police.

  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.

If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence there are many organisations in Merri-bek you can go to for help.

There are things we can do if we see or know of violence happening in our families or friendship groups. These organisations can also help you to support someone you are worried about.

Family violence is against the law. Stress and hardship are never an excuse.

We support Respect Victoria’s Respect Women: ‘Call It Out’ campaign. The campaign encourages Victorians to call out sexism, sexual harassment and disrespect towards women. It runs during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, which run from Wednesday, 25 November to Thursday, 10 December.