Your guide to calling out disrespectful behaviour


Violence against women begins with inequality and sexist attitudes towards women.

Check out this video to see an example of what disrespect towards women can look like:

Like most Australians, you want to say or do something to stop disrespect towards women.

But it’s hard. It’s awkward. And you don’t want to feel like you're making things worse or ‘killing the mood’.

While 70% of Australians want extra tips to take action, only 14% of us feel confident enough to actually do something when we see disrespect.

It seems like maybe people don’t do anything because they’re not comfortable, they may not feel safe or they’re unsure how to call out disrespect.

Have a quick think about whether you step in when you see disrespectful behaviour. Now, ask yourself what you could do to call it out.

Calling out disrespectful behaviour doesn’t have to end up in an argument, a fight, or you losing some of your mates.

It doesn’t have to be a massive deal to make a change.

What can you do?

If you see or hear something disrespectful, there are a number of ways you can take its power away. It’s not always easy to take action, and you shouldn’t do anything that makes you feel unsafe. So here a few simple things you might be able to try without putting yourself or anybody at risk:

1. You can show you don’t think what’s been said is okay without even saying anything. Rolling your eyes or not laughing along is a good start. That awkward silence and ‘the things you don’t say’ can go a long way towards making disrespect less popular.

Man dressed in suit (character from TV show suits - Harvey Specter), rolling eyes and turning head around

2. You can support women who are being disrespected by asking if they’re okay and acknowledging what has happened to them, whether it’s in person or sending a message. You can also share and like comments online that are pointing out disrespect towards women.

Man asking 'you okay?' as other persons hand can be seen on screen.

3. You can speak up by purposely changing the topic of conversation or asking them to stop. Make sure you talk about the values, comments and behaviours rather than the person to keep it constructive. You could point out double standards, like ‘We don’t talk about male colleagues’ clothes or bodies – how about we quit doing it about women?’ or make it about how it makes you feel with something like 'I really don’t like it when we talk about women like that.'

Whether you speak up at the time or days later, it can still have a huge impact.

Man (actor Jack Whithall) moving head down and saying 'please stop'.

Stepping in and calling out disrespectful behaviour can definitely be a scary thing to do, especially if the person that you’re calling out is one of your mates.

The best way to do it is to already have a few ideas about what you will do and say in mind so that you don’t freeze in the moment. If you still feel like you’re not sure how you would call out disrespectful behaviour, check this out for more ideas:

Remember, your actions, no matter how small, will make a difference.

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