Learn About Sexuality

Sexual insults, bullying & habitual harassment

Children should understand the importance of standing up for themselves. They should be given guidelines for dealing with negative behaviours, such as online and face-to-face name calling. They should understand how actions such as making sexual comments and sharing sexual pictures, either in person or online, may affect people’s feelings and reputation.

Behaviours that can offend or upset others include sexual insults. These can be verbal, written or communicated by gestures. Name calling is particularly hurtful when a person knows that they belong to a social group that is victimised in general e.g. women, gays, racial or social underclasses. The person making the insult has the confidence to know that they have the general support of society.

Teenage girls especially can be highly sensitive to remarks made about their appearance. The problem arises because many women of any age associate eroticism with the taboo of being ‘dirty’. Women in particular need to understand the issues surrounding saying ‘no’ to sex or other unwanted intimacy. We all need to think about how we deal with rejection, feeling shame and feeling used.

The word ‘bitch’ refers to a spiteful or malicious woman. A man may refer to his bitch, which just means his woman. The word ‘bastard’ can mean anything from a bit of a joker to someone who behaves badly or who is heartless. Bastard originally meant an illegitimate child. Son of a bitch and mother-fucker are stronger terms. Both of these insult a man by insulting his mother’s sexual morality. Women are much less aggressive in their use of swear words. Talent just means an attractive guy.

When you first have a sexual relationship it can be quite a shock. Of course it depends on your emotional make-up and volatility. But all of a sudden you find yourself inside a relationship with high levels of emotion. You have to find a way through. You may find that the calm orderly person you thought you were disappears under the pressure to deal with another person’s emotions. You can try to discuss a reasonable logical approach but it doesn’t always work that way. Adults can have a variety of problems during their lifetime: drug or alcohol addictions, health or emotional issues.

Bullying behaviour comes in various guises. It can involve directly intimidating or threatening words or actions that are directed towards forcing someone else into activity they don’t wish to be involved in. Other approaches are more devious because they are cloaked in sentiments of love or even affection but they have an undercurrent of someone trying to make someone else feel obliged to do something out of kindness.

The male attitude that ‘everyone should love sex’ is an implicit bullying tactic. There is no ‘should’ about it. You either enjoy sexual activity naturally (probably because you are easily aroused) or you don’t. Men appear to be oblivious to the fact that women are mostly silent about sex. Women may passively accept men’s point of view but they do not necessarily agree with it. So men still apologise to women for sexual innuendo. Women rarely make sexual remarks. Men buy women flowers.

Domestic violence is common around the world. In some countries it is even accepted and condoned. Societies may feel that a man has the right to be physically aggressive towards his wife as a means of asserting his authority. Battered wives and hen-pecked husbands: the adjectives indicate the different levels of violence involved. Women inflict abuse more typically verbally rather than physically. Men may be less sensitive than women but bullying is wrong in any context.

Sexual harassment including stalking is most usually (but not always) perpetrated by men with women as the victims. Whenever men are victims of sexual abuse they may be reluctant to get help because of the shame of being a victim. Female victims also feel great shame and this often prevents them from seeking justice in the form of punishing the perpetrator. Many women put up with sexual harassment because they are too embarrassed to complain or they don’t know how to deal with the conflict.

Heterosexual men enjoy the sensations of arousal when they look at or come into contact with a women’s body. Trains and buses around the world at rush hour provide an opportunity for certain men to grope women’s bodies when they are defenceless. Women do not have the benefit of the same turn-ons. So women cannot retaliate by taking the same liberties with a man’s body. Women want men to respect the fact that women’s bodies are their own.

Your partner’s not there to service you, it’s not their job to keep you sexually satisfied. You’re together because you love each other and want to make each other happy. Constantly hassling the for sex does the opposite. (Tracey Cox 1999)

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