Earlier this month, an author tweeted about how she successfully shut down an inappropriate comment from a former boss. In the process of going viral, the tweet has inspired many others to share their own strategies for handling sexual harassers in their workplace, Stylist reports.
On November 7, Heather Thompson Day, Ph.D., who is also a professor, revealed that when she was 19, her boss told her she should be a “phone sex operator” and laughed. Instead of letting the comment go or laughing along, Heather did something her boss probably didn’t expect.
“I said, ‘I don’t get it.’ He said, ‘It’s a joke.’ I said, ‘Explain it to me.’ And that’s how I learned that once sexual harassers have to explain why their inappropriate jokes are funny, they stop laughing,” she wrote.
In a later tweet, she explained that she had been following her father’s advice. “My dad just told me, ‘Never laugh. They will mistake your nervous laughter as compliance. Instead, pretend you don’t get it, and watch them explain to you why you should be laughing.’” she wrote. “I’ve used this my whole life since.”
Heather’s original tweet, which currently has almost 132,000 retweets, sparked a bigger discussion in the replies section. People shared their own stories of receiving inappropriate comments at work, and notably, many shared their own tips for reacting in those situations, which will often leave women unsure of what to do or paralyzed with shock.
Below are a few of our favorite clapbacks from the thread. (And please note that if you experience sexual harassment in the workplace, you should report it. And in some cases, the authorities should also be involved.)
This woman’s story confirms that the questioning method does indeed work sometimes.
This user shut down a rumour about her in just three bullet points.
This user reminded the sexual harasser who was in charge.
This member of the Twitterverse knows a picture is worth a thousand words.
As these tweets remind us, when dealing with an inappropriate comment at work, you never have to stay silent.