Etymology: From Old English targe, meaning “to shield”
We believe that this is a more appropriate definition of those individuals who have been affected by or have experienced sexual harassment.
Target is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as:
A person, object or place selected as the aim of an attack
A mark or point at which one fires or aims
An objective or result towards which efforts are directed
A person or thing against whom criticism or abuse is directed
We believe that workplace sexual harassment is a direct attack by one employee against another (or multiple). We especially understand it as being aimed towards a specific person, a group of people, or a demographic (e.g. homophobia). There is usually an intent behind this attack, whether that is sexual or power related, sexist, homophobic, racist, etc.
We believe that the word target metaphorically represents the way in which incidents of sexual harassment are played out. The harasser fires and aims their assault (whether verbal, physical or psychological) towards another person, group or demographic, with an objective, hoping for a desired result.
We also believe that within the definition of “target”, it shows that harassment can range from criticism (also in the form of jokes), to abuse. And that this criticism or abuse is directed towards a certain person, group or demographic.
| ˈvɪktɪm |
Etymology: from Latin victima, meaning “a living creature killed as religious sacrifice”
At Metta Space, we want to move away from using the term “victim” to describe those who have experienced or been affected by sexual harassment.
We believe that “victim” attains negative connotations of the power this person retains to fight back, and to have participated in the incident - even if that is in defensive action.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a victim is someone who has:
been harmed, injured or killed as a result of crime, accident or other event or action
been tricked or duped
come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment
We neither want to portray those affected by sexual harassment as helpless, or as having been tricked or duped. This not only implies that the affected individual cannot fight back, but also generates a perception of sexual harassment being a cunning act which outwits other employees.
In contrast, sexual harassment is a problem the entire workforce tends to be aware of, and is something that should be actively addressed by all.
Those affected by sexual harassment also do not tend to be physically harmed or injured to the point of death - usually only in extreme cases. Rather, what usually ensues are psychological and professional consequences for the workplace and employees.
Such consequences of workplace sexual harassment include:
Reduced productivity of the employee, such as difficulty concentrating or loss of motivation
Emotional side effects, such as anger, fear, shame, guilt
Mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts
Tendency to skip work or come in late
Quitting one’s job
Increased stress levels
Physical effects, such as headaches, fatigue, sleeping or eating disturbances