Your attention isn’t a compliment, it’s harassment


Your attention isn’t a compliment, it’s harassment

By Sabreena Saleem

Men need to understand their careless comments have negative effects on women to stop street harassment.

Men on campus have created an environment where many women, including myself, feel unsafe, uncomfortable and inconvenienced by objectification and harassment.


Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if you’re being harassed. What may offend me may not offend another.

“Personally it makes me kind of feel attacked, but not really,” said Jazzerae Carr, sophomore family consumer and nutrition sciences major. “Sometimes some girls don’t know the difference between a compliment and sexual harassment or they think of it as flirting when it’s probably somebody being a gentleman.”

Unfortunately, street harassment isn’t considered a crime like assault is because what constitutes harassment is subjective.

“The way sexual assault laws are written is, it doesn’t matter what the intent was; it’s how it makes you feel,” said NIU Sgt. Dathan Jackson. “The first step would be to let them know you’re uncomfortable.”

Though sexual harassment is dealt with by Affirmative Action and Diversity Resources on campus, the police can help you let someone know they are making you uncomfortable, Jackson said.

If the issue persists then the Affirmative Action and Diversity Resources can sanction the person, he said.

People can be sanctioned for things like stalking, sexual assault, and sex abuse, according to NIU’s Policy Statement on Sexual Assault; however, street harassment isn’t addressed. Therefore, it’s completely up to men to stop this issue and considering womens’ feelings is the first step.

 What to avoid

If a woman doesn’t seem interested, men shouldn’t be persistent. Telling a woman she’s beautiful is perfectly okay, but if she doesn’t show interest in engaging in conversation then it’s best to let it go.

Men should avoid words that objectify women. Telling a woman her hair is nice is a compliment; making inappropriate noises or using sexual words is unacceptable.

Men should respect womens’ personal spaces. Touching someone is not a good way to get their attention, especially when they don’t know you.

Women don’t need validation from men. A woman doesn’t have to care about your opinion, whether positive or negative, just because you have one.

I’m not saying men should never approach women, but they should consider women’s feelings more strongly. While a compliment can make someone’s day, harassment can ruin one.