Workplace Slang and Sexual Harassment

In recent years, the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace has garnered significant attention. While policies and training programs aim to combat this pervasive problem, a disturbing trend has emerged: the proliferation of sexual harassment slang. These euphemisms and coded phrases often mask inappropriate behavior, making it difficult to identify and address. Understanding this slang is crucial for fostering a safe and respectful work environment. Here are 20 slang terms that have been infiltrating workplaces, along with their meanings and implications.

Micro-cheating: Refers to subtle actions that indicate a person is emotionally or physically interested in someone other than their partner, such as sending flirtatious messages or engaging in suggestive behavior.

Gaslighting: Manipulating someone into questioning their own reality or sanity. In a workplace context, it can involve making a colleague feel paranoid or overly sensitive about inappropriate comments or actions.

Love bombing: Showering someone with excessive attention and affection to gain control or influence. This can create a power imbalance, making the recipient uncomfortable.

Benching: Keeping someone on the sidelines with flirtatious or suggestive behavior without any intention of committing. This term can describe leading someone on in the workplace for personal amusement.

Breadcrumbing: Sending sporadic, non-committal messages to keep someone interested without any real intent of a relationship. In the workplace, this can involve giving false hopes of a promotion or other benefits.

Thirst trapping: Posting provocative photos or messages online to attract attention. This behavior can spill over into the workplace, creating an uncomfortable environment for colleagues.

Peacocking: Dressing or behaving in an overly flamboyant manner to attract attention. While not inherently sexual, it can be used to draw unwanted attention in the workplace.

Cwench: This is a term used to describe ejaculating on another person or in their mouth. This is typically used because it is more obscure, and others might not know it. It was a term that started out in hockey leagues, and has now made it to the work place.

Hitting on: Making advances or flirting with someone in a way that is unwelcome or inappropriate in a professional setting.

Sliding into DMs: Sending private, often suggestive messages via social media platforms. When done between colleagues, it can cross professional boundaries.

Creeping: Stalking or obsessively following someone’s social media activity, which can translate into invasive behavior at work.

Catcalling: Making unsolicited, often crude comments or gestures towards someone. While more common in public spaces, it can occur in workplace environments as well.

Zoning: Using work-related excuses to spend excessive amounts of time around someone, often with underlying intentions that are not professional.

Locker room talk: Refers to crude or sexually explicit conversations, typically among male colleagues, which can create a hostile work environment for others.

Eye-rolling: Dismissing someone’s concerns about inappropriate behavior, making them feel their complaints are trivial or overreactive.

Fishing: Making indirect comments to gauge someone’s interest or to elicit a response that can be used to further inappropriate advances.

Negging: Offering backhanded compliments to undermine someone’s confidence, often as a manipulative tactic to gain control or favor.

Perching: Hovering around someone’s workspace without a legitimate reason, creating an uncomfortable or intimidating presence.

Playgrounding: Treating the workplace like a social playground, where professional boundaries are routinely crossed under the guise of being “friendly” or “sociable.”

Graveyarding: Keeping tabs on a colleague’s personal life, such as who they are dating or socializing with, often with ulterior motives.

Friendly fire: Using the pretense of friendliness to make suggestive or inappropriate comments, blurring the lines between professional and personal interactions.

These terms represent just a fraction of the slang used to describe inappropriate behavior in the workplace. The challenge lies in recognizing these actions for what they are and addressing them promptly. Employers must remain vigilant, ensuring that their workplace culture does not tolerate any form of harassment, whether overt or subtle. By understanding and identifying these slang terms, employees and employers alike can work towards creating a safer, more respectful work environment.