From Greater Good Science Center – UC Berkeley
3. Resist the urge to normalize
After people watched a video clip of women being portrayed as sexual objects, their sensitivity to sexual harassment took a hit, according to a 2017 study at Italy’s University of Padova. Compared to members of a control group, the video watchers were less likely to speak up when they later witnessed a sexual harassment incident in real time, and they were also slower to recognize that harassment was going on in the first place.
This suggests an insidious normalizing process in which harassment can start to seem par for the course. Over time, a toxic culture can make some people downright blasé about harassment—like the talent agent who quipped about Weinstein, “He asked for a few massages? Waaah! Welcome to Hollywood!”
To combat our general tendency to shrug things off, psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s Heroic Imagination Project has trained people to practice a split-second version of mindful awareness in which they ask themselves something like, “What action is consistent with the kind of person I want to be?”
This kind of heightened awareness may also help you empathize with a harasser’s target, says University of Richmond psychologist Scott Allison, author of Heroes: What They Do and Why We Need Them. “You become synchronized with that other person, making you more likely to act on their behalf.”