Sexual harassment is any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to physical, verbal, and non-verbal conduct, as well as the use of sexual favouritism. Sexual harassment is offensive and unacceptable. Sexual harassment is never the victim’s fault.
These are just some of the slogans that I found myself typing this week at my internship at the Women’s Legal Centre. I came to work on Monday morning with feelings of great excitement and responsibility (easily sustained throughout the week), having been tasked last Friday to create informative and eye-grabbing posters for the launch of a new online awareness campaign about sexual harassment. It was a chance to combine my interests in women’s rights advocacy and the creativity of visual media, an opportunity to draw on my previous work experience in social media and digital communications and hopefully make a tangible social impact.
It was also a very informative experience for me personally, as I learnt to work under little to no supervision or guidance in the assignment I had been given. All I had been told was to look at the Sexual Harassment Code and use that to create a number of informative posters, being sure to keep any use of words concise and to the point. How I did this was up to me. Which aspects of the Code I utilised was up to me. How I displayed the information in a creative and capturing way was up to me. Which fonts, colours, and logos I used was up to me. How many posters I created was up to me.
For someone who likes to make sure that the work I am producing is, undoubtedly, what is expected and desired, having such little guidance was somewhat startling and worrying. What if the posters I created were not up to their standards? What if they were not informative enough? What if they were too wordy? What if the font was too tacky? What if the vision I had for them did not align with the vision the Centre had? All these thoughts ran through my head as I worked.
But, thankfully, I pushed on and put trust in my instincts. In the end, I created around 25 posters, a combination of those that defined what sexual harassment is, as well those that provided examples and scenarios of it. When I showed what I had worked on to a number of people working at the firm (attorneys and researchers) on Thursday, they loved them. And yet, in creating discussion around them and if any edits should be done (ultimately, they decided only to add contact information at the bottom of each poster), I knew that they were looking at the posters with a critical lens. I felt that I was being treated as an equal and that my ideas were just as valuable as theirs were. That my ideas fell in line with what they wanted to do with this campaign.
And which poster did they pick to launch the campaign with? One with “What’s Up, Sexy?” written on it. It shocked them when they first saw it in the collection of posters I had made. But it was bold. It was shocking. And that’s what we all wanted this campaign to do.