Jim Shinn
Jim Shinn

Life is good. Sexual harassment is bad. I do counseling for a living and write for a hobby to promote the positive. One part of one of my counseling jobs is to make presentations to CALWORKS clients about conflict resolution, anger management and keeping healthy boundaries. And yes, I do get paid for sexual harassment. Now wait a minute before you call Probe or your favorite Title IX contact.

I like to have fun, and learning that is entertaining is often powerful learning. A role play is a powerful tool for affecting the thinking and behavior of others. I make presentations to groups of clients who are seeking work. The goal is to promote their mental health and vocational success. If we reduce their stress, it often increases the energy available for finding work, taking care of kids and improving all relational behaviors.

I visit the classes for hour sessions, three days in a row. The first day, the participants don’t know me, and I enter the classroom at the appointed time, and begin a rude diatribe attacking the teacher and her competence. The teacher is a good one, and the adult students are immediately thinking “this guy is a jerk!” or worse. They are usually very protective.

My rant last for 20 seconds, and then I introduce myself and the theme of conflict resolution. The class and I then spend a hour, not only dissecting my conduct, but identifying common conflict situations and healthy ways to deal with them.

The second day, I enter the classroom, and get paid to take a different approach to the female teacher. This is totally PG rated and no touching is going on, but sexual harassment doesn’t need to involve physical contact. I am not going to get into that here. Just ask your wife or a female friend and they will share you experiences of sexual harassment. It begins in junior high and goes on in the adult world of work or college study.

Sexual harassment is not funny, but the role play helps to illuminate the idea of boundaries, why they are healthy, why it is our responsibility to set them, and how to cope when others violate our space, expectations or values. The tidbit of theater is very mild, involving me talking to the female teacher, moving in a little closer and then changing the topic to the issue of personal appearance. Most of the students in the class are women, but the men get the message very clearly and easily.

Part of the problem with seeking and keeping a job is the difficulty individuals have with respecting the boundaries of themselves or others. Actually, breaking boundaries is a society wide problem that then leads to other problems. God gave us some good boundaries in His Word, but again when it comes to rules too many of us are breaking bad. I am grateful to act bad in order to promote the better. God is good!


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