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How do you spot the predator — Read the early signals

Posted on: October 10, 2018

In my journalism career of 15 years, I have come across many men who know how to play the power game. Now at 37, I can identify them readily. You will find many in this profession, I am sorry to say. But I am just listing some early signals to spot a predator in your newsroom or outside when you out to report. This list, based on my experiences and observations (not in that order but), might help young journalists in future.

Here are early signals:

In office — Immediate Supervisor/ Senior Colleague

  1. While shaking hands, either he presses it too hard or squeezes your palm or just rubs it lightly with fingers
  2. Stands in front of your desk, and stares at you without any official work
  3. Stands in front of your desk, holding a book in hand, only to pretend he is reading it.
  4. Comes to your desk, shows you photographs of naked tribals, pretending to help you in your story on tribals!
  5. In a meeting when everyone sits in a circle – he hangs his jacket/coat right behind you and intentionally keeps his pen and diary inside the pocket of the jacket. In the middle of the meeting, he gets up and comes behind you to get the pen and diary.
  6. He indirectly asks you- where you live, who you live with etc during office lunches.
  7. Picks up anecdotes from earlier conversations during lunch and refers to it later, out of context. You will understand that he remembers every word you utter in office. He wants to give you an impression that he is fond of you. Trust me he is not half serious about you. You don’t fall into the trap, he must have done this to many women before you and would continue to do it even later. These are tried and tested methods. They are serial offenders.

How to spot a predator (especially an interviewee) outside?

  1. You approach someone for interview, the person suddenly extends his arm around your shoulder to know more about the interview.
  2. You are in a hurry to get a quote from someone, he (taller men do it often) leans forward and brings his face near your breasts to pretend he can’t hear you properly.
  3. You have gone to interview him at home. He makes you sit on a chair whose height is lower than the one he is sitting on. He keeps coming back and forth towards you, and his eyes are fixed on your breasts.

How to spot a predator outside office (generally an established journalist)

  1. You approach a senior journalist (at least 10 years your senior) known to have covered a certain region/beat for decades for help. He would go out of his way to not only help you with the story but also tries to help you with logistics. He keeps texting you to know more about your movement.
  2. It could be possible after the end of the trip, he would invite you for dinner and coffee to know more. Only a woman would understand how much of this is professional gesture and how much is pure personal interest.
  3. He starts suggesting you to read books with rich sexual content/man-woman sexual relationship. Even if you are attracted to him, and feel elated that an intellectually rich and professionally established man is attracted to you, take a pause. Remember, these men find any woman attractive because their aim is something else, we know what!
  4. If he is a married man, one of the most common ways of breaking the ice is to tell you, he is unhappily married. It is a “dead” marriage, they are together only for the child. For years, he didn’t have sex with his wife. DO NOT try to be his “best friend,” and please don’t tell him, you “understand.” He doesn’t need your friendship. He wants something else.
  5. He uses sexual innuendos in conversations to see how you respond. He cracks jokes with sexual content. If you don’t respond or keep a neutral face, he would say, “You are such a bacchha (kid),” only to provoke you to play with words just the way he is doing! The problem is, in the process, he also plays with your emotions! Remember!
  6. You tell him, you are okay to have him as a friend but you think he is hinting at something more you are uncomfortable with, he will play the victim card! He will say, you misunderstood him and he would also remind you how he helped you with your story earlier only to make you feel guilty.  He will withdraw himself for a while. But he will come back to you with vague things, especially work-related. If you again go back to him, he will resume the game. This is power play.
  7. He will continue to throw advances till he gets you under his fold. But kindly do not think he is serious with you! He will move on to the next woman once he is over and done with you!

Spot them, catch them, confront them if they make you feel uncomfortable!

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