DEALING with sexual harassment and unwanted sexual approaches is not just a commonsense issue (“Common sense is the best way forward, Jeff Kennett, Opinion, Feb 7).

Females must be brought up with good self-respect, self-belief and self-esteem to thwart inappropriate behaviour and misconduct by adamantly saying “no”, as Felicity Kennett apparently did.

With a strong sense of self and responsibility, females may be sufficiently secure to assert themselves and have confidence in making their own choices, with dignity and without shame

It may just be that the males approaching them without mutual consent may respect them for it.

Following this letter’s publication was a response from a prolific letter writer to The Age called Barbara Chapman, Hawthorn. She wrote:

It’s not about esteem

DOES P. Pogorelske advise men to develop higher self-belief as a barrier to street assaults by beefy, armed aggressors? Should the man just say “no?” Or are those patronising suggestions reserved for women in workplaces?

As if women with perfectly good self-esteem, self-respect, self-belief, confidence and dignity do not experience harassment and bullying. They may present the very challenge a perpetrator enjoys. I have seen such women specifically targeted and the more strongly they fought back, the harder the perpetrator went.

The key to preventing abuse of women is a society that understands the basics. First, the perpetrator’s abuse of power is the key issue. Second, the situation is one of grossly unequal power, not a meeting of equals. Third, when a woman does report it, she is often forced to leave her job or vindictively punished. Fourth, bystanders enable abuse; perpetrators cannot act without the silent complicity of people who knowingly let it happen.

Any readers who’ve also perused my other posts will appreciate how bereft of  insight and understanding Ms Chapman is. Sad but true, at least for me. It is disappointing as I have always respected her knowledge and opinions as published in The Age over several years.