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Being a Piercer and Being Against Harassment is Fighting Misogyny

Being a piercer and being against harassment is fighting misogyny.

Although the world of piercing should be a safe space for women and LGBTQIAPNB+ people (even in respect of the groups involved in its emergence as a form of expression, confrontation and resistance), we cannot forget that we live in a society that has not overcome sexism, racism, lgbtqiphobia, ableism and other forms of prejudice. The fact that we were raised in this patriarchal society, in which women still have fewer opportunities than men and are often treated as objects, is something that is reflected not only in the brutal and commonplace cases of femicide, rape, domestic violence and abusive, but also in the exercise of our profession. Many piercers have already suffered harassment from their clients, from their co-workers, from their employers... It is urgent to talk about harassment, over and over again, until everyone understands and respects our bodies and our mental health.

From a legal point of view, harassment consists of a series of unacceptable conducts, with labor, civil and criminal implications provided for by Brazilian legislation. In relation to sexual harassment committed by a boss or supervisor, article 216-A of the Penal Code provides that “embarrassing someone with the aim of obtaining sexual advantage or favor, the agent taking precedence over his/her condition of hierarchical superior or ancestry inherent to the exercise of employment, position or function”, may be sentenced to imprisonment of 1 to 2 years. This crime expressly provides for a hierarchical relationship, such as that between employer and employee, teacher and student, and so on.

The following are behaviors that can be considered sexual harassment: blackmail aimed at obtaining sexual favors; threat of dismissal in case of denial; unwanted sexual conversations; jokes or use of expressions of sexual content directed at the victim; non-consensual physical contact; insistent singing or “compliments”, especially if the person has already been uncomfortable with it; invasive looks at the victim, mainly directed at their private parts; explicit or veiled insinuations, gestures and words.

It is also important to talk about moral harassment, which is frequent when there is a denial of a sexual assault. Moral harassment consists of abusive and repetitive acts, such as words, behaviors and gestures that humiliate and disqualify the worker, causing pain and suffering in the work environment. Some examples are: personal insults, derogatory comments, exposure to ridicule; assign tasks incompatible with the victim's role; attributing imaginary errors to her; completely ignore her presence; doubt your ability and competence; despise the work done; threaten and coerce; overload of tasks; require, unnecessarily, urgent work; vexatious magazine; restriction on the use of toilets; among many others.

Although bullying is not yet considered a crime – there is a bill already approved by the Chamber of Deputies, awaiting a vote in the Federal Senate – such behavior can generate moral damage and the victim can seek redress in the labor court.

Regarding harassment committed when there is no hierarchical relationship between the harasser and the victim, there is also the crime of sexual harassment, contained in article 215-A, which consists of “practicing against someone and without their consent a libidinous act with the objective of satisfy one's own lust or that of a third party”, which can lead the aggressor to serve a prison sentence of one to five years, if the crime is not more serious. This criminal type includes acts that can be committed by clients, such as touching the victim's intimate parts, touching the victim, giving a forced kiss, among other physical conduct in which there is no consent. Here there is no prediction of other more subtle behaviors, which are also, in our view, harassment, as in the previous crime.

What do all these behaviors have in common? All profoundly affect the self-esteem of harassed people, destabilizing them, undermining their self-confidence and mental health. In relation to the subject, the International Labor Organization recognized, in its Convention 190, that gender violence and harassment in the world of work constitute a violation of human rights, threatening equal opportunities, which makes these practices incompatible with the decent work. Unfortunately, the Brazilian State has not yet ratified this Convention.

The effects of the various types of harassment can generate psychological damage to victims and even to health in general, causing anxiety, depression, insecurity, panic, apathy, insomnia, irritability, hypertension, tachycardia, asthma attacks, dermatitis, headaches and / or muscle, gastritis, coronary heart disease, social isolation, abuse of alcohol and other substances, among many other consequences.

I am being harassed at work. What to do?

- Write down all the aggressions suffered, with date, time, place, name of the aggressor, people who witnessed the fact (if possible with their full name and contact), describing the facts and content of the conversation; save emails, messages and cell phone audios;

- Give visibility, seek help from trusted colleagues, those who witnessed the facts or who also suffer harassment from the aggressor;

- Avoid conversations with the aggressor when there are no witnesses or being alone with him;

- Seek psychological support from friends, family and professionals;

What are the channels for reporting and guidance?

- Police Station Specialized in assisting women;

- Reference Centers for women in your municipality;

- Municipal Council for Women's Rights;

- State Council for Women's Rights;

- Commission for the Defense of Human Rights of the City Council of your municipality or of the Legislative Assembly of your state;

- Regional Labor and Employment Superintendencies;

- Public ministry.

It is necessary to break with the culture of harassment, which belittles and inferiorizes women and other groups. Common attitudes such as silencing, jokes, misogynistic insinuations, “jokes”, the small presence of women in decision-making and power spaces and their massive presence in organizational tasks (or in others considered “boring” or “minor” by men ) are also offensive and create an environment conducive to moral and sexual harassment. Changing this implies that the members of this community question their own practices on a day-to-day basis. The task of confronting harassment is not just for the victims, it goes beyond gender, color or sexual orientation. Being a piercer and being against harassment is necessarily fighting against sexism, racism and lgbtqiphobia.

The opinion of the columnist is not necessarily an opinion of the Coletivo Sala Solidária.


Clara Belato

Born in Rio de Janeiro / RJ, lawyer and piercer works with anodizing. .

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