It’s happened to the best of us during this period of extended working from home: You’re minding your own business when suddenly a Zoom room full of your colleagues and/or business partners gets a non-consensual eyeful of unsecured loin. Accident or not, that’s really fucked up. It’s even possible that the incident could lead to professional or personal consequences.
We here at Gizmodo have been discussing this very same problem for no reason in particular at all or anything, why do you ask? And we’ve come up with some tips on how to avoid using Zoom to sexually harass every single person you work with. Please read and consider:
Yes, this one is a little out of left field, but hear me out. You can’t expose your genitals to a room full of colleagues—some of whom you may have known and respected for decades!—if you take steps to ensure your genitals aren’t visible to anyone at all.
Clothing designers have known the risks of accidental genital exposure for years, and they’ve designed several innovative technologies to prevent it from happening. For example, they’ve invented pants, which are a sort of leg tube system that adjoins at the top and typically shield the crotch from visibility. They might set you back a bit; expect to pay at least $20 for a good set of pants. The good news is you can buy them pretty much anywhere. (You should probably own several, as the pants system isn’t necessarily foolproof with extended wear and tear.) With properly sized pants secured to your waist, your coworkers won’t be able to see your genitals no matter what you do, other than taking off your pants.
Make sure you don’t confuse pants with “chaps,” which leave the hog and entourage exposed, or buy any models of pants labeled “crotchless,” which is a big red flag. Advanced pants users may also want to consider underwear, an accessory worn under the pants that provides an additional layer of opacity in the case of pants failure. Other options include shorts, skirts, and dresses.
Make sure the pants are affixed as shown in the second image, not the first.
In the past few decades, most employers have actually implemented policies mandating non-exposure to genitalia in the workplace (in many cases, they may even have obligations under federal law to do so).
An employer obviously can’t control what you do in your off time, and when you’re not on Zoom call, they won’t be able to tell if your genitalia is exposed. But better safe than sorry: Only expose yourself on your own time and while not actively on a video call.
Look, no one’s judging you for having six-foot prints of yourself sunbathing at a nudist colony near Saint-Tropez, or hanging them on the wall in your home office—except for me and all of your coworkers. Consider taking them down or at least face the camera away from them.
Similarly, if you have naked images of yourself on in My Documents or whatever, it may be a good idea not to use Zoom’s Screen Share feature.
If you find yourself in a Zoom call with colleagues and want to avoid forcing them to gawk at your genitals, here’s a handy list of things to consider.
Zoom doesn’t just let you watch other people’s cameras; it actually shows you what you’re currently transmitting from your camera. Check the example in the image below on the left. You should make a mental note of what area in your home is visible to any colleagues on the call and avoid exposing any part of your naked body (particularly the reproductive or excretory systems) in that field of vision.
Note that while the lower half of your body may technically not be visible on the camera, don’t get overconfident. There’s always the possibility you could stand up or the camera could shift.
Additionally, while it’s a bit outside the scope of this article, you should consider covering other parts of your body as well. This is a no-no:
If at some point during the call you need to expose your naughty bits for any reason, Zoom actually has built-in functionality to prevent the matter from escalating to HR. The “stop video” button, as shown in the screenshot below, terminates the video connection between you and your colleagues. (If you find yourself in a situation where your colleagues may overhear weird flesh-slapping or grunting noises while your genitals are exposed or otherwise being manipulated, consider hitting “end audio” as well.) Remember that hitting the “Join Audio” or “Start Video” buttons will reconnect whether you’re decent or not.
The “End” button stops the call entirely, serving much the same function.
Make sure you’re not simply muting your speaker audio before whipping anything private out. That could run the risk of, say, an entire Zoom call of colleagues yelling at you to “Cover that shit up!” or “For the love of Christ and all that is holy, stop touching that!” to no avail.
That’s it: Follow these steps and you shouldn’t have any “Zoom dick” incidents, barring a freak incident such as tornado whipping through your house and ripping off your clothes, a member of antifa suddenly pantsing you, or all of your teammates obtaining and wearing X-Ray glasses simultaneously. Feel free to trade tips in the comments below.