Sexual Harassment-Discuss Amongst Yourselves
There’s a harsh reality about working in a man’s world…you may, somewhere along the way, encounter a man or two who makes you think you’re still lobbying for women’s suffrage.
And here’s an even harsher reality that very few of us want to talk about; we might even meet the occasional career creeper who makes us feel like a piece of meat instead of an equal counterpart. Sure, we’ve all watched sexual harassment training videos that make us giggle inappropriately at bad hairdos, unforgiving lighting, and over-exaggerated acting. And who can forget the famous commercial catch line warning, “That’s sexual harassment and I don’t have to take it?”
In the 90’s and maybe a little before, we started calling out harassment for what it was, but the characters in those movies and hypothetical situations still held women back; they were secretaries, receptionists, and assistants to the dark-suited businessman. And in 2012, the same videos are still playing, but the playing field is changing dramatically. Women are moving on up the corporate and political ladder, but I can guarantee the same creepers exist.
But who wants to sit around and talk about this guy or that guy who made us feel uncomfortable, who belittled us, who challenged our integrity? That’s not exactly wine night conversation, but maybe if a few of us got together to discuss amongst ourselves, we might realize how big the problem is.
I will shamelessly admit that I have a somewhat warped sense of humor, I giggle at inappropriate times probably, but I keep the socially unacceptable version of myself locked up in her cage until she is in the safe company of friends who won’t pass judgment. When it comes to the professional world, I’m a different person. Unless your name is Chris and I call you husband, any raunchy jokes or sexual advances fall into the “unwanted” category. And you’d be surprised how many men I’ve come across in my career life who seem to think the rules don’t apply to them.
It’s happened to me in every job or I’ve seen it happen to someone else. I’ll admit, when I was about 20, I thought this kind of behavior stayed where I saw it; on the poorly produced training videos. But I learned pretty quickly we don’t live in an ideal world.
And I think I’ve determined harassment is going to follow any woman wherever they go.
So, do we slap a lawsuit every time we’d rather be slapping some male colleague? Well, luckily we live in a country where we can and that’s our prerogative. And we should if and when the situation calls for it.
But if we can verbally nip something in the bud and come out unscathed, we should do that too. As women, we have a tendency to turn the other cheek, lower our head, and pretend that these things are ok. We worry about what people will think, and because we are so driven, we worry about what it’s going to do to our careers. The truth is, no matter what career we have, we’re going to deal with similar gender issues.
If we are powerful enough to be Secretary of State, Vice President, and even President, we can certainly find the power in ourselves to simply call a spade a spade.
As we continue to close the gender gap, sexual harassment is not a matter of if, but when. So ladies, polish up your sass, because you’re going to meet some creeps who need to be put in their place.
Image from: http://www.you-can-learn-basic-employee-rights.com/sexual-harassment-at-work.html