March 8, 2009

How to Stand up to Sexual Harrassment in the Work Place

This isn't really a topic that's funny other than the fact that it still happens. But it's definitely awkward for anyone that has had to put up with it or deal with it. They don't teach this in college and my mother definitely never had a chat with me about how to deal with perverts in the work place. When I say perverts I mean the men that intentionally look you in the boobs instead of the eyes, or look you up and down a few times in the midst of conversation, or tell sexual stories to you. Women can be offenders too, I just haven't experienced or witnessed it so I'm not sure what they do. I suppose those of us with common sense think that it's common sense not to do those things, but that's where the exorbitantly high expectations I have are apparently flawed. I'm not even calling a man noticing a good looking woman sexual harassment, just the things I described above. Because men and women with eyes are going to notice someone they find attractive, but that doesn't mean they ogle them every time they talk to them or work with them. But apparently some do and get away with it.

Here's the problem, when young women are still very early in their careers, they don't want to "rock the boat" or establish themselves as the "whiny bitch" that complains about anything and everything. Well some do, but I'd say the reasonable ones don't. So they let a lot of things slide, or they assume or maybe hope that the women or men that have been there for awhile will step up and shut that kind of behavior down, especially if they are direct witnesses to the behavior or know that it has been a problem before. But that doesn't always happen. Why I don't know since there are sexual harassment policies anywhere you work. (in the U.S. I don't know about the rest of the world).

There's another problem, some people apparently like the attention irregardless of the creepiness of the giver of the attention. Really?!?!? Yuck!!! So when no one comes to your rescue you have 2 options, go to the boss or handle it yourself. But going to boss my come across as whiny or bitchy, especially if the offender does all kinds of things to give off the impression that he (or she as the case may be) doesn't have a clue about anything and only says or does things innocently.

So when you handle it yourself you have 2 options, be direct or limit the availability of the offender to offend to you. I'll admit being direct has got to be the better way to go, but let's not forget that the behavior shouldn't be happening in the first place, and especially when you find out that the offender has been talked to, or counseled about this very topic before. So the awkwardness is amplified when you attempt to deal with it either by direct comments to the offender or by attempting to limit the offender's opportunity to offend. Choosing the indirect method only helps with your own situation too, it can't help others in the office who are dealing with the same behavior.

If you don't make an effort to handle it or shut down an inappropriate conversation, you establish yourself as weak to the offender, and he or she knows they can get away with this in a worse way to the weaker people. I can't say if weaker people like the attention or not. I can't imagine they do but I can't imagine being so weak that you don't make some kind of attempt to shut it down or to get help from someone who has done a good job of shutting it down.

Mothers, teach your daughters (or sons) how to handle these situations, because they aren't teaching this in school. You also need to teach them how to not come across as a sexual deviant or how not to say or do things inappropriately in life. Otherwise there will be a varying degree of what various people will put up with and for how long. This has to be nipped in the bud because it shouldn't even be an issue.

Here's what my dad had to say it. The men (assuming it's a coed work place) need to act like men and get in the offender's face to shut him down whether they are the boss or not. The problem is feminism woosified a bunch of men so depending on where you work it's not easy to find a lot of men willing to make such a stand.

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