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Carole
08-18-2005, 04:21 PM
What would be the straw that broke the camel's back in regard to sexual harassment in the workplace? What would be the deciding factor to make you go to management to report the offender? What if the offender *was* management?

I would like to hear some opinions on this topic. It seems that even though most women would say they would never tolerate it, a lot of them do. (not excluding men, but I am not working in that direction really)

I have had it happen to me in different ways, subtle and not-so-subtle, and I believe a lot of women have as well. Do you think there is a generation gap of sorts in regard to the mindset about sexual harassment? I remember telling my mother about a weird situation at my job a long time ago...how the manager used to say very off-color things, come up behind and give creepy backrubs...touch my hair...lots of things. She shocked me when she said, "Oh, honey, if I had a nickel for every time some man pinched my butt at work or said something out of line, I'd be a wealthy woman"

Do you think women should be responsible for changing their attitude and appearance at work to make themselves less attractive to a creep? I'm not defending a girl who would go to work in a super short miniskirt and no underwear with a low cut blouse and no bra. That's just plain irresponsible. But what about someone who goes to work in jeans, boots and a t-shirt? Should she deliberately make herself unattractive however she can? Should she become hateful and nasty to ensure no creeps would take her naturally friendly disposition the wrong way?

I would also be interested in the opinions of men on this subject, even though my focus is women.

D.J.
08-18-2005, 07:30 PM
I talked too much. LOL! Just suffice it to say...yes, it's happened far too much.

loquax
08-18-2005, 08:39 PM
Even though I am a male, and therefore an utter bastard, I would think that simply "hitting on" someone in the workplace would not count as harassment. Perhaps the working environment strikes out all possibilities of romance. But from what I can tell, if a guy hits on a gal and she's up for it, she wouldn't report it to management. If she's not, well then "courting" becomes "harassment". Unfair, sure, but as I said, we're all bastards and probably deserve it anyway.

D.J.
08-18-2005, 08:55 PM
Even though I am a male, and therefore an utter bastard, I would think that simply "hitting on" someone in the workplace would not count as harassment. Perhaps the working environment strikes out all possibilities of romance. But from what I can tell, if a guy hits on a gal and she's up for it, she wouldn't report it to management. If she's not, well then "courting" becomes "harassment". Unfair, sure, but as I said, we're all bastards and probably deserve it anyway.

I think if people are single, then work could be a good place to meet someone, but when people give unwanted advances and continue even after they are told not to, then it constitutes harrassment. In my case not reporting it was the way I chose to deal with it. Not because I was interested, but because I wanted to work.
Several of my experiences were more than just being hit on. I was taken off guard and shocked by physical contact. Especially when it came from bosses and married men.
Certain jobs can be a small society of sorts that word travels fast in. Especially in a male dominated profession, females can have a hard time. It is a fine line that is hard to explain.
All men aren't jerks. Because I had such high expectations for men is why certain behavior shocked me so.
I hope my long, rambling post that I have now removed didn't offend you. I was simply relaying a few of the situations I found myself in. I also know women hit on men too. Sometimes in a very innappropriate manner. I've witnessed several circumstances this way as well.

Unique
08-18-2005, 08:56 PM
Lo,

Workplace or not - if a man asks and the woman says, 'NO' and the man keeps on asking, insisting, intimidating, etc. and the woman still says, 'No' - it's harrassment. Swap the genders and it's still harrassment.

Yeah, Carole, it's happened to me. I was in the military (which is a lot like indentured servitude in that you can't get away). It was so awful, I still have a hard time talking about it 18 years after the fact.

Email me through my profile if you'd like to hear the skinny. (Sorry ya'll - it's ugly.)

After X-hundreds of posts, I think you can tell that I'm not the meek, mild, easily shocked kind of chick. I'm not now, I wasn't then either. But the 'indentured servitude' of a military situation makes it doubly damned because you can't get away.

dblteam
08-18-2005, 11:05 PM
It's amazing how different work environments can be. I'm an engineer in a large aerospace firm and I have *never* had any coworker say or do something inappropriate. (Well, there was one man who made a slightly off-color comment, but he was in procurement, and it was after hours, and I think he'd had too much to drink.)

I don't think it really has all that much to do with being a "male dominated" career. The aerospace industry (and a lot of engineering in general) is male dominated--in my area there are at most 1 or 2 women engineers for every 100 male engineers. I'm usually the only woman in the room, but the only noticeable effect is that all the men remember my name the first time around. So I don't think that's it.

I think it boils down to how the employees are viewed by the company--whether they're seen as valuable assets that are treated with respect, or interchangeable keyboard-monkeys who can't spell their own names without proper micromanagement. The atmosphere the company fosters will influence the way employees treat whoever is under them (at whatever level). And when one is male and the other female, the atmosphere of disrepect can easily include sexual connotations, which in turn becomes sexual harrassment.


Valerie

Tish Davidson
08-18-2005, 11:07 PM
Everyone deserves a workplace free on harrassment based on gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity and religion. Unfortuantely, what is "conversation" and "expressing interest" to one person is unwanted attention and harrassment to another. To me the line comes when the action/words are repeated after the recipient of the unwanted attention has made it clear that the action/words are unacceptable to them.

Unfortunately, many people find it hard to express that they are uncomfortable with the actions of another at work. Although the offending person should, in an ideal world, know that what they are doing is unacceptable, they often don't, especially when the communication is across generations. It is the responsibility of the offender to make it clear that the words/action should stop. Then if they don't, the action crosses the line to harrassment, whether it is based on gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion.

Based on the experience of friends, one of whom is a (female) union shop steward who deals with this fairly often, incidents of harrassment/prejudicial behavior get reported most often when the recipient of the unwanted attention has another gripe with the person in addition to the harrassment (e.g. They didn't get the raise they thought they should; the other person isn't pulling their weight at work, leaves early, comes in late, etc.) or when they have been receptive to the attention and then the relationship goes bad.

I'm not saying that this is when things SHOULD be reported, just that often the motivation for reporting harrassment is complex and goes beyond the immediate harrassment. Also, people being inconsistent, one person may say or do something that is okay because you like him/her and have a good relationship/are about the same age and have the same cultural background, and another person can say/do essentially the same thing and it is not acceptable because you do not like him/her or have a different or more distant relationship/do not share the same cultural background. And whenver there is any hint of coercion because one person is in a position of power over the other, the line is crossed. All of which is to say that the situation is often murky and open to individual interpretation that changes as relationships change.

Think about how the N word seems to be okay for many young African-Americans to use when speaking to each other, but how it is racially discriminatory if used by a white person and emotionally loaded to many older African-Americans regardless of who uses the word. The issue is context, which is what makes it so difficult to make rules about what is harrassment and what is communication.

Fern
08-18-2005, 11:35 PM
As with everything, people should use some common sense when dealing with this issue.

To me, it is sexual harrassment when the offender is in management and uses his/her position to reward an employee for "being nice" to them. If their advances are met with NO, using their position to make life on the job miserable for the employee would be another instance.

Some folks, men or women, use rough language and don't think anything about it. I've been around people on the job and even acquaintances whom I hate being around because they just talk filthy. .. using the "f" word in every sentence and anything else that comes to mind. While it is offensive to me, I've never thought of it as sexual harrassment because its simply the way they express themselves "all the time".

Some people pull out the sexual harrassment accusations when they want to "get back" at someone.

Writer2011
08-18-2005, 11:50 PM
I keep the conversations general and nothing else.

Perks
08-19-2005, 12:00 AM
I have encountered a number of situations that would fall under this heading. There was one case in particular that started with my boss saying some unbelievable (truly) things to me - out of the blue. It didn't upset me; I just thought the guy was nuts. I ignored it. Well, down the line, I found out that another girl nearly had a nervous breakdwn over these things and Human Resources was none to pleased with me that I had not spoken up earlier since my incidents predated the others. Hadn't thought about it in terms of how someone else might react under those circumstances.

It's pretty much "stick-and-stones" where I'm concerned. I don't get worked up over comments and I have a sense of humor that is pretty inclusive, so I'm hard to offend. However, beyond that, I bite. A vice president of a Fortune 500 company backed me up against a wall once and I nearly had his job for it. The grovelling was quite entertaining.

I really don't understand the pathology that it takes to pursue these impulses in our litigious society. It's just not worth it.

Writer2011
08-19-2005, 12:31 AM
In the places i've worked, it was predominantly women (which is fine) but like I said, I kept it on a professional level.

Carole
08-19-2005, 02:41 AM
I found out that another girl nearly had a nervous breakdwn over these things and Human Resources was none to pleased with me that I had not spoken up earlier since my incidents predated the others. Hadn't thought about it in terms of how someone else might react under those circumstances.

That is a very similar situation to one I found myself in. Me- married. Him-married as well. Following me around constantly...touching (just EWW! You KNOW the difference between an innocent touch on the arm and someone wanting to *touch* you) No matter how many times I would say something about my husband, he would NOT get the hint and not leave me alone.

One day, my manager overheard him tell me that he wanted to clone me so that he could always have me on his shifts and she told me about her problems with him. I was encouraged by several of the women there to report him, and eventually I did. I am glad I did because I was the 6th girl he had been this way with and since he was management, he would always go pull the info out of his records so there would be no proof. I think he was eventually fired, but I am not sure. He was, or so I hear, much worse with others than with me, but my complaint helped remove him from that workplace. One girl did nearly have a breakdown over it all.

rtilryarms
08-19-2005, 04:02 AM
Unique has it right. It becomes verbal sexual harrassment when you let it be known that you are not comfortatble with the advances.

Physical touching is never appropriate except in situations of sympathy, birthday hugs and the like.

The statistics lean heavily that one's superior is the most frequent offenders.

Statistics are also strong that males harrass way more often than females. Way more but there are an unusually high amount of women superiors harrassing underlings.

As a veteran corporate manager I take these courses constantly. It's a sad statement about our worklife that we can't just go to work just to work.

Thank goodness no one likes me at work. I don't have to deal with this stuff.

Unique
08-19-2005, 04:53 AM
Bless you Mike, for being so wise. I wish I had worked for you.

Carole
08-19-2005, 06:28 AM
Unique has it right. It becomes verbal sexual harrassment when you let it be known that you are not comfortatble with the advances.

Physical touching is never appropriate except in situations of sympathy, birthday hugs and the like.

The statistics lean heavily that one's superior is the most frequent offenders.

Statistics are also strong that males harrass way more often than females. Way more but there are an unusually high amount of women superiors harrassing underlings.

As a veteran corporate manager I take these courses constantly. It's a sad statement about our worklife that we can't just go to work just to work.

Thank goodness no one likes me at work. I don't have to deal with this stuff.

I am also wondering what the statistics might be in regard to men who act "thisaway" with women in the workplace as opposed to how thier private lives are. Are they acting on some twisted idea of authority because they are floppy weenies in their off time? I know one guy in particular who would have peed his PANTS if my hubby...or any of our husbands had confronted him, although he never had any qualms about pushing himself on the women at work.

Writer2011
08-19-2005, 06:41 AM
I would have to agree that touching is simply wrong, and so is sexual harassment. You just don't do those things to a woman..period.

loquax
08-19-2005, 11:22 AM
I'll second that. Girls have cooties.

D.J - you didn't have to edit your post! I'm just telling the truth. Men are the ones who start the wars and knife people on the streets - the ones who leave their wives and beat their kids. And I'm pretty sure Bonnie only did what Clyde wanted her to do because she loved him.

Carole
08-19-2005, 06:03 PM
I'll second that. Girls have cooties.

:Wha:


Men are the ones who start the wars and knife people on the streets - the ones who leave their wives and beat their kids. And I'm pretty sure Bonnie only did what Clyde wanted her to do because she loved him.

There are so many arguments about men and women being "just the same", but I have to say that I think that is silly! Men and women are different...their brains are wired differently. They react to situations differently.

It's so sad that some men expect a woman to handle a situation the way they would and think they are wrong when they don't!

errr, off my soapbox now.

D.J.
08-19-2005, 07:35 PM
I'll second that. Girls have cooties.

LOL!


D.J - you didn't have to edit your post! I'm just telling the truth. Men are the ones who start the wars and knife people on the streets - the ones who leave their wives and beat their kids. And I'm pretty sure Bonnie only did what Clyde wanted her to do because she loved him.

Oh, I honestly thought, why did I give so much specific info? I think I was addressing some inner feelings that this question must have tapped! I think I had so many incidents that were rather serious ones.

Someone mentioned it not being a male dominated profession that created this and perhaps that was a fair statement. It is just that in the type of profession I was in, it was a mentality of the "good 'ol boys." At the same time I have always had lots of guy friends and usually get along better with men than women. I enjoy the male personality and have been told I possess it too. My husband loves that.

I'm not the type to get easily offended, but I have character. I am usually very quick witted and have the confidence to reply with what I feel. However, in many of the situations I have encountered it took me totally off guard and it was in the workplace setting, which complicated things. I have had many women think I was being harrassed when I did not. The times I feel it was true harrassment were when it was with someone who would not stop after lots of requests. Also my being physically grabbed and kissed me without my consent. Several times they then used their authority to try to get revenge on me for not playing. These were not just passing comments, inappropriate jokes, or flirting.

I think Carole said she didn't know what the man who had harrassed her would have done if her husband confronted him. Did you tell your husband about it? Just curious as to whether women tell their significant others.
If they do, what happens? If they don't, why not?

Thanks for being so kind as to comment on my taking down my post, Loquax. I just didn't want to come across in my posts to be a man hater. LOL!

sassandgroove
08-20-2005, 01:59 AM
A couple times it has been said that what one person called harrassment another did not. I think that is very important. we live in a strange time, where we are so worried about being offended in some way that we then find reasons to be offended. I like the definition that harrassment is after it has been made clear that the advance is not welcome. I think people get overly hyper about stuff like nicknames. I had a boss once who was calling me Jenny (of course this isn't harrassment but I have a point...) To me Jenny is a name only family and VERY close friends use. I asked him a few times to call me Jennifer. It didn't work. A friend of his told me to call him Jeffy. Now this man could have fired me...But he intercommed me one day and said "Hey Jenny!" and I gathered up my courage and responded "Yes Jeffy" and he never called me Jenny again. Now where was my point I saw it laying around here somewhere. Oh, yeah. I confronted him. If it hadn't work being that it was a version of my name I might have let it go, but if it was stuff that was more inappropriate the next thing to do would be to say "I've asked you not to call me that, do I need to go to your boss?" People don't have back bones. They complain to everyone but the one who needs to hear the complaint. Then it gorws out of proportion.

Also, People now are indoctrinated with all this women are just like men BS and then women get insulted if a man compliments her for looking nice. Hey, I like to be told I am pretty. There is an older man in my office who often tells me I look nice, and when I help him with the computer he tells me how lucky my husband is to have such a nice wife. I glow from this, I don't immediately imagine he has ulterior motives, he is happily married for 40 years! He is just being nice. ANd I think highly enough of myself to take it that way.

Richard White
08-20-2005, 02:50 AM
On the opposite side of the fence, as a male instructor in the military, we were taught never counsel a female student without another instructor there, preferably a female instructor.

We had more than one instructor get seriously jacked up because a female trainee was getting booted from class for one reason or another and she'd file an EO complaint against him.

While 9/10ths of the investigations cleared the instructor, it still required yanking him off of the podium, assigning him crappy details away from the company (to minimize his access to female trainees), assigning an officer to investigate and then interviewing everyone in his class, his fellow instructors, other people who knew him to see if they could establish a "pattern of misbehavior".

I had one fellow instructor get passed over for E-7 because he was being investigated; they decided he wasn't guilty, after the promotion cycle was over, and he had to wait another year before getting promoted because some kid getting kicked out of the Army decided to take her instructor with her.

Most of the time it devolved into a he said/she said situation. However, the command's philosophy was "Why would a trainee lie about something like this? Plus, you're an NCO, you should never have gotten into that situation to begin with."

Now, I don't mean to belittle sexual harrassment, because it is heinous and anyone practicing it should be hung out to dry. However, in my experiences, it's a "guilty until proven innocent" situation for the person being charged with it.

loquax
08-20-2005, 03:28 AM
My art teacher called everyone sweetheart. We were a class of sixteen year old boys. She was a married woman.

No one cared.

But if the sexes were swapped.... well I expect the teacher would be fired and probably kept under police observation on account of suspected paedophilia.

My closing point is that life's not fair.

inexperiencedinker
08-20-2005, 04:27 AM
I have very mixed feelings on this. I was in the military too, and they take harassment very seriously. (i was recently telling this story so I find it funny that this topic is here). When I was in basic training there was another private who I did not get along with. I could go on and on and on about his obnoxious and horrible personality traits, but I won't. The main problem was that he was a screw-up, and in basic training, when one gets punished, we all do. Everyday I had to do push-ups because of this one guy, and let me tell you I HATE push-ups. About halfway through basic training, he started screwing off while we were marching in formation. It was through a tight corridor, so the drill sergeant was in the front of the formation, and he and I were marching in the back. He started skipping, whistling, and in general doing whatever he could to get us all in trouble. Me and this private had words before on many occasions (I basically bawled him out every day) and I just snapped. He was one row in front of me, so I took one giant step forward to the left of him, bent down, and shoved him off the ground with my shoulder, plowing him into the wall. (some said I didn't even get out of step with the march, which I think is funny!) The platoon kept marching, and finally halted in our platoon area. We were all formed up when this private came running up and screaming that I had shoved him, tripped him, whatever. The drill sergeant laughed, "Are you saying a girl beat you up, private?" The private turned red and shook his head, retreating to the back of the formation.

Two weeks later I came to the bay, which is a huge room with bunks (it would make sense if you had gone to BCT in Ft. Sill) and announced my presence, "Female on the floor!" All the males in my platoon were doing flutter kicks on the floor, which after just ten minutes can become the most excruciating torture on the face of the earth. They are possibly worse than push-ups. It was strange; normally the females would be called down to do the punishment with the rest of the platoon when they were in trouble. The drill sergeant started pushing me out the door, screaming, cussing at me. He told me to stand in the hall and not move. He went back and continued drilling the male privates.

Eventually I found out that this private and his buddy had written a cadence about me. My last name is Hix, so I shouldn't have to explain how many wonderful words could be used in rhyme. They gave him an article 15 (three and you can get kicked out of the army, go on permanent record, that kind of thing) for sexual harassment.

How odd that he wrote a lyric with a few bad words and got busted on, but I put my hands on him, and he got made fun of. Iím not complaining, he was a jerk and I maintain to this day that some people just need walloped to understand they are wrong, but it still seemed like a double standard.
And theres my LONG story, sorry! lol. From my military experience and my current job I have a million stories about harassment, and it's perceptions. The government is BIG on busting people for the smallest thing. PM me if you want other anecdotes.

Carole
08-20-2005, 04:41 AM
I have always had lots of guy friends and usually get along better with men than women. I enjoy the male personality and have been told I possess it too. My husband loves that.

I have always been a lot more comfortable around men as well. I have little patience for how catty some girls can be. That sounds SO wierd, I know. It's the whole competitive thing that I can't abide. With guys, there is none of that. I can sit in the living room with my husband and several of his friends...have a beer and laugh right along with them, not wondering which one of them will be whispering the other how fat I looked in whatever I was wearing or how I need to have my roots done.


I think Carole said she didn't know what the man who had harrassed her would have done if her husband confronted him. Did you tell your husband about it? Just curious as to whether women tell their significant others.
If they do, what happens? If they don't, why not?

Each time this has happened since I have been with my husband, I have told him. The unfortunate thing is that he does construction work out of town throughout the week and is only home on the weekends and has had that type of job for years.

The first time this type of thing happened since I have been with my husband, he was able to confront him. He came into town the next day and confronted the guy, who happened to be my boss. He (my boss) snorted a line of cocaine in his kitchen the night before and started taking off his clothing (EEEW) and really getting creepy. I was at his house in the first place because he spent too much time at the bar next door during the day to drive himself home after work. I drove him home and had to unlock the door to let him in. I went in to make sure he was ok and planned to leave as soon as he had a cup of coffee in his hand and was settled into his chair. But he did the cocaine in the kitchen instead, and then pinned me in the corner. Hubby and I were good friends with him up to that point, but afterward it was really ugly. My husband, then boyfriend, simply told him that he was aware of what happened and gave him the opportunity to defend himself. All very civil-like. My boss then started bawling like a baby and said that he didn't remember any of it. Later, he flatly denied all of it. I ended up leaving that job within the month.

The next time, my husband didn't have the opportunity to do or say anything. He was, as usual, out of town and I left that job before he came back. We moved shortly afterward, so we both kinda forgot about it.

The last time...well, again he was out of town. The union took care of him before my husband had to become involved, even though he was SO wanting to.

Since my husband is in a relatively helpless situation as far as not being here when somehting like that happens, I have tried to keep it from him as long as I could. I hate giving him reason to worry when he is gone.

The FIRST time this happened, though, I was only 15 and the creep was one of my teachers. My dad stayed home from work and went to the school the next morning. The pincipal and one of the coaches had to pull him off the jerk.

From these experiences, I can say that I have tried to handle situations myself but I have also had every man in my life feel almost betrayed when they found out it was going on without their knowledge.

katiemac
08-20-2005, 05:51 AM
I think age difference can be a big factor in these cases, too. I'm going to be a sophomore in college this fall, and until last summer I worked at an average teenager part-time job for two years. Everyone else who worked there was between the ages of 16-22, except for the manager. We could all joke around with each other about certain topics, and nothing was ever uncomfortable. We were all friends.

However, the manager (who must have been late forties, at least) was creepy at times. He had some very inappropriate comments now and then to me and another girl who worked there, but they were few and far between. Some of the guys who worked with me would tell me that when I wasn't around, the manager talked about me. They laughed when they told the stories, but I knew every single one of them would step in (not afraid to throw a few punches, either) if they thought something deeper was going on.

Anyway, the situation pretty much mellowed itself out because the manager left about five or six months after being hired, so I never saw him again.

See, thing is, I still work in retail situations now. And half of the time it's not coworkers -- it's the customers. I've received some very odd and creepy comments from older men (sometimes upwards of sixty), but the funny thing is they're always sitting right there with their wives, and they both laugh it off. Customer's always right, right?

Just this evening I was working in a restaurant, taking surveys (not even my regular gig, I was filling in for someone) and was hit on about five times. One, admittedly, was extremely polite and executed through his wingman, so it was no big deal. But one man said outright, "Give me a hug and I'll fill out that survey and anything else you want." Again, at least late forties, and his wife was right there across from him at the table! She thought it was funny.

With customers, you only talk to them for about ten minutes throughout your day, so what else do you do except let it go? Since I don't actually work at the restaurant, it's a site-by-site job, there's no one you can talk to regarding their staff or their customers.

loquax
08-20-2005, 03:46 PM
inexperiencedinker - I found your story very interesting. There's obviously something going on with regards to equality, and it would be even more interesting to find out what.

Perhaps it's something to do with the whole "men only think of sex" thing. It's very obviously a stupid overgeneralisation, but I can't help but think that when a man smiles at a woman walking down the street, she thinks "oh crap, he's after sex".

And then there's the "white male guilt" thing. Throughout time, white males have been the oppressors. And now, in the age of ultimate equality and liberal law suits, it's almost as if we, the bad guys, have to punish ourselves. If I had a choice between hiring one of two men; one black, one white, I would probably hire the black person; simply for the fear of being called a racist if I didn't. Unfortunately, I would still be reluctant to hire a female worker. As a cause of sexual harassment charges flying every which way, I would rather be called sexist than a sexual harasser. So by simply looking at my own feelings about the subject, it's not hard to see why women still feel unequal. But from what I can deduce, it's only a product of the unfair opinions in their favour that scare away men from hiring them.

What do you guys think?

D.J.
08-20-2005, 05:32 PM
Katiemac, I'm sorry those incidents made you feel uncomfortable but you're right, those aren't situtations usually, that anything has to be done about. Those are the type situtations I've always just joked or smart mouthed my way out of. I would have said something sort of like to the man who wanted a hug while he was with his wife. "Well, she's married to you and if she won't hug you then I take that as good advice." Or "Sorry, I already have a dad." Or "Sorry, that would be a health code violation." Or some other type of comback you feel appropriate maybe. It's hard to say not being there.
Usually the type of situation you've spoken of is easily stopped but if they ever get persistent and start touching, then notify the appropriate person.

inexperiencedinker
08-20-2005, 06:26 PM
Carole-
It really sucks that because that guy was a jerk, you felt you had to leave the job.
To me, that would define sexual harassment. I am easy going, I have a sharp (and often dirty) sense of humor, and I have no problem telling some one to watch their mouth or shove it when it has crossed the line. But I have never felt so disturbed I thought of leaving. I wasn't giving a choice in pressing charges on the private in basic training, the Drill Sergeant did because he found the cadence.
I guess there are levels of seriousness to every situation.
There is another side I worry about, as a female.
My office mates and I are very close. We have all worked together for more than a year, and do happy hours, pot lucks, and holiday parties. We just hired a new girl, and I worry that because she hasn't shared our experiences, she will take something out of context. We have many jokes that are meaningful only to us, and although I don't want to exclude get, I am afraid she might become offended at our level of intimacy with each other. Not in a sexual sense, just in a "i know how far to push the envelope" way. Anyone else have that problem, bringing someone new to a comfortable situation that THEY might not be comfortable with?

katiemac
08-20-2005, 09:44 PM
Those are the type situtations I've always just joked or smart mouthed my way out of. I would have said something sort of like to the man who wanted a hug while he was with his wife. "Well, she's married to you and if she won't hug you then I take that as good advice."

Yep, that's really all you can do. I was carrying a giant portfolio at the time and said something like, "Oh, that wouldn't work out very well. I think this big folder would get in the way."

Ah, well. Always cart a folder around with you wherever you go, now, as a barrier. ;)

Fern
08-20-2005, 10:13 PM
ii, you could always just comment to the new person that you've all worked together for a long time and sometimes "get carried away" with jokes, teasing, etc. and just say I hope you aren't offended by it until you get us all figured out. . .or something to that effect.

Katiemac, I've never figured out why some people think they have to "flirt" with waitresses/saleswomen etc. I think its just their way of getting into a conversation and most do not mean anything by it and have no idea how disrespectful of their wives they appear to others. I think wives smile many times in these situations, even when they feel humiliated, because they feel like they look like a fool if they do anything else.

On the other hand, concerning the manager situation. . .if the employees (even though you were all younger) were freely talking about certain subjects without feeling uncomfortable and were doing so in the manager's presence, it might be argued that he didn't think anyone minded him chiming in since they set the tone of conversation. Doesn't excuse it since he was in a supervisory position and certainly doesn't excuse him making "remarks" to others about you. . .just food for thought in case you find yourself in another situation like that.

Loquax, I think my husband would relate to your last post. He is forever saying the white male is quickly fitting among the most discriminated against anymore.

The equality thing, like everything else, has its pros and cons. I probably won't be very popular for giving my opinion, but its totally gotten out of hand. There are many women who want a more traditional role, but with all the hoopla, they now find themselves in the odd position of having to keep up with the tone equality has set for us all.

Equal pay for equal work, equal opportunity in education and those sorts of thing should have always been a given. I'm talking more about women who would now like to stay home and raise their children but find themselves in a rat race of our own making where we have a job too good to quit or now have a generation of men with a mindset of insisting their wives work to help out, rather than a generation ago when they were fighting for their wives to stay home.

Along with the equality thing we gave up the "respectful" (I don't know what else to call it) atmosphere of generations past when certain language was never used in the presence of women and children, having doors opened for us as a courtesy, etc. I'd never even heard of the "f" word until I was grown. Profanity wasn't used around our house and I can remember my first boyfriend telling his friend to watch his mouth when he said "sh!+" in my presence. These days I hear elementary children using the "f" word in their parents presence and no one sees anything wrong with it. The work place is no exception.

When women walk into a job role that is traditionally male, meaning a large male population with one or two women in it, then right or wrong, they should expect some behavior that would be considered "off color". Doesn't make it right, but you can just about count on it happening. I don't mean its okay and should be put up with, I'm just saying, Expect it.

Along the lines of what some of you mentioned in other posts about role reversal and it being different for men who are harrassed. . .there was an incident rumored around here several years ago where a woman (living in a lesbian relationship, openly, in the community) worked in a job with all men (traditionally all male type job). She supposedly was continually teasing them, poking with a broom handle in private areas. Some of them were infuriated and it was talked all over the community, but she continued to work there, so I'm assuming no one turned it in. Although most cases we hear about are men harrassing women, the social restraints or whatever you want to call it, placed on men in these situations make true numbers a bit difficult to come up with.

katiemac
08-21-2005, 07:52 AM
On the other hand, concerning the manager situation. . .if the employees (even though you were all younger) were freely talking about certain subjects without feeling uncomfortable and were doing so in the manager's presence, it might be argued that he didn't think anyone minded him chiming in since they set the tone of conversation.

You're absolutely right on this. We, on the other hand, never did talk about such things in front of the manager. He never hung around with us unless it was business-related conversation, and certain comments only seemed to find us when we were alone.

Just wanted to clarify briefly since the thread is about harassment, that I don't find any of my specific cases, especially the ones coming from customers, strong enough to be harassment. I just wanted to offer up age difference as a possible factor to take in to consideration for the article.

Carole
08-25-2005, 09:38 PM
The equality thing, like everything else, has its pros and cons. I probably won't be very popular for giving my opinion, but its totally gotten out of hand. There are many women who want a more traditional role, but with all the hoopla, they now find themselves in the odd position of having to keep up with the tone equality has set for us all.



Daddy has always said that for him to treat a woman as an equal, he'd have to not see her on a pedestal. I was raised in a very old fashioned home and I, too, would love to be a full time stay at home mom/wife. (my house would look a lot better as well!) It's my personal nature, although I am sure many women would likely tell me I wouldn't be reaching my full potential. Again, I think it is all a matter of opinion.

I agree with the idea that a woman going into a traditionally male workplace, especially one like construction, would mean that she'd either have to force all the male workers to conform to her personal ideals or else she'd have to grow a pretty thick skin. I have worked with guys and I know the comments that fly around. To me, hearing that stuff isn't harassment. Hearing it directed at me, well...that's another story. Most guys I have worked with have always kept it low-key out of respect for me though.

From talking with my husband, I believe that there are certain jobs that almost require a man to be all testosterone, so to speak. His job in particular. He and the guys he works with would be in constant serious danger if they were not able to just (in his words) get evil with it. 1,000 feet in the air with a tool in one hand, holding on tight with the other, and your butt literally in a sling is NOT the place to have to worry whether or not you have said something offensive. According to every guy I have known who does this type of work, there is a very specific mindset that is required to be able to do it and that mindset just doesn't have room for wondering what the worker beside you thought about what you just said.

That said, most jobs aren't like that. If you are walking into what should be a civilized workplace (hubby would be the first to tell you that his workplace is never civilized), I think you should be able to expect folks to behave properly.

Rabe
08-31-2005, 08:20 AM
Some folks, men or women, use rough language and don't think anything about it. I've been around people on the job and even acquaintances whom I hate being around because they just talk filthy. .. using the "f" word in every sentence and anything else that comes to mind. While it is offensive to me, I've never thought of it as sexual harrassment because its simply the way they express themselves "all the time".

Some people pull out the sexual harrassment accusations when they want to "get back" at someone.

When I started my current job about seven years ago, I began work in a place that used profanity like no tomorrow and people didn't think twice about the use of racial slurs.

I fought back by telling people their language was offensive and *I* would not put up with it. I was told "you'd better learn to accept it."

My response? "I won't, and I won't have to."

Seven years later, racial slurs are a thing of the past (an incident wherein a respected member of our profession was killed in an auto accident and a 'co-worker' used some of the very same racial slurs against him also helped tremendously) and the 'rough language' is also nearly a thing of the past. It's certainly not as common as it used to be and I find it shocking now when I hear it rather than almost disregard it because it was so profuse.

So, no, one doesn't have to say that they have to just 'accept people being who they are'. Because change can be affected by simply stating you find it offensive and acting in an appropriate manner.

As for the second part of this statement. When I went to our human resources division to seek advice on our hostile workplace environment against a supervisor and a coworker (and oddly enough, without the use of names, the HR department knew exactly who I was referring to) it was not to 'get even' with people, but rather to protect myself and my job.

I'm relatively decent friends with the person that was creating the hostile environment two years ago because boundaries were set into place and then respected.

I worry about statements such as these and the effects they have on workplace relationships.

BTW...I'm male and the main person creating the hostile situation? Female.

Rabe...

Rabe
08-31-2005, 08:26 AM
I'll second that. Girls have cooties.

D.J - you didn't have to edit your post! I'm just telling the truth. Men are the ones who start the wars and knife people on the streets - the ones who leave their wives and beat their kids. And I'm pretty sure Bonnie only did what Clyde wanted her to do because she loved him.

Maybe I'm a bit obtuse, but I certainly hope you're kidding about this.

Because otherwise, I'd be very seriously remiss if I didn't show such ignorant, stereotypical, fallacious statements for what kind of fertilizer they really, truly are.

Rabe...