Well here we are, it’s 2017 and we are still (not) talking about sexual assault and harassment. We’ve all been to the work mandated meetings and completed the awkward trainings on the right and wrong way to address, or compliment (just don’t) people that we work with. Yet today, amidst all of the attention the subject is getting in the news and social media, the following two things happened to me at work.
- A colleague called me into his office to show me a new customer that we have that gave me a discount code that we could use as a new partner. Nice, you say. When he pulls up the site to ask me if there is anything I would like, it’s a page full of bralettes and panties. Number one, my boobs are way too big for a bralette, better known as a fake bra and number two, really??? Did he really think that pulling a female coworker into an office to offer her a discount on underwear was the best idea??? I digress….
- Next, another coworker who has made me uncomfortable on several occasions by calling me, baby, sweetheart, sister and other slang that are NOT my name, came up to me, put his arm around my shoulder a little too tightly to commiserate our mutual teams not doing well in the MLB postseason. (Get it together Cubbies!)
This is just a day in the life of corporate America. As I write this I wonder, do I give people the impression that this is okay by adhering to the just one of the guys persona that I have found necessary to fit in and be accepted into the boys club? Yes, that is me blaming myself for unwanted and uncomfortable situations, and frankly, THAT is unacceptable. Will I report either instance? Sadly no, and honestly these are mild compared to other things I have endured including a bad hotel situation where I was too drunk and I let a coworker take things too far. Again, I blamed myself for months.
When I was 15 I was raped by a boy I was dating. I didn’t understand how wrong that was until much later in life. He was used to having sex with his girlfriends, so he didn’t understand that no meant no. I feel like this is when I learned to lie to myself. In my 20’s there were two occasions that stand out. I was on a date and went back to someone’s apartment to hang out after dinner. A kiss turned into a very aggressive situation, and a very well timed roommate returning that allowed me to leave, but I’ve always known where that night was going.
I worry about my daughter. She too will have to face the same struggles, awkward hugs, unwanted touching, abusive language, boyfriends that don’t understand no, coworkers that don’t respect her if she doesn’t play along unless we as women make a real change. We must demand that this is not okay. I should not be fearful for my job that I rely on if I suggest that our work culture isn’t all rainbows and unicorns as advertised.
So yes, me too. I too must stop lying to myself and start thinking about what kind of American culture I want my daughter and your daughters to grow up in.