Sexual harassment is very real and very disturbing.
Disturbing because so many women still deal with it in our current society, even after the Anita Hill hearings in 1991. Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about inappropriate and embarrassing conversations her former boss, Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, had engaged her in while she was working for him years prior at of all places: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The hearing stirred up so much that a year later the government passed a law making sexual harassment a federal offense. This was a monumental moment for people in the workplace, especially women because it helped provide them with the opportunity to protect themselves. Want to learn more, check out the movie which premiered last night (Saturday, April 16th) on HBO and will be running in the next several weeks.
Change has been made, but it hasn’t stopped or been solved for that matter.
NY Magazine’s The Cut released an article recently discussing the problem and how it exists still while also providing examples of 14 women who have dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s unbelievable to imagine that those are stories from just 14 women. They’re merely a slice of reality and don’t include the many, many more women that it happens to around the country every single day.
I was 23, in my first job and didn’t understand what exactly was happening. It was two older men, on two separate occasions, one was a contract worker the other full time. During the evening shift, I was walking down the hallway when all of a sudden I hear “Nice Gams!” I didn’t realize it was targeted towards me or that it was harassment, but it was definitely unwanted and I felt uncomfortable. Many people were around, mostly female and heard. Before I had the chance to report it, someone else did and all the “shouting man” was responsible for was to apologize.
The second time was probably the worse of the two. I was talking with a fellow coworker when he noticed I scratched my nose. All of a sudden, the contract workers comes right up to me and says “we did it, she likes it dirty, in a chicken suit.” I was frozen. I was uncomfortable and more importantly, I didn’t know what to do. So, I left the conversation. After that, I avoided him like the plague because I began to notice how much he would like to get close enough to me without touching me. I kept to myself.
Why aren’t we talking about it? Well as the article pointed out and with Anita Hill, many women are too scared to report it because they worry about how uncomfortable it will make the workplace while also fear of losing their jobs. Some even take the drastic measure and quit just to avoid it altogether. This is a problem and women shouldn’t be scared of consequences. But more importantly, even though this landmark bill was passed and certain companies do not enforce it entirely, is not ok.
Most women have experienced some kind of unwanted attention in their lives in the workplace and for those like me, don’t know what to do. There should be more education, especially when telling young girls that if this happens, it is not ok and you should report it. but really, the fact that this happens, and men don’t see a problem with it, is not ok.
Featured image via Wikipedia.