There comes a point where something happens and you think to yourself, enough is enough, I cannot let this continue. So when I walked into work today and had this conversation with a staff member:
Him: “Yo don’t ruin my chances, don’t say anything bad about me okay?”
Me: “What are you talking about?”
Him: “Get me in with those new starters you’re training,”
Me: “No way.”
Him: “Come on, I can take them from behind and you can have them from the front..”
It’s at this point I think to myself, holy shit something has to be done about this.
Immediately after this I had to express myself to a Female member of staff, sometimes I feel like I’m the only guy who sees this as a problem. But I learned a few things.
There is a fear, people don’t want to “grass up” their fellow workers, a fear of causing a big hurrah, a fear that other people will get in trouble, lose jobs and that would make them feel bad.
Therein lies a problem. Sexual harassment is a serious issue that needs to be tackled… duh, right?
Well for some, it feels taboo to talk about, something that should be whispered. You see stuff like this isn’t brought up much in mainstream education where I’m from. Hell I don’t even remember being told about sexual harassment at school, or when I started working. Perhaps there was something mentioned offhandedly during the part of the orientation regarding banter, but that is clearly not enough when others feel that the above comments are acceptable, joke or not.
A few years ago, a situation arose wherein somebody did bring up that they were being harassed and the head of the store told her, “I’ve never had to deal with this before, not even sure what to do.” That did nothing to encourage her that this was in fact the right thing to do, non the least that the harasser was trying to lay on the guilt about his wife and kid. No matter how much I tried to tell my friend, “he should have thought about that,” she still dropped the case.
So what are some excuses?
A lot of people don’t even realise they are doing it, some are just lonely, and some people in relationships don’t feel like they get enough attention… big fucking newsflash guys, this isn’t celebrity love island, don’t bring your personal problems into work. If you really want to scratch that two-timing itch, go do it in a bar on your own time because treating a lady like a piece of meat, is disrespecting her as a person and as an employee. She is your equal, she has every right to be here as much as you and it is unfair to make her life uncomfortable, to make her feel trapped and unable to open up to others and to make her afraid to come to work just so you can feel better about yourself… sorry but I really needed to rant.
So tomorrow, I will go back to work and I will speak to the head of my store. A new one thankfully.
I feel like most good things start with a conversation. So that is what I will do. I’m going to request some kind of informal meeting, where the women of the store can get together and discuss the issues out loud. I will request the guys also have an informal meeting, where they discuss what they think sexual harassment is.
This issue isn’t going to get better if everybody treats it like a forbidden secret. I need to raise awareness. I need people to know that what they are doing is harmful.
Maybe this won’t solve much, maybe it will, but it’s a start.
When those things happen, and I will make sure they do, I hope I’ll be able to write another blog post about how proud I am to work where I do, because sexual harassment here is a thing of the past and men and women can feel safe to work without feeling objectified and afraid to speak up.
All good things start with a conversation.
Am I doing the right thing?