Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sexual Harrassment and the implications thereof

So I am called into Strang's office because a charge has been made, or rather, my name has been brought up in a charge of sexual harrassment. As the harrassee not the harrasser. (I thought I should clarify that).

Strang: "Um Jenny, take a seat"

Me (wide-eyed with wonder): What is it Strang?

Strang: Your name has been brought up in something and I want you to tell me...were you sexually harrassed by Prometheus? Is that why you stopped talking to him?

(Prometheus, a senior reporter, is now facing sexual harrassment charges from one of the young newly married female reporters. He was once a friend. We fell out, but it had nothing to do with sex)

Me (choking): What a dumb question! Of course not! He never did. In fact, I remember there was once when I was totally drunk and he totally could have and instead, he took me to this abandoned park and forced me to walk up and down till I got sober enough for him to send me home. I remember him threatening to kiss me on the lips (giggle) if I didn't keep my head up. I can tell you, drunk as I was, my head snapped up straight. He told me later he didn't know whether to be glad or slightly offended. So, no.

Strang (with a sigh): Yes, I thought not. You know how to take care of yourself, don't you?

Flashback: A few months before he got married, Strang, tall, good-looking and an all-round buaya (Malay for crocodile and it means predatory Romeo) starting hitting on a few girls in the office. He used to stare at us in turn from his computer, casually stroll up and run his hands down our backs while purportedly reading our stories over our shoulders. I took care not to react, show any awareness of what he was doing and then I chopped off all my hair, thus rendering me unattractive (impossible to believe, I know, but true). Problem solved.

Strang: In fact, if one of our youngsters like Sam wanted to go out with you, I'd tell them to think twice. Say they couldn't handle you.

Me (rolling my eyes): Yeah, thanks a lot. (Am not too offended because am not remotely interested in Sam or any of the guys in my office. The girls are babes and the men are just, well, like nothing on earth. Makes it easier to avoid occupational hazard of inter-office romances)

I bring this up because of present situation. Is it possible to be sexually harrassed when you are aware of what is happening and don't want to play ball? Shouldn't there be some measure of consent before it goes any further?

In other news...oh nothing...

10 comments:

A thinker said...

eeek. Guys. I am *so* glad there are some gentlemen left in this world...

Jenn said...

Gentlemen. Hmmmmmm....a loaded term.

I guess...

goldennib said...

Sexual Harrassment is so hard to define. If you are interested in the other person, it's mutual attraction, unless the other person has more power than the other. Then it depends on how things turn out. If the person is creepy, then it's easy to say SH.

Grey Shades said...

Well if there is consent then it isnt harrassment is it? Its more like a sexual favor then!

Jenn said...

Nessa: I know. What was weird was that in this case, both the men and women of the office aligned themselves with the alleged harrasser rather than the harrassee...we all thought she was just being a bitch.

Grey Shades: No. There can be something in between, I think. Also, I think you need to sort of tell someone when something is inappropriate.

goldennib said...

We had that here once. A woman who worked for us came in on a Saturday afternoon when usually no women are around. A bunch of men were here. They were looking at dirty jokes on the computer. She wrote a complaint letter to the owner, that if he didn't disapline the men she'd file suit. What makes it funny, not, is that her husband, who also worked here, received naked pictures in the mail and in email at work.

David Cho said...

Went to the sexual harassment workshop back when I had a full time job. This was back in 99, and I don't think things have changed much.

Everything that the company attorney went over was pretty much in line with common sense. Use your head and you are okay.

It is sad that common sense has to be codified into law because of morons. Nobody wins, but lawyers.

Jenn said...

Hey you heard the one about the guy who filed a suit for SH? When he started working, he was assured that all the women in the office were easy...but 10 months down the road and he still wasn't getting any...so he filed for SH, or the lack of it.

AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Grey Shades said...

Yeah you should! I've seen so many gals in my earlier orgn letting these things pass the worst part is, the HR and other folks were reluctant to take action.

Jenn said...

OK nother story, nother story...my sister Jackie and I were going for a run. We were both nubile teenagers at that point. Sick of being catcalled at by the guys, I shouted out at a male runner passing by: "Hey nice butt!"

Jackie almost passed out with embarrassment...but hey, if there's any sexual harrassment going around, I would prefer to be the one who does it.

The runner just grinned.