I was in a conversation with a guy about the workplace and women. He explained how everything in life, history and so forth is built around the man wanting to provide for women so that he can ultimately have sex with her. So, I must give a disclaimer on this blog because it is not a comfortable topic to discuss nor should it even be up for discussion, but it is. And, every now and then I will use a curse word or two to explain certain things because after all some words add flavour to what is often distasteful. So, if you are uncomfortable with a ‘bad word’ then this might not be to your liken. But to be honest, you need to put on your big girl panties and deal with it or better yet take off your big girl panties and put on boxing gloves. It’s time for us to discuss and deal with the issue of sexual harassment. It’s not going away, yeah?
So, back to the story. I was talking with this guy about sexual harassment. He didn’t believe it was harassment because in his explanation; if everything hinges upon a man’s quest and “we” know this as women, why don’t we submit, especially if it will help our career. I was furious. I shared with him that basically what he was saying is that women should be whores in the work place. He argued that such is not the same. He then went on to say that basically it’s part of the game. And, women need to play the game. I was so over done that you could have stuck a fork in me and I would have fallen off the bone. I shouted… “Sexual harassment is not a part of the game!” But, ohhh…he’s right, now that I have given it some thought. Here is what I think, and this is what I know:
What I Think
Yes, quid pro quo is part of the game in some circles, some professions and with some men. Not all circles, not all professions and certainly not all men. But, enough that there are written rules and laws to protect women in the workplace in most countries. But, to no avail: it still happens in nearly all countries. In my second book, Playing by the Unwritten Rules, I wrote on page 22, number 5 that rules are sometimes unwritten because in that game that is being played that unwritten rule is illegal and unethical. That is just one of many reasons it is unwritten, but yes… the guy was right. It is an unwritten rule that for some men or in a certain organization/industry: A woman should or must sleep with her boss to have a promotion, success, prime projects, a job or whatever. And, that is utter bullshit. Some men have a skewed sense of morality and see the bedroom and boardroom as synonymous. Not all men, but enough to raise concern.
Look at what is being exposed in Hollywood with the casting couch based on the allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Or, Betty Pina, Alaska Airlines first officer and former military pilot, who alleges rape by her Captain, whom she identifies as Paul Engelien. She further states, “It’s not just our airline” in one of her interviews. These are two different industries, but the same crap: sexual harassment. Women can be made to feel devalued, coerced and/or intimidated to do favours ranging from dinner/drinks to performing acts with someone who would make you otherwise throw up in your mouth with the thought of having to do anything aside from your job with him. But, he’s a man of power who holds your career in his slimy little hands, and you can easily become the victim.
Just as with all unwritten rules and the game, you must decide how you will and will not play and what you will and will not do, which I’ll speak to a little later. I think that sexual harassment is still prevalent but less spoken about. It has become the workplace taboo which actually allows men to continue doing it but disguised and cloaked because women are either unwilling or unable to discuss it. When I was in the U.S. Marine Corp, I was sexual harassed. That’s not a news flash, right? But, I was touched inappropriately by both men and women. Yeah…women harassed women, so I’m no virgin to sexual harassment: no pun intended. I still feel the embarrassment and vulnerability that sexual harassment cause. One day, I’ll tell that story but for now…let’s get through this.
I’m someone’s mom, daughter, sister, auntie, and my roles and titles go on, just as some of these men who don’t take that into account have wives, daughters, moms, etc. So, you would think that they would have empathy, respect, and compassion, but nooooo. And, as an oh by the way…men don’t have the market cornered on harassment. Some women do it by flirting with a guy who is totally disinterested, and even making advances that will make him uncomfortable, but he often doesn’t complain out a fear of ridicule. So, this rant can be applied to both genders and all sexes. It is demeaning, demoralizing and cruel. In fact, since we have renamed everything such as an airline stewardess to flight attendant or a janitor to a facilities engineer, let’s give sexual harassment a new name: Career Rape. If that offends the senses, it should: not because of the ugliness of the phrase/word but because of the ugliness of the act and what it does to careers and the victims who often are women.
What I Know:
I know that this must be discussed, I know that shame keeps us quiet which allows it to continue and I know that this guy is a nice guy but grossly misguided. It can be our son, father, brother and unfortunately grandfather, with a little Viagra, who believe that women want them. The notion that this guy explained is that if women have their say in all other places, but men still have power on the job, and that this control allows them to expect sexual favours. If this is the mentality of men, shame on them.
Now, mind you, we argued for some time before I told him that I was hanging up on him. He stated, if women play the game, they can go further in their career. So, let me tell him why with uncertainty where the falsity is in his logic lies:
1. Yeah…but for how long?
If a woman uses what is between her legs versus what is between her ears to gain career advances or jobs, that will come to a halt when her career sugar daddy leaves. Everyone will know of her and his exploits and she will be not only ostracized, but resentment will occur which will cause others to not want to support her or work with her. She’s done when he leaves or when there is a ceiling to his power and influence.
2. He will tire of her
This is all fun and games until he grows tired of her and moves on to the next victim, at which time she yells harassment; thus, giving us all a black eye. But, I assure you little miss wherever you are…he will tire of you and then what will you do. During your affair, he will be more concerned with sex versus helping you develop skills that will lead to career management. In short, you will be promoted with no skills to legitimize your existence and people will figure that out when he is no longer sponsoring you.
3. Different Perspectives
Women and men view sex entirely different from three aspects: socially, psychologically and biologically. Where a man cannot imagine why a woman wouldn’t want a transactional relationship to boost her career, a woman cannot fathom why she is being treated like an escort. Thank god for laws that protect women because no one can get into someone’s head who believe that sexual harassment is okay. But, we must be vigilant in standing our ground when encountering unwanted advances.
In short, anyone willing to play this game, cannot win, ultimately. There will be some short-term boost or success, but your long game will be horrible. It won’t last. Now, there are some who have won, but they are outliers. As this guy continued, he really believed that there was no problem with this if a woman agreed to go along with it. On the most part, women are punished for playing the game (submitting) and punished when not playing the game (denying his advances). But, at least she can look herself in the mirror and know what she did was right and just based on her values, if she opts to not play this game.
As I continue to share with audiences, you have the right to not play any game by ‘the’ unwritten rules. But, you must recognize the game and any unwritten rule that someone is forcing upon you. At that time, you can decide what is in your best interest. There are three ways you can deal with sexual harassment: (1) stay and take it, (2) stay and change it, or (3) leave. But, that’s not enough. You must seek help. Please contact organizations in your area to report such matters to include your HR department. And, if you have encountered sexual harassment, please contact me. I would like to hear your story. I am planning a Women’s Forum that will address this issue and steps you can take personally and professionally to confront and resolve this type of matter. I challenge you to share this blog with the men in your life who may unknowingly contribute to this problem by complacency when they hear/see it and do nothing or through their actions that they may not recognize as problematic.