A female friend of mine went on a foreign business trip early in her career with two colleagues who were both male, married, and senior to her at the company. After dinner with a client, hours after she had retired to her room, around 1 a.m., one of her coworkers knocked on her hotel door and asked if she would come out for a drink. She declined. After another hour, around 2 a.m., the other coworker knocked on her door. When she opened it a crack, he tried to push his way into her room. She fought him off. All three still work together.
The narratives blend, as do the euphemisms. That Hollywood executive is a bad apple. That TV host is a monster. That politician uses locker-room talk. It’s the alcohol. It’s the socializing. It’s the clothes. It’s the attitudes. It’s just being in the vicinity of women. It’s the video games, though I haven’t heard that excuse in a while.
But the fact is, it’s you. It’s men. The social ill that we can’t quite put our finger on is men.
If every single woman I know or have ever known has multiple (or even daily) experiences with men being inappropriate or threatening toward her, what other conclusion can we draw? Either there are a handful of men who work around the clock to keep women on edge, or many of you don’t realize what you're doing is wrong.
The good news is you can stop this behavior. You must stop.
What kind of behavior is inappropriate in the workplace? Hopefully, you learned this in some corporate sexual harassment training. But this rote aspect of orientation has clearly failed in its mission to quell the bad apples, so I asked female friends and colleagues to share some of the routine actions that make the hair on their neck pop up.
One said: A coworker knew I had a date the night before, so he asked me how it went. He said, "So, did he get lucky?”
Don’t ask about her romantic life. Don’t refer to her sex life. Don’t ask about the quality of the sex she’s having. Don’t comment that she seems like she needs to get laid. Don’t tell her to lock down a guy before she gets too old and decrepit. Don’t reassure her that with tits like hers, she’ll find a guy some day. Don’t relay details of your own marriage and past in order to comment on hers. Don’t make knowing eyes when she mentions she’s going on date number three. Don’t tell her how to behave on a date. Don’t tell her what guys like on a date. Don’t tell her to wear a low-cut shirt on a date. Don’t make any reference to getting lucky, like, ever.
Author credit: KAITLIN MENZA