There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about sexual harassment and sexual assault. Women and men have been coming out to speak about it. I think it’s something that I should address with my readers since my target audience are people new and fairly new to the workplace. First off, sexual harassment and assault are not only aimed at women, men can be subjected to it also. However, women are by far the greater majority who are the victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Most people will tell you that if you are victimized you should immediately report the offender, either to the company, the police or both. In a perfect world that would be the way to go but the reality is that’s not the world we live in. The women who don’t report offenses right away now have to deal with the added guilt of ‘letting it continue’. And there are plenty of people who are willing to condemn them for it. That’s very unfair to those women. Everyone has be the their own judge regarding what they are able to handle. Look at the women who have come out against Donald Trump and ex-Judge Roy Moore. They are receiving death threats against themselves and their families. They are being mercilessly harassed. Their reputations are being trashed publicly.
I have spent most of my life working in male dominated fields. I have faced sexual harassment at every single one of the jobs I’ve worked at. Did you hear that? EVERY SINGLE ONE. You’re probably thinking that can’t be true. I must be one of those women who takes every little thing as harassment. Nope. I’m not talking about sexual innuendo or dirty jokes. I’m not even talking about nude photos up on the walls. I’m talking about sexual harassment. I’m talking about being called to an office and walking in to find a man exposing and stroking his erect penis. I’m talking about strong insinuation that advancement opportunities would be at risk if I didn’t accommodate a boss. I could go on and on. You would think I’m some kind of beauty. I’m not. I’m average. You wouldn’t notice me in a crowd. I can’t even imagine how bad it must be for attractive women.
That aside where do you think my career would be if I complained about harassment at every single job I worked at? How do you think it would look on a resume when every reason for leaving is because of sexual harassment? Even I, someone who knows it happens, would be concerned over a resume that lists that reason over and over again as the reason for leaving. Are they telling the truth? Yes, that is the first thought that comes to everyone’s mind when you see someone using that claim multiple times. We, as a society, have not come to terms with how prevalent it really is. Those of us who have faced it think we are the exceptions. When we look at those applications we wonder are they so paranoid that they think every little thing is harassment? Are they lying because they don’t want to reveal the real reason why they left? Are they hoping that making the claim will negate any bad reference that employer may give about them? Are they just trying to get sympathy?
As unfair as it is that’s the reality. I’m sure there will be a lot of people who don’t agree with me but I want to prepare you for the real world, not the perfect world. You are the one who has to decided what you find acceptable and what you don’t. You are the only one who can decided what you have to do. I strongly encourage you to get away from a situation that could endanger your safety but only you can judge your situation. I strongly encourage you to be willing to tell someone, “NO! That’s not acceptable”. But only you can decide if it will cost you your job and if you consider it worth it. People who judge you aren’t you. Even if they have had a similar situation it doesn’t mean their coping abilities and yours are the same. What they can take isn’t necessarily what you can take or are willing to take.
I am in total agreement with the woman who screams to the world what was done to her. I am also in total agreement with the woman who keeps it to herself and instead starts quietly looking for another job. They both are doing what is best for themselves at the time and we should all respect that.