Work Place Harassment, It's a Real Thing

Whew child. Can I talk to y’all for a second?

Workplace harassment is real. It’s a real issue that needs to be dealt with immediately. This is not something that only happens to women; from personal experience, I’ve seen it happen to men too. Why is it so hard for people to remain appropriate around the opposite sex? Why does it seem like most men and women, regardless of age, have no mental sense of what boundaries are? This is why meetings are held, pamphlets are given, posters are stuck to walls. People have all these signs in their faces but have yet to heed them.

Imagine, in the midst of working a twelve hour shift, having to constantly combat flirtatious men, who take your blunt rejection as some type of skewed reciprocated flirtation. Or worse, having someone of the same sex egging it on with laughter, constantly enticing these dingbats, claiming it’s all in good fun & helps time go by. This seems like a pretty detailed account because, it’s an actual personal experience. This is not the first time this has happened to me, not by a long shot but let me tell you, I AM TIRED.

I’ve been told a job position has gotten to my head because I’ve rejected the advances of men at work. I’ve been told that I was mean. I’ve been told that I was miserable. I’ve been told that I was uptight. I’ve been told many things about myself that doesn’t align with my reality. Now I have tough skin and these rebuttals from my rejection don’t tend to bother me much but understand; these are things that I’ve had to deal with since entering the workforce at age seventeen. There are certain places you would expect to be a safe place from the cat calls, perverted stares and repulsive comments and apparently the workplace isn’t one of them. In my 28 years on this earth, I’ve known only one place that’s sheltered me from this kind of unwanted and unwarranted attention, my home. It’s virtually impossible to stay in the house, to avoid these encounters but then again, WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO. Why can’t people recognize when to stop their advances and leave people the fuck alone?

Like I’ve said, I’ve seen it happen to men also. Women saying provocative things to a man, and him laughing nervously, borderline embarrassed, trying to change the subject. I’ve seen an (older) woman slide her arm around a young man’s waist and say, “Isn’t that right, babe?” Prompting compliance into whatever she was asking but the look of uneasiness on his face, also made me uncomfortable. It’s just not right. People claim to be flirtatious by nature, don’t mean any harm, or think it’s not a big deal but when you’re making someone uncomfortable; IT ACTUALLY IS A BIG FUCKING DEAL.

Listen, I’ve considered quitting jobs to stop harassment. I’ve had to stop my significant other at the time from popping up at my job & handling things “his way”. I remember one time, I was promoted to a desk position that required me to wear real clothes instead of scrubs & the harassment was so bad, I asked my boss if I could revert back to wearing scrubs. IMAGINE HAVING TO ASK TO WEAR SCRUBS TO DO DESK WORK. Do you know how insane that is? No one should ever have to work under those types of conditions.

So let me break this down for you, boys and girls.

Harassment is basically, a constant unwanted interaction. Disclaimer: No, this is not the dictionary definition; if you want the dictionary definition: GET A DICTIONARY. An interaction can turn into harassment when the person you are interacting with has repeatedly asked you to stop & you won’t. Okay, now let’s define sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is unwanted interactions with sexual undertones, this includes but certainly isn’t limited to: unwanted sexual advances, unwanted flirting, unwanted physical contact, unwanted conversations with sexual innuendos. Notice, I put “unwanted” in front of all of those interactions. Why? Well, this is where it gets tricky… legally for something to be considered harassment, you have to VERBALLY express that you want it to stop. Certainly there are some instances where people can’t verbally tell someone to stop for whatever reason. These reasons could be they’ve verbally expressed it but indirectly or they’re too afraid to ask someone to stop. Now, I added the legality aspects of harassment so people can understand that if you wanted to file charges against someone, one of the things officials, will ask is, if you’ve asked that person to stop. Unfortunately, this is where people like to find loopholes, “Oh, so someone has to say stop in order for it to be considered harassment?” or “ She was laughing when she said no, so I figured she was playing.” Don’t be daft, all the person has to do is verbally express that what you’re doing/ saying is unwanted, and if you choose to continue, THAT’S HARASSMENT.

Constantly trying to shoot your shot after being told by someone they’re not interested, is indeed harassment. NO IS NO. Also in these particular situations, grabbing/touching someone to get or maintain their attention, is not only harassment but in most cases, assault. Let me just be extremely clear here, it is NEVER okay to touch someone without their consent I don’t care if you’re just placing your hand on their shoulder, just keep your hands to yourself. I really hate that I had to type this but it seems necessary, this is not limited to the workplace *cue infamous eyeroll*.

Swift Break Down:

What’s harassment?
-Constant unwanted interaction/communication
-Verbally expressed

What’s sexual harassment?
-Unwanted sexual advances
-Unwanted flirting
-Inappropriate touching (anywhere on the body)

How do I know if what I’m doing is harassment?
-Play it safe, don’t fucking touch people
-Keep inappropriate comments to yourself
-If someone asks you to refrain from certain interactions (physical or verbal) with them, STOP

It’s really that simple. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

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