It's been a banner month for whistle-blowers and sexual predators. Like the woman in Dominique Strauss-Kahn's case, and the woman in the incident with the Egyptian banker, today I stood up for myself and for the other women on my team and called out someone who had been sexually harassing us all for months. I am such a B.I.T.C.H.*
*Babe In Total Control of Herself
After having received another text message in the wee small hours of the morning over the weekend, I confronted my harasser at work this morning. I should have done it months ago after the incident where he was trying to play footsie with me under the table at a company dinner or after a company team-building event where he was touching my back inappropriately or after receiving some of his other text messages, but it wasn't until the other women on my team and I began to talk about what has happened to all of us over the past few months that we put the pieces together and realized WE aren't the ones with a problem.
Like so many other women, we had wondered on our own if WE were making more out of situations than were warranted, were WE just being hypersensitive, that sort of thing. Can you imagine? WE had doubts about our own perceptions. Seriously, this creep has been hitting on all of us for months and we were worried that WE were making too much of it.
So I went into his office, closed the door, and proceeded to tell him how inappropriate and unwelcome his actions and behaviors were to ALL of us and that they should stop immediately. I set the boundaries on his actions. HE was the one at fault, but I was the one who walked out of his office shaking with my stomach in knots. What the hell did I do wrong? NOTHING.
Why should it be such a big deal for us as women to set boundaries for behaviors that are inappropriate in the workplace or in any place where they are unwelcome? Why do we feel that we must be in the wrong in our THINKING so that we are almost paralyzed and don't act on what our gut tells us? How is it that we've come such a long way baby but are still hesitant to stand up for ourselves?
It's probably because we're still accused of "asking for it" based upon our manner of dress, or that women still only make 70-80 cents to every dollar that a man makes, or the fact that even though women make up more than half of the workforce we still only occupy about 5% of the highest executive positions in companies.
Yep, we obviously beg to be objectified and oppressed. Please, do it to me everyday. I live for it.
In the mean time, bear in mind that maybe I come to work every day to actually work, to support my children, to do a good job in the hope that I'll advance to a higher level in the organization with a corresponding increase in remuneration, that maybe I'm not looking for someone to rescue me and keep me barefoot and in the kitchen just hoping you'll invite me to an office happy hour where we might find another couple interested in swapping, that I'm not just sitting at my desk waiting for you to come in and touch me inappropriately or look at my chest instead of my face when we talk.
Seriously, eyes up here, dudes, and keep it zipped while you're at it. If we want it, we know how to ask for it. We have come a long way, baby, so peace out, fellow BITCHes.