Blonde moment

And the silver spoon.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Both men and women need to do better

OK, I'm going to come out. I was a victim of sexual harassment in college and a lot of young men in my peer group did not believe me. I am one of those generally happy people that smiles all the time and says, "Hi," to people I know. In college, I had waist length hair, all one length, and it was good hair! And I am also known for my "full figure." So, even though I don't claim to be pretty, I was attractive enough because I was friendly and approachable.

So, there was this guy, BF, who was a couple of years older and would hang out with the Campus Crusade people during meals. I met him my freshman year, and was smart enough to have a bad gut feeling about him. There was nothing in particular, I mean, he was good looking, business major, and generally pleasent around everyone, but there was something about him that said, "Slimeball."

The first incidence was my freshman year when most of the Crusade people were off on fall retreat. I didn't go because I hate retreats. So, I was eating with another friend when BF joined us. BF waited for the other guy to leave, and, since it is rude to leave someone alone eating, I stayed. BF propositioned me for the first time. I was horribly embarassed, turned him down, and left very quickly.

Though I tried, I could not avoid BF. He would seem to ambush me when I was alone. I talked to some of my close guy friends about it and asked them to watch out for me. This continued for three years. Eventually, what made it stop, is that BF made a proposition while I was eating with my friend C. He thought that since no one was believing me, that no one would believe C, who was disabled. Lucky for me, someone believed C and me; and they reminded BF that I as soon as I had a witness, I would report him to the woman's center and wreck his career. They suggested that he leave me alone and learn to deal with women better.

Anyway... why do I say this now? Well, in today's Star Tribune, we find a story about a man who has accused his employer of sexual harassment; and I know what it is like to feel so powerless.

Jeffrey Golden said that being straight and male were two strikes against him at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in St. Paul, where he worked for a supervisor.

His lawsuit against the state of Minnesota now awaits a ruling by Ramsey County District Judge John Finley.

In court filings and testimony, Golden said he suffered for nine years because of his supervisor, and female co-workers.

Among his claims: His supervisor said heterosexual men are "total pond scum" and at the bottom of the "food chain." She stared at his crotch during meetings. A sexually suggestive poster of a man went up in their office. His personal belongings were vandalized.

Golden said that when he complained, he was assigned to an inappropriate job in retaliation.

The state, in its court papers, says there's no evidence as to who vandalized Golden's belongings. Off-color remarks by his boss did not rise to the level of harassment or a "hostile work environment," and his new job was a good one, the state claimed.

In an interview, Golden said he endured the pressure for so long partly because he hoped the state would resolve the problems and partly because he has a family to support. He left the agency in April 2004.
State offiicials, including Golden's supervisor, declined to be interviewed.*

And this is where men and women need to do better in protecting eachother. The one thing that really sticks in my craw about my own situation is that my acquaintances would not befriend BF and teach him the finer art of how to treat women because he wasn't cool enough or smart enough and did anyone else hear BF make the comments?

Men, when you hear inappropraite comments directed toward a woman, be a man and stand up for the woman. Women, same thing. When your friends send you those forwards about the stupid man, stand up say it's wrong.

There's a difference between caricatures and harassment is this: caricatures exaggerate a feature to make it stand out more in amusement to others. For example, that Twins commercial where a guy is sitting on his couch watching a Twins game. He pretends to catch a ball, he makes a mess of things and is having a great old time. That is funny because it exaggerates a trait that a lot of men have. The Progressive commercial is meant to show that men need women to get them out of trouble. This is wrong.

Let's start defending each other. This is not about being too sensitive. This is not about being too weak to take the heat. This is about treating eachother with respect; something people of good character should do.

*In the above mentioned case, the accused has been cleared of all charges. Link