GUEST COMMENTARY: Harassment different for men

By CLIVE BLANCO NEDERLAND

Over the summer, on a temporary job at East Campus, the interim boss sexually harassed me.

She gave me daily updates on how wonderful I smelled, how beautiful my hair looked, how handsome I was in that shirt or those cool boots.

She made sure to inform me that managers and employees should always be allowed to date because otherwise how would dedicated people ever find love?

She also asked me several times if I did, or could, find a woman fitting her description as attractive.

While it is no difficulty for me to say this, as I am not embarrassed or ashamed, I did learn something from the experience.

I learned that while this action was completely unacceptable on her account and I do not excuse her actions, men don’t have the same experience as women in anything, even sexual harassment.

What I mean is simple. I never felt out of control, I never felt physically unsafe or threatened. I was never worried about being followed or stalked.

Instead, I was completely annoyed and irritated by this woman, which is a common reaction to her from what others have shared with me.

In talking to a number of female friends, I was reminded of two powerful things.

First, if my 20 or so female friends that discussed this with me are any indication, it seems about three-fourths of women (yes, 75 percent) experience sexual harassment in the workplace routinely.

The second powerful lesson was that most of my female friends never feel completely safe. As much as it never enters my mind to not feel safe, it never enters theirs to feel safe.

This is a major problem and it needs to be fixed.

As much as I knew this on some level, sharing my experience has lead me to realize just how easy I have life as a man.

Sure, once the interim boss figured out I would never go out with her, she gave me a quick lie about several people being dismissed due to budget issues and I was on my way. Obnoxious annoying woman was no longer an issue for me.

None of my female friends could tell me they just walked away and never had issues about that person, or others, again.

Rather, each friend told tales of finding that person in others or actually seeing that person again and feeling terrified of them.

I don’t have that issue. I saw the interim boss at a restaurant and she was happy to see me. I couldn’t care less.

She was the same annoying, obnoxious personality that makes her as unsuccessful in interpersonal issues as in the office.

Yet, I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t frightened and I wasn’t even bothered. She just doesn’t matter.

That stance comes because I have no reason to fear her or the situation. That is how everyone should feel, but that isn’t the reality of our society.

While sexual harassment is never OK and needs to be dealt with sternly, the truth is women and men simply don’t experience it the same way. For women, it appears to be an incredibly frightening, often life changing, event.

 The author is a writer for the screen and literature including poetry. He is currently a Pima employee, and writing under a pseudonym.

Filed Under: Opinion

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