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Follow That Pitchfork!
Yes, apparently, there's a guy with a spiked tail up ahead who gives a shit about your life. Well, I guess it sells some books, anyway -- the Bible, an all-time big seller, and now, the religiously based One-Liner Wisdom For Today's Guys. A sample:

MyWalk2.jpg

Me: "Uh...which direction are you going?" (Wait for answer.) "I'm going the other way."

That's actually something I said to some crack-, smack-, or otherwise-addled guy who was trying to tag along with me as I was going to a brunch in the East Village. See? It's perfectly possible to ditch the bad influences, even if you're a godless harlot like me.

Of course, it helps to be a godless harlot and kind of a bitch at the same time.

Which brings me to today's topic: Sexual harassment. "The hostile workplace." And I'm not just talking about a girl who gets asked out by an ugly guy, as the old joke goes about the definition of sexual harassment. For example, from "Saturday Night Live," this training video:

But, what is sexual harassment really about? Satoshi Kanazawa writes about Kingsley Browne's take on it. (More on that in Kingsley's excellent book, Biology at Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality (The Rutgers Series in Human Evolution):

Psychologist Kingsley R. Browne identifies two types of sexual harassment cases: the quid pro quo ("You must sleep with me if you want to keep your job or be promoted") and the "hostile environment" (the workplace is deemed too sexualized for workers to feel safe and comfortable). While feminists and social scientists tend to explain sexual harassment in terms of "patriarchy" and other ideologies, Browne locates the ultimate cause of both types of sexual harassment in sex differences in mating strategies.

Studies demonstrate unequivocally that men are far more interested in short-term casual sex than women. In one now-classic study, 75 percent of undergraduate men approached by an attractive female stranger agreed to have sex with her; none of the women approached by an attractive male stranger did. Many men who would not date the stranger nonetheless agreed to have sex with her.

The quid pro quo types of harassment are manifestations of men's greater desire for short-term casual sex and their willingness to use any available means to achieve that goal. Feminists often claim that sexual harassment is "not about sex but about power;" Browne contends it is both—men using power to get sex. "To say that it is only about power makes no more sense than saying that bank robbery is only about guns, not about money."

Sexual harassment cases of the hostile-environment variety result from sex differences in what men and women perceive as "overly sexual" or "hostile" behavior. Many women legitimately complain that they have been subjected to abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment by their male coworkers. Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment.

Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men—the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls—but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women.

In the latter case, where a woman is being bullied by a guy who wants to show dominance, I think the solution, at least some of the times, per what I told a girl who wrote me recently about a situation in her workplace, is to have (or cultivate fast) the demeanor that doesn't advertise to others that you'd make a good victim. And if you are victimized, to get up on your hind legs and get in the bully's face.

In the case of the woman who wrote me, she was young and didn't want to "yell at the guy," lest she come off "the fiery redhead." In contrast, Gregg told the new server company guys (we're thinking of switching to them) that if they don't give us good service, I might "go all redhead on them," and I think, if your demeanor suggests you have that in you, you generally don't get hostile work environment'ed in the first place.

Your thoughts, your experience?

Posted by aalkon at December 14, 2007 3:29 PM

Comments

If you smell (look etc.) like a victim someone will try to make you one. So people men and women are basically predators. Unless a predator is stupid they don't go after someone capable of fighting back unless they are desperate. Give of the impression that picking on you won't work and it tends not to.

My two cents on the gender angle of this. I have a friend who has "DON"T FUCK WITH ME" written all over her like a neon sign. Kung Fu, piercings will never back down no matter the situation. Very few people screw with her and no one does it twice. Now she's was also single for a very long time, and most people just assume she's gay, not just straight guys but lesbians too. She goes to extremes with it but I think it's a good indicator of how women are perceived by default. Straight Men and lesbians are perceived as manly and not someone you fuck with. Gay men and straight women are perceived as soft and more submissive, easy to fuck with. All of this is utter bull shit in truth. So my theory is that if your female and don't come off immediately as an iron hard bitch (Kung Fu bruises and facial piercings) it's assumed your and easy target.

Posted by: vlad at December 14, 2007 10:27 AM

"So people men " sorry should read "Some people, men"

Posted by: vlad at December 14, 2007 10:28 AM

So my theory is that if your female and don't come off immediately as an iron hard bitch

Actually, if you're strong, you don't have to leave the volume on high all the time. People perceive dominance and/or just that you're not somebody to fuck with. There was a study showing that mugging victims all walked in a similar way, and felons were able to pick out the ones who were victimized.

Posted by: Amy Alkon Author Profile Page at December 14, 2007 10:42 AM

"Actually, if you're strong, you don't have to leave the volume on high all the time." Right in my experince the dominance/submission thing get established early. If you come off as a bad ass initially or just plain nuts everything works.

Posted by: vlad at December 14, 2007 10:51 AM

The "just nuts" thing I used when I felt imperiled in New York. I'd stomp down the middle of the street and maybe even say, "Get the fuck away from me!" (If there was nobody around and there was somebody who didn't look like one of my artsy fartsy neighbors [in my old Tribeca neighborhood, which was a bit off the beaten path]).

The other night, I did a replay of that, going into the street as if I was going to my car to avoid a dark figure. It was my bookish, screenwriter neighbor, who's a guy nobody would cross the street to avoid. I think he probably felt good that a woman would find him intimidating. Then he saw it was me and said hi.

Posted by: Amy Alkon Author Profile Page at December 14, 2007 11:06 AM

Regarding your advice to the young woman - if she has less power in that work place than the man who attempts to use his dominance to get sex, then she may find that he uses his dominance to reprimand her for turning down his advances... in another effort to use his relatively greater power to get sex. In the absence of his decency/ chivalry, she will need to leverage something in order to affect good behavior.

In my early 20's, I worked as a proof reader, editor and project manager. I was the only woman in a supervisory position in an almost all-male work place, where girly pin-ups were the norm and male employees regularly yelled 'till they were purple in the face, and threw things. I had no authority to discipline. Despite the fact that I was planning my wedding to another woman, I was hit on by a man with about 15 years of seniority at work, with a wife and kids at home.

His advances were via email, time and date stamped. I let him know that if he ever again had a non-work related conversation with me, I would personally deliver into his wife's hands, every email he sent to me. That was that. But absent that evidence, I would have had no proof, and it would have been cheaper for the company to disbelieve me and then find a way to fire me than to discipline a guy who'd been an employee for 15+ years.

We have many laws in place in an attempt to replace uncultivated human nature with civility. In many ways, our human nature still bleeds through. I think women are better off the faster they get that relationships are about assessing, building, managing and leveraging power.

Posted by: Michelle at December 14, 2007 11:08 AM

See, they aren't always "advances." This guy she wrote about is the husband of a coworker. He is under no impression he'll ever get sex from her. He's bullying her. He's using it as a power play. And she's in a workplace of fewer than 15 people, so Federal laws do not apply, but state ones may, depending on the state. Still, I think it's best to cultivate yourself to BE the person who doesn't get harassed and to learn to stand up for yourself than to go all lawsuit on the person. That serves you for life. And the truth is, suing in the workplace can hurt a person's career.

Behavior can actually be documented by writing down exactly what happened and e-mailing it to yourself. Unless you're in a state where you can legally record conversations without getting two-party consent.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 14, 2007 11:24 AM

"His advances were via email, time and date stamped. I let him know that if he ever again had a non-work related conversation with me, I would personally deliver into his wife's hands, every email he sent to me." Thus showing you weren't going to take his shit, and rightfully so. I know some women who would just laugh it off for a while first.

"suing in the workplace can hurt a person's career." Yes because it's easier for a boss to assume you over reacted then to check if the law suite was legit. Also there are ways to deal with harassment internally that should be followed. You can also come off as someone who jumped the gun, which could cause the boos a hassle he doesn't need.

Posted by: vlad at December 14, 2007 11:37 AM

Here's one for the books: at one company I worked for, I took a week's paid vacation. Went to Daytona for Bike Week. When I got back, I noticed that the personnel manager, who was a woman, started tracking my every move. She was even keeping a list of what times I left my desk to go to the ladies' room. I had a pair of black boots that I bought at Thom McAn's about 3 months before my vacation, that I wore most of the time, they were nice, not clumpy clodhoppers or anything. About 3 weeks after I got back, I was called into the personnel office and told I was being let go because I wore "motorcycle" boots, and wasn't doing my work. Well, I was doing my work, and these weren't motorcycle boots by any stretch of the imagination. But she handed me my walking papers and I left. Weeks later, I found out the one of the other girls in the office was telling stories about me, and showing pictures of me to people that her boyfriend had taken of me at Bike Week! None of them were of a compromising nature, but apparently her boyfriend told her he was there with me (I wasn't). I confronted her, at the place of business, in front of everyone, and proceeded to rip her a new asshole, at which time the president of the company heard the words "slander, libel, and lawsuit". I was offered my job back, and flat out told him he couldn't afford me, but that if he kept that other woman on the payroll, that I would see him in court. Then I left, and never looked back. To this day when that woman sees me coming she runs the other way.

Posted by: Flynne at December 14, 2007 12:10 PM

This is interesting. I think cultivating a "don't screw with me" image probably would dissuade potential harassers.

However, I also read about a study recently where people were presented with identical scenarios detailing how a worker handled a situation assertively - the only difference being that in half the worker had a female name, and in the other half it had a male name. After reading the scenario, readers then had to answer various questions regarding their perceptions of the employee in the story - whether they would like to work with them; work for them; whether they were competent; etc.

The gist of the results was that when the scenario included an assertive "female" employee, she was perceived as worse than the assertive "male" employee - despite the fact that the scenario posed was exactly the same (but for the name of the "employee").

Now, who knows how accurate this study actually is (I wish I could remember where I read it so I could refer to it directly). But if there is any truth to it, there may be a catch-22 between protecting yourself from harassment by cultivating an assertive attitude and projecting a negative image that could hurt your chances for career advancement.

Posted by: Alexa at December 14, 2007 12:16 PM

You don't have to be an angry bitch to not be a target - just not be so worried about what people think of you that you aren't willing to stand up for yourself or what you value. Being a person who has dignity and won't just settle for any behavior in hopes of being liked or not making waves comes across without the need to pull out the big stick.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 14, 2007 12:28 PM

"So people men " sorry should read "Some people, men" could cause the boos a hassle he doesn't need."

Vlad - have you been drinking today? Lucky you!

I am actually stuck a work at the moment, not with a boss or coworkers who would harass me, but with terrible "dirty uncle" clients. I deal with a diversity of cultures, many of which find woman sub par to begin with (there is only 3 other women in the country that do what I do partly because of this) I am in the service industry, so pleasing my clients is a top priority. Not offending them is also pretty high up there.

I tend to be one of those very friendly, smiley type people, so I have spent hours at cocktail parties, dinners and events chatting up prospects, only to realize that they are not so subtly trying to get in my pants. You can't say - eww go f yourself, so I have to make up lies, exaggerate phone calls "oh my, an accident, I'll be right there". I have improved over the years and am able to say that "I feel that is innappropriate for us to discuss" or "I'm sorry, I didn't realize the nature of this meeting". I can still say those things and still feel like I am being friendly. It's alot better than all those years I spent smiling sheepishly and staring at my feet or laughing at lewd dumb comments.

Posted by: dena at December 14, 2007 12:32 PM

Sexual harassment can be an insidious creature and not always easily captured. Many moons ago at the age of 20, I went to a job interview for my very first office job - Oh my! No more waitress or janitor work for me! The job title was “Girl Friday.” (I took the liberty of changing that to “Purchasing Agent” on my resume after I left, as that was really what the job was).

At the job interview, the owner of this small office products company chatted with me for a couple of minutes and then asked me to take off my glasses. I was stunned – it was kind of a slow-motion, surreal thing. A million thoughts went through my mind: “Did he really say that? What are you doing? Don’t do this! You WANT this job. Didn’t women’s lib get rid of all this? Is this a women’s lib thing? Just do it. Men are men. Don’t blow this interview. Tell him to go to hell and walk out …” I took off my glasses. He remarked that my eyes were very pretty and proceeded to blather on for the next 15-20 minutes while I sat there not saying a word and then he announced I was going to be a great employee and that I was hired.

Over the course of the next nine months, I proved his prophecy to be correct. I WAS a great employee. I had lots of wonderful ideas and improved many aspects of the business. Customers were happy that their orders turned around faster. The owner was happy that money was being saved. The other co-workers were pleased that things just ran smoother and that purchase orders weren’t lost any more. The accountant loved me. The warehouse ran better. Yeah, it was great!

And the guy who ran the warehouse got a promotion and a raise.

Yep. ‘Cuz that’s just the way it had to go, (in my mind at the time) since whenever I went to the owner with my grand ideas, I got lectures on woman and their place in the working world, blah, blah, blah. And since I just wanted the job to get done, I would go back to the warehouse and run my ideas by Warehouse Guy and when he would tell me to tell the owner, I’d tell him no – that it wouldn’t work like that, he had to do it, so he did. I never begrudged Warehouse Guy that promotion and his raises. After all, I gave them to him. But I learned very young that sexual differences in the workplace might not always mean flat-out “harassment,” but it WAS out there and it wasn’t very nice – especially to me.

That was in 1982. Flash forward over 20 years and I’m working in New York City. My how the times have changed! I’m overseeing Operations for a regional office of a major US corporation now and report to a regional VP. I hire three bright, promising people to fill newly opened project coordinator positions. My boss meets them, talks to me after, he’s impressed with my hiring abilities – yay me!

Within half an hour of their first day on the job, the shit hits the fan. You see, two of the three new hires are male. The salesmen in our office are all in a dither – a MAN in a project coordinator position!?! WHAT?! It can’t be! They trudge in and out of my office all day. This continues into the weeks that follow by a couple of persistent ones. I’m told they can’t work in their capacity without a female in the role of Project Coordinator. It’s going to throw their whole working dynamic off. I’m told it’s going to be bad for business. I’m told all sorts of extraordinary bullshit.

Within two weeks, the brightest male of my new hires was “stolen” from me and moved to another area, although I continued to have him as a direct report. The other - I was flat out told to fire by none other than the VP who had raved about my brilliant choices! I refused to do it. I fought to keep him for about two months. All sorts of inane excuses were given to me as to why I should fire him, including at one point “bad breath.” The VP finally “laid him off” while I was out to lunch one afternoon. At least he got to collect unemployment, the poor bastard.

There were other sorts of things that went on – not the least of which is that I ended up, by direct order of the VP and his boss (who ran the entire east coast division), overseeing another whole department – the warehouse, actually, while the man supposedly in charge made $30K more a year than me, had a company paid car, etc.

Bah. Same shit, different day.

Keep in mind that at this point in my life, my lovely boss has told me “on the Bitch-O-Meter Scale, you’re about an 8.5 – approaching a nine.” He meant that as a compliment, and I took it as such, though I was tempted to ask how many men he had put on his charming “Bitch-O-Meter Scale.” After all, when you’re a known bitch, they don’t mess with ya, right??? Hahahaha!

It takes a lot to sue for sexual harassment – or discrimination – or any combination, thereof. I don’t have years worth of time or the energy that I’m willing to devote to documenting such a thing. It’s easier for me to walk away and make something new. Maybe I’m a coward. I don’t know. Maybe I see reality and do what I can do to make changes for myself. I can tell you this – making changes is just tiring after a while, and really – why should anyone have to do that? And why should any woman have to put herself up to be on a Bitch-O-Meter Scale just to keep the hounds at bay? If you, Man, can’t act like a decent human being – especially in the workplace - blow me.

Posted by: Inquiring at December 14, 2007 6:26 PM

Women often don't negotiate for bigger salaries and more perks. Don't know if that was the case for you, but this -- "If you, Man, can’t act like a decent human being – especially in the workplace - blow me" -- should keep the dogs at bay.

I'm not one of those who has a problem with guys telling you you look hot. In fact, I spend time getting dressed -- I like it to be noticed. But, there's a point where it's not a compliment, or just hazing, it's repeated bullying that makes it uncomfortable for somebody to come to work...and that person could be male or female.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 14, 2007 7:00 PM

To the proposed question... I'm not sure why, but I feel almost guilty when I think, "Gee, I don't think I've ever been sexually harassed!" But then I thought about it, and besides wondering if I'm either extremely luck or just plain oblivious, I come to the conclusion that, hey, this isn't a bad thing, and, more importantly...

I think it's because I don't think of myself as a victim, nor do I act like one.

I think I get it from my mother, who was the kind of person who didn't take any crap, but neither walked around with her 'bitch' on 24/7. She taught me that words only have as much meaning as you give them and that even if you can't control another person, you CAN control your reaction to them. Sometimes it's hard to remember that, but I think it's true... harassment happens, but how far it goes or how long it goes on is more determined by the harassed than the harasser.

Posted by: Jean at December 14, 2007 9:39 PM

Amy wrote: “Women often don't negotiate for bigger salaries and more perks. Don't know if that was the case for you, but this -- "If you, Man, can’t act like a decent human being – especially in the workplace - blow me" -- should keep the dogs at bay.”
Oh, I keep the dogs at bay, alright. And at my age, I know my worth and will get paid accordingly. I guess my point is, that discrimination still continues out there and it takes all forms – some not so easily combated. Here are a couple more scenarios that I’ve experienced…
I was once fired from a job because the boss’s wife thought I was too pretty – she didn’t want her husband around me. Who knows, maybe I ultimately wouldn’t have wanted to be working for her husband, but I wasn’t there long enough to find out.
In another NYC corporate job, my boss was female and was off the charts on the Bitch-O-Meter Scale; in fact, I think she must have been one of the inventors. I witnessed this woman reduce experienced, professional, smart, alpha-male men to tears in her office on a least a semi-monthly basis. It was horrible to see. She would brag to me about it, saying that there was nothing they could do about it because she was a woman. I learned a lot of valuable things from her, but the environment in her department was simply sick – very much like an out-of-control abuser in a family of co-dependents. Ironically, it was me – a female – who went to HR about her. I also found another job because I just could not deal with her and the awful environment she had created any longer (the job I subsequently got was my first subject on this topic). It took the HR department about a year to get her fired. They did not fire her because of the sexual discrimination she clearly exhibited, they fired her for other reasons they were able to scrounge up.
With regard to the former scenario, I was very young at the time and it was a small town with small prospects. I figured in a large city, with a “professional” environment, maybe things would be different. As I found out years later, the latter scenario (along with the examples in my prior post) happen all the time – even in some of the world’s largest corporate environments, which one would think are setting precedents for the rest of society.
My conclusion from these and other experiences is that people are pretty much divided into two equal parts – some are mean, nasty and aggressive; and some are decent, kind and have qualities of integrity and character. Involving the subject of sex into the equation simply adds a layer of complexity to the underlying problem of over-all aggressive tendency in people. Some people cope well with these situations and succeed in spite of them. I don’t cope well because I move into “crusader” mode and rush out to strike the bullies down. It’s better for me to work by myself than to deal with social issues in which I can’t keep my mouth shut.
I don’t want to cloud this topic too much, but I wanted to respond to your request for thoughts and experiences. The scenarios I’ve illustrated really involve the topic of discrimination, (which in some ways is more difficult to fight / object to), not necessarily harassment.
With regard to the subject of harassment, a main point that I see is – to say that sexual issues really just don’t exist in the context of aggression, intimidation, etc. in the workplace is nonsense. For Brown to conclude that “Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women” falls somewhere between being naïve and blithely ignoring reality.
At the very base of sexual harassment that men use against women are two things: One, men are more aggressive, in general, then women – so there are more instances of men exhibiting sexually harassing behaviors toward women then women toward men. And secondly, because the very nature of such harassment IS sexual and the true core of the issue, you can not avoid the topic of inherent, implied physical violence that could possibly occur. Women are much more keenly aware that sexual connotations of an aggressive confrontation can lead to an absolute “worst case” scenario – that rape can become a reality. We know this when we walk across a dark parking lot late at night, and we know this when faced with a menacing, overtly sexual situation at work. This knowledge creates a fear that underlies the whole thing. It’s a fear that men don’t have to deal with.
Does the fear factor mean that the sexual harassment of a man against a woman is somehow worse or more morally wrong than the harassment of a woman against a man? No. Not really. Both are not good. But I would say that the fear factor does contribute (in a large way) to the complexity of the subject. It is real and it shouldn’t be ignored just because we want to level the playing – and fighting – fields between men and women.

Posted by: Inquiring at December 15, 2007 8:31 AM

“Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women” falls somewhere between being naïve and blithely ignoring reality.

It's not a description of all sexual harassment. He writes comprehensively on this in his book. But there is hazing, and sometimes it takes on a sexual tone.

Workplace discrimination happens to men and women in myriad ways.

Women are, Kingsley points out, more likely to tattle on people who bother them in the workplace then to deal with the probelm head on (as I always have, and as I'm guessing you have, Inquiring).

Posted by: Amy Alkon Author Profile Page at December 15, 2007 8:37 AM

Yes, people who deal with me by attempting to exert any kind of aggressive behavior (sexual or otherwise) will likely find themselves on their arse – figuratively as well as literally, should the situation warrant it.

Tattling has never been my style. I can find a certain amount of sympathy for the young and inexperienced, but my sympathy will quickly turn to contempt when victims chose (and seemingly enjoy) to remain victims.

The bullies of the world are not going to go away. Learning how you can deal with them – (head on, as you encourage, Amy) is a lot easier than running off to HR every time you turn around. At the same time, we have a legal system in place and HR has a duty to do what it can to protect workers. If a person feels they are in over their head in dealing with a situation, especially in a situation they have tried to resolve themselves, they should not have to feel shame in calling in the big guns to help.

Posted by: Inquiring at December 15, 2007 10:38 AM

I should really be studying for my finals but...

I agree that predators pick the weak to harass or abuse. I thought that study used rape victims though, Amy.

I personally have not been subjected to much workplace discrimination, but I tend to work for individuals, not companies. At my last job though, it was an all male environment, except for me, and me being a girl definitely figured into the dynamics. I was actually hired half because I'm pretty, and my looks were mentioned on a pretty regular basis. The men there were of the "chivalrous discriminatory" kind and it really didn't bother me. My place in the company was a position of responsibility and there wasn't any room for advancement (for anyone) as there was no management or hierarchy so it didn't hold me back. Being regarded that way somewhere else might have, but there, it was actually a perk. They watched their language in the office, were helpful in every way, and generally were extremely nice to me. I was, however, looked on as the hostess whenever clients arrived and was expected to be cheerful and happy all the time. An aside: men walking down the street are never commanded to "smile!".

Being a woman might make it harder for me in some respects, but my life in general is way easier and more pleasant for it. I fully take advantage of it and though the pretty girl method doesn't always work, there's the determined, assertive woman to back it up. And when the chips are down, I have no problem sticking up for myself. Once at a bar with my group of friends a man attempted to make a lewd comment to me. One minute he wore a lecherous grin. The next he was blushing bright red and ferverently apologizing into his beer. You don't need to wear the bitch attitude all the time. If you walk tall and are confident, you can usually avoid any crap, and it helps if you know what to do if someone does bother you.

Posted by: christina at December 15, 2007 11:17 AM

> Women are, Kingsley points
> out, more likely to tattle
> on people who bother them

"Tattle" is often another way of saying "demand that others around you care enough to help you with your personal problems." The underlying presumption is that there are people who run the world, and they're basically decent, loving parents who will kiss your ouchy when you tell them --in sufficiently clear terms-- how you fell off your bicycle. If there's a finer translation of 'bourgeoisie,' I've not seen it.

And for the record, when people do file sexual harassment claims, nobody does well except the attorneys. Is this not instructive?

Several years ago, there was a lady General in the United States Army who complained about sexual harassment. Imagine what it would be like to be a soldier under her command, a young person (man or woman) carrying deadly force in the line of fire... A grunt in theater whose life depended on her steel judgment and warmaking impulse. Then imagine learning that your proud commander had fled to authority because a neighbor boy made 'bad touch.'

Are we ever, ever permitted to demand that people simply be strong in the face of adversity?

> I think cultivating a "don't
> screw with me" image
> probably would dissuade
> potential harassers

In the workplace, maybe. The street is a different venue. There are neighborhoods where no matter how whacked-out and dangerous you seem to be, the flesh on your bones is a worthwhile prize for violent scavengers.

Posted by: Crid at December 15, 2007 11:36 AM

Crid- you are seriously mocking a high ranking officer in our armed forces?

It isn't easy being a woman and being in the armed forces- for obvious reasons. So General Kennedy is probably pretty tough.

Besides, it sounds like the man who harassed her was removed after her complaint. Sounds like a pretty good way to say "don't fuck with me", don't you think?

Posted by: Kat at December 15, 2007 5:40 PM

No; I'm embarrassed for her. Are you saying we should entrust the lives of our children to girly-girls who blush after a wolf-whistle? Who said things were supposed to be "easy"? Jesus Fucking Christ, she's an Army general. There's no metaphor by which I can mock her. Even in the military, "hostile work environment" doesn't mean what it used to.

(PS- Are you the Kat I think you are?)

Posted by: Crid at December 15, 2007 6:41 PM

I gotta say I agree with crid on this one, if your rank is that high who the hell is going to harass you?

And quite frankly given the age and apperance of women by the time they make that rank, not many men are interested in sex with you at that point

And if it were sexual assult charges would have been filed as opposed to a compliant

Posted by: lujlp at December 15, 2007 9:10 PM

I'm with you on the general. Sometimes, guys you work with are going to ask you out, maybe even paw you. Deal with it. I always did. (And by sleeping with them and/or going out with them if I thought they were hot.) If somebody persists in going after me when I'm not interested, I'm a big girl, I'll let them know, and in a way that makes them stop. Occasionally, I do ask for help, but only for comedic effect.

Last time I got an obscene phone call (the guy said "I wanna eat your pussy"), Gregg was over. I held the phone in my hand, and said to Gregg, in a totally blasé voice, "Honey, this guy wants to eat my pussy." Then, into the phone: "Here, talk to my boyfriend." Gregg said something gruff, can't remember what, and the guy hung up. In some small way, it reminded me of the Marshall McLuhan scene in Annie Hall, and I just loved that.

A joke a friend just sent me:

When a man talks dirty to a female stranger, the charge is sexualharassment. When a female stranger talks dirty to a man, the charge is $3.99 a minute.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 15, 2007 9:27 PM

A General...Come on now. There is a certain time when you should take care of things yourself...I have female troops, one of the guys over in the barracks kept harassing her. When she told me about it, I took one of the other NCOs along with and we "dealt with him". This General was a grown-up and I'm sure when she came in women weren't that well received. "Dainty" Generals aren't much use to the military.
Joke Time: My sister got an obscene phone call when she was having an asthma attack. The caller's response was "Did I call you or did you call me?"

Posted by: Blackjack at December 16, 2007 1:15 AM

Besides, Kat, it wasn't the general who said "Don't fuck with me," it was her authoritarian administrators. To wit:

> There is a certain time
> when you should take care
> of things yourself...I have
> female troops, one of the
> guys over in the barracks
> kept harassing her

So you're saying, that wasn't one of those times?

I understand what everyone's getting at, but Amy's anecdote seems like the best example of an important boundary. She got a phone call from a guy who wanted to talk about cunnilingus with her; she thoughtfully passed the phone the person in the world who (we presume) would have the most to share on this topic. The caller was properly humiliated by her boyfriend, not scolded by her Daddy.

Posted by: Crid at December 16, 2007 9:27 AM

C'mon, did no one read Crid's link? He didn't just ask her out, he tried to grope and kiss her and who knows what else if she hadn't stood up for herself and she didn't say anything until the dude was going to be put in charge of investigating assholes like himself. As far as women by the time they reach that rank not being desirable, did you look at her picture? And I'm straight.

I don't know. I think there's times you can take care of it yourself and times it takes more to stop it. I worked for unemployment and I saw some cases. I even had one with a guy fired when he didn't put out for his creepy male boss who'd even follow him into the men's room. You see some creepy job situations when you work at the second appeals level of unemployment and harrassment and discrimination of whatever nature are damned tough to prove. So, yes, handle initially if you can but if that doesn't stop the unwanted attention then you do need resources to take it up a notch.

Posted by: Donna at December 19, 2007 7:23 AM

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