Sexual Harassment, Office Culture, Resumes, and “Boys Being Boys”

sexual harassment, office culture, resumes, and boys being boysWe’ve all been hearing and talking about the surge of men getting fired, losing control of their companies, and otherwise being disciplined for sexual harassment and other bad behavior — and we’ve all been heartened by the groundswell of support for the women and men brave enough to come forward. I’m hopeful that we are at the beginning of a tectonic shift in the way sexual harassment is handled at companies, where the default becomes “I believe her” — it’s about time. (Full disclosure, considering the stock photo: this is not a #metoo story, but my heart goes out to the many, many, many women and men who have such stories.) There’s been a lot of discussion and think pieces on this topic in the press — but here are a few questions I haven’t seen discussed that might  be interesting topics here: 1) How do you think these past few weeks will affect the companies, colleagues, and protégés (both male and female) of these men? How will they ever distance themselves enough? 2) For those of you who work at men-dominated firms where, perhaps, a “boys will be boys” attitude has prevailed in the past, has anything changed in the past few weeks? What are the positive changes you’ve seen (whether from HR, company/firm-wide meetings, etc.) that make you optimistic about the future?

With regards to the first question about resumes and protégés: Let’s say you run a production company in Hollywood. A man comes in to interview for an opening and his resume notes that he worked closely with Harvey Weinstein — which, before a couple of months ago, would have been a huge resume boon (granted, there’d been rumors about his behavior). Do you consider his resume? If he makes it to the interview stage, do you ask about it — whether he “knew” what was going on and was ok with it, whether it was part of company culture that he accepted and perhaps expects at your company? If it’s a woman instead of a man — with the same resume — how does that change things?

I’m thankful to be one of the seemingly few women who doesn’t have a #metoo story (at least not that at the office that I can remember), but I’ve been watching the news closely in part because I worked closely with a male VIP in my law firm days and with a female VIP in my journalism days, and they’ve always played a large part in my resume and in job interviews. Fortunately, neither has been accused of anything (knock on wood) but I can’t help thinking that if either were, then future resumes/interviews would be very, very, very different. (Obviously this is a totally minor concern in comparison to those of the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted, but it’s something to think about.)

Readers, what are your thoughts? 

Psst: In the past, we’ve discussed a lot of sexism issues, including sexual harassment at workhow to deal when you work with sexist pigs, what to do when your client hits on you, and how to make your boss stop flirting with you.

Further reading:

  • The 4 Redemption Narratives We Are Currently Using to Minimize This Sexual Harassment Hellscape [Jezebel]
  • The sexual-harassment epidemic has been diagnosed. What’s the cure? [Washington Post]
  • The Conversation We Should Be Having [The Cut]
  • The Insidious Economic Impact of Sexual Harassment [Harvard Business Review]
  • Sexual harassment doesn’t just happen to actors or journalists. Talk to a waitress, or a cleaner [The Guardian]
  • (There are SO MANY other great articles and opinion pieces about this groundswell — I kind of love everything by Rebecca Traister — please feel free to share articles that have stood out to you in the comments!)

Stock photo at top via Pixabay.sexual harassment at male-dominated offices

In the post-Weinstein era, women working in male-dominated offices talk about sexual harassment, office culture, and "boys being boys." Great discussion with the readers (both those who are #metoo as well as those who are #notmetoo!)

Comments

  1. In House in Houston :

    Can anyone give me the name of that blog where the blogger gives great gift ideas each year? I want to say her name is Joy….but I can’t find it anywhere. She gives great suggestions for men, women, kids…. TIA!!

  2. Lana Del Raygun :

    Ban men.

    Thank you, that is all.

    • Co-sign.

    • Senior Attorney :

      No kidding. So much grossness.

    • I don’t think that’s the answer. I have been relatively lucky in my career to have not had to deal with this sort of thing from the men I’ve worked with (personal life is a different story) but my closet “me too” story involves a woman. I really don’t buy into the whole notion that if only women ran the world, there’d be no war or harassment.

      • *closest.

      • Anonymous :

        I mean, women can definitely be terrible bosses and human beings, but I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that 99% of people committing sexual harassment or assault are men. Just because you met the 1/100 female sexual harasser doesn’t mean it’s a representative experience. Banning men would go a looooooong way towards eliminating this problem.

        • I seriously wonder how much of this is because fewer women are in positions of power and the culture in powerful places is set by men. If we totally flipped gender roles such that women had always been in positions of power and authority, would we harass as much?

          Is this a man problem or a power problem? or a man+power problem? on a theoretical and abstract level. In reality obviously it’s both of those things.

          • Anonymous :

            +1

          • I think you’re on to something. It’s a power + prestige + corporate culture (i.e., stay on the boss’ good side) that can create these situations with both a male boss AND a female boss.

          • Lana Del Raygun :

            I think it’s definitely at least partly a man problem, because men who don’t have the same kind of formal power as a Matt Lauer or a Roy Moore *still* go out of their way to be jerks to women and try to dominate us. Ross Douthat made a really insightful point in his discussion with Rebecca Traister, which is that “it’s not about s3x, it’s about power” is limited because to men, s3x is about power and power is about s3x. They want power because it gives them more s3xual access to women, and they use s3x particularly as a sphere in which to exert their power.

          • Anonymous :

            Yep. It’s a power thing, not a gender thing. Look at all the female teachers who harass their teenage male students.

      • Lana Del Raygun :

        Good point. I take back the “That is all,” but not the “Ban men.”

    • fuzzy darkness :

      Not sure I agree with this sentiment. Not all men are bad. There are plenty of men who are appalled by this behavior.

      • Can we not with #notallmen?

      • Lana Del Raygun :

        Okay, so it’s a tradeoff, so what? Right now we’re sacrificing women’s careers and safety for men’s careers. I think we should do the opposite of that.

      • Anonymous :

        Can we have less logic and more whimsy, just for a second?

        • anonshmanon :

          why do we need less logic? We need more logic.

          • Anonymous :

            Just for a second, I said.

            Not every second has to be logical.

            I’m so logical I’m practically a Vulcan, but I think it should be permissible to vent “let’s ban men” before having a serious discussion. No one really thinks it’s a valid or possible or moral option.

      • You can hop along on out of here with your #notallmen.

        • S in Chicago :

          Here’s some whimsy. I read that as “no tall men” not once, but TWICE. #shortieseverywhere

        • Anonymous :

          Hey Anon? Maybe your bitterness is the problem. Not men.

          Signed,

          A woman

          • nasty woman :

            Classic. Call a woman bitter to shame her.

            Love it. With allies like you, who needs patriarchy to tear women down?!

        • We need men, at least to impregnate us, so I would NOT write all of them off. Some are downright nice, and those are the ones we MARRY! So do NOT bash all men, as they too would like to treat their wives right, and that is the one I am waiting for. Once I get my man and my children, I will be happy and fulfiled. YAY!!!!!

      • Rainbow Hair :

        Nah really #yesallmen

      • Yes, we have both kinds in my office. The manageing partner now treats me as an equal, with respect, while Frank is a horn-dog, who ooogles me and likes to pat me on the tuchus whenever he walks by, and he also likes to stare at my boobies and inspect them with his pencil. FOOEY! He has a wife, and she has boobies for him at home! DOUBEL FOOEY on men like him!

    • Sloan Sabbith :

      +1,000,000

    • AMEN

    • Wow, really? :

      This is disappointing. I’m married to a good man. I’m the daughter of a good man. I’m raising a good man. I’m sorry if some women have had nothing but bad experiences with men, but banning men is not only not a reasonable idea, it’s unfair. I really thought the women who frequented this blog were both smarter and more pragmatic than this. What a shame.

      • I have a friend who hates cops. Asked, “surely some good people become cops?” she says, “no, the institution of coppery is inherently bad.” I’ve come around to her side. I think, too, that the institution of “men” is bad. What it means to be a “man” today is bad. That’s what I want to ban.

        • Anonymous :

          Your attitude (and your friend’s) is exactly the problem. Exactly. Because men aren’t going away, and neither are cops. And saying “well, we should just ban men” or “ban cops” mentally abdicates you from having to think about how to create constructive solutions to problems. Now you just don’t have to think about how to coexist. How nice for you.

          • The point she’s making is that there’s a difference between men and the current concept of masculinity and what it means to “be a man”, and the latter is at the root of these problems. In the same way that the current culture of what it means to be a cop has many toxic aspects.

          • Anonymous :

            If you honestly think that the average man out there in the world defines “being a man” as being a sexual predator, honey – you’re hanging around the wrong men.

          • Anon 4:32, if I could go to the magical island with no men and no cops, I’d be there yesterday. But that’s not a thing, so clearly I don’t get to abdicate my responsibility in thinking about how to coexist. Imagine if I didn’t have to navigate that every day though. Wooh what a life!

            Thanks, CB. I think that there’s probably a way that law enforcement could be non-evil; but noting that some otherwise good people participate in our bad system of coppery is kind of off topic. In the same way, noting that there are some good people who are also men doesn’t really get to the problem of “men” that we’re trying to address.

            It could certainly be said in a more nuanced, eloquent way, but sometimes I tire of protecting the feelings of those who (sometimes! #notall!) don’t respect my humanity. Sometimes I just want to #ban them in my comments on a message board.

      • Anonymama :

        Do you understand the concept of hyperbole? (also did anyone read that article, I think in the economist, about the British-German editor and his observations regarding German humor as opposed to British humour? Basically, Germans don’t do hyperbole or exaggeration.)

      • @ Wow, really?
        Do you realize how fortunate you are? Girls and women in certain societies, including some here, especially low-income women who are sitting and standing targets as people without cars who are frequently waiting for public transit or walking to and from places, are harassed almost DAILY, since puberty or earlier. The sexual assault rate for women in my community is 60% by age 18, which doesn’t include those who face it after age 18. Native American women also have extremely high sexual assault rates b/c the courts on the reservation have no jurisdiction over criminals who don’t live on the reservation. Check out hollaback, an anti-street harassment organization. There are many men who feel powerless who take it out on the women around them, both on and off the job. Unfortunately, many predators are repeat offenders, so #notallmen, but #yesallwomen (if you round up).

  3. Anonymous :

    That’s… helpful.

  4. Anonymous :

    I don’t agree with a default “I believe her.” Trust but verify is a better approach. All companies should have a code of conduct that addresses stealing, bribery, discrimination, and sexual harassment. There must be training on what these things are, and what employees are do if they happen.

    There must be paths for employees to escalate situations, including a hot line type service if they don’t want to go to their boss and HR. Every complaint must be researched and an action taken. The organization should have this audited, internally and externally, including assessing metrics of turn over, performance ratings for the team, etc. The consequences for harassment must be immediate and commensurate. In my former organization, if someone lodged a harassment complaint against you, even if the organization found in your favor, you had to go to training and were counseled by HR for a period of time.

    I am infuriated that these companies appear to be getting a pass. NBC knew what was going on. And if they didn’t, there is no excuse for not knowing — they should have. Shareholders and other stakeholders should be screaming at the poor governance in these organizations.

    I am appalled by this idea of now holding this against people who worked at these companies, and asking them about it and their role. Your interviews, back ground checks, and reference checks serve the purpose of finding out if the candidate is a fit for your company, including their integrity. Confronting individuals as part of an interview about what someone else did is inappropriate and unprofessional.

    Note: My comments apply only to companies, I don’t know enough about government.

    • “I am appalled by this idea of now holding this against people who worked at these companies, and asking them about it and their role. Your interviews, back ground checks, and reference checks serve the purpose of finding out if the candidate is a fit for your company, including their integrity. Confronting individuals as part of an interview about what someone else did is inappropriate and unprofessional. ”
      This. An exception could be if the interviewer knows that the interviewee was terminated because of their own questionable behavior or their job was to say investigate these things and they didn’t do it.

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      The way I understand it, making “trust” the first step in “trust but verify” is basically a default “I believe her.” What do you see as the difference?

      • Anonymous :

        This. People that claim they want to ‘trust but verify’ mean they want to ‘not believe and disprove’.

        • Anonymous :

          No, I said what I meant and mean what I said. Trust but verify means I believe what you are telling me, but I will verify before I take action. I am quite sure if someone accused you of taking bribes at work, you’d want audit or compliance to verify before firing you.

          I find it so incredibly condescending when people tell you what you meant instead of just saying they don’t agree.

          • Right but the standard now is not trust but verify. its “not believe” As in not even believe it enough to get it to audit or compliance. thats the whole problem.

          • Lana Del Raygun :

            Thanks! I think when most people say “Believe women,” they’re really arguing for the “trust” step that you are, so they’re not really in conflict.

    • These ideas are great, but I worry about people who are vulnerable in less formal workplaces, like the food service industry and small businesses. The problem is large and feels overwhelming.

      • My impression of small businesses in the food service industry is that there might as well be no laws? It’s bad.

    • nasty woman :

      I don’t think anyone is properly arguing for a default “I believe her.” Rather, the sentiment is more accurately phrased as a desire for women’s concerns and accusations to be taken seriously. That she is treated with respect and care and her accusations are investigated as if they were the serious, important allegations that they are. That her story not be summarily dismissed out of hand, that she not be blamed, that no one ask her what she was wearing, or whether she could have stopped it, or why she was in the room, or whether she saw the red flags, or whether she wanted it. It means that we want the presumption of integrity. It means that an investigation should be conducted in good faith, and that those in power do not simply search for ways to discredit her to protect those in power.

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      I definitely makes sense to treat some kinds of work at these companies as a red flag at the very least. If NBC management “protected the sh– out of” Matt Lauer, why wouldn’t you ask a former NBC manager about that in an interview? And what about his assistant who kept having to get medical attention for his [email protected] victims? If someone like that showed up at an interview with me, my first question would be “Why the hell didn’t you call the police?”

  5. I’ve worked in a male-dominated STEM field for a long time, and in my experience, there are two types of men: Men who harass and abuse many women, and men who harass and abuse no women. I can’t think of even a single man I know who harassed or was otherwise sexually inappropriate a single time, with no other incidents or rumors. This distribution of guilt seems to hold up pretty well in the stories that have become public. Which is why I think the good guys have nothing to worry about, and the bad guys (who are definitely the minority, but not as small a % as you’d hope) deserve every bit of what’s coming to them, even if the two or three incidents on record don’t seem *that* bad.

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      This is why I’m instantly suspicious of men who worry loudly about “witch hunts.”

      • lawsuited :

        +1 I was talking to my husband about nebulous concerns of talking heads that it will be difficult for men to know how to function in the workplace and avoid sexual harassment allegations. His response was basically “not sexually harassing women is the easiest thing ever – I know I’ve never done it and will never be accused of it”. Men who complain that it will be impossible to clear their name if we automatically believe sexual harassment allegations make me suspicious.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I tend to agree with this.

    • anonshmanon :

      yup

    • Cornellian. :

      Agreed. It’s also interesting how many of the offenders have SIGNIFICANTLY younger spouses. That seems to be a warning sign.

    • hear hear

  6. I’m totally going to get chewed out for this, but for me, the incidents that are more recent like in the past 10-30 years are much more troublesome to me than those that happened in the 60s, 70s and 80s, when yes, it was still VERY wrong to sexually harass people, but it was the culture (think Mad Men). If I was a 22 year old male being taught that as part of my job in X industry, this is how you treat women to get ahead in the field, and being told that it is ok and seeing that behavior from my superiors, I would probably think it is ok too. I realize that doesn’t justify it, but it helps me understand. Though I also know that just because everyone does something that doesn’t make it right. Granted, in more recent times it is culturally VERY clear that behavior like that is not ok, so like the Matt Lauer incidents – totally not ok.

    • anonshmanon :

      If your 22 year old male gets swayed by all the powerful men around him engaging in or condoning harassment, something has gone wrong in the 22 years before he entered the work space.
      I see where you are coming from with the Mad Men reference, but does that apply to the cases we are discussing here? Except for Roy Moore, we are talking of not one but several incidents, abusing relative power, happening within the last 20 years. And Roy Moore is an entirely different case imo. For me to say “oh, this behavior was widely accepted back then”, he would have had to date teenage girls 200 years ago.

      • Anonymous :

        I think that is Anon’s point. The recent cases (last 20 years) ARE more troubling, because these are happening during a time where the concept of harassment was being discussed and the perpetrators had a realistic chance of knowing better because attitudes were changing.

    • I am not sure about this. We’re not talking about being introduced as “the lovely Ms. Anon” here–we’re talking about sexual harassment. There were good men in the 60s. There are good men today, and plenty of them opt out of their workplace culture, workplace, or profession because they are good. Mad Men culture was and is a choice.

      On the other hand, I do accept that cultures perpetuate themselves. Have attitudes changed where it matters, though? What are the attitudes like among popular high school boys? What are the attitudes like among men in college? Among young men who are headed for money or power?

  7. Anonymous :

    I’ve been a little irritated by my male coworkers who are saying they don’t know what’s ok and how to act. These guys are fine and don’t do anything objectionable- I’ve told them, hey keep your clothes on when you’re not in the bathroom. Like Samantha Bee said – it’s not that difficult! Especially the guy with the working age daughter. It’s not difficult to ask yourself, would this be OK in my daughter’s workplace?

    • Anonymous :

      I admit that I do not like the what if this happened to your wife/daughter/mother/sister bit because it leans to saying that it’s only wrong if you can think of it happening to a woman close to you that society feels like you should protect. Nope. It’s wrong no matter who it happens to.

      • Anoymous Poser :

        I hate the wife/daughter/mother comparison when used generally, but as a helpful tool to bridge over to a general realization, I’ll take it.

      • I think it’s ok as a standard of conduct…if you view it like the golden rule. Do unto others you you would have them do, with your dearest family member! It’s one thing to say, hey that’s not too bad-just fun and games. If you stop and think, what if this fun were happening at my daughters workplace- maybe you realize, hey that’s actually not cool.

        • Anonymous :

          How bad is it that my first thought is that there are some dads out there who would tell their daughter it was no big deal and that’s just how men are . . . and clearly those dads exist.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      Samantha Bee was so right on. Do not show a colleague your bits. Unless she is your urologist and she asks to see them. It does not matter if you want to, just do not do it.

      I have worked with some men that I found incredibly attractive, like daydreamed about what could happen between us… but not once, not ever, did I think “I will just take my bs*sts out and show him”. In addition to not thinking it, I never, you know, TOOK THEM OUT.

      Why oh why is this so hard???

    • How about, “would I say this to and about my male coworker, or would I do this in front of my male coworker?” If, no, don’t do it to/with ANYONE at work.

      • Anonymous :

        Or the would I say this to the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) thing going around the inter webs…and btw the Rock had a tweet approving of it

        • Anonymous :

          this (from down thread) is what I meant

          Use “The Rock Test”: https://medium.com/@annevictoriaclark/the-rock-test-a-hack-for-men-who-dont-want-to-be-accused-of-sexual-harassment-73c45e0b49af

      • Anonymous :

        I think the opposite phrasing is actually more effective because it helps create empathy for the female victim. Teach them to ask “How would I feel if a male boss or colleague did this to me?” Guys might be comfortable being gross or making junior guys feel uncomfortable but they also don’t want a senior guy using his desk lock button and sending them a $ex to like ML .

    • The thing about taking your d*ck out – I can’t say that would be a huge turn on for any woman I know – like oh look at that thing! I must have that now! I’m insatiable! – and most men know that.

      It’s not a seductive move. It’s an “I’m doing this because I can” move. I have the power to do this and what are you going to do about it? It’s a turn on for them, not intended to be one for their victims.

      It’s a power move. Like most s3xual assault. That’s why the “I’m attractive and this has never happened to me” thread this morning just p1ssed me off. It has nothing to do with attractiveness and feelings of wanting a relationship with the victim. It’s about putting her in her place and reminding her who has the power.

      • Anonymous :

        +1,000

      • Cornellian. :

        Yeah, it’s like yelling at women as you drive by. Total power move. It just teaches women that the public space/the office is their domain, and that women don’t belong. It doesn’t result in s*x for the men.

        • Lana Del Raygun :

          A man once barked at me from a car–literally, he put his head out the window and went “Woof woof.” I’ve never felt less turned on in my life, and at the time I couldn’t figure out what the point was. Now I understand the point was what I did feel feel, which was nervous and jumpy, all the way home.

          • Cornellian. :

            I once had my fear/adrenaline spike high enough when someone slowed down to yell at me as I ran that I literally launched the only thing in my hand at them. It was a bag of my dog’s poop. After I calmed down, it was awesome.

          • Lana Del Raygun :

            You’re my hero.

          • Never too many shoes... :

            Cornellian, that is amazeballs.

            A similar thing happened to me once – I was walking (city street, late afternoon) and a kid on a bike sped past me on the sidewalk, rode up behind a woman in front and yelled in her ear as he went past, startling the cr*p out of her. Little did I know there was a trailer bike who was about to do the same thing to me. My jump reaction was to elbow and side kick him right off his bike and into traffic. Sheer luck that there were no cars coming. He was very upset and I was like “mess with the bull”…

          • Cornellian. :

            Never too many, that is amazing. I once kneed a guy who grabbed me on the street by lifting me up via my p*bic bone, and he was super duper upset with me. Ok, buddy, call the cops, and let’s see what they think here.

            I do think that physical self defense is almost NEVER expected from women. I’m uncomfortable advocating violence, but it seems beyond most assaulters’ comprehension that women will physically assert/defense themselves.

    • I occasionally do training for blue-collar employees and I do use a line about your wife/daughter/sister. I’m not saying that women should be valued only in relation to men (I hate all these comments from men who suddenly see these issues “not that I’m the father of a daughter) but as a way for them to re-set how the participants are considering and interacting with women.

      I basically say, would you want someone else to say or do X thing that to your wife/daughter/sister? No, because you want them to be treated with respect. Then why would you do that to another woman? Treat them with the same respect you want applied to the women you care about.

      • Anonymous :

        Sadly, this only works with men who do treat women with respect and who understand what real respect looks like :/

    • Anonymous :

      Use “The Rock Test”: https://medium.com/@annevictoriaclark/the-rock-test-a-hack-for-men-who-dont-want-to-be-accused-of-sexual-harassment-73c45e0b49af

  8. Anonymous :

    On the matter of not having a #metoo:

    I have a friend who has talked loudly and at length about how she doesn’t have a #metoo, and was surprised to learn that many of her acquaintances did.

    This friend was once hired for a job and excitedly explained to anyone who would listen that the job even came with a wonderful apartment, along with other benefits and the chance to use her unusual education and professional skill set.

    She left the job within weeks. Turned out the apartment was so wonderful because it was supposed to be a love nest for her to service the boss (and the occasional business associate).

    She considers this not to be a me too story because the boss was Chinese, although the job was in New Jersey.

    I’m not saying that this is the case for any of the ladies here who have been lucky enough not to have a #metoo, but sometimes I wonder if we STILL are only seeing a corner of the picture because it is STILL deeply ingrained that many incidents “don’t count” for one reason or another.

    • Anonymous :

      I have a lot of #metoos but none of them were at work. I think that’s what a lot of people said on the morning thread too.

      • This. Also, I have been lucky enough to avoid potential “me too” while witnessing them with other people. One supervisor I had early on was definitely a creep who liked to hit on subordinates but I was able to keep him at arm’s length and he never approached me in a way that was inappropriate even though I saw him go after a one or two others. This was in an office where everyone was young and not everyone had figured out that you cannot do anything that may even resemble flirting or it will be taken as an invitation. For better or worse, sometimes the me too’s in one’s personal life help you avoid certain situations in one’s working life – that doesn’t mean you escape harassment, just that you can sometimes avoid it in an office setting.

        • Lana Del Raygun :

          And even just having to take specific steps to avoid being hit on by your boss is *still* some gross crap that you shouldn’t have had to go through, and that most men never understand.

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      “She considers this not to be a me too story because the boss was Chinese, although the job was in New Jersey.”

      Wait, what? That’s nuts.

      But I definitely agree with your conclusion! When #metoo first broke, I thought “Wow, I’m glad I’ve never been sexually harassed. … Oh, except for that thing. And that thing. And that other time. … Oh.” It was so depressing.

      • Anonymous :

        She is a bit nuts (good ways and not-so-good) and it’s a rather extreme example. I expect a more common example would be “but I’d agreed that the meeting would be informal, so of course we got our signals crossed…”

      • I was JUST at a lunch with a woman in her 50s who just said she’s never been sexually harassed/”I don’t have a me too story” and in the next breath went on to tell me about her old boss in the 90s. At each weekly meeting for years he’d roll his meeting paperwork up and smack her a$$ as she walked in the room. She was like, “but that’s just what he did,” laughed and blew it off.

        I understand that she was evidently not bothered by it. But, how do you process hearing something like that? I just let the conversation move on, but isn’t that not ok? Her condoning it now has me thinking “I know it’s not ok, but what is it then if not harassment?”

        • Lana Del Raygun :

          I guess it’s technically not harassment if it’s not unwelcome (although it might have been unwelcome-but-tolerated), but even so it’s rude and gross and sexist. Consent is not the only moral principle in the world! Men, consider not doing everything you think women won’t mind!

          • Anonymous :

            It’s also 100% inappropriate in the workplace.

          • Anonymous :

            To add, even if two people have consensual sex in an office at work, it’s still totally inappropriate!!

          • Lana Del Raygun :

            Oy, that is a good point. I feel very silly for having missed it.

          • But I bet it was unwelcome to her at the time, she just couldn’t say that and had to laugh it off.

          • Anon at 2:43 :

            I would bet it was always unwanted, but because of conditioning it was rewritten in her mind as being fine and silly. It’s like when someone tells a lie so many times that they begin to believe it’s true.

      • Yeah. I especially wonder whether women without a #metoo are not counting girlhood. I kind of want to know what kind of bubble protects preteens and 13 year olds from getting catcalled or creeped on by men so I can go live there?!

        • Oh, that is my main form of #metoo. I have not been groped and grabbed, and in the workplace I haven’t personally experienced sexual harassment, mostly just general sexist junk (like those guys of a certain age who think that just because you are a woman you can make copies for them, send a fax for them, etc., never mind that you have a law degree and plenty of work to do on your own cases). But as a pre-teen and teenager I regularly got catcalled while walking home from school. I didn’t understand it at the time – I was gawky and ugly and wearing jeans and a Looney Tunes sweatshirt, so what the heck did they want with me? But that was the point because as others have said, it’s not about sex. It’s about power. And knowing that now, I was a perfect mark.

    • Anon for this one :

      Yes to this. Mine related to assault but I was always one who said nothing bad had ever happened…even though I once had a one-time partner (although I knew him socially before) choke me during coitus without asking first. For reasons passing understanding, I was not overly upset by this and never every considered it as a #metoo.

      • Anonymous :

        Oh wow. Had a similar experience with “playful” choking. He tried it once, I told him to knock it off, and he did it again. Fortunately he stopped after the second try. Hadn’t even added that to the tally of my #MeToo because at the time I thought it was just a weird night of bad s*x.

        This is all so f*cking depressing.

    • Anonymous :

      I agree, I firmly believe that 100% (or so close as makes no difference) of women have been harassed in some way. Not necessarily in the workplace, but at some point in her life. Maybe you didn’t recognize it for what it was. Maybe you’ve internalized the notion that it’s nbd, boys will be boys. Heck maybe you just weren’t paying attention. But each and every one of us has been the victim of these men in some way.

      And you know how I know I’m right? Because women who say they don’t have a #metoo get incredibly defensive when you tell them they do.

      • anonshmanon :

        Well can you blame them? They say ‘X is true about my life (I should know, it’s my life)’ and then you come along and say ‘Well, ACTUALLY, X is not true about your life and by the power vested in me through me I pronounce you a victim’. Now, there is of course the possibility that you are more woke and know better. But if you entertain the hypothesis for just a second that they might be right and you might be wrong then you would understand that they would get defensive, well because you just attacked their self-perception of being a strong woman out to get it, and they like that perception so they defend it.
        Just saying that people getting defensive does not automatically mean they are wrong. It just means you poked them where it hurts.

      • I agree with this. When the #metoo movement came out, I thought yeah, that’s never happened to me because I think we are sort of taught (over decades/since the beginning of time) that it’s only ever ‘happened to you’ if it’s [email protected] or a boss saying outright “I will promote you if you have s3x with me.

        Except it’s not like that. Even with [email protected], you have this picture that you have to be fully clothed, on a public street, screaming “NO,” multiple times, thrashing away, and being pressed down by someone at least twice your size/weight for it to be [email protected] – oh, and it has to be a stranger. Anything less than that doesn’t “feel like” [email protected] in our culture and yet if it’s not consensual, it is.

        Boy was it depressing thinking back on all of the times I had been s3xually har2ssed or assaulted and that it HADN’T EVEN OCCURRED TO ME because the threat of doing something about it is so detrimental that we brush it off as part of life and move on.

        I tell ya if women aren’t the strongest stuff on this planet then I don’t know what is.

        • Rainbow Hair :

          Word. Typed out a whole agreement but I don’t think I could handle the potential “well if you hadn’t got drunk with your trusted friend none of this would’ve happened” people from this morning…. but yeah, it’s surreal to finally get some validation that feeling awful about something that happened is maybe to-be-expected even if I was encouraged to brush it off at the time.

    • Anonymous :

      Since it came up, this is some weird navel-gazing thought that has come up occasionally and more frequently in light of recent events.
      I don’t have a #metoo. There have been times where I thought my opinion and contributions were dismissed unfairly, and there have been general sexist or tone-deaf comments in the work space, usually not directed at me. Sure, that sucks, but I have the impression that #metoo is and should be reserved for assault and harassment that objectifies, and egregious abuse of power.
      The really stupid thing is, the voice of insecurity-self-talk (the one that would say ‘you don’t have a boyfriend because you are less cute than other girls’ when I was 15 years old) will occasionally point out how lucky I have been not to have encountered harassers. Except it will frame it as ‘nobody has found you desirable enough to objectify you”. How sick and twisted is it that I’ve internalized this reactionary bully’s voice just by living in this society…
      I am doing fine telling that voice to shut up. Just felt that since the topic came up, this would be a good opportunity to anonymously tell someone that I have this thing. Which is a stupid thing, but I have it anyway.

      • Anonymous :

        Ok if we’re going to bring up responses to notmetoo- I’m older (started working when this stuff was more common/accepted) and really only had a couple of minor (near miss- I literally got away) incidents, and only in my personal life, and I attribute some of it to luck and some to my behavior. I took care to dress very covered up at work and maintain a bit of distance. My husband at one point told me I was a “ biochemistry nun”! I do resent that I felt that was a way I had to behave to both get respect at work and not have harassment issues. And yes I realize that may decrease chances but not prevent it- no victim blaming.

      • Anonymous :

        A friend of mine has made comments that she must be very unattractive because no man has harassed her. Another friend, who struggles with several illnesses that have made her an extremely large woman, has also shared that men cat call her all the time, and she is not conventionally attractive, and street harassment has nothing to do with appearance. I tend to agree with her.

        Women are assaulted all over the world, even in cultures where they cover up from head to toe. Its about a perpetrator asserting power and control, not the victim being provocative.

        • Concerning street harassment, it’s a daily slog for girls and women who generally travel on foot and via public transit, compared to those who drive. There’s a reason why places like India, Mexico, Germany and Japan have women’s only train cars.

          • Anonymous :

            Women’s only train cars are not A Thing in Germany.

          • You’re correct. I overstated the situation: https://www.thelocal.de/20160329/is-germany-introducing-sex-segregated-trains-not-quite

      • Very anonymous :

        I struggle with internalizing the same thing. I am not “conventionally attractive” and have never been catcalled or had anyone at work act inappropriate with me.

        But on the flip side of that coin, I have had men take advantage of me I think because they assumed I was desperate for any male attention – hitting me in the face during s3x, without asking, repeatedly, for example. I think the assumption is, a woman with better prospects wouldn’t necessarily put up with this, but this poor ugly monster will let me do anything to her.

        • Anonymous :

          That’s awful. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

        • Whoa! Sweetie, no. No, no no. The men who hurt you during intimacy didn’t do it because you’re “ugly” and they figured you had to put up with it. They did it because THEY are aggressive, violent, abusive, ugly monsters.

          I’m sorry you went through that, and I’m angry for you. Very angry.

        • I’m not sure that your appearance has anything to do with it. It is probably just something everyone is doing now. Due to trends in porn or society.

      • I’m not attractive and I got harassed all of the time for it. Because I’m so unattractive. My face, my butt is too flat, my chest was flat, I looked like a boy. Talking about other women in front of me in a gross way to let me know that they were interested in THAT type, not mine. Just the same thing that would happen to attractive women, but the opposite type of comments. I’ve even been the only person allowed to skip sexual harassment training because management joked that I was too ugly to be sexually harassed.

        • Co-workers have even joked about how it was okay to tell me not to wear skirts to show my legs (I was only 98 lbs) because no one wanted to see my body, but not okay to tell a pretty woman to show her legs for the opposite reason. So I could be humiliated day in, day out, but it was completely legal. Same types of comments, but because I was ugly, it wasn’t sex harassment.

  9. Anonymous :

    I’m more upset reading all these women coming forward than I did after Trump was elected. I do have a #MeToo story, both of being harassed and assaulted in college. In HS, my swim coach actually went to jail for forcing very young (10-12) year old girls to perform oral s*x on him. I remember being horrified yet oddly relived my sister was too young and I was too old for him to prey on.

    I’ve had to stop reading the news stories. I can’t engage on social media.

    A city employee where I live and work also recently filed a lawsuit against the city. She reported harassment and discrimination as the only woman in her dept. She didn’t get overtime opportunities and she was constantly subjected to s*xualized comments. What happened? Her married supervisor-and former police chief-texted her inappropriate remarks about he wanted to go out and drink with her, and what was she wearing, and did she have panties on.

    If a former police chief responds to employee complaints of harassment with more harassment (brazenly documented via text)…what recourse is there? This is why women don’t report.

    As for how this impacts work, I worked closely and was a direct report to a man who ran for Congress in 2016. I thought he was sexist and lazy, in that he always wanted women to clean up after meetings, order food, etc. He also mansplained. He never made inappropriate advances toward me, but during his campaign, some women came forward saying he had made comments about “you were hired because you’re pretty” and texted women at night. I immediately believed them even though that wasn’t my experience. I do wonder if this will come up when job searching. This man was the very public Executive Director of the organization listed on my resume. If it does, I think my answer will be that thankfully I did not experience harassment (true), and I also believe women who say they did (also true). I won’t go into the many red flags I picked up.

  10. Anonymous :

    My husband’s question was “Where are all the good men?” And he has a point. Other than some of the late-night comics, I can’t think of many examples of men standing up to publicly condemn this behavior. The men in Congress seem to be leaving it up to their female colleagues–why? It’s not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue.

    My primary hypothesis is that it is has become culturally unacceptable for a member of one group to act as allies for a group facing discrimination or mistreatment, particularly if the potential ally is a member of the group in power. For example, there was a black author interviewed on NPR a couple of months ago who asserted that he or she (can’t remember who it was) would be deeply suspicious of any white person who read his/her book on the black experience, and that white people have no business trying to learn about the black experience. I wonder whether the decent, upstanding men out there are afraid they don’t have the right to say anything because they are not the ones being oppressed.

    • So I realize this may not be a very helpful attitude. I’m a WOC and I am generally suspicious of white people who seem like they really care about race issues. I definitely think they should care, but I just tend to think that most people are virtue signalling and I really wonder how much anyone actually cares. I have a lot of white friends too, and for the most part I include them in this.

      • Anonymous at 2:48 :

        So I am sure that there are plenty of white people out there who are primarily trying to look cool and woke by being interested in racial issues, but if their interest were welcomed whatever the motivation wouldn’t that be an opportunity to engage them in a genuine dialogue so they could learn about the real issues? I’m not saying that people of color are personally responsible for educating their white friends, but the author should not be trying to discourage white people from reading the book, and maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if cultural events were more welcoming to outsiders.

        Oppression and discrimination hurt our society as a whole, and everyone should be engaged in eliminating them.

        • Anonymous :

          Yes, the reason I choose to read about various issues is to educate myself as opposed to making the people who are the ones subject to the issues explain them to me. I want to learn so that I can work, in whatever way that may be, to combat the issues in my daily life. I do this quietly on my own because I think it’s important. Admittedly, anon 2:50’s post makes me sad because I just want to help, but I can empathize with why she feels the way she does.

          I would welcome comments about how I can do it better or how I can better be an advocate of change.

          • anon 2:50 :

            I appreciate your comment. I think for me what it comes down to is action. Lots of ways to do this, but as an example- if you witness someone saying a racist thing, say something about it. I’m really tired of listening to people go on about how they’re so saddened and horrified that things like Charlottesville happened, but the won’t just speak up and be like “Hey, that’s not cool.” Too many people who talk a big game but never actually act on these convictions they supposedly have.

      • Anonymous :

        Well, then I guess we are damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

        • anon @2:50 :

          I mean, I realize this sucks and I try really hard not to be suspicious. I’m working on it. It is hard though when I come across so many people who end up being more racist than I’m willing to tolerate, or people who care a lot in theory but really don’t seem to want that kind of thing in their lives or whatever.

          Anyway. I’m saying I realize it’s not a helpful attitude and I work on not assuming this in a blanket way. That said, I’m suspicious because there have been such persistent problems. Much the way we talk about men.

        • Anonymous :

          That’s definitely how I feel.

          Also, I hope people realized that there were power/separatist movements in the 60s and 70s that advocated for women to segregate themselves from men and for POC to segregate themselves from the rest of society. These movements did not get anywhere. If we’re going to live together, we have to figure out how to live together. The problem isn’t going to solve itself.

      • Anonymous :

        I’m white. I agree that it’s virtue signaling if someone is making a big deal about what they are reading and what they think about it. But, I also think there is a lot of value in reading about the experiences of others to understand how myopic our own experiences can be. I come from a super white community (like 97% white) I will never ever forget the first time I read The Color Purple in high school and how it was the first time I understood what a privileged life I had. It was like a punch in the gut. It gave me a voraciousness to try and understand the lives of others, and reading books by diverse authors with diverse experiences is really important to me. Part of amplifying the voices of WOC is to listen to what they have to say. It’s not enough for white women to stop talking, we need to listen to WOC, and reading is listening.

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      I’m suspicious of men who like to talk about how much they do for women, but I do appreciate it when I see men actually calling out other men.

      • Cornellian. :

        One of the most feminist things I’ve ever had happen to me was when a (6’5, upper class, conventionally attractive white) man who was junior to me repeatedly, ad nauseum, corrected the client when they asked me for copies/etc. “Actually, Cornellian is working on the memo, but making copies is part of my job”

        • Never too many shoes... :

          Maybe there is some hope for the human race after all. Clearly, the message has sunk in for some people.

      • This! This is why I will sometimes say #yesallmen. Let’s see the good men stepping up and getting in the faces of the bad ones. Let’s see the good men amplifying the voices of women on this topic (or any topic, tbh). The same way white women like me need to call out our white friends who are being racist and then shut up and let WOC talk — men need to be doing that on their side.

        • Lana Del Raygun :

          Yeah, it’s like, “Oh, not all men? Really? Prove it, buddy.”

          • And the good ones who are out there proving it know better than to come into a space where women are venting and demand headpats.

      • KS IT Chick :

        My DH says his proudest moment in 20+ years as non-teaching faculty at a university came this fall. He intervened on behalf of the female student employee (non-American, recently married) who was being harassed by student employee in the department. He told the little S**T that he needed to leave F alone. When S**T didn’t and escalated the verbal harassment to physical touching, DH restrained him & marched him into the boss’ office with “he needs to leave now.” S**T was suspended and has since left school. F thanked him for intervening, because S**T wouldn’t listen when she told him to get lost.

    • Anon @ 2:48. The author’s opinion is uncommon, as many marginalized people say that they know the ways of the majority or those in power, but the reverse is generally not the case. However, I agree with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s warning of the danger of a single story. A

    • Like women who bring complaints of being harassed, they are seen as a problem, their hr record marred, and they are fired or encouraged to quit through making them feel unwanted.

  11. When I was a kid my stepdad used to pinch and slap my butt randomly. He also used to randomly walk by and lift up my night gown (a very long one under which I did not typically wear underwear) and giggle “you’re free!” because I wasn’t wearing underwear. This probably went on until early teenage years. My mom was usually present (he did it to her too, but obviously that’s different) and whenever I made an issue of it and told him to stop both he and my mom would get mad at me for being so uptight.

    This is bad, right? I just realized yesterday that this was such a normal part of my existence that maybe I just never realized that it’s really messed up (is it?) I just remember being really angry at both of them.

    • Gross. Yes, that’s really bad. I’m sorry you had to live with such an awful stepdad, and that your mom never called him on it.

    • New Tampanian :

      If it made you uncomfortable, then yes. It is messed up. I hope you have a safe place (person) to go and process this as it made trigger deeper emotions. Sorry that you went through that.

    • Anonymous :

      That is really messed up. Your mom should have protected you. It should have stopped the first time you asked him not to do it. Honestly, I would consider it grooming behavior and if you have siblings, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had been groomed or abused.

      Our kids are 3 and 6. DH is from a European family where nudity in family home (bedroom/bathroom areas) is common. EVEN THEN, our rule is that even parents don’t get to look at or touch your private parts without your consent – unless there is a medical reason (e.g. suppository medication) – and then the parent will explain why it is necessary. For a three year old – that means we say ‘do you want help with going potty?’ and for the 6 year old it means we ask if she wants help getting dressed/bathing etc. Sometimes she doesn’t want her dad to see her in her underwear, sometimes she wants him to give her a bath. 100% up to her. We also stop tickling and insist that siblings stop tickling each other when someone says no. Full control over your own body from the beginning, every time with every one.

    • Anonymous :

      I don’t know who I’d be more stabby with — your stepdad or your mom. Probably your mom.

      I have daughters and I don’t worry about this with my husband but if I were ever dating again this would be a huge concern for me. Not just from stepdads but from men who have some familial (but not necessarily blood relationship) relationship with their victim.

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      Oh my word, yes, that’s awful. I’m so sorry!

    • I’m sorry you had to go through this.
      All I have to say is, if it’s something you didn’t like it is wrong for someone else to do it. You don’t need to compare your experience to that of others.

    • Yes, it’s really bad and yes, it was wrong. And not just because you didn’t like it and it would have somehow been OK if you’d been OK with it. It was … wrong. No grown man should be doing that to a girl.

  12. Bad Behavior :

    I commented on my own experiences in the morning thread, but wanted to follow up on what’s happening at companies. I’m in a company legal department and, not unexpectedly, we’re seeing an increase in s*xual harassment claims. Except a lot of them are not harassment of any sort, but the kind of stuff like “That man seems creepy” or “Joe commented on my very large and visible tattoo in a non-s*xual manner” or “he looks at me too much”. While I want to make sure men are held to appropriate, professional behaviors and want to ensure that women can talk to HR/Legal/Compliance and have their complaints heard and investigated, there is definitely a lack of understanding about what s*xual harassment actually *is*, so that’s one of our avenues of training for 2018. So many people are claiming harassment right now (either maliciously or because they truly don’t understand what it is), I’m just worried it’s really going to hurt the cause and make it harder to deal with the true cases.

    • I really appreciate this perspective, and thanks for making education a priority for 2018.

    • Anonymous :

      Exactly, hence my trust but verify.

    • Anonymous :

      Just chiming in to say that the harassment training I took in the UC system did a pretty good job of distinguishing what is and isn’t sexual harassment (and I think other harassment was covered as well). They had roughly 90 minutes of online material and quizzes. You can totally fix this particular problem!

  13. Like many of the women here, I suspect, I’m in the legal department of a company in a male-dominated industry. The men in this industry (that I’ve encountered) are pretty sexist, as a rule. I haven’t seen it it verge into assault, but there’s plenty of winking and comments about ‘hot chicks’ and bawdy jokes. And there’s just a blatant assumption that only men are in, and would like to be in, the industry. I keep trying to think of ways — surely there are some — to move things in the right direction… but I don’t know how. If it were within the company, it wouldn’t be tolerated. We could fire people. But it’s the outsiders, at the conventions/shows, meetings, etc., so what’s to be done?

    • Where appropriate, I like to just use Ms. Manners’ time tested ‘why do you say that?’ in hopes that it makes someone stop and think about all the ways that their question is wrong. I don’t think it always works but it’s something.

  14. Anonymous again :

    Is there an anonymous list somewhere of the known sexual harassers in Biglaw?

    I would like to add 2 names to the list. These are men who harass a lot of women in the office. Everyone who works with them knows about it and no one does anything. I’d like to warn female law students to stay away from these firms, or at least the offices where these guys work.

    It would be a great way to expose these men, take away their false power, and warn other women.

  15. I have my own story, though not at work specifically. What I do know is I had a boss who ended up having to settle complaints due to his harassment and then his retaliation of over half a dozen employees who stood up for the victim. I came into work and wasn’t harassed, but there was inappropriate behavior from him. He asked me to then apply to a higher paying job where I’d be his personal assistant. I instead took a lower paying job in another office to get away from him. Coincidentally I found myself working with his actual victim and it became very clear just how damaged she was from the years of torment he put her through. She had to change her 20+ year career path in an office that resented her just to have relief until the lawsuit settled 5 years after the incidents.

    My point is, when women are harassed at work, there are consequences. Victim was penalized. Her colleagues who protected her were penalized. Even I was penalized for not wanting to work with an abuser. My employer was penalized by having to pay out lawsuits but they were responsible for not protecting us and still don’t protect the workers there. The boss was never penalized because he’s elected, not appointed. Think of all the work that wasn’t done, think of all the greatness that was held back, think of all people who had their lives on hold and damaged because of one person. Now multiply that by how many abusers there are and it’s really horrifying. If jobs want to have a good office culture, they would be proactive in identifying problems instead of covering them up and being complicit.

  16. I am so disappointed it took this long for you to put up a post about this. I’ve been waiting, confident you would address it – for how could you not on a blog like this? – but that confidence in you was not rewarded. I wish you had opened up a discussion about #metoo sooner. The delay makes me question how important you find this topic.

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