With all the news about sexual harassment, memories I thought I’d put behind me have bubbled up again. I’m one of the #MeToo people that was demeaned back in the days when I was young, thin, pretty, unmarried, and totally naïve. I don’t call it an assault because no violence was involved. What I experienced demeaned, devalued, and debased. That’s how I felt as a target of shameful behavior.
When I first started working, there were no regulations or laws that prohibited men from treating women in a disgusting manner. Since there was no recourse for us to take after being treated that way, women had to take it without saying anything. Times have changed a lot and for the better.
Part of my duties included hauling people to and from the airport. Many of these people were the higher-ups in the organization and the higher up they were, the less appropriate their talk became. I had to take it because nothing else I could do.
In the office, one problem man always got too close to all of us ladies and put his hands on our shoulders or around our waists when it really wasn’t necessary. He creeped all of us out. Finally, we had a meeting with our supervisor to come up with strategies on how to avoid him. All we had was too travel in pairs when we needed to talk to him or let our supervisor deal with him. Those were the only options we had back then.
My worst incident occurred in the elevator with a delivery man. One of my duties included meeting delivery men at the basement storeroom when they brought boxes to us. Most of the time, it was no big deal, but one day, a strange man was there. He came to my office on the third floor to get me, and we went down to the basement in the elevator. While we were in there, he came at me, put his hands on me, and said nasty things. That was the longest elevator ride of my life.
When I got back to my office, I was shaken up. My boss was only a couple years older than me, but he was a good guy and I trusted him. I told him the whole thing. It never occurred to me not to tell him. I kept pretty quiet about the other things, but I didn’t on this. He was livid, and told me not to worry about it because he’d take care of things. He asked if other things like this had happened, so I told him about all the comments with taking these creepy men to the airport. He was so angry he couldn’t speak.
My boss met with his boss where I assume they made a strategic plan. They called the delivery company and said to never send that driver over again. For me, they decided I would no longer deal with delivery men or take certain people to and from the airport. If anything like this every happened again, I would report it immediately.
I appreciated that boss so much. He never doubted what I said. He never blamed me for it. He took steps to prevent it from every happening again. I had his full support. All women should be so lucky to have a boss like that.
Now that I’m old, fat, not attractive, married, not as naïve, and have laws to back me up, I haven’t faced harassment in many years. I have no tolerance for that kind of behavior. I’m generally not rude or violent, but I don’t think I’d have any trouble telling someone to shut up, slapping a face if called for, or putting a knee someplace to protect myself. All women should learn self-defense.
It’s time to annihilate the “boys will be boys” excuse for bad behavior. Respect for women at all ages is the rule.