As an adult I used to have a boss who never made eye contact with me because his eyes could only see my breasts even when I showed no cleavage. Most often upon my entry into a room I would find him adjusting himself, or as they say, playing pocket pool. I never dared to question his behavior as he was my superior and I worked in a hospital. Who would believe little old me, if I was to report a high-ranking executive? I thought this was an isolated incident, but upon reflection, I realized that every male boss I’d had did the very same thing.
As a teenager I recall working for a local pizza joint which was frequented by our very own Boston Celtics. I was bent over cleaning off tables when I heard a male voice whistling at me. He screamed out “check out that prime rib.” I could feel the heat upon my cheeks as I felt embarrassment and shame come over me. Of course, my boss then assigned me the table and instructed me to remember that it was my job to make our guests feel at home. With my order pad in hand, I approached the table of 20 eagerly excited men. While taking their order one of the players chose to pinch my butt. When I asked him to stop, he did it again. I could feel my body overheating. My hands clenching turning into fists. I hold back making any physical contact with his repulsive face. I tell my boss; he again repeats that my job is to make the customers happy. I was told to go back and do my job. I returned to finish taking the order making sure that my butt was pointed away from each player. The only good thing to come out of that order was the players left me a $75 tip. I gladly took it, but then felt like I was thought to be a cheap tart or maybe something worse. I was so mad; the smile was gone from my face. My boss was mad at me for not wanting to be the type of waitress he wanted me to be. He then told me to wash the windows. I replied that I wasn’t a window washer and I knew that we had window washers that got paid to do that job. My boss told me that if I wanted to keep my job, I should shut my mouth and do what I was told to do. I in turn told him that he could take his job and shove it. I later thought that I should file a sexual harassment charge but was too afraid feeling that any men involved would stick together, so I did nothing.
Sexual harassment has been and remains to be a major workplace problem. Newsrooms, classrooms, churches, hospitals, movie sets. No setting is free from the horrific, mortifying behavior. I have experienced so many acts of sexual harassment but only acted on one case were a hospital co-worker was obsessed with me to the point that I found him outside of my home and he found a way to get my home phone number. He had an idea in his head that we were going to get married and he was going to take me back to his home country. I told my boss what happened, and he acted on it after witnessing the behavior himself, but many bosses don’t do what they should do. Therefore, allowing the inappropriate behaviors to continue. Everyone needs to work together to ensure that all those behaving inappropriately are reprimanded and receive whatever punishment that is decided upon by the proper management or enforcement agency. Sexual harassment is not ok!
Sexual Harassment is not ok!©
By Felina Silver Robinson