with international women’s day just passing last week and so much talk about women’s rights flooding the tvs dueI’ve started looking at my own daily life and realizing being a female in 2017 is wayyyyy harder than it needs to be.
in the past week I have been harassed by a co-worker, so much my senior in fact that they’re older than my own parents, i was harassed and frightened downtown toronto by a stranger (legit i thought i was being kidnapped), and i’ve been really recognizing the fact that in this day and age women are still fighting for right to walk into a room and not be objectified.
harassment at work has plagued me everywhere i’ve gone. its so pathetic that we have an epidemic of men making women feel so uncomfortable in the work place.
when i was in university i spent a summer working in a restaurant downtown. i had two managers, one was super friendly, supportive, caring, this was the man who hired me to work there and saw potential in my ability. even if he was attracted to me, he never made it obvious or uncomfortable. my other manager however…. let me tell you.
this man was a pig. there isn’t any other way of describing him. the restaurant industry can be good money, but definitely not my scene. its partying everyday, drinking after every shift (giving all the money you just made back to the establishment), and drugs.
at this particular location it was also a place where most of the girls put up with our pervy boss.
i generally never stayed after work to drink with the crew i worked with. this one evening however, i was feeling up to having a little fun and everyone really wanted me to stay. so, i did. i had maybe one drink… maximum. my ‘boss’ at the time was eight or nine pints in and hitting up the bar for shots.
the conversation started simple enough. as the night progressed though, he got more aggressive. he was making me so uncomfortable and wouldn’t let me leave. it got sooooo bad that my other manager noticed.
me, being basically still a teenager and not knowing how to handle such an encounter was extremely uncomfortable. the next day i went into work feeling disgusted with myself, my boss, my work. my nice manager pulled me into the back office. he has spoken to the other manager, told him what he did was wrong and that he owed me an apology. this all seemed extremely nice, until the, i apologize on behalf of the company please don’t sue us came out.
my safety, my feelings, were never the concern. getting sued up the ass, that was the concern.
flash-forward to when i finished university and ended up getting an amazing first job in the field i had studied for. i was so excited. i was working with adults, real professionals, somewhere i could go to work at and finally feel respected for my work and not disrespected for my ass or my wrack.
well of course this wasn’t the case.
one evening i had just left the gym after posting a selfie. i had been on a major fitness binge and was feeling pretty damn good about how i was looking and posting was keeping my fitspiration game strong. i receieved a facebook message from a superior. not my direct boss but a boss that worked in conjunction with mine. it was disgusting. the things this, very clearly, drunk superior coworker of mine was writing.
i was working in the professional world? i was working somewhere where we promoted women in the workplace, women as equals, harassment as the devil. this guy was married. his wife was pregnant. yet, here he was going off about how sexy my ass was and how fine i looked in my insta photos.
i went to work the next day completely depressed and unaware of what i could do. i could complain to my direct boss, but what would that do? i had been shamed already at work about the fact that when i wore button up shirts my cleavage was too obvious, because you know i’m a chesty women with breasts.
basically, i brought the ogling on myself. i clearly deserved this.
so, i kept the facebook messages encase anything came of it, and moved on. i shamefully acted as if nothing had occurred anytime this individual entered my office. this happened with MULTIPLE coworkers in this office btw. i had a some amazing male coworkers in this office that became life long friends, but more often than not, many of my male coworkers would treat me like meat online while drunk and then go to work and act as if it was just another monday at the office.
most recently i was harassed in my latest job. i love my job. i love my coworkers, but theres always one asshole who ruins it for everyone else. this harassment takes all forms. sexually explicit comments, picking on my personal life and life choices, making me feel so uncomfortable that i feel i cannot preform at the level required in my field of work.
the worst part is, even though EVERYONE knows its occurring, the male coverup of the century is the answer. its always a slap on the wrist, don’t do it again, leave her be sort of response.
i dealt with this harassment for nearly a year before i finally broke down last week into tears. i tried so hard not to, but was pushed so far i broke down into tears, was sent home from work, and learned that not only has this been happening to women again and again for years that i work with. yet consistently nothing gets done about it.
my hush hush reward was to take as much time off as needed. my coworker wasn’t punished. he won’t get punished. and i’ve reached a tipping point. i’m not ugly, i’m no victoria’s secret model, but regardless of what i look like i should not have to deal with this.
women should not have to deal with this.
the WORST part is, somehow its always the person who speaks up who suffers. its the double edged sword of, i can’t say anything, no one will believe me, someone may lose their job on my behalf, i can’t be the person to do that to someone. or the flip side of, if i don’t say anything this will just continue. the next young girl to walk into this building will become the next victim.
the cycle continues, it never ends.
so i wanted to write this to tell you, don’t allow yourself to be the victim. i’ve been playing the silent victim for years. enough is enough. i’ve taken it upon myself to escalate the issue at work.
unfortunately its a super scary thing to go through but i have the support of some amazing co-workers (male and female) to get me through. at first, i was ashamed that it had gotten to a point where everyone was talking about what i’ve been calling ‘the incident’. but you know what? not anymore.
the people who have reached out don’t pity me like i thought they did. they want to help. they know what i’ve said, companies hide these monstrosities because who wants to have that smear their perfect corporate image. and they know its not okay.
women are shamed all of the time for speaking up about harassment, rape, etc… and its not okay. women need to start building a world of support for each other. if you see it happening reach out to people, stick up for them, help them.. and people need to come forward more often. the occurrences at my work have been happening for ever, just before, it was a boys club and no one cared.
the world is changing. not quickly, but it is changing.
i hope sharing a little of my experiences lately speaks to someone else who feels scared or trapped. i’ve felt like this almost my whole life, and finally dealing with one of these situations has lifted me to a whole new bliss.