3/16/2021 6:35pm EST: Updated with a doozy of an example that I forgot about.
Note: Contains sexually explicit language
Excuse the typos, I needed to get this conversation out on the floor real quick!
If you read my recent post on Racism and Prejudice in Daily Conversation, you’ll remember my observation that Zager and Evans’ song, In the year 2525, didn’t offer much in the way of great expectations–other than to wonder “if man is still alive…”
Well, to be fair, they weren’t just concerned with “man.” They actually continued the thought by pondering whether “…woman can survive.”
So here we are again with me offering my “two cents” about sexually inappropriate and harassing behavior in daily conversation.
I might even throw in a little story.
If you are ever confused about what to say and what not to say to avoid even the appearance of being sexually inappropriate, or engaging in sexually harassing behavior, avoid the following statements and/or questions:
- “You’re being overly sensitive.”
- “What’s wrong with me complimenting your legs?”
- “I see you have a tattoo on your neck, where else do you have tattoos?”
- “Maybe if you flirted a little, it might help us get <insert thing here>”
- “Do blondes have more fun?”
- “That’s not sexually inappropriate/sexual harassment!” (An easy out for people who are uninterested in learning about sexually inappropriate conversation/sexual harassment)
This list is not exhaustive.
Again, while some of these points are blatant, others are very subtle yet highly offensive— and today, I am going to include some REALLY blatant shit that people have said or done to me.
For your consideration:
It is important to note that I was selected to receive this position by my professors.
In fact, I was the only female there, at the time, working with three law school students—one of which was the asshole that I just told you about.
It definitely didn’t help that I was only a sophomore working toward my BS degree.
To be honest, I felt that I was the most powerless person in this situation.
Flat out, I was the only woman working with a group of men during the height of Anita Hill versus Clarence Thomas.
Chile, I saw what happened to Prof. Hill so I never reported the guy.
But let me be clear, the other law students and my supervisors were very kind and helpful to me. That said, I often stuck under the other two law students in order to feel safe from the third guy’s advances.
Now I know that there is someone in the ethers saying, “Well, he was just an asshole.”
He most definitely was an asshole.
But, this was more than being an asshole, this was him sexually harassing me.
Now I know that what he did was pretty cut and dry, but there are many situations where, like with racism, you can’t “define it” but you know it when you see it.
My cousin Ron describes this phenomenon perfectly in his post, I cannot define it.
Sadly, this is not the only time that I experienced this, or something like it.
Shall I elaborate?
How about the time I was at the mall grabbing a maternity dress for my baby shower, when this jackass walked right up behind me and said, “Hey, why don’t you let me finish that off.”
Or the time a friend of my family said, “You’re good and grown now, I just want to come visit you.” Let’s just say, he was NOT my peer and he was not my friend.
Or the time a male who was close to the family told me I was a “fine mother-f’er.”
Or the time I was in the library and a dude, who was in one of my classes, called me over to the table and began counting a large wad of money while looking up at me and back down at the money in a suggestive way.
Or when a security guard at work tried to kiss me in an elevator—totally unprovoked! He offered to do something else more explicit that I’ll keep to myself.
Whew…once again chile—the shit is tiring and I really could go on.
I’ve had so many sexually explicit and not so explicit things said and done to me in my lifetime that I cannot count them.
Sadly, the first instances were in childhood and the perpetrators were mostly grown men—none of them were family members.
I never said anything about it or my Dad would still be in jail for murder!
I think Alice Walker’s words, spoken through Sophia in The Color Purple, express it best, “A girl child ain’t safe in a house full of mens.”
So, I think I’ll stop here and encourage anyone who is ready to have a polite and meaningful conversation about anything that I mentioned in this post to drop down in comments so we can chat.