What did you think of when you read those words? A woman being raped? Women being abused or inappropriately flirted with by men in the office or on the street?
Whatever the image was, I can assure you of this; the victim in the situation that just played in your mind was not male.
Why is that?
Is it because most people believe that only women are sexually harassed? That men who are unwillingly touched or spoken to should enjoy it because they are a man?
An alarming amount of women are victims to sexual harassment each year, 91% to be exact, but what about the other 9%? Do they not count?
1 of every 45 men will be sexually harassed in their lifetime, these men make up the 9% of sexual harassment victims we don’t think of.
Men are Victims too.
I had always known there was a double standard, but I didn’t realize how bad it was until I witnessed it at a previous job.
… A while back I was working in a corporate office that was predominately male. At first, the environment seemed intimidating and uneasy, but those feelings disappeared quickly when I started to introduce myself. The employees were extremely respectful and welcoming; a pleasant surprise considering how most corporate settings have been described.
As I began adjusting to my new role, I befriended the few women who were in my department. They got along with the men on the floor very well and rarely spoke about any type of drama that occurred. All in all, my job seemed pretty great.
A few weeks into the new gig, the Human Resources department held a sexual harassment seminar to go over the rules and regulations of the company. Like most adults, we laughed it off for it’s bleakness and a juvenile story lines. It was as if they were teaching a class of 5th graders sex- ed.
We never expected the information to be so important in the following weeks.
About two months after I was hired, a new group of people were brought on board. They were treated with the same respect and welcoming as I was; but the warmth of the situation would soon turn into hostility and resentment.
One of the women…
Who had just been hired had an interesting way about her. She was extremely flirtatious with all the men and didn’t seem to pay much attention to the women she’d be working with. It was off setting at first, but we figured she was just trying to get comfortable.
About a week into her training, the few men who had been mentoring her began acting strange. They seemed annoyed and uncomfortable whenever she was around, which was extremely out of character for them. A few days later rumors started to fly. The woman was texting these men all sorts of sexual messages and verbally handing out invitations to, “have some fun”, if they wanted to. She would hang on them at work functions and invite them back to her place even though she barely knew them.
She blamed her actions on drinking a little too much, yet continually harassed the men through texts about sexual topics. Still, no one wanted to confront her about the behavior.
She carried on with these antics for quite some time before it was ever brought up to management. Eventually the women on floor, including myself, had a meeting with one of the supervisors and expressed concern for our fellow co-workers. We knew they were to ashamed to point out such behavior because they didn’t think it was a manly thing to do, but we were not going to stand for it.
Here’s the Double Standard.
The woman was spoken to once about her behavior and then the topic went mute. The male managers didn’t know how to address a situation such as this with a female. Sexual harassment is hard enough to confront- a man confronting a female about it is ever worse. The woman was mortified that this was ever brought up and began playing the victim card. She believed her actions were innocent and that everything was just taken out of context, but that wasn’t the case. We had seen the text messages and witnessed her promiscuity, however it didn’t matter. Her actions were dismissed.
She Suffered No Consequences..
It was a matter of days before the issue resurfaced. A confrontation was triggered between her and another female co-worker due to her actions. Enough was enough. No one was going to treat people like sexual objects regardless if they were male or female.
There was another conversation between the woman and management, but again she was let off scot-free.
The following week…
I had resigned from my position in order to pursue a net career opportunity. Upon my departure I had exit interviews with the Director and Vice President of the department. They wanted feed back on what they could change and what needed improvement.
I Informed them that our sexual harassment policy had an extreme double standard.
The truth was, if a male had been texting & harassing females, he would have bee fired immediately and possibly brought up on charges if the women felt at all threatened. A man wouldn’t have been given a second chance or had excuses made for him as to why his behavior was so despicable. It was as if the harassment and the actions of this woman was deemed acceptable solely because she was a woman.
It was unsettling to know that the men did not feel comfortable enough to approach management themselves but even worse, that management did nothing about the issue. No human resources reports, no disciplinary actions. The situation appeared to be swept under the rug because no one knew how to handle it.
Sexual Harassment Consequences Should Apply To Everyone.
The men I worked with did not consider themselves victims, although by definition they absolutely were. It’s sad that men believe they must remain quite in order to not have their image altered.
If you’re a man who feels uncomfortable due to how another person- male or female- is treating you, do not be afraid to speak up for yourself. It is imperative that your voice be heard so that others gain the courage to confront those who victimize them. Man, woman, gay, straight; it doesn’t matter. Don’t ever let someone make you feel uncomfortable, and do not ever be ashamed to stand up for yourself.