Let’s talk about the side of America and the American workplace that no one wants to: the misogynistic side. Just as America was built on the brains and backs of black people, it was birthed from the wombs, works, and wisdom of women. Why do we treat those we owe so much to so poorly? Will that forever be an inherent human flaw?
Yesterday, I had a discussion with a good, long-time friend. She told me that she has been made to feel increasingly uncomfortable at work by her (male) supervisor. Now, no matter what “level” of society you’re at, this is unacceptable but, just to give some perspective, this pretty young black lady is well-educated, makes a very good amount of money, and is more competent than a lot of people I know, regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic background. She went to college in order to secure a better life for herself and then got a job that would allow her to do exactly that. So why is she being objectified? From what I understand, she does her job and does it very well. Why, as a supervisor, would you jeopardize your own integrity, career, and team in order to strong arm someone into inappropriate relations?
Why? Because you’re a man, because you’re higher up, and because you know that Human Resources is not there to serve the employee but to protect the company. As a man, sure women will say little slick things to us and, yes, we guys do get sexually harassed at work but, historically speaking, because corporate power sides with men, we’ve always had the upper hand, sadly allowing us to do lower things. Women have been harassed, terminated, blacklisted, and forced to relocate because we men could not keep our unwanted hands to ourselves (I’ll take ownership because I’m a member of the offending group and haven’t done enough to stop it).
I’m not saying that intraoffice romance is wrong. If two consenting adults can work together without a nepotism issue, by all means, go for it. Love is a beautiful thing. But when you try to use your power to get what you want or, when you go out to office socials and try to buy shots with hopes of getting someone on your team so hammered that she “consents” to let you go home with her, you’re promoting rape culture not only in your work environment but across this nation. You’re saying that what you, as a man, want, is more important than what that woman says. And, to the HR professionals/departments that support these actions in hopes of “protecting” the company, think about it this way: If you allow rape culture to be swept under the rug and, eventually rape turns to murder, you’re an asset to murder and your company will be paying a pretty hefty sum out.
Men, your mother/sister/aunt/cousin/wife/daughter may get sexually harassed if you don’t speak out against this nonsense. Am I certain it will happen? No. But I’d rather not take that risk.
It’s sad that I had to paint that familial picture but, for some people, that’s the only way to put a human face on this epidemic that is too often overlooked. But, you know what is also sad? I had to suggest to my friend that she: A) look for another job and B) tell her direct supervisor that she has a boyfriend just so he would stop harassing her. Men, let’s take ownership over our problems and educate our sons not to be boys that will be boys but instead be young men who can and will display restraint.
Make respect for womanhood a priority.