Volume 2, Number 8
Sexual Harrassment - Now How do you Pronounce That Again?
Hey kids! Skipster is back in town. How's life treating everyone today? Of course I use the term life rather loosely. I don't for a minute believe that any of you have anything that could remotely be called a life. I mean, you're sitting there all slack-jawed, staring at a computer screen, for God's sake! Get up, go out, do something with yourself man! After you get finished reading this, of course. Unless you are reading this at work, in which case this is probably the most productive thing you will do all day. At least you aren't out there making women "sexually uncomfortable" or anything like that. Which leads me to this month's missive, sexual harassment; the don'ts and really don'ts.
You know folks, I was planning to let this one go by without my comments. I mean as a topic I figure sexual harassment is a no-brainer. As long as you aren't threatening a woman with termination of employment or hanging centerfolds in the lunchroom, I figured you were OK. Then one our Human Resources people informed me that a picture hanging in my office might be construed as sexual harassment to some people. Let me set this up for you. The picture in question is a grainy shot of a very fat man in bikini shorts copied from an advertisement. I have seen people experience revulsion upon seeing it for the first time, but never stimulation. This leads me to conclude that you need Skippy to step and explain a few things for you.
Now of course I'm not talking about those cases where the boss calls you in and says, "Blow me or your fired." In those instances the offending boss should be held up to ridicule and public humiliation and possibly stoned, or at least pay a hefty fine. No, the cases I'm talking about are the infamous `dirty jokes' or the sexual comments, that massive gray area that is being constantly enlarged. I foresee the day when impure thoughts will be worth 3.2 million dollars to some aggrieved party.
The root cause of this sort of sexual harassment is the same cause of most modern problems, abject stupidity on the part of the vast majority of the human race. If you are doing something that makes someone uncomfortable in the office, stop doing it, you moron! Conversely, if someone is doing something that is making you uncomfortable, then by all means, tell him/her to stop. I wonder how many sexual harassment cases could have been nipped in the bud if someone had just said, "Hey Frank, knock it off, you're being a moron."
At the base of it, women need to bear in mind that we men are dimwits at best. We do things, say things and look at things on which no intelligent or self respecting chimp would waste her time. (you will notice I made the chimp a woman, were it a male chimp he be right there with the rest of us. Hootin' and hollerin' and scratching himself.) The point is, don't assume that a man is saying something just to make you uncomfortable. Assume that he is doing his best to make you like him as a person. If, unfortunately, his way of doing that is to tell you what a great rack you have; please have a little patience. Gently tell him that while you appreciate the `compliment' you would prefer it if you kept the conversation away from physical appearance. At which time the light will go on in his little brain (we are so cute when that happens) and he will stammer out an apology and avoid you for a couple of months. When you finally talk to him again, chances are he will be cured of talking to you about `your rack' and will try to talk to you about other things. When this occurs, you will probably find yourself wishing he would go back to talking about your breasts again. Try to remember ladies - men are a species that considers gross-out jokes the pinnacle of comedy. Do you think a woman came up with the "1000 dead babies" series of jokes?
All that being said, men have to do their share as well. Guys, try to remember that talking to a woman is different than talking to your buddy Vern. This is a gender that doesn't get football or the Three Stooges. Do you honestly believe they are going to revel in your story about the stripper, the whip cream and the roll of quarters? Talk to any woman at work as though you were talking to your Mother or your Sister or your Wife. Would you tell Mom that joke about the cab driver and the Nun? Then don't tell it to Judy from accounting unless you want to wind up on Jerry Springer with a black bar over your face.
What it all comes down to (and I am paraphrasing Kurt Vonnegut here) is that the world doesn't need more love, it needs more respect. You will do incredibly stupid and hateful things to those you love, but not usually to those you respect. Treat everyone you work with - male, female, whatever - with respect, and I promise you will never have a problem with sexual harassment. Unless of course you hang a picture of a really fat guy on your wall.