Friday, November 25, 2011

On sexual harassment and good judgment

This week one of the big stories going around in the danish media has been of sexual harassment.

Appearantly one our new ministers got himself in a spot of trouble last christmas. At a christmas party, he said to a newly divorced female secretary: "So, are you going to get yourself a new man anytime soon?"

Whether it's sexual harassment is difficult to say when it's taken out of context. I don't know how well he knew this lady, or whether they had the kind of tone where something like that would be a normal, jokingly thing to say. I don't know whether he said it with a kind smile, or leaning over her and breathing booze in her face, while caressing her knee.

Either way, I think it's an unsensitive and hurtful and stupid comment, and it seems the lady in question felt the same way. She filed an official complaint and her union took out a sexual harassment case, that ended up in a settlement.

I could write about what this kind of behaviour, whether its lewd or just rude, speaks of that specific ministers sense of judgement, and his suitability for leading a ministry, but I won't.

Because what really surprised me was how the online media commenters reacted to this case: They were lining up to defend this man, and simultaneously putting down the secretary, commenting how "she was too delicate and prissy" and that "perhaps she should not have gone to the christmas party."

Whoa, wait up a minute.

So, if I as a female, go to a company party, that I have been specifically invited to, I thereby send out an invite for any drunken co-worker of the opposite sex to breathe booze-stinking lewdities in my ear whilst fondling my thigh??

Hell, no! Nobody feels me up without being invited - and just coming to the party is NOT an invitation - not even if I dress up in something more sexy than a burqua, wear perfume and heels!!

The scenario gets even worse, if the breather-slash-fondler is your superior (work wise, that is). It can be a tad more difficult to administer a hearty shove to the guy that is in charge of setting you up for raises and promotions. You might be more inclined to try settling things quietly, and thus you might get your borders invaded even further.
What kind of a boss puts their people in that kind of situation??

My guys at work can certainly rest assured that I will NOT squeeze their bottoms or do a lapdance on top of them, when we attend this years christmas party. And I am not even a big shot boss, just a small time project manager.

And if the commenters mentioned above reflect the general culture, a damn boring old bird.