stop using sex as a weapon

from the abominable files:

a woman who tried to be the third person to successfully bring forward a sexual harassment case in russia has been denied. the rationale from the judge is unbelievable:

If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children, the judge ruled.

apparently, it was okay that the 22 year old woman’s 47 year old boss demanded sex from his female employees. there was even ample proof in this case for his guilt. but no matter. he was doing his part for the declining russian birthrate.

i’m just quoting the telegraph uk for the rest of this; i can’t even bear to write it myself:

According to a recent survey, 100 per cent of female professionals said they had been subjected to sexual harassment by their bosses, 32 per cent said they had had intercourse with them at least once and another seven per cent claimed to have been raped.

Eighty per cent of those who participated in the survey said they did not believe it possible to win promotion without engaging in sexual relations with their male superiors.

Women also report that it is common to be browbeaten into sex during job interviews, while female students regularly complain that university professors trade high marks for sexual favours.

Only two women have won sexual harassment cases since the collapse of the Soviet Union, one in 1993 and the other in 1997.

Human rights activists say that Russian women remain second-class citizens and are subjected to some of the highest levels of domestic abuse in the world.

if you’ve ever been subjected to sexual harassment, you know how intimidating, how soul-crunching it can feel. when i was young, there was an upper-level employee at my large organization who made me feel small. he would constantly put his arm around me and act in ways which made me, a 27 year old woman at the start of her career, feel very uncomfortable. i didn’t want to say anything because i was afraid. i would cringe, i would feel sick, but i would say nothing. i would simply try to stay out of his path as much as possible.

years later, after i left the organization, i told my mentor — who happens to be male — about it. i thought he was about to go postal and punch the lights out of the other guy, even though the other guy was fairly high-level. (my mentor has always been a guy driven by the rules; knowing the rules, he always taught his underlings, can help you be effective and help you move ahead. in short, he knew this was a broach of the rules, and he was pissed.) i hope he didn’t, though i often wonder: if i had said something during that time, would it have helped some other poor girl who would end up in that man’s path? i often feel guilty about staying silent all those years.

there are a lot of people who don’t want to think sexual harassment is real, even in this country. they often like to jump down your throat and act like you’ve asked for it somehow. but i humbly suggest that for all the tarty people out there who slither their way to the top, there are mostly the rest of us people who are just trying to get through the day doing the best job we can do. and it’s one thing when you’ve normal obstacles in your way. it’s a whole other thing when that obstacle is a powerful predator.

at least we have some protections here in the U.S. i cannot imagine what it must be like when the state sanctions this sort of treatment toward women. for 100 percent of the women polled to answer that they’ve been sexually harassed: that is simply inacceptable.

and all i can think of today is that poor woman who brought the suit. all i can imagine are the repercussions. she’ll probably never work in her town again. she’ll probably have to leave and hope she can find another job in another place where her name is not known.

and as she leaves, she’ll have to endure that hurtful, self-righteous, leering sneer.

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6 Responses to “stop using sex as a weapon”

  1. Just another reason to remember, even with all our problems, we are still the greatest nation on the face of the earth!

  2. That is just appalling. I know that sexual harrassment is far from being a thing of the past (even in this country), but to learn of it being so institutionalized in a country that I had considered relatively modern. That is horrific.

    Thank you for sharing this, sick as it makes me.

  3. My husband is interviewing for a job and today he had coffee with a former co-worker, a woman currently employed at potential company. She said that the VP of something or other is physically intimidating to men. Not women, because he “knows better”. I said, well it just needs to happen once in front of HR and that’s the end of that. Then I was aroused from my la-la land where we’re treated or mistreated equally. So while sexual harassment is completely unacceptable at least most employers have a published policy against it (which might protect your rights later on, say in the midst of a law suit). But there are seldom policies against being an asshole.

  4. oh – I just swore on your blog, I am sorry … you can censor me if you like

  5. hey cath,

    i have a major potty mouth. i’m cool with other potty mouths šŸ™‚ and i don’t often censor šŸ™‚

    what a crazy idea — people actually treating people fairly and equally in the workplace.

    if only they had rules against being an asshole. indeed. though how they’d actually measure what precisely constitutes being an asshole in the workplace, well, that would be an interesting conversation.

    good luck to hubby.

  6. I had no clue the situation in Russia was so bad. What surprises me most is that it doesn’t really surprise me. Alas.

    Excellent post.

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