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Let's discuss "harrassment"

Discussion in 'General' started by scout86, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    I can see a lot of different places to put this topic. If this isn't the best one, feel free to move it.

    I really believe the best way to solve a problem begins with understanding it as much as possible. For that reason, I want to make it clear that any and all experiences and opinions are welcome here. But, what I'm looking for is a discussion of experiences and view points. I'm NOT looking for blaming or bashing. That might make us feel better, in the moment, but I really don't think it has much to do with problem solving.

    When I say "any and all", I mean it. Any orientation, gender, group, what ever. Even if you happen to be white, male, conventionally gendered, what ever. All I ask is that everyone treat each other like you'd want to be treated, if you had a choice.

    I'm going to start with a story about something that happened the other day. I'm a farrier, by trade. (Also female, heterosexual, but not especially feminine. Never played with dolls, haven't owned a dress since I graduated from high school. My idea of dressed up is clean jeans.. etc)

    I'd been called to a local zoo to trim zebra feet. (Yes, zebras.) This involved tranquilizer guns etc, so it involved a veterinarian. Male. Someone I've worked with before. He's ok, but I suspect we will never be actual friends. He brought with him a technician, also male. I'm going to guess these guys are in their late 30's. To me, they come off as a bit macho. (I tend to be wary of people like that because they can get you hurt when you're working with large, reactive animals that are stronger than a human. Because "macho" often goes with the mind set that they can out muscle the animal. They can't and it sometimes ends badly)

    The zoo was represented by 3 staff. All female, all maybe late 20's, early 30's. I'm older than all of them.

    On the way out to tranq zebras, the tech got a call from the office. When he got off the phone. he made a comment, directed at his boss, but clearly with the whole group as "audience". He said he was glad he wasn't back at the office. "Estrogen" was cited and he said that the two women back at the office were mad at each other. (He didn't say it in quite that neutral a way. he was joking around about "women".) His boss replied with another "estrogen" joke. The young women from the zoo laughed. (I don't want to put too much interpretation on HOW they laughed. My take was it was uncomfortable, but that might have been because I was debating whether or not it was worth making a scene. I decided it wasn't.)

    So what the heck was THAT? I won't call it "harassment". I think it was a lame joke, in exceedingly poor taste. One on one? I'd have gone right to "What, exactly, do you mean by THAT?" But, I was there to trim zebra feet, not educate the unevolved.

    For anyone with an answer, I'd kind of like to know the intent of comments like that. It was perceived, by me, as a put down. It left me wondering if these two felt they were working with competent help, since we were female. (Which is a little ironic, because I was wondering if THEY were competent help. LOL) Was it intended as a put down? Were they just too ignorant to realize how it sounded? I KNOW why no one questioned it. The power thing. They were older than the zoo people. The vet has a license which put him "in charge" of the festivities. (Although the people from the zoo probably should have taken charge more than they did, as things evolved, because things got messy.) Which is another thing. From that point on, it was even HARDER for them to assert themselves than it already was. Were the guys aware of that?

    I have to work with this guy on a semi-regular basis. I'd be willing to call him out one on one, but I'm not going to embarrass him in public over something that's was minor and questionable.

    Thoughts? Feel free to use other examples. I'd really like to understand this dynamic. Some of my favorite people are heterosexual males. I KNOW many of them don't make jokes like this. (At least not when I'm around.) I'd like to think some of the ones that do are merely stupid. But then, my T often tells me I give people too much credit. What's up with this stuff?
    Ronin, Rain, ShikibuZ and 4 others like this.
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  3. Lady McCormick

    Lady McCormick New Member

    I can see why that made you uncomfortable. You're right to feel weird about it.

    My style would be to pull him aside and say something like: "You said something about estrogen the other day — what did you mean by that?" Knowing me, I'd probably make it a "compliment sandwich," try to say something truthful and complimentary about him both before and after the uncomfortable bit.

    Hopefully you ask him that, he realizes it was uncomfortable and unprofessional, he apologizes, and he doesn't do it again.

    What did he mean by that? People can be stupid! I would like to think if he meant it in a truly insulting way, he wouldn't have said it around women. Maybe he's used to talking like that with guy friends (e.g., "Ugh, I don't understand why my date did that. Women are totally weird. Estrogen, am I right?"). Either way, I'd like to think he'll surprise you with being understanding if you talk to him about it. I doubt he heard the other women's laughter as uncomfortable, so maybe you talking to him will help him learn something.

    What do you think?
  4. Changeling

    Changeling Policy Enforcement Banned Donated

    Don't know. Culture? I was/am a "tomboy" which is a odd adjective. Opposite is what? I found that it could bring out from some males, possibly insecure males, taunting, derogatory remarks. I go-carted as a child, motorcycles, sailing, and only 5'3". Pretty and never heard any 'lesbo' taunts. I was just me. Some men still found that I was faster on a bike (because I was able and also less weight) to be taken personally to deride me. Some times literally. Had some try to run me off the road into a ditch. Once in my own 'muscle car' Z28. Side by side at a light and a "wanna race", me, 'Nah' Let him go ahead. He raced off anyways then stopped and I below speed limit moved forward, he rammed me off the road, yelling "is that your boyfriends car." (Had rebuilt the engine and tranni all on my own). Yeah Macho comes to mind. But if you feel comfortable in your own self you do not feel a need to dominate due to feeling some inadequacy.

    As an aside curious if the animals react differently to the sex of the Vet/Tech? Besides the 'macho' behavior. ""Animals in Translation" was a great read.
    Ronin, 420kitty, Rain and 2 others like this.
  5. The Albatross

    The Albatross Product of decisions rather than circumstances Premium Member Sponsor $100+

    Seems to me an awful lot of people have totally lost a sense of patient endurance in lieu of choosing offended-ness but that's just me. People can be stupid, people can be rude, people can be offended, people can be insensitive, people can be bigoted, people can be [ fill in the blank and continue ad nauseum ]... Totally confused by your title about discussing "harassment" when the example you give in your opening post says, "what the heck was THAT? I won't call it "harassment". I think it was a lame joke, in exceedingly poor taste. One on one? I'd have gone right to "What, exactly, do you mean by THAT?"

    I think you've already decided what it was because you already said, "I was there to trim zebra feet, not educate the unevolved." So far as your 9th paragraph... you know you wouldn't have had to go there if you had just asked your initial question "What, exactly, do you mean by THAT?" Though clearly your perception of the event was in question maybe because the other woman laughed? Or maybe because you were offended, or are just still trying to decide if it was harassment or not?

    "I'd be willing to call him out one on one, but I'm not going to embarrass him in public over something that's was minor and questionable." - then go ahead and do that. Problem solved. Or don't and since you didn't speak up or deal with it then - by following him to the door on his way out or something - let it go. I think that's doable without deciding that two associates and a third person, a woman were laughing about something you didn't think is funny.

    I worked in the "pit" at a tax collectors office with all women and only one male, and including the assistant supervisors and managers (about 15-20 in all on any given day) and we'd think it was funny too. Because guess what... when you have that many women working in a common area... our menses synchronize and we frequently made jokes about moon phases and who needed have their estrogen levels tested or needed a health day for PMS because if they looked in the mirror they'd see Medusa (yeah, comments directed to me too and it didn't bother us cuz being able to joke about it made it less difficult).
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
    Rain and mumstheword like this.
  6. digger

    digger I'll just have a P please, Bob Moderator Donated

    Out of curiosity, if you were instead back at their office and the two women there were joking about being glad they weren't working out in the field today and throwing in terms like 'too much testosterone' and maybe "macho" would that feel different?
  7. She Cat

    She Cat Policy Enforcement Banned Premium Member Sponsor $100+

    @scout86 Not sure if I could define it as harassment, but definitely in bad taste. The guys lack any respect for women IMO!

    Back in the day, I would have laughed my ass off at the joke and probably joined right in. But back then I had no respect for myself either and full PTSD non treated. I too am a woman that getting dressed up, is “clean jeans and a tee shirt”. LOL!!! Had my share of men through the years call me a lesbian too, usually after I turned them down for a quickie!!!!

    Today, I would feel as you do. Insulted and wondering how to approach the whole subject without causing a shitstorm. I think the one on one would be the best way to handle it, and just explain that the comments mad you feel uncomfortable and in today’s society with all of the sexual abuse going on, you just feel its not appropriate in mixed company.... Better left in the locker room....
  8. Sideways

    Sideways I'm a VIP Premium Member

    Comments like that? I usually think to myself “Ok, you’re not someone I particularly like”. And that’s it.

    Which isn’t to say that’s a good response. But there’s a lot of emotional investment I have to put in if I decide I want to pursue it as an “issue”, and that’s not an investment I’m going to make with everyone who offends me.

    If the person who said it mattered to me? It would be different.
    Ronin, Changeling, Rain and 2 others like this.
  9. desiderata310

    desiderata310 On a Pale Wave Moderator

    Not sure I would go so far as to label that as harassment but then again, consider what I'm accustomed to working around: big and sometimes rather scary looking fellows who swear, smoke, and curse as naturally as breathing air. I am cys gen, female, heterosexual... I think that's all the terms that describes me. I earned my stripes (much as you have) and only really ever poked fun at by the guys when I would start to get tired during a long day and my pitch would rise when calling a pull: "Heads up, PIPE coming in!" does admittedly sound a bit funny in a higher range. But I also know that those guys had my back.

    **I would often break the ice with a new crew by being the first one to crack out a 'that's what she said' or a 'dick joke' to clarify that they could relax. The few times that I was disrespected for my gender was quickly followed by a "f*ck you and the f*cking horse you rode in on!" in a loud enough voice that everyone on the stage would pause long enough to see if we were about to come to fistacuffs. That was all it ever took. God, I miss working as a stagehand sometimes. :rolleyes:

    All that to say: consider the history with this person. Does he have a habit of being an ass? I generally have a habit of giving people like that a 'pass' thinking of it as a generational thing that is more likely to die out with the millennials than the X'ers .

    People I don't know that talked like that? I would make it a point to avoid as much as possible. I don't suffer fools and I would instantly consider that person to be a fool and as such didn't deserve my attention or respect. If pressed into a situation where I had to work with them and the general became directed at me? See above ** comment. In tech we are painfully direct about what we think and where we stand. It's doubtful that someone who goes around doing that kind of BS will be around for long in the business.

    Harassment, for me would be catcalling, talking (in my earshot) about 'hitting that' (me or another chick) or some other lewd topic (going into the whole locker room talk) . Making comments about what I was wearing (other than an innocuous 'Wow you look great today' kind of comment) that referenced me in a sexual manner, etc.

    What HAS happened that I consider clear cut harassment?
    I was continuously pawed at by someone more Senior who would talk about how nice my 'ass looked in that dress'. :cautious:
    Same sorts of comments from a major donor who would enter the theater before we opened (because he had the clout to get past the ushers) and then talk about trying to get me alone and 'what I wouldn't do to you' and because he hugged all the ladies, would try to cop a feel when he would greet me in the same manner.

    Both of these people in positions of power moved to physical assault. Mostly because they felt assured they could get away with it. It was so bad with the donor that I would literally have my crew run interference to keep the donor away, lie about my whereabouts and essentially hide me till he left. They knew. My boss knew and did nothing. It was humiliating.

    With the senior employee, I would make sure to keep another person close to me and my radio ready to key open after being physically assaulted on an elevator (the only place we DIDN'T have cameras). This was back 15 years ago. I knew I wouldn't be believed. I simply made sure that I never wore that dress again, kept someone with me, etc. and avoided that person at all costs.

    Both clear cut cases that I knew I couldn't win and honestly didn't try.

    As a teen, a fellow student I had been friends with since Jr high grabbed my privates in a practice room my senior year. I grabbed my music and ran out. When a jr high student complained about him, I and one other senior he had done this to went to the principal to drive home that this needed to be addressed (i.e., that this girl wasn't just making it up)

    I could go on but I won't. I guess for me the line that defines 'harassment' : is this an idiot neanderthal with no power making a stupid comment about general gender stereotypes or was this a comment obviously announced to try to illicit a reaction out of someone specific around them?

    Again, consider your source (me) and remember that my tolerance is possibly skewed.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
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  10. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    No, I don't think it would have felt any different. It would have seemed like an unnecessary stereotype, rude, and demeaning. Which is exactly how this seemed. Most of my favorite people are male and I don't think they deserve to be stereotyped either.
    Rain, ShikibuZ and digger like this.
  11. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    I think that's a big part of the reason I just listened. It wasn't serious enough to merit a big blowup. On the other hand, I feel a bit like I let the young zookeepers down by not being a better role model.
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  12. mumstheword

    mumstheword I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    Having had extensive in-depth discussions with my man friend around gender politics, psychology, biological psychology etc, I'm speculating that it could even be nerves?

    Some, actually, probably lots of men get nervous around women. Women have a great deal more psychological power to hurt men than they give themselves credit for, in terms of their sense of self, status in a group of guys etc.

    I realise this could be triggery for some women to hear, but none the less, I'm sticking by this.
    Men often use humour to cover up a sense of social discomfort, so I'm wondering, if they could, perhaps feel a little intimidated by you, or women in general?

    It's really not uncommon.
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  13. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    Kind of. I don't have to work with him often, but he's tranquilized a few animals for me this summer, because he's one of the few vets around here who are willing to stick a needle in a horse or a donkey. He's the type who thinks he's strong enough to win a fight with an animal several times his size. He hasn't gotten hurt, yet. Maybe he won't. You know the quote about there being a special providence that protects drunks and fools. :rolleyes: When I have to work with someone like that, my goal is to make sure that it's HIM that gets hurt, not my client, or their animal, or me.
    I suppose that's possible. It honestly didn't come off that way to me. But then, I don't quite get the notion that I can feel more comfortable by making someone else uncomfortable. Because it doesn't work like that for me. So, maybe that's a part of the dynamic that's lost on me.

    That's actually more what I'm wondering about, though. What makes people think that sort of thing is funny? If the "joke" had been a racial joke, I think it would have been more clearly perceived as out of line. Maybe this is just my own sense of humor. I don't find putting other people down to be funny, as a rule. Never enjoyed Don Rickles. Never enjoyed Joan Rivers. Just don't like "mean". I suppose these guys don't think much of their wives and daughters either? That's the kind of thing I'm wondering. This incident, itself, wasn't a big deal.

    I haven't dealt with actual harassment very often. (Probably not pretty enough!) When confronted with it in a less public setting, my approach is usually humor that also tries to make it clear I'm not really amused. I had a college professor ask me, once, what I'd do if he kissed me. (I was his student.) I looked him right in the eye and told him I'd knock him into the middle of next week. He paused and said, "You're serious." I wasn't going to say "Go ahead, make my day" because I REALLY didn't want to have to try to make good on my threat, but I assured him I was totally serious. He backed off and said, "Well, you can't blame I guy for trying." I never said this to him but, in point of fact, I darn sure COULD blame him for trying. And myself. Because I'd been stupid enough to trust him and to think he might have valued me as a human being. Silly me!
    Maybe. On the other hand, if you're offended and never express it, how is anyone supposed to know their behavior might be considered offensive? Or, maybe everyone should just get a free pass to be as much of a jerk as they want? (I guess that's actually a serious option.) I really don't know. I'd like to live in a world where people respect each other. How do we get there? Is that a worthwhile goal? Do these guys have any clue what it's like to have it suggested to them that they're inherently less competent because of their gender? Most likely not. Maybe they should at least think about it?
    I'm pretty sure I know why they laughed. They were unsure, didn't know what else to do, and wanted to be seen as "part of the gang". I'm really wishing I'd found a way, in the moment, to show them that's not necessary. It wasn't the kind of laugh that goes with "funny". It was the kind of laugh that goes with "nervous and uncomfortable".
    That would have been a good option. As it worked out, I had another appointment and was the first one to leave. I don't know that I'll bring it up again, because I suspect, to him, it was a throw away moment that didn't mean anything and he won't remember it. If something like that happens again, I'll try to do better. Because, maybe it actually IS my job to try to educate the unevolved.
    Not that I've ever noticed. It seems like it's more about attitude. The animals I usually work with are prey animals. They do best if people don't act too much like predators. The whole "macho/show them who's boss" thing pretty much looks predatory, if you're a prey animal. (That was one of the places we ran into trouble. Neither of the zebras would give in to the tranquilizer and go down. The fact the the vet tech was basically stalking them probably had a lot to do with that IMO.)
    ShikibuZ and Changeling like this.
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