The following article touches on real issues faced by working women across the world. Deeply Driven aims to all empower women, to discuss real issues and to take a stand against dangerous prevailing norms. Office abuse is one of these. To every man, teach and encourage each other to do better, to value all women and to uphold humanity. To every woman, your body, your mind and your emotions are not a public space. Guard them.
Post by Samantha Tatenda Majoni, Edited by Deeply Driven
“He pays my salary. Come to think of it, I always get paid on time, all the time. I have time off to see my family and to re-boot for the coming working week. I have a good career, wonderful family life and have accepted that office inappropriateness and giving sexual favours to my boss will keep me on the job. It is no secret that often by condoning misconduct I am securing my position in the workplace and also creating a safety net for myself and the future of my family.’’ That is a shocking reality for many women in the working world. For the educated well-to-do middle age 80s girl the thoughts are often; I know I have to give him something… I need this job. My family needs to survive…
I have to keep a straight face at work; when I enter, I can hear the gossip oozing. ‘There goes his side-piece, his office pet!’ But they do not say it out loud; they may be fired for telling the truth. He walks around being served cups of coffee, is known for pinching the bottoms of helpless interns, or staring inappropriately at the full-figured women. Sometimes he circulates sexual jokes that are not only degrading, but also just not funny. And yet smiles are given because if you do not find the jokes funny, you might be deemed lacking in team spirit. Usually, if this happens in a meeting, everyone laughs it off, and he walks away feeling high and mighty, although in my head I simply see weakness and perversion.
During the evenings, or during weekends he often calls me in to do some extra work. During those meetings, he suggests lunches, giving unwelcome affection and sexual attention. Resistance is often met with threats: I am not even good at my job, that the company is down-sizing and I might find myself on the chopping block. Besides, the country is under dire economic challenges so being fired is a reality as vivid as the November sun. I do not like it, but I do not want to be fired and so I take it, I endure.
With time he becomes more subtle in his inappropriateness and I let it happen because I sometimes feel there is nothing I can do about it really. He is my boss, no one will believe me, he hasn’t really done anything and far worse everyone will blame me; she wanted money, attention or was naive! What could I possibly do? Go to the police and tell him I was being sexually abused? They would ask so many questions; did he rape me? Why did I let it happen for so long without coming forward? All those questions! It would make me look like I was inviting the wolf into my house, when actually I wasn’t. And so I keep quiet, act like everything is ok and read in the media news of women claiming they have been abused and watch as they are ridiculed and labelled as ‘asking for it’. They would never call it sexual harassment in the work place. They would simply say I wanted it.
These are real stories of realities in our world. The issue with sexual harassment is that it is so common it can seem normal. But there is nothing normal about it. It is pervasive, demeaning and intolerable for our generation and that to come. While this article focuses on women it is also a reality for men across the world..To this we say May those who exercise this cease, may those who encounter this Speak Up and together may we Protect and Stand for Truth, Justice and Dignity. ~ Deeply Driven