‘Women are no longer prepared to put up and shut up’

One of our esteemed Overland bloggers, Trish Bolton, has an opinion piece about sexual harassment in the workplace in today’s Age, ‘Women are no longer prepared to put up and shut up’:

HE CORNERED me at the back of the shop, stood over me and ripped open my vest, swearing when he saw I was wearing a bra. This was the 1970s, I was 18 and he was my boss.

A year or two later in another workplace, a senior sergeant flung a notebook in my face after I refused an invitation to after-work drinks. On yet another occasion, I accepted a lift home from a respected male colleague and sat mortified beside him as he relayed to me in graphic detail his wife’s sexual failings.

I might have thought I was just plain unlucky, had female friends and colleagues not regularly shared similar stories. More amazing is that not once did any one of us consider reporting the perpetrator.

More than 30 years on, I still hear stories from women who think they have no choice but to tolerate men touching them up or making crude asides in the workplace: men of every age and from every walk of life, men who go home at night to wives and children and men who are pillars of the community.

Read the entire piece over at the Age.

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  1. Thanks for the heads-up, Jacinda. Great post of Trish’s and fascinating comments. It’s been such an intense education for thousands of years, the objectification of women. A teeny, modern sample: http://www.businesspundit.com/10-most-sexist-print-ads-from-the-1950s/ Now men are being objectified too – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ43TPr633E&NR=1&feature=fvwp (this example has a quadruple bad-news whammy with its racist agenda). Workplace bullying comes in many forms, all hienous – but the threat of rape + the mysterious ‘reputation’ makes the sexual harassment of women by men a different prospect than the other way round (though I certainly do not condone the latter, or same-sex harassment either!) and a man being called a slut etc does not have the same historical context. We should be educating ourselves (and our offspring) with the communication skills and conventions to find out if we’re not sure if someone, at work or otherwise, might be flirting with us. We would thereby also address our pathological fears of rejection and that can only be a good thing! Andrea Dworkin famously said: “You think intercourse is a private act; it’s not, it’s a social act. Men are sexually predatory in life; and women are sexually manipulative. When two individuals come together and leave their gender outside the bedroom door, then they make love.”

  2. Hi Clare, not sure I agree with Andrea Dworkin’s comment – such stereotyping of the sexes – or is it that she shows, in this comment anyway, so little insight into the way men and women are socialised. However, what I really wanted to take further is the word ‘slut’: can anyone come up with a word for men that has the same connotation as ‘slut’? I don’t think there is one but I’d loved to be proved wrong.

  3. Ms Dworkin is nothing, if not strident – I thought the stereotypes spoke to some of the comment/responses over at The Age.

    Hmmm … insults for men equivalent of ‘slut’ (baggage, hussy, jade, slattern, tart, tramp, wanton, wench, whore. floozy)?

    er…I’ve sourced cad, rake and womanizer. Hardly.

    note to self: don’t google ‘slut’

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