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Sexual Harassment Equality: A How Not To Guide

Illustration for article titled Sexual Harassment Equality: A How iNot/i To Guide

A recent study by the UK employment law firm Peninsula shows that 80 percent of 2,300 men surveyed had been subject to sexual harassment by their female colleagues, mostly in the form of "witty" banter that two-thirds of them found inappropriate. A separate survey by the firm finds that companies are much less likely to take men's complaints of sexual harassment as seriously as those coming from women. I think we can all agree that this is not a good thing, and not the kind of equality we want. But I am (or, at least was) part of the problem.

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When I was 19, I was given my first supervisory position, as the summer superviser for a campus job I worked during the school year. As you can imagine, summers are rather quiet times on college campuses, and while school-year supervisors had 10-12 employees under their thumbs, I had two. We mostly sat around and watched movies on our 8-midnight shift. When they couldn't make it, they hired one co-worker or another who was generally happy for the hours. One of those co-workers was "Brian," an extremely cute local kid who'd just finished his freshman year and who was as quiet and shy as I was brash and loud.

During the year, we hung out some during our shifts, but mostly he played cards with the guys stuck in the office and I was out and about. So, thinking he could win, he challenged me to a game of Rummy. I won. We cycled through Rummy, Gin Rummy, Hearts and Blackjack, flirting all the while until I had beaten him at everything and he looked at me with his big, innocent puppydog eyes and said, "Good thing I didn't ask to play strip poker."

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That was the moment I should have quit while I was ahead. But I was 19, and not used to "managing" someone and thought of Brian as a colleague more than my employee. I challenged him to strip poker. We locked the office door, pulled the blinds and commenced playing hand after hand until we were sitting there, him in his boxers (minus even his watch) and me still fully clothed. I jokingly offered to stop, probably sounding to him as though I was daring him to continue more than offering to stop, and we played the last hand. He lost. Not knowing what else to do, I began giggling uncontrollably with embarrassment, and said he "could" keep his shorts on, rather than stopping him. He took them off. I kept trying to maintain an eyelock, to stop laughing at the absurdity of being in the office with a cute naked guy and his big eyes got all beseeching and he asked, "Is it that small?" You can't help yourself in that situation, your eyes will dart down and I was suddenly looking at his (very impressive) erection and then had no idea what the appropriate thing to do is in the most inappropriate work situation of my life. I giggled like a 19 year old. After that shift, he never worked with me again, and didn't speak to me at all for 2 more years.

Looking back, I was completely in the wrong (and I still feel guilty about it). I dodged a huge fucking bullet there that Brian didn't tell. Even if the flirtation was mutual, even if the suggestion of the strip poker was his, I was his boss that night and I should've known better. That it happened when I was so young (and when I'd had no supervisory training, and in 1997) are probably the only things that would've saved my job - let alone my education - had he told. So, view my tale as a cautionary one, please. Don't play strip poker with your subordinates even if they ask nicely and you wouldn't mind seeing them naked.

Oh, and "Brian," I'm really sorry. And it wasn't remotely small.

80 Per Cent of Men 'Face Female Sex Pests' [This Is London]

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wolf-biter-old
wolf biter

Story time!

My junior year of college, I had a class that was taught by an adjunct professor. There were about 12 of us in the class and we met in the basement of a bar. Some of us would stay after the class and get drunk with the professor (hey, I was 19 at the time and I didn't have an ID. You would've done it too.)

I thought of myself as fat, frumpy, mouthy, unsexed and terminally uncool. (Fuck, I still think of myself that way.) So when my professor, not an unattractive man, but significantly older than me, married, and just generally not my type, chatted me up for hours over Crown on the rocks one night after class, I thought, somewhat incredulously, "Is he...FLIRTING...with me? He's not blind, right?"

After class a few weeks later, my professor and I are sitting and chatting over many, many more drinks, and he says to me, "You're making me so hard, WB." I'm drunk, and I'm like, "Shut the fuck up, I am not." He says, "Let's get out of here, WB." Something in me snaps.

We leave. In front of like eight of my classmates, who watch us go.

He drove me to a bar far, far away from campus. So far that I had no idea how I'd get home. We got in the bar and I immediately went to the bathroom to pull the trigger. Puking cleared my head. As soon as I came out I demanded he take me home. "But we just got here!" "I DON'T FUCKING CARE, TAKE ME HOME NOWWWWWW." I made a tremendous scene. But he took me back to my apartment, bitching and moaning all the way.

We made out at every stop light between the bar and my apartment. He put his hand down my shirt outside my door. It was, at that point in my life, the sleaziest (and hottest) thing I'd ever done. My friends excoriated me for it, which I deserved.

After the last class of the semester, we all went out again, and he said to me over Stoli gimlets, "I know you're a virgin, WB. [I turned red as a beet.] I don't want to be your first. But when you lose it you call me."

If I hadn't gotten an A in his class I would've reported him.