Workplace Harrassment, The "Gray Rape" Of Your Sober Years

Illustration for article titled Workplace Harrassment, The Gray Rape Of Your Sober Years

You know that line, "If Clarence Hill looked like Denzel Washington, it wouldn't be a problem"? Well, ha ha ha until we read your comments on yesterday's post about EMC, the only technology company pioneering enough to think to paint its initials on strippers' ass cheeks for a company function. Which prompted a startling thought: sometimes having a crappy sexist boss can be worse than, I dunno, gray rape. I mean, I don't want to get carried away here: the senior partner one of you refused to blow was kind enough to present you with that little severance package for your gag agreement the next day. And the fiftysomething boss who listed in order the twentysomething assistants he wanted to fuck and then would make a big thing of saying, sotto voce, "That's number eight!" — that guy at least gave you a good anecdote. (Though nowhere near as great as the boss who told you that whenever he was fucking his girlfriend and couldn't come, he'd just think of you and immediately "blow his load.")

And the one who asked, when you won an award for a presentation, if you were wearing "those" heels during the presentation — fair question. (The ones who asked to see your "jungle nipples" might have crossed the line.)


But the thing is, while good parents and goals and and a strong sense of self blah blah can go far to protect against the abuses doled out by idiot, power-hungry dudes in bed, the office is another story. For one thing, for all y'all who are lacking in the rich husband department, it's your livelihood. More importantly, it's probably a critical component of your identity. So when we read shit like this:

When she was 15 she got her very first job working nights and weekends at a mom and pop deli store. The kids in the family, who were her age, worked there too so she got to know the whole family. One late night she was sweeping up and the 40+ dad of the family came up and grabbed her from behind. When she freaked out he patiently explained that this was the whole purpose for hiring her and that she shouldn't be so naive. Completely traumatuzed she started crying and he gave her a big hug, consoled her and said it was best to never speak of this to anyone, as to not jeopardize their "friendship". She didn't quit the job, and didn't tell anyone until years later because he had talked her into thinking she had brought it on herself. She confided in me MUCH later that she actually felt grateful at the time that he was so understanding.


...we get concerned. Maybe because we felt a little shiver of recognition — and it wasn't over something that happened when we were fifteen, more a recurring sense we've had over the years in the workplace that that's just how it is. And we'd better just cope. So to anyone who is feeling that way: you know how we say "fuck discretion?" Yeah, that. And moreover: start writing it all motherfucking down.

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@theobviouschild: When I was 9, my piano teacher gave me a puberty book (something along the lines of "Woman's Body: An Owner's Manual"). The spine was broken so that it fell open to the pages with graphics of sexual positions. My parents loved him, as did I, and so my mother was comfortable dropping me off at his house for my lessons. He wrote me music and took me to the symphony, and encouraged me to compose. Then he started straddling me on the piano bench, from behind, to play the keys over my hands. One day he was in the bathroom and the phone rang, and he came out to answer it with his pants down (boxers on). One day, we were talking in the studio room, and I had to pee, really badly. Without really thinking about it, I had scooted myself to the corner of the piano bench and was pressing myself down on it, like sitting on your foot when you have to pee. The teacher's face filled with wonderment and he asked me if I was masturbating, then asked me how often I masturbated. I told my mom I wanted to quit piano shortly after.

What's funny about this is I forgot all about it until I was about 16 and was picking at the keys on my upright at home. My mom was listening and said she was so disappointed when I quit playing and that she never understood why, and reminded me that I used to cry when I was practicing. Then I remembered it all, but I never told my parents, because they would be so upset that they left me alone with this man.

So, he never actually molested me but I sometimes wonder what happened to him and if I was the only one. He had a young niece and I feel some responsibility for never sayign anything. I don't think this has really had any long-term, damagign effects on me and don't feel a need to make it more than it was, but it makes me sad to think about. Sorry for the self-indulgently long post, but feels good to divulge!