Words By: Tamara Sebesta
The subject of ‘sexual harassment’ is obviously coming up in most of the conversations you’re having these days.
So I decided to confront the majority of my friends with this subject, to collect different opinions and views, and for sure I can say that between the female and male opinions there are continents, universes and galaxys. Worlds separate them.
Obviously this subject is in all of our faces at the moment, no matter if you are following it out of interest or just zipping through a TV program or newspapers. There is no avoiding anymore and every day new dramas are thrown at us.
Is it really just now that we see?
In my life sexual harassment has always been a subject, a current thing, like a pimple that doesn’t want to leave your face. Confronted with sexual harassment, chauvinists, inappropriate comments, looks and touches from a very young age, I can see now what this actually meant, what actually happened.
But it’s only now that I can see, that I can understand. In my teenage years this subject wasn’t that big of a deal, it was more a little bully sitting in the corner, speaking up once in a while, but collectively ignored by the unity of the classroom.
Did the borders change in the last 15 years? Or is it now I understand as a grown woman, with an adult brain and not a teenager’s naivety?
The difference is the line, the border you set for yourself as a woman….is it a compliment or an inappropriate comment?
In the eye of the beholder.
This is a heated and never ending debate for sure, but I might as well put myself out there and share my experiences and my point of view, and compare it with the thoughts of my beloved ones surrounding me.
And let me tell you …if they weren’t my friends I would have probably ended these discussions with a really bad word … but my mum taught me better.
Let’s get into this…Some Simple Examples.
The slap on the ass in a club with a cheeky smile on his face, thinking it is okay-you asked for it with your tight jeans.
“Oh come on cutie, you should take it as a compliment, don’t be like that, it’s just for fun“
The sentence, “Look at you beautiful,“ with an uncomfortable undertone from a group of strangers on the street.
You’re wearing a dress, because you are going out with your girls…They are braver in a pack, everyone knows that.
The look from head- to-toe on the tube, making you feel watched and uncomfortable at the same time.The tone makes the music.
But where does it start? Where is the line, the point where it’s time to speak up and say “stop?”
Social Media Problems
Sexual harassment has many faces and interpretations, but are you allowed to say I was sexually harassed or insulted if you didn’t speak up? Is avoiding the confrontation the right way?
Are you allowed, in the time of social media where you present yourself also in bikinis or maybe a nice outfit, to say I was harassed if you are willing to show so much of you? Are you sending an unconscious invitation out to the world?
A male friend of mine, let’s call him Peter, says that women are not allowed to complain and say that they have been assaulted if they don’t speak up.
If you are assaulted at your workplace, you should change the job, but is that the solution? Running? Hiding? Avoiding?
Do I have to end my career, because my boss is a PIG?
And here we are, of course, talking about Harvey Weinstein, he started a volcano, already overdue to erupt.
Should I change my choice of career because that industry is known to have a misogynist culture? Well, that’s what Peter says…maybe you should consider your choice of career. Do something else in an environment where you think nobody will offend you.
Well let me tell you this…I have had two jobs in my life where I HAVEN’T been sexually harassed, a touch, an inappropriate comment, a look….
Maybe bravery makes the difference? Temper even?
I am a woman that speaks up, no matter what, but I did lose jobs over that as well…..my mouth faster than my brain.
Let me give you an example from my own life.
Just recently I lost a deal for my company. We wanted to cooperate with a brand, everything went very well and I was ready to sign the deal. Then the man in charge asked me out on a date, not a normal one, either, he dead seriously asked me via message if I want to have dinner with him at his place. He would cook for me and would have nice wine as well.
I mean, come on…
I nicely and very carefully said no, that I wanted to keep it on a professional level. It’s sad that I knew the implications of refusing him. And yea, he did end the cooperation between our companies, both of which you have heard of. Both of which are household brands. I received an email two days after he texted me calling the deal off, with no explanation. It wasn’t necessary, I knew the reason.
So there you have it, career opportunity over.
I was nice to him on a professional level, but never flirted or gave any signals like that. But is that where this whole thing starts? At being “too” nice and friendly?
Don’t get me wrong, I knew a yes would have guaranteed me a deal.….And that’s the choice you have to make…A career or making decisions that you actually WANT to make.
And this is the key to everything.
Would I have said yes for the sake of my job? For my existence? Maybe, I couldn’t give you a definite no here I’m afraid. But this time it was just for a deal, rather than my whole career.
Power – how do you use it?
Is a little bit of prostitution the key to success?
Did we get taught in school that a little bit of sexual harassment or assault even is part of our female lives? The curse of being a woman?
If you speak up, you get the favourite swearword of some men- FEMINIST!
When did the word of a movement become an insult?
But then on the other hand, don’t we “girls” use this benefits we get from “powerful” men once in a while?
The occasional free coffee in your favourite coffee shop, because you smile at the waiter everytime you see him. The free drink from a bartender that obviously finds you attractive or the job you get, and you know it, because the boss finds you attractive and wanted to have a nice new decoration to his office and you are totally aware of it. You didn’t refuse to take the job.
There are enough woman out there using their appearance, their female being, also for some benefits, I am not going to lie.
I do that too occasionally.
But does that mean we are not allowed to speak up when it gets too far or is it that we just speak if it doesn’t bring us enough benefits?
Is it just the price tag that changes sexual harassment to a convenient opportunity? Modern day prostitution?
I know, a delicate subject, but let’s go there.
I am not going to judge on any female “colleagues” now, pretending I’m Mother Theresa, but let’s reflect on a few things here.
Let’s get to the Harvey Weinstein theory of mine. These woman were pursuing a Hollywood career, which probably makes it quite impossible to not be confronted with Mr Weinstein at some point.
Did they stay silent for so many years because it was for their benefit and it helped their careers?
Yes, they certainly did.
Were they scared that this one man could “kill” their dream in a second?
Oh hell yeah.
Is this a form of prostitution or just the sacrifice you have to make as a woman to be successful or achieve whatever you want to achieve?
I’m not going to say everywhere, obviously you can also become a successful woman without all of this, I am not going to say that no woman will ever achieve an amazing carreer without accepting harrasment at some point, thats bullshit, but I would certainly say that it happens at more places that we can imagine, that even I was confronted with it already.
But here is the most important question:
Are you a 100 percent sure you would say no? Don’t we all have a certain price tag?
Let’s put an example right here-> its quite fierce and probably doesn’t happen like this, but I just want to make a point here ok? So follow me on this:
You are a, let’s say 22 year old girl, wanting the good things in life and yet you are living off the social system, because nobody wants to give you a job. You are living from bill to bill, worrying already about the next shopping at the grocerystore. Will they decline my card? (I know this is an overdramatic example, but just for the sake of it…)
There you have it, a man comes along telling you, “for one night with me I will solve all your financial problems”
(I am aware it doesn’t totally happen like this, but I’ve seen it in other versions, trust me, it does happen).
But here’s the question and please think about this answer. Would you actually say no? Female or male, it doesn’t matter. Is it not just about the offer you get for you to decide to prostitute yourself for that one occasion, to stay silent cause he/she is asking you to never tell anyone.
There you have it. You are hesitating aren’t you? You are just thinking about what it would take for you to do something you always told yourself you would never do. It’s the situation you are coming from, the desperation, and the opportunity that arises.
This subject is for sure a never ending story. Opinions clashing, people fighting over it and never agreeing.
It certainly started a “new revolution”, a movement and controversy, but also awareness.
I am behind this movement, behind that opportunity of changing laws, society and behaviours.
I’m in, lets fight for our rights.
Let’s find our generation’s Alice Paul, Maud Wood Park, Mary McLeod Bethune, Rose Schneiderman and all the other inspiring females in history who dedicated their lives to change all of ours.
Let’s make feminism “modern” again, lets erase the stigma that time attached to it.
We don’t hate man, we just EQUALLY love them.