Detail from Ancient Greek black-figured dinos (wine-bowl) with the first chariot in the procession

Detail from Ancient Greek black-figured dinos (wine-bowl) with the first chariot in the procession
“Sophilos Dinos” (wine-bowl) showing guests arriving at the wedding of Thetis and Peleus. In the first car -Zeus and Hera, 2nd-Poseidon and Amphitrite. Source: British Museum (Wikicommons)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Is sexual advance sexual harassment ? male reader asks

I got this email from a reader with an interesting situation percolating into the current amped up Silicon Valley environment with women screaming sexual harassment left and right.

Max,

My name is Anil, I am 30ish and I am so lucky to have found your blog. I'm pretty sure you're one of the very few writers out there that tackles men being the target of harassment by women. Nobody else talks about it.

I work in the Marketing department of my company, a large tech player in the semiconductors industry. My boss, Heather, is good looker, she looks like Pamela Anderson, and at 48 she's in great shape. She goes to the same gym I do, two miles from my work. This is what happened last week. She had two tickets to a Dodgers game and knowing that I'm a fan she invited me. should give you some background here: I am happily married for 5 years with no kids and Heather is also married (to Tom).

So we've met up after work and she decided to drive me up in her car. I was already tired after a long days work, and my wife was already home waiting for me. My wife, Sylvia, calls me. "I go: 'Honey, I'll be late tonight. Heather is taking me to the ball game.'" 30 minutes into the game, Heather started drinking and started rubbing my thighs. Then she started rubbing my penis. All the time she was keeping looking ahead. I was so embarrassed ! At half time I walked up and she came after me, trying to do it again ! Can you believe it ? I said: "What it wrong with you ? Are you insane ? She was giggling and laughing ! The problem is I know Tom, her husband, who is a nice man, and a good husband !

At the end of the game I left quickly and did not want to go into the car with her. She is an embarrassment to herself and her family. Next day at work it was as if nothing ever happened !

What do I do now ? Should I tel my wife ? My wife and I have an agreement where we don't hold anything back from each other. Was this sexual harassment ? Should I report her to HR ? This is crazier than The Game of Thrones.



-Anil



Anil,

Thanks for writing. Taking any action against your boss might backfire. Since this happened outside the workplace, I don't know if it is sexual harassment. I would consult a lawyer that knows labor laws. I realize that sexual harassment against men is a huge issue that is hardly reported.
And since you mentioned Game of Thrones, here's a short video with quotes from the earlier seasons of the series.



Everybody else is asking what do I read currently: here are two books I can't keep down:







5 comments :

  1. When you're dealing with a bitch remember to stay cool.

    "Your birth certificate is an apology letter from the condom factor." is what I tell them

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    Replies
    1. Marcel,

      If women are misbehaving I think they should be held accountable like anybody else. There should be zero tolerance to sexual harassment regardless of the sex of the perpetrator.

      If you look at the now famous sexual harassment case involving ex-Uber engineer Susan J. Fowler the impression you get is that she build the case carefully and methodically until solid. (if you haven't read her Feb. 2017 blog entry, it's been quoted a lot in the press). When she left she had a job ready waiting for her (working at Stripe) and it appears plenty of evidence in support of her claim.

      If I am innocent and someone came upon me making unwelcomed advances...I wouldn't wait to report him/her...and I'd probably not show up for work the next day on account of the offense. I'd avoid them like the plague. However, if I needed to build evidence, I'd confront them again to catch them escalate [ win !] One isolated incident is unlikely to help me build a case against a company that has controls, manuals of ethics, etc. Of course, once I can document everything and it becomes a repeated behavior, I'll also gather evidence from colleagues that make credible witnesses.

      An out-of-control manager could not violate regulations repeatedly (say, after doing the same thing three times over, he would have been suspended, if not fired) unless the reported violations all came at the same time (three persons complaining at or around the same time). That takes careful scripting. I'm just talking hypothetically here. People that successfully win harassment cases have a pretty low burden of proof, nevertheless they need to go beyond the he-said-she-said drama.

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    2. Well said, Max ! It's important to pay attention to chronology, does the case fit the facts or are the facts made to fit a case. If it was me, I wouldn't work with someone that harassed me. Period. Fire me if you will, but I will not work with you.

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    3. Sexual harassment is part of the larger issue of bosses overextending themselves. If the person that did it was just another co-worker, you'd tell him/her to take a hike. If it is a boss however, the authority power they have warps some of the boundaries. It is an issue of authority power overpowering the victim's own controls. If, like you said, you stand firm and don't take it, what can they do ? They can fire you, but you stood your ground.

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  2. I am a Senior Reporter at a major news outlet. Anil's story conceivably is an ethics violation and a company standards deviation. If Anil decides to go public with his story, I would need his full name, address, etc. Before we look at anything we investigate the claims and the subject making them. There is an open outcry in Silicon Valley light of the recent harassment claims (Uber, and also Calbeck and Jonathan Theo which I am very familiar with). Those cases involve texting a subject, propositioning awkward dates, "open relationship asking" and "grabbing someone's thigh". Harassment is pretty fluid, would encompass "anything sexual in nature and unwelcomed". A good and perhaps necessary question to ask is: Have there been any other people complaining about her ?" and "Did you clearly say NO or "That's not acceptable."

    If you're afraid of losing your job, my feeling is getting fired from the job will only strengthen a lawsuit.

    Sexual harassment is the same offense whether the perpetrator is male or female.

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