I am so fortunate to be at a job in which both the men and women respect each other. I can't express how glad I am to be blessed with this opportunity, but what makes me sad is that this respectful work environment is a rarity in my experience. The joy I feel in being a regular person in my full-time job and not a trophy employee for some disgustingly inappropriate male boss, shouldn't be uncommon -- it should be the standard. But unfortunately, being a "body" instead of a worker has been a common instance for me in my employed life.
It all started at my second real job. I was meeting the new manager who had just been hired to replace our old co-manager at my second real job at a retail store in a mall. He was male, and so I was already nervous especially since the rest of management was female and our former co-manager was as well. I was 17 and he was most likely 24 or 25, the oldest. When we were already on week one of the new manager, he made a comment that I had really big boobs. After that and a cheery little wink from him, I couldn't stand him. He was cocky and thought he was special. Sometimes if he were in a bad mood, he would take it out on me instead of my male coworkers. Sometimes if he was bored, he would talk about my breasts again. When I quit that job, I wasn't sorry.
Last year, I took a mostly from-home contract job with a large company to fill various digital marketing roles. At first, I was excited to work mostly from home because I have a young child and the office was far from me, but once I met all my lovely coworkers, I was overjoyed I wouldn't be at the office too often because that meant I would rarely see them. Why?
Well, I had walked into a boys club. A mostly 50-years-old and up boys club. It was not unusual and was actually expected behavior to get winked at, called "hon," and completely ignored by my coworkers. And when I wasn't in-house, many of the salesmen ignored my emails or sarcastically replied back to my questions as if I were a baby, total idiot or their undercover lover who they liked to smack around when she gets fresh.
I guess I was just a stupid little sex object doing a "little silly" job. They didn't need my petty help -- I heard that message loud and clear. In my list of job duties I was hired to help five of these men and only one eagerly took my help and another, "allowed" my feedback.
It wasn't unusual to have a coworker or boss stare at my breasts.
It wasn't unusual for my grown-up coworkers to tell me how they Googled me and then wink slyly.
Let's not forget my job writing copy for a business. I was one of a few female employees and as my boss told me, "You're the smart one. The rest of them are dumb."
"Them" being my female coworkers.
This is the same man who told me I had a great ass. Well! I was smart and had a great ass! Now that's employee appreciation.
At my current job, I love the people I work with. I had long forgotten how it felt to be "Barbie" at work, and not Laura. That is until a young friend of mine called to tell me about an experience she had at a business event. She was repeatedly touched and flirted with at a business conference she went to. She felt so uncomfortable that now she avoids speaking with him. This man, a business colleague of hers, felt it was fair game to treat another colleague like his date and not a business partner.
It reminded me of my experience and that women are still vulnerable at work. We are still more eye candy than CEO. We are still more "tits and ass" than "assets and mergers." That it's totally okay to cross the line with a young female employee and that we should shut up about it.
It's our fault. We're a bunch of tantalizing sluts with our great figures and come hither bodies.
For just once, I would like to go back to my former places of employment so I could show the "boys" how it's done.
First, I would ignore their requests and never ever look them in the eye.
Next, I would grab their balls and say, "Eh, not so impressive, honey. Get to work."
All their emails would go unanswered. Their questions would be responded to with a "That's ridiculous," or "Who cares?"
I would make them feel like nothing. I would snub them, poke fun of their fat beer bellies and bald heads, and then when I got bored, I would tell them in lurid detail all about the men their wives would like to have sex with which by the way, wouldn't be like them. At all.
I would tear apart their college educations. Their budgets. Their penises. I would tell them they are worthless.
Then maybe just maybe, these little piss ants might know what it's like to be degraded, ignored, trashed and harassed in the work place.
It's 2015. When does this end? My current job is an example of how it should be and of what it's like to be a respected female employee, but that's just one company.
Don't tell me it will never end. I refuse to believe it, but as long as there is a boys' club, I suppose in order to survive and pass we women still have to pay the high "membership" fees.