Just Say No to Sexual Harassment
(Not the way you're thinking)
I almost got into a fistfight with a washed-up stand-up comic one night, when he went on and on about how if you don’t like getting fucked in the ass by your boss, you should just quit your job. It’s on you if you stay and take it, lady. I asked him — too loudly — if he planned to take care of her bills for her. It got heated.
What I should have said was, “Hey, you know I own this club, right? You actually work for me. So here’s my question: How many inches are you packing? And how are you at giving head?” But I never think of the right retort in the moment. That’s why I am a writer and not a stand-up comic, washed-up or otherwise.
It’s not that news anchors (yes, that’s the case we are referencing today) or producers or politicians tend to become sexual predators. It’s that sexual predators tend to congregate in professions that give them power, glamour and opportunity. You could say the same for magazine editors, fashion photographers and college professors, although colleges professors are mostly only glamorous to college students. An updated version of the above photo could fill the entire column, but then I’d have to eat a cake to get over it.
My advice to women as the #MeToo wave began to swell was: “Hurry up and get that job, lady, because soon the men will decide it’s easier to stop hiring women than to keep their dicks in their pants.” This may be overly pessimistic. A vast number of men have listened, commiserated, and offered support. But some, er, less supportive men have come up with a grand, passive-aggressive tactic for dissuading women from speaking up about workplace harassment. “How will we be able to date at work?” they whine. “Do we have to stop flirting? Can I even be nice to our female colleagues without fear of being accused of sexual misconduct?”
Very sneaky, fellas. Very Lysistrata of you. We insist on our right not to be pressured into sex, and you threaten not to ever compliment our hair again.
Here’s the simple part of the equation that men – okay, some men -- pretend not to understand: Unwanted sexual attention is by definition only the unwanted stuff. Trust me, when we want you to want us, we will let you know. At least, us sex and love addicts will. God knows I did.
As a former sex and love addict in the workplace (Note: I’m still a sex and love addict; I’m just no longer in a workplace) I can attest to the fact that I not only acquiesced to but initiated a shitload of inappropriate sexual liaisons. I’m pretty sure I was the subordinate, not the supervisor, in all those cases. If not, I hereby apologize to any interns/assistants/associates I came on to who didn’t feel they could refuse.
Mostly, though, I came on to my bosses. A good love addict, after all, is always looking for a partner who can validate them. Someone to make them look desirable, important, worthy. Who better than an authority figure, preferably an authority figure who already had a wife or girlfriend? That adds a frisson of danger, a dash of rebellion, and the satisfaction of being better than some other woman.
I hereby apologize to those women, too.
But I wasn’t thinking about them back then. All I could think was that I was desperately in love with my biology teacher. Or the editor of the newspaper I worked at. Or the producer of the TV show I was on. Because that’s how I roll. A good love addict doesn’t just become attracted to someone. We fall madly, deeply, soulmatingly in love overnight. In short, we go out of our minds, and have absolutely no idea that we are, at that moment, clinically insane.
And do you know what the professors and editors and producers said when I offered up my ripe, subordinate self? They said “No.” They said, “That wouldn’t be professional” or “I’m flattered but I’m married” or, in the case of my high school biology teacher, “Call me when you graduate college.” Because that’s what good men do. And there are plenty of good men out there, make no mistake. The zeitgeist is currently focusing on the jerks, and it’s about bloody time. But you don’t have to worry, Mr. Whiny Pants; we’re not coming for to you because you asked the receptionist out on a date. As long as you take “no” for an answer, we’re cool.
Sexual abuse is opt-in behavior. Feel free to opt out.