'There's a rat in the corner!'

The worst case of sexual harassment I experienced was a case of role reversal: I was the boss.

By YEHUDIT COLLINS
September 20, 2006 21:09
3 minute read.
'There's a rat in the corner!'

sexual harassment 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Sexual harassment didn't happen when I was young. Well of course it did, but we didn't call it that, and there was no law against it. Every office had at least one "octopus," the guy who seemed to have eight hands, one of which always seemed to be within reach of a personal bit of a girl's anatomy. New girls to an office were always warned by old-timers which of the men it was wiser to keep to the other side of a desk or filing cabinet. It was a fact of working life and something we learned to live and deal with. There were various tactics depending on the status of the predator. The office boy and co-workers of equal rank could be dealt with by a sharp slap and, if necessary, warned off by an appeal to the boss. Senior employees and the boss himself could be more complicated. The time-honored way when someone older and more senior was being a pest was to scream bloody murder and then, when the rescue posse burst in, to dramatically exclaim, "Call the exterminators - I think I saw a rat in the corner." At school our physical education teacher gave us these immortal words of advice: A girl with her skirt held up can run faster than a man with his trousers down. And, if you're in a corner, give them the old one-two-three: 1. Hard down with the heel on his instep; 2. Straight up with the knee to the groin; 3. A right hook to the jaw - and then run! THE WORST case of sexual harassment I personally experienced was a case of role reversal: I was the boss. To get to the bathroom I had to pass through the workroom, where the walls were completely covered with pinup posters of busty lovelies, revealing as much, at that time, as the law allowed. Remarks and gestures would be made comparing my figure to these ladies'. Salvation came by way of the late film idol Charles Bronson, who had posed completely in the nude for the centerfold of a woman's magazine (the center staples and a judicious bit of airbrushing hid the naughtier bits). I pasted him prominently over Tina, bust 42". Within minutes, poor Charles was torn down and torn up - which, I felt, gave me carte blanche to remove the pinups, replacing them with tasteful scenic posters. No words were exchanged, but understanding was complete. IN THOSE far-off bad and unpolitically correct days, girls of 16, or even 18, were more naive and sexually ignorant than the average 12-year-old today; but cases where we were unable to deal with sexual harassment, speedily and privately, were rare. Do not think that I am advising any woman to put up with a constant barrage of innuendo or, worse, unwanted physical contact. But, literally, the solution is usually in your own hands. If you genuinely feel upset by an approach, verbal or physical, then don't be a shrinking violet; make a fuss. Strike back, yell, call the bloke's wife - while the shock and rage is still white-hot, not after a few years, when you feel you can take revenge and earn your few minutes of fame with the media. THE TORAH, not surprisingly, has something pertinent to say regarding the willing or unwilling seduction of maidens (Deuteronomy XXII, 23-28). Basically, if it happened in the city, it was assumed that the maiden was able to cry for assistance - and if she didn't, then she was assumed to be willing. However, if it happened in a field, then even if she had cried out, there would have been no one to hear her; so she was assumed to have been an unwilling partner. One can only assume that the rapidly increasing number of ladies prepared to come forward today and accuse various prominent figures of sexual harassment can all only have been fondled in a field. So, girls, answer a pinch on the bottom or a rude word in the ear with a smack around the chops, and leave our overworked police to concentrate on the real bad guys - the rapists, the pedophiles and others of their ilk, who pose a genuine threat to women. The writer is a retired office administrator.

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