- Some man threatened me with a weapon and stole my car! - The man told his unfortunate story to the colleagues.
A storm of comments from buddies are coming one by one:
- Are you not overreacting? Did you tell him clearly that you are against that? - the directors assistant is asking.
- Oh yeh. When you have a car, just wait for the problems! - the accountant said.
- Plus, you are driving with a car to the street! You have to understand him; he simply could not refrain. - explains the trainee.
- No, really! It's your fault. - adds a snob assistant.
Absurd? Are you saying nobody would react like this to a car theft? Probably. However, when it comes to sexual harassment, women who have experienced abuse, are receiving this kind of comments. They are guilty because they went to the street at the wrong time. They are guilty because they wear a dress that does not cover her fingers. Only they are guilty that man could not control themselves.
At this top discussion these days of harassment and violence against women at work, it is still possible to hear that the woman provoked the man with her behavior or even her outfit and that she was too sexy. It reminded me of one of my own stories when I was forced to feel like a provocateur. When I was working in one of the first companies after finishing my studies, every morning, when I came to work, I received a comment about my outfit. One colleague, saying "Good morning" always added:
- Oh, new dress again!
And the dresses were quite simple, covering the knees and chest, fitted to the jacket. They indeed did not require any particular attention, evaluation or unpleasant comments. When, one day, I came to work while wearing my pants, I heard:
- Sensation! You are wearing trousers today! Where did you leave the dress? In my eyes dress is more beautiful than pants.
I answered in my mind "Nobody cares what you like and not!". Unfortunately, at that time I had no courage to say that loudly to him.
For a man, I have never asked to discuss my outfit or even my look. I would never have thought to comment on his pants and sweater. We were not even friends. We were just co-workers at the coffee machine. And his daily comments seemed to me too familiar, similar to the slightest harassment of some kind. That assessment of my appearance made it clear that I provoked him and did not let him pass by without talking about how I look.
But on that day, when he was frustrated seeing me with trousers, and expressing his disappointment loudly, I realized that my dresses or even pants were not guilty. Just being close to a woman, for some men, it is a way too big of a challenge. They have nothing else to say, so they are picking on women or even putting their hands to work.
Faced with this person, I better understand women who are not dying to go to work wearing a dress. They find that the dress attracts too much attention and comment. But this is not true.
I am for the freedom of women to wear what she likes. While working with this colleague, I did not let him push me. And although there were various comments every day, I did not abandon my style of clothing. Why? Because the dress is not guilty when some men cannot pass by silently. The dress is just a feminine garment that we have the right to wear at work, especially if it meets the most stringent official standards. Guilty is the attitude of some men and even society towards women. And that co-worker would have been equally excited by the sporty outfit and his comments would have been the same. Once you understand this, you raise your head again and find the courage to shut up any commentator.
Today I stand for the freedom of women to choose and, of course, wear a dress when she wants it!