Fresh from reading this article on Metafilter regarding the reporting of sexual harassment at a convention, I’d like to tell some stories of harassment that have happened to me over the last few months, starting with the most recent.
I was laid off from my web development job recently, and as part of my unemployment insurance requirements, I must apply for at least two jobs per week, regardless of whether or not they are a good fit for my skillset. I worked at a motel in high school, so I applied to a housekeeping job. They called me back, and indicated they wanted me to come in for a training day.
On the phone, the woman said when she saw my photo come up next to my email (thanks, Gmail) she thought, “Oh, she looks cute!” She then repeated this when I came in for the training, and held up my printed resume on which she had written “Looks cute!”
It made me uncomfortable! My looks have nothing to do with my ability to do housekeeping for your B&B. I consider myself cute, but I don’t need a potential employer – EVEN IF THEY ARE A WOMAN – commenting on my appearance as part of a job interview. It’s inappropriate, and it put me into a weird position of not wanting to say anything about it even though it made me uncomfortable because I need a job.
“…you’ll definitely lose some weight…”
Later that day, myself and the other trainee (whom I’ll call S) were gathered with the employer (the woman from the above story) and another employee, R. The employer was talking about how much running around we’ll be doing, and then said to S and I conspiratorially, “Oh, and you two will definitely lose some weight while working here, just from all the running around. Right, R?” R responded, “Oh! Yes! I’ve gone down a pants size since starting here and I’ve only been here two months.”
AGAIN. WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE. Anybody with eyes could see that S and I are both overweight – that was not the issue. The issue was that she thought absolutely nothing of reassuring us – in so many words – that we needn’t be fat forever, we just needed to work for her B&B! I mean, clearly we are fat because we don’t exercise. For all she knows, S or I could have a hormonal issue, or be suffering from an eating disorder, or be taking medications that interfere with our metabolism, or we could have a host of other reasons for being fat. There’s no reason we need to be reassured from a potential employer that we’ll lose weight if we work for her B&B.
There were red flags left and right at this place, most of which were more egregious than this (trying to pay me with promises of free veterinary care for a friend’s pet comes to mind), but that doesn’t mean these experiences were unimportant. They were harassment and they made me uncomfortable.
File Under: Personal