I went to work today (i wrote this on Friday). My work station really is basically in the field, with people pretty much all ages; babies in class, to the old man sitting in his administrative office. My basic dress code is just that. Basic. You will occasionally find me wearing a t-shirt or a blouse that’s usually loose fitting, and jeans, usually loose fitting as well, save for some rare instances. I am talking about my clothing because a lot of people attribute sexual harassment to dress code.
This particular male teacher whose program I really had to interrupt because i am permanently scheduled, kept going on about how he “appreciates” my smartness. He said it almost 50 times, much to the bemusement of an older female teacher. The tone with which he used, is what got me frowning rather than taking the compliment. He also kept on referring to me as “ka girl” regardless of the fact that we could be the same age. I low-key did not feel respected but i let it slide.
“i have appreciated the ka girl. I have appreciated her smartness, this ka girl” (repeat 10 times)
Now i am not being modest. There’s nothing on me that made me specially “smart”. Some teachers looked nicer than me. I was only wearing some kind of lipstick(although it’s a dull colour) that stood me out from the teachers around me.
I’m just saying the guy was weirdly overreaching with his compliments. I’m also just saying that if I wasn’t amidst other teachers, and by myself, he probably could have said weird(er) things that I’d have lashed out back at him before taking the matter to his head teacher. I know it because I can tell. I mean, the other day a person who met me once, that I’m supervising, just started to call me baby like he was entitled, so he could have his way. I went up in flames.
Sexual harassment is as real as it gets. Forget the downtown groping, that’s another one…it’s worse that in the places we think we’re “supposed” to feel safe, it’s done in the most subtle ways that leave you holding your shoulders in, with discomfort. We now have to look out for ourselves EVERYWHERE we are, and happen to go.
I’m just saying we ALL have a story.
I’m sure these things happen to men too. And i guess it’s harder for them to come out. I just want to say that regardless of what’s going on, as we keep our guards up to stand up for ourselves, we can be each other’s strength. People that have been through worse, been violated, been robbed of innocence, could use your shoulders and ears.
Listen to, love, and protect your neighbour.