Sexual Harassment In An Online Training Session.

An event happened the other day during an SCAA Learning Event for Barista Competition. I was singled out and sexually harassed publicly, while the guy was privately told to apologize, as not to publicly humiliate him.

“I would love it if Megan would grind up on my tamp because I hear her grind is fine.” Other harassing things followed it to the general public when they told him to cut it out. “So cute seeing everyone struggles for daddy’s attention. #thescaa” and “I don’t use social media because I have my father’s approval.”

First, let’s address how disrespectful he was towards every participant that sat in on the chat, and to the organizers, who I’m sure worked very long hours for months to put the presentation together. It didn’t stop there. He continued to make a mockery of the entire thing by giving answers to questions posed to us by the organizers. I.E. What makes a barista a professional? While most people stated the obvious, like having an apron, he responded, “no harassment.”
 Proving that he is not mature enough or smart enough to recognize what he had done.
 In fact, he only apologized to me when I asked the moderators if they were going to address the situation, and it was met with sarcasm. It felt like he wasn’t sorry or even aware how his “tasteless pun” came across, but he was sorry that his jokes were not met with appreciation or laughter. His ego was deflated, which is why he told us all that, “I guess I’m in a room with a bunch of sensors.”

It’s been brought to my attention that people didn’t say anything initially because they thought I knew the guy. Let it be known that I do not have this type of repertoire with anyone in my life, and that I especially would not communicate this way in a room filled with other women and men that I do not know.

I have a strict sense of professionalism that I like to display when representing myself, or a company, or any and all types of people. The lesson I have learned this year is that you do not get to say who you are, but it is other people’s opinion of you that gets to define your character, which is why I will always fight to maintain the image of myself that I want others to see and not the harsh words that have been spoken against me.

As a human, nobody is perfect. I certainly don’t wish the abuser to be banned indefinitely from participation, but that’s the grace I extend to everyone way too often, and I’m never met with the same respect or grace.

It’s maddening to me that I feel pressured to continue to give people the benefit of the doubt when their every intention is to harm me or others; not only with words, but also by their actions. Often times that means taking no action at all.

It’s my duty as a citizen in the world to stand up for what is right and to eliminate what is wrong.

Women deserve to walk into a room and feel peace and receive respect. They should have a sense of security, and support when something like this or worse happens.

We often remain silent because we’re always told “it’s not a big deal” and quite frankly, I am sick of it. It’s a big deal because it affects our mental health. Which affects our job. It’s hard walking into a place of work where a manager says things to you like “I would never fuck you. You should just kill yourself.” It’s hard walking into a building and to do a great job when a guy who works in the building takes frequent breaks and stays for over an hour each time to verbally harass you because you won’t go out with him. It’s especially difficult when he’s well loved by all and you’re told to be nice to him because he’s going through some difficult stuff.

Never mind that you go home and have panic attacks every single day because you can no longer deal with it.

Or when the customer starts stalking you, and your friends to gain your trust to lure you into a van that sells steaks because he knows you like to cook.

Yes, it’s simply so harmless in a chat room full of peers to see someone single me out because I’m the most vocal and obvious female in the chat box. The fact that I had to wait and see if the issue was going to be addressed is beyond infuriating.

We put codes of conduct in place, and yet not a single person on staff is equipped to handle these types of situations because they never had to before. It’s not that this kind of thing hasn’t happened before; it simply just never mattered.

It matters to me, it matters to women everywhere, it matters to the gender neutral, and it should matter to men, too. They should be the ones stepping up to say, “enough!”

Thankfully, many have. There’s been an overwhelming amount of support.

I do feel empathy and sincere apologies from the organizers of the SCAA Learning Session. However, everyone should be aware of the measures the SCAA has taken to ensure our safety, and to feel their support.

While I do think it was handled wrong, I’m extending grace to them for it as well. I am hopeful that they will learn from this and it will get better.

As for the abusers out there, I need them to know it’s not okay. Zero tolerance means exactly that, and all I can hope is that they too will learn and grow from this.

But I will not be silenced. Victims everywhere should not be silenced. We must continue to fight this tooth and nail.