Let us work in peace

A rant on the lack of understanding around harassment

Women are sexualised every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY. It is hard to believe that you are worth more than just being a servant or play thing for men when you are constantly treated like nothing more than that, by men.

I know most men and reading this will think I’m exaggerating. They may even think “What’s the big deal with being appreciated by a man? Surely its flattering.” I assure you that women know the difference between being flattered and being harassed. There is also a time and place.

Do you think either of these two scenarios are appropriate?

Recently I was at the hospital with my sister who had been rushed in through emergency with severe abdominal pain. It had been three days and the doctors were still unsure as to whether she had a thrombosis, appendicitis or needed a hysterectomy at 20 years old. I went to the cafeteria to catch a breath and grab a coffee. I approached the counter and was asked by a much older man “what can I grab a beautiful girl like you today?” I ignored his comment and ordered my coffee. He then said “Anything for you, you stunning girl.” and raised his eyebrows at me suggestively.” I scowled at him and moved to the coffee machine to wait for my coffee. He looked over at his colleague and rolled his eyes at her. He obviously didn't like my behavior. She put her head down, clearly embarrassed, and made my coffee.

I shouldn’t have to spell out here that we were in a HOSPITAL not a night club. That this man didn’t know my situation, my husband could have been on his death bed, or my wife may have just had our first baby. Even if I was on my way to work and stopped into the hospital for a coffee, I should not have to dodge cheesy pick up lines from men and then eye rolls when I don’t reciprocate.

One Melbourne cup day I was enjoying a drink with friends at our local pub. A group of guys and gals were sitting close to us and they eventually started having a chat with us. They were a funny group and we all enjoyed having a laugh with them. Suddenly one of the girls asked me if I would date her brother. I was shocked at being put on the spot. Her brother, and three other guys eagerly awaited my response. I fluffed my way around saying no as gently as possible. “Why not, do you have a boyfriend?” The girl asked. “ah, no, I’m just not interested in dating anyone at the moment.” She dropped the subject, thank god, But I felt extremely uncomfortable. I gradually edged my way away from the group. About an hour later while I was chatting to a friend the brother came up to me and asked to have a word. He then told me that he knew I didn’t want to date him because I thought I was too good for him, that I didn’t think he was good looking enough and that I needed to have a good hard look at myself because it’s bitches like me that end up with arseholes and if I don’t open myself up to the possibilities of being with a “nice guy” I would die alone. I told him that he definitely was NOT a nice guy and I was too good for him because no one should ever be bullied into dating a guy. He called me a bitch then stood in view of me for the rest of the night shooting me evil looks.

Ask any woman you like, they’ve experience something similar. And experience harassment weekly, if not daily.

It is not unreasonable to expect that the one place we can get away from this constant harassment is at work. So when a news reporter is called “baby” and asked out on a date while she is doing her job on live television, a journalist is called a “fucking mad witch” for writing an article and a public servant has her neck kissed by a member of parliament, and then her photo leaked, It’s fair that people get upset.

“Sorry” is not what the public wants. Just STOP. Remember that women are not here to serve you and you have no right to treat them like they do. It’s not rocket science. It’s called being a decent human being.

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