Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Monday, November 14, 2011

It’s Sexual, But It’s Not Always Harassment

Sexual harassment is back in the news, so it is an appropriate time to address this important subject.  I was going to do this awhile back when discussing bad polo shirts, but other more pertinent subjects took precedent.

The shirt connection is as follows: A few years ago I was passing a female coworker in a remote stairwell, when she looked at me and said “I just want to rip that shirt right off your body”.

I was taken aback since I really didn’t know how to respond.  If she liked my shirt, “Nice shirt” would have been sufficient.  I wasn’t sure if she was interested in me or my shirt and the thought of me standing there bare-chested while she made love to my shirt (my shirt’s too sexy for my bod, too sexy for my bod…) was not very appealing to me.

So I just said “thank you” and quickly moved down the stairs.  She was a chunky, spunky, little monkey, and I was really unsure what was going to happen next.

This was technically “sexual harassment”.  To determine this you just switch the scenario.  If I tell the buxom secretary that “I just want to rip that sweater right off your body”, I’m soon going to be meeting with the HR department.

But in reality it is very difficult to actually harass the average male.  I say average, because the “pretty boy”, studly, types can be harassed.  I would expect that being continuous propositioned by ugly hags would be unnerving and maybe having your butt repeatedly grabbed would eventually get old, but I know nothing about that.  Of course any type of supervisor-subordinate harassment, no matter the sexual dynamics, is very legitimate and serious.

But even as an average-looking guy, I have been subject to around 20 incidents that could be regarded as sexual harassment in the workplace.  These include three cases involving physical contact and four instances involving raised skirts.  Of course I did not report any of these acts because I never felt threatened and it was never persistent.  Almost always I considered the incidents (like the shirt story), very humorous.

The funniest incident was when an attractive female co-worker wearing a very short skirt, walked into my office, walked around behind me, and sat on my desk right beside me with her legs slightly spread.   That’s right, my face was just inches from her hooha and combined with the short skirt, she was definitely in violation of the “stripper laws” in Utah.

And then she actually expected me to engage in a business discussion sitting there with her skirt just barely covering her “naughty bits”. This was impossible however because a man’s brain totally shuts down in this situation.  She’s like:  “I think we should use this program to track the project blah, blah, blah …” The brain  just hears “Hooha, Hooha, Hooha” (imagine a loud donkey bray).

It was one of the most physically uncomfortable positions I have ever experienced in my career.  I couldn’t move backwards because that would give me an unobstructed view of the hooha.  I couldn’t move sideways because in was a three-sided desk.  It hurt my neck to look up at her from that angle and if I looked down there were just legs and hooha.  So I keep my head level which then resulted in me looking straight into her more than ample chest.

Another very humorous incident happened at an off-site company Christmas party.  I was standing in the buffet line behind my best (platonic) female friend in the office (my “work wife”). Suddenly she unexpectedly starts rubbing her booty against my crotch.  This would be outrageous enough on its own, but what made this really special is that our spouses were standing in the same line!

Once again, I was trapped.  I couldn’t suddenly jump out of the line.  I couldn’t yell for her to stop without attracting attention.  Eventually while still making physical contact with me, she turns her head around and gives me a glazed, slutty, smile.  Yes, there had been one too many before dinner drinks.  Fortunately, the buffet line began to move and I was sure to maintain an assured clear distance from then on.

But women do realize that then can get away with more in the office than the guys when it comes to sexual harassment behavior.  In one office where I worked, the women held a “best buns” contest.  They made up ballots and voted for the guy with the best buns in the office.  You know that if the guys had a similar contest for the ladies and got caught, there would be hell to pay.

Still the ladies kept their contest, very hush-hush.  I was actually one of the first guys to learn about it very soon after the results were tabulated.  That’s because I received an award in the contest.  I was voted “Most Personable Buns”.  As this news filtered out, I took much ridicule from my male co-workers for winning what amounted to the “Miss Congeniality” award.  However this didn’t bother me in the least.  If I received this recognition, it meant my buns were on the ballot; my buns were in the game.  For two weeks the ladies in the office were spending work time evaluating my butt.  I was therefore proud of winning “Most Personable Buns” and walked around the office for the next few weeks with my head and my buttocks held high. 

(Next Time: Part two of the series!)

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