I’m not sure if I’m going to go into the whole story or tell you *why* I’m telling you the little bit I’m sharing here, but, here goes.
I first was introduced into the office environment when I was about 10 years old, when my father started his business. Back then, people still smoked indoors, right in their office, (one thing I seem to recall rather vividly). It was also about the time all of the workplace harassment awareness training stuff became part and parcel of the business environment. There were a few lady programmers, (yes, even back in those days, to those of you who react in amazement), and they dressed, you know, pretty much office attire, circa mid-1970s; professional, but you know, they weren’t trying to hide their allure as women, as much as tastefully hint at their feminine qualities in a way that seemed to me completely in keeping with their profession. Conservative, but, well, not a god-awful pantsuit, or mimicry of men’s business attire. Some of them were pretty, probably ladies in their early to mid-20s. I don’t remember them ever being treated without respect, but of course, they were attractive ladies, so I’m sure they were aware of the sideways-glances type of attention they were probably getting.
Now, in an attempt to keep this chronological in nature, by the time I got out of high school, one of my first jobs was laying sod with a very butch lesbian. I swear to you, I’ve worked with some pretty coarse talking men in my day and I’ve never, ever heard a man talk about women the way this lady did. I’m sure a lot of it was just for pure shock value, but it definitely hit its mark, if that was the intention.
I might fill this paragraph in later with some anecdotes from some folks who worked in sales later, both men and women, and some of the things I heard about, that probably are valid, and worth discussing. I just don’t feel like going into secondhand stuff right now, I never worked with them, or in sales, so, that’s all I’ve got, for now.
When I went to college, that’s pretty much when I first encountered sort of feminist-raised professors, and I kinda thought they were more crass than a male professional would ever be, and it kinda irked me at the time. I kinda thought at the time, (and still do think this about a lot of the social justice movements today), that they had become what they claimed to set out to be against, just the mirror version of it.
So, when I got out of college, one of my first managers was a younger lady. I was attracted to her, but I don’t think I ever did anything untoward to her. We’d had lunch a couple of times, and you know, she kind of nicely let me know, hey, the age thing, and all that. I was respectful of that, but I’m going to be more honest than I want to be to a bunch of strangers, yeah, I was sometimes let’s say, in a heightened sense of tingly feelings around her sometimes. Now, the only reason I’m putting this out there, is because I realise that women are much more the focus of unwanted attention from men, than vice versa. And I realise that men, even the most well-meaning ones, can kind of be jerks, when it comes to expressing themselves towards women. I don’t have an answer for that but I always hope I’m doing the respectful thing.
I’m going to have to fast-forward and come back to that for a second. There was a pretty girl I was working with recently, and we both happened to be at the back dumpster emptying our respective trash cans. The dumpster was pretty much full, and she had a lot of stuff. I pointed to the end of the building and told her, there’s another dumpster down there. She took about two steps in that direction, spotted the group of about five guys at a neighbouring business hanging around to punch out, and came back and said “I don’t think I’m going to go down there.” I sort of had a sudden awareness of what it must be like to be an attractive woman being ogled by a pack of guys, and climbed up on the edge of the dumpster, and said here, I’ll help you out.
There are a couple of other anecdotes that go here, but let’s just say, I’ve seen a couple of instances where women reacted self-consciously to me as a man, even though I don’t think I was being deliberately rude or anything. I think they’re just more self-aware than I am aware, sometimes.
The reason I went into that digression is, there’s really only one time I can think of, when I’ve ever had a female co-worker do a total “stare at my crotch” type of thing. It was like on the last day before my manager moved on to another job, and I always suspected my manager must’ve said something to her, ‘cuz it was not a friendly crotch stare. Whatever my manager said, it turned that lady into a green-eyed monster. I knew she wasn’t going to follow up on it, and I wasn’t really all that attracted to her, but well, I’m not going to say I was offended by it. I thought it was kind of funny, to be honest. But maybe that’s treating the subject too flippantly. I’m sure that unwelcome attention is a lot more rampant than I’m aware of, so I don’t want to make light of it.
Next case, and probably last one, since I don’t have a lot of firsthand experience with something that must be much more prevalent than I’m aware of.
So, there was this young female engineer, (gasp! I know, right?), who pretty much was, hmmm. How do I say this? An office flirt? That doesn’t quite seem like the right description. She definitely liked teasing the boys, let’s put it that way. If she hadn’t been married, I probably would’ve. But, well, you know, as far as I know, she was good at her job, and so we all just did what we did. I did go into the office manager’s office once to talk about it, and the office manager was pretty cool about it, just sort of, gave me a few moments to cool down after an incident. That office manager was one of the coolest ladies I’ve ever worked for, incidentally. I definitely wish I hadn’t left that job.
Anyway, I’m going to leave it at that. There’s more I’d like to share, but you’ll just have to wait to see if comes out someday.