Friday, August 1, 2008


My partner works with a female colleague, sometimes spending hours alone with her. This didn't worry me until I met her and she flirted with him infront of me.The other women in his office tell me she has already split up one couple by having an affair with the man. She has no boyfriend and no friends except the men in her department. My boyfriend says she is always asking them to do things for her and they love it. I feel she is playing games, but he can't see a problem.

A friend of mine, Liz has a slightly different problem at work. Her superior, a creative director at work keeps making corny comments. Recently at work, he told her, "Your work just isn't giving me the hard-on im used to", and that was just the tip of the iceberg. But after a few weeks of sexually loaded comments and suggestions, Liz complained to the Managing Director. He dismissed her concerns, saying the creative director was 'incorrigible but very valuable to the company. He suggested that Liz 'lighten up' and focus on the important things if she wanted to make a go of her career in the industry.

Bella, a mother with 2 little boys, and wife says she hardly ever sees her husband because his boss (a female) makes him work longer hours. He and two othe rworkmates. Of course, they are paid extra for the time they put in. When something urgent comes up, even on a holiday or weekend, lady boss calls him up 'to go see to the clients needs'. Bella hates it all, but she says she can't do anything about it because its his job that puts food on the table and clothes on their backs.

So what do you do when your professional life or that of your partner begins to affect your private life?

I have decided that my partner's female colleague has a personality that gets up people's noses and Im not going to try to waste time worrying about possibilities beyond my control. Furthermore, expressing sexual jealousy has a horrible way of putting the idea of infidelity into the innocent mind.

For Liz, life at work became unbearable. Aside from openly joking about her prudishness, her harasser made it quite plain that she wasn't going to cut it.
Her designs were pulled apart and, by way of crude jokes, her ideas were ridiculed. The fact that she had spoken to the MD elicited below the belt retorts from several male colleagues about her lack of humour and sense of fun.

While this scenario may leave some in no doubt that Liz was sexually hasassed, others may believe she should have treated the advances as a joke and pandered to the 'sense of mischief' that all boys have. At least, that way, her life would have been easier and her career more successful.

A complimentary factor that works in a sex pests favour is the fact that, as Liz's story highlights, it's near impossible to draw a clear distinction between behaviour that is sexual harrassment and behaviour that is not. Inappropriateness is in the eye of the beholder.

Bella's problem is a little bit more sophisticated. Short of threatening her husband's boss, she can only try to be more understanding and accomodating of him and his job. Lady boss may not understand that he has other obligations to his wife and kids, so its up to the husband to try to balance the two. Tough, huh?

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